Family Fun, Holidays, Life

Holiday planning/ holiday stress + something I’d never done before

Hello, Monday. Wish you were still another day away, but, here you are.

The weekend was good! Looking at the calendar, this is the last weekend for a LONG time that I don’t have some sort of “bigger” event or other going on. Therefore, I really tried to take advantage of it and get some stuff done at home.

Holiday pre-planning…. and holiday stress

Specifically, I took a look at my “Christmas To Do List” and tried to make a rough blueprint of when/how all the inevitable tasks and events are going to fit in. It’s never too pretty. I feel pretty strongly that there is simply too much “holiday related stuff” to do in a short span of several weeks, but…. I also can never really think of things I want to drastically cut out, either.

I had the news on yesterday and I heard the news anchor talking about something holiday related, not sure what exactly, and she said something like, “If you’re looking for a way to beat all the holiday stress….”.

It made me pause to hear her so casually say “beat all the holiday stress“, as if the holiday season is something to be endured, or tolerated, or something to “get through”, instead of something to cherish and love and enjoy.

Hmm. I think about this every year, and I’ll admit I do usually end up feeling some holiday stress. It’s just a lot!! This is the one time of year I also often end up wishing I didn’t have to work (despite generally really enjoying being a working mom). I can’t help but feel like it would be SO MUCH EASIER to fit everything in (the decorating, shopping, wrapping, cards, etc…) if I had freer days that didn’t involve 8 hours of work!! But, that’s not happening, so, carrying on. Haha.

Weekend To Do List

I had 4 main things on my radar for this weekend:

  1. Change around my closet (summer clothes out/ winter clothes in. This should have happened sooner, but never did, and it’s supposed to snow this week. So this HAD to happen. Priority #1)
  2. Take down indoor Halloween decorations.
  3. Inventory Christmas lights situation- what still works/ what needs replacing, and buy!
  4. Order Christmas card.

Happy to report:

#1: The closet happened! It was quite the process. I’ll spare you the gory details, but my closet was a mess. My wardrobe is/was kind of a mess. Needed some serious attention to weed some things out, etc. I did a version of this during the summer, too, but it still needed more work. The main goal was to ONLY have things in there that I actually mostly like and that fit well.

#2: Halloween finally came down yesterday! Goodbye spider webs and pumpkins.

#3: And the Christmas lights situation was addressed. (This turned into a bit of a headache. All the lights were not in the same box in the garage, leading to lots of up and down the ladder with boxes to find what I wanted. Then, a huge majority of them didn’t work! (I know they did when I put them away last winter…). I ended up making this big master list of indoor vs outdoor needs, which prompted me to make a Google Doc so this will be better organized next year. I then had to run to both Target and Menards to re-stock, spending over $75 on new lights…. (also, not that simple- apparently November 13 is on the late side. Many lights were sold out already! Adding note to calendar to do this on like, November 1st next year….).

#4: Christmas cards did NOT happen. Not even close. Didn’t even pick photos. Oh well!

Bonus #5: But you know what did happen??? Something I’d NEVER done this early before, in my life…..

Yep, the CHRISTMAS TREE went up!! On November 13.

It’s a long story, but after perusing my calendar, I decided that our usual time to do the tree (weekend after Thanksgiving) looked a bit filled up already. Normally I decorate the rest of the house earlier in November, but save putting the tree up for after Thanksgiving.

However, I decided that this year (since we host Thanksgiving), I wanted to keep the kitchen/ dining area “Thanksgiving-y” looking- meaning no Christmas decorations out there.

Instead, I’ll use the weekend after Thanksgiving to decorate the rest of the house (and we also have some other plans). In an effort to make that weekend a bit less full, I decided we’d get the tree “out of the way” now.

(When I told Ivan I wanted to “get the tree out of the way” (I admit, that sounds really bad- totally not what I meant, exactly….), he responded, “Well, how about we just eat the turkey now too so we won’t have to worry about fitting that in on Thanksgiving Day???” HA. Touche. Such a FUNNY guy! 😉 )

We put on Xmas music and up it went! I can’t complain. I honestly love it. The longer, the better for me. 🥰

And some ornaments!

The kids absolutely adore unboxing the ornaments. They couldn’t wait. A majority were either purchased as souvenirs on vacation (I LOVE this tradition!!! It’s the best way to look back on where we’ve been, highly recommend) or represent their current interests (soccer, piano related, swim, etc.).

When we finished, we cleaned up and then all sat down, turned the fireplace on and I read several chapters out loud from The Day the World Came to Town.

