December means Christmas.
Christmas is awesome.
Also, Christmas is overwhelming. Just look at my Christmas Pinterest Board! There are not enough hours in a year, let alone a single month, to accomplish all of the cute crafts, clever DIY gifts, and fun decorating ideas that I find!
To keep from getting overwhelmed, and because I just like lists a lot, I decided to make a December Checklist, and put on there the events and activities that are my highest priority. That way, I won't get distracted by all the other stuff. If I just get this stuff done by December 23rd, I'll be doing great and December will be so much fun! (I didn't include Christmas Eve/Christmas Day stuff. That's a whole other list!)
My Awesome December Checklist
1) Go look at Christmas lights.
Our family takes this way more serious than most. We don't just drive around looking at lights. We put award certificates in the mailboxes of the houses we like best.
We make up the titles as we go, and each year we love coming up with new awards like, "Best use of Marine Life in a Christmas display" or ""Most Likely to be Seen from Space." Of course, we have the standards like, "The Santa Claus is Coming to Town Award" for a great Santa display, and "The Silent Night Award" for a beautiful nativity display. This is one of our favorite Christmas activities, and we've been doing it for years. We even have a facebook group that award winners can join. It's so much fun!
2) Make lots of cookies.
I love making Christmas cookies. I even have a Santa Claus apron!
I did a blog post last year about some of my favorite Christmas cookies, and I'm looking forward to trying some new ones this year, too! They make great gifts, and are always a hit at parties!
3) Go to a walk-through nativity.
My mom's church does this every year, and it's awesome. It's usually ridiculously cold, but it doesn't matter, 'cause we just get all bundled up.
Plus, at the end, you get cookies and hot chocolate, which is extra fun. There are tons of churches that do this kind of thing, so if you're not near here, I'm sure you could find one online.
4) Go to a family Christmas event.
There are tons and tons of options in this category. We like to go to our local Zoolight Safari, where the zoo puts up over a million lights and they do special night events. It's really fun, and since Cricket is all about lights right now, I can't wait to see her reaction!
But like I said, that's just one option. There are parades, tree lightings, outdoor ice skating rinks, and lots of other fun family events to choose from. Our local historic theater shows Christmas movies during December, and I know that's a lot of fun, too.
5) Go to a Christmas concert.
Our church always does a Christmas concert night where the children's choir (adorable) and the adult choir (inspirational) perform, and then we have a huge potluck. (I love living in the South.) Almost every church does some kind of musical cantata or concert, and so do the symphonies and local children's choir, so it's easy to find something. Nothing puts me in the Christmas spirit like listening to Christmas music!
6) Listen to Christmas music until I hear it in my sleep.
Speaking of Christmas music...my goal every year is to completely submerse myself in Christmas music at all waking moments to the point where I am singing them in my sleep. In the car, in the house, when I sing to Cricket, it's gotta be Christmas music! Look for a post about my favorite Christmas music coming soon!
7) Read Christmas books.
Brian and I read Dickens' A Christmas Carol every year out loud together. I cannot recommend this enough. If you do nothing else on this list, do this. I love this book so much. And it's funny, because I'm not really a huge Dickens fan, but this one is just pure gold. It's hilarious and sarcastic and witty and sweet and interesting, all in turn. Read it!
Also, I have been slowly accumulating some Christmas books for Cricket, like The Grinch and 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. She has loved having all these new and interesting books to read.
8) Do a Christmas kids' craft.
To quell my desire to do every single Pinterest Christmas craft, I have decided to just pick one, (ok, maybe two) and have fun with it. I got some foam stickers to do a craft with our playgroup, and I'll probably do one more just with Cricket. Plus, we'll do one at the library storytime, so we're in no danger of missing out in the craft department.
9) Watch Christmas movies.
We haven't really let Cricket start watching TV yet, so this is for the grownups. I have been slowly collecting Christmas movies for ten years, now. I have all the good ones. The Grinch is my favorite to watch over and over, and A Muppet Christmas Carol is my favorite Christmas movie ever, but it's special and we save it to watch on Christmas Eve each year.
10) Go to at least one party.
Of course, there will be lots of parties, but I put "at least one" so that it doesn't become a weird Christmas Pokemon game of "gotta catch all the parties." One is enough, two is great, three is fun, and much more than that becomes stressful in a hurry. We do our big party at Halloween, so we don't try to throw one ourselves. I try to just pick a few that my friends are throwing and really enjoy them.
11) Stare at the lights on the tree in the dark.
This is one of my favorite things about the Christmas season. Turning off all the lights except the Christmas lights, drinking hot chocolate, listening to Christmas music, and curling up on the couch to watch the lights. So peaceful and beautiful.
12) Go on a date.
It's easy to get so busy during December that you barely even speak to your family. I know we already have one week this month where we are out of the house five nights in a row! I didn't want to forget to spend some time with Brian, so I included this in my list. Our plan is to go see The Hobbit when it comes out, but even just getting coffee or window shopping would be nice.
13) Do random acts of kindness.
It just doesn't feel like Christmas without this. If you've never gone through a drive through and anonymously paid for the person behind you, you should try it. It will make you downright giddy. When we were little, my mom, my sister, and I would take hot chocolate to the guys working at the Christmas tree lot when we got our tree, because they're usually freezing out there! I've also seen ideas on Pinterest for "ding dong ditching" your neighbors and leaving a plate of cookies or a small gift on their door step. There are lots more ideas, but it doesn't take much to get you (and someone else) in the Christmas spirit!
14) Pictures with Santa.
Last year we went to Bass Pro Shop to get a free picture with Santa, and it was great, but I learned something very important. GO EARLY! Do not wait until the Saturday before Christmas to do this. You will wait in line for two hours and your baby will poop all over her adorable Christmas outfit. Trust me. (Good thing I brought a spare outfit just in case!)
15) Do a Christmas service project.
Some of my favorite Christmas service projects are Angel Tree, Operation Christmas Child, and Heifer International. This year, we also have an opportunity through our church to man a gift wrapping table at the mall to raise money for a local girl's shelter, so that will be awesome. Service projects are a great way to adjust my perspective and keep from getting too focused on myself. (This goes for all months of the year, btw.)
I can think of a bajillion more things I would like to do, but I'm trying to be realistic. Also, I didn't put decorating the house or the tree on there because I think that's kind of a given. So is drinking hot chocolate. :o)
Anyway, here's a nifty graphic with my checklist on it. What's on yours?