Oh yeah, and this weekend we also went out to dinner both nights (NO cooking happened….oops.) We all went out for nachos Friday night:

The owner brought the kids this massive churro/ ice cream mix!!! YUMMY!

And Saturday night Ivan and I went out alone, to a local place (literally, 2 blocks from home) that we had a gift card for. Pizza and wine and they had live music. So great, so relaxing.

I also took Ethan to a piano competition Saturday afternoon! He did amazing! Played soooo beautifully- honestly the best I’d ever heard him play the piece! NO mistakes. So proud of him. 🙂 I really, really wish he were a bit more “into” the piano, because he has such a beautiful touch on the piano. Sigh.

And we went to the mall afterwards! I returned something AND bought a dress for an upcoming work holiday party.

Yesterday Ivan took Ethan to a soccer tournament (last of the season) in Illinois, so they were gone from 8-3 or so. I was happy to have less people in the house so I could tackle the above projects. (I had Hallmark movies on while I puttered around the house… it was so peaceful.)

It was a full weekend. I probably just made everything sound super peachy and perfect. Sorry. It was and it wasn’t. It was mostly good, but there were also plenty of hiccups, too. (Those damn lights were so annoying! And I had a dilemma finding the dress I wanted in my size. And lugging the tree up and down and all the boxes was a big pain, too. And my closet clean-out made my head spin.)

But, I’m very happy to have made some good progress. I’m feeling a sense of “relief” right now.

Now, on to the week. Hope it’s a good one for you. ~One week til Thanksgiving already!

Daily Gratitude:

I am grateful that the kids still love to decorate the Christmas tree. 🙂

16 thoughts on “Holiday planning/ holiday stress + something I’d never done before”

  1. I honestly don’t know what the “right” time is to buy Christmas light. Once, years ago, my dear cat chewed the strand of lights we used to decorate our tree. This was back when we lived in an apartment and only had a three foot tree. Anyway, I went to all the places looking for a strand of white lights for indoors with tiny bulbs and there weren’t any left. So I made a note for the next year to buy them right after Thanksgiving, and, as you suggest, it was still a challenge! I guess if you need to buy lights and you’re particular about what kind you have to buy them the day after Halloween!


    1. That brings up a whole other issue I didn’t touch on in my already stupidly long post… lol. I always have this fear that if I use lights leftover from LAST year (IF they even work, which, can be rare), what happens if they burn out 2 weeks into the season?? For example. My christmas tree takes 5 strands of lights. 4 of the 5 still worked from last year. But what if 1 or more burn out, after the garland and all the ornaments are on, and then I can’t get a replacement strand, and my tree is all half lit for the rest of the season?!?! Tragedy!! haha. I ended up putting all new lights on the tree, and I’ll use the old ones outside or somewhere that feels less important to me than our Christmas tree.

      Also, I am not picky about the brand per se, but I usually get the cheapest lights possible. Which may seem like a bad idea in terms of quality (and is probably true), but we have tons of squirrels in our yard. And sometimes….they chew our lights! So I’m not willing to invest in expensive LED lights that may or may not last the season anyway. I stick with the $5 Target brand usually, if I can get them in stock…


  2. I used to put our tree up over Thanksgiving weekend. But then in 2020 I was so desperate to have something to boost my mood/give our house the extra glow so we put it up early. And now that is just how we do it, although that means I am ready to take the tree down on like 12/26! We will put our tree up next weekend. And that is when we start the busy season of the holidays, too, although it is not very out of control for us yet since we don’t have concerts and such. But I know Christmas will come crazy fast since we go to Mexico for 5 days in the 2nd week of the month. So I am trying to get ahead of things as much as possible. We have a plan for the boys’ gifts and don’t have many gifts to buy besides that luckily! So I get by pretty easily and generally really enjoy this season. But it is sad that something that is supposed to be joyful and fun gets bogged down by stress!


    1. I remember that you put yours up pretty early last year too! I love the glow of it, so it doesn’t bother me at all. Doesn’t feel “too early”. I greatly prefer to enjoy Christmas in the pre-Christmas stage, versus after Christmas (though I like to leave my Xmas stuff up through New Years.) I feel like the season actually flies by. I forgot that your trip is in December!! Eek, going away right before Christmas might stress me out more. haha. Last year we went to Mexico right AFTER Christmas, in early January, and that felt perfect. Like a reprieve from all the hustle and bustle. But you’ll have such a blast!! Can’t wait to hear all about it.


      1. It is so hard to figure out a time when we can go on vacation because of the nature of Phil’s job. But December is usually quiet in our industry so we figured it was a good time to go. I don’t feel as stressed about the holidays as others but we have to buy so few gifts so I think that’s part of why it’s not super stressful for us! And any holiday stress that accumulates over the coming weeks will be hopefully wiped away with some time on the beach!!


  3. We put our tree up this weekend too and it was earliest ever! But our plans for Saturday cancelled (due to Covid) so with a long evening ahead with nothing to do, it felt like a way to make the most of it.


  4. We put up our mantle swag last week and honestly it was because I wanted SOMETHING off my holiday to-do list.
    I’m dithering about putting the artificial tree up downstairs again. The first year in our house I put it by the TV, but it blocked my husband’s view of said screen and he was NOT. A. FAN. Every year since I’ve put it in the back corner, but when we’re in that room, our backs are to the tree the whole time, so it kinda feels like a waste of time…but then, it makes me sad to not put it up because even if I don’t see it as much as I’d like, there is something cheery about having something festive in the basement, too. I debated putting it in our office because we would see it in there more since my husband and I both work from home. But, again, the logical place to put it would be in a corner tucked away from my desk so I would never see it in my peripheral vision. I have thought way too much about this tree – haha. After that, I will just slowly pick away at putting up a few decorations here and there and then in early December we will go get the real tree for upstairs. My husband wants to get an artificial after a major accident getting the tree out the front door a few years ago. But I’ve quietly not brought that up again and we DID get a real tree last year. There is just something so lovely about the smell…but there are a lot of perks to an artificial tree. The one I’m deliberating on for the basement we bought for $30 the first year we were married, so I’m most sad to not put it up because it would be the first year. But where else to put it? You come to my house and help me sort out the tree, and I’ll come to your house and help you blitz your closets?!


    1. Haha yes!! It feels like a legit dilemma if you don’t have quite the right place to put your tree! When we were house hunting years ago, there were a few were I literally said, Hmm… I don’t think this living room would work well for a Christmas tree. haha! It’s an important thing to me! Luckily, our living room has a good spot right in front of the window. In our basement we also put up a smaller artificial tree because we do Christmas Eve down there by our bar, but we do NOT have the perfect space down there. We end up putting it in a place that it partially blocks our TV that hangs in front of the treadmill. But realistically, I’m really the only one who uses the treadmill, and not even that often, so it’s not a huge deal. Looks a little odd to me parked right in front of the TV in the corner, but otherwise, it’s good enough.


  5. I would definitely feel overwhelm for all the holiday preps while still running the household as usual. it’s a happy stress I guess, to make the final moment when you sit down to eat the turkey/christmas dinner feel so much better, isn’t it?
    I haven’t done any holiday prep since we moved to Asia as we usually just travel. oh… need to plan for December trip already.


    1. We’ve talked about just traveling over the holidays and skipping all the other stuff, but I just can’t ever bring myself to do it. We NEVER ever travel over Christmas because I really love the traditions at home. I would miss them!!!


  6. You have a beautiful tree and your post made me almost want to get a tree right now 😉 We will wait until after Thanksgiving though. When you wrote that you were on the late side for the lights that made me pause for a second (wait, what, I can’t get lights anymore?). But then again, I think I am still using the same light we bought 10 years ago, so fingers crossed they will last another year. I will find out early december.


    1. Wow, what kind of lights do you have that last 10 years?!?! That’s amazing!! Mine definitely never last nearly that long. Like I told NGS above, I always get paranoid, especially with the tree lights, that they will burn out mid-season, after the tree is already decorated. And then what would I do?! Would be super annoying to have to take everything off in order to re-string 1 strand of lights!


  7. You have a spreadsheet for your Christmas lights. Color me impressed. 😉 But if that helps to feel less stressed for the holiday season, that’s a good thing. I really love the holidays and cherish the time, but yeah, there are definitely some ” stressful components” involved. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all just take the month of November and December off to get organized?! Also, unless Ivan is involved in all the holiday organizational stuff, he has no right to joke about you fitting in setting up the Christmas tree last weekend. LOL

    I think one of the first blog posts I read was where you had a photo of your piano and talked about Ethan practicing… 🙂


  8. Good grief, that’s a lot to do. I’m glad you got your tree up since it brings you so much joy! And, I love seeing how the boys appreciate and love their favorite ornaments – that was always my favorite part of decorating our family’s tree. The same stories came out every year and it was just part of the ritual. ❤


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