Advent and Christmas in Review - Notes to Self for Next Year

I decided that this year will be the year I finally make some concrete notes for myself for next year's Advent and Christmas while it's all still fresh in my mind.  The things to keep, the things to change, the reminders of things that worked and things that didn't.  If I don't do it now, I know myself well enough to know that they will all evaporate by, oh, let's say next week.  Maybe everyone else is smarter than me and already does this.  Or maybe your memories are better than mine.  Probably.  But I think these reminders may be really helpful to me next November and I'll be really grateful to have them.  It's probably weird to put them down here but the internet is far less likely to lose them than I am, that I know.  So lucky you gets the privilege of witnessing my rambling note taking, too!  Yay!

Dear Self:

read this book again (and get more of her writings for the rest of the year!).  Oh, and find something great to read during the Christmas season, too.

•Above all else, GET UP CRAZY EARLY for prayer and reading.  That was a life changer.  Hopefully, you've been doing it all year anyway but if not, START AGAIN.

•Handmade gifts are wonderful.  They really are.  You'll be so glad you did them, but please for the love of your sanity remember to start them in September.  And if you plan on using a pattern, please remember to make sure you understand the pattern before you start the cutting.

•It was really really really nice not having any big commitments or parties until Christmas.  Do what you can to have that happen again.

•Advent friends from when you were little!  Remember those?  You can do that with our family now!  The older boys should all be old enough to get it and it could be really great.

•Don't plan on lessons happening the two weeks before Christmas or the two weeks after.  There's too much distraction and you'd much rather be soaking in the season.  Plan accordingly. 

•If you do the Gifts for the King again, just have a jar filled with change and let the boys put it in themselves.  They won't cheat and you won't keep putting it off and then forget to put it in.  It'll encourage them to do more, too, I think.

•Do more to observe the O Antiphon days...daily treats, larger "O" ornaments to hang somewhere else?  Think on that.

•Hire someone to help with the Advent cleaning.  (What?  A girl can dream, can't she???)
•Stick with turning the window candles on on St. Lucy's day but maybe consider waiting to light the tree until Christmas Eve...we may have done that one year, I can't remember.  I think we'd like that, though.

•Keep the card sending simple again.

•Find a great place or way to serve during the Christmas season in addition to the Advent service.  A family project, a soup kitchen, something?

•Before Advent begins, review the Jesse Tree ornaments and verses and make sure they match up.  Pick the ones that make the most sense to us.  Oh, and do the Jesse Tree in the morning.  Doing it with the prayers at dinner was okay but a little too rushed.

•Maybe have the boys pick names for gifts.  Or maybe not.

•Use November to pick out gifts for boys to make for grandparents and Godparents and do them earlier.  And make your gift lists in October.  Use the rest of the year to add ideas to Pinterest boards and Amazon lists.  I did a little of that this year and it was really helpful.

•After a Christmas Eve sugar induced meltdown we put waaaaay less candy in the stockings than normal (2 small chocolates and a candy cane!) and they were just as happy,  We have more than enough treats without that and the boys slept better and didn't have any more crazy sugar highs.  So much better for all of us...

•Put a real dollar coin in their shoes on St. Nicholas Day along with a few of the chocolate ones.

•Have people over as much as you can.  It's so fun to be with people during Christmas and enjoy the company and the fellowship.

•Related:  Stock up on wine and beer and maybe some non-wimpy liquor as well.

•You have more than enough Advent candles to last you probably til the Second Coming.  You don't need to buy any this year.

Maybe think about going to a different Christmas Mass.

•You must must must go to the Messiah performance at the basilica next year.  Make it a priority.

•Organize the anonymous gift exchange at Mom's party again.  That was really fun!  (Maybe even a kid's version??  Only if it's not too much.)

•Don't make a double batch of the birthday cake.  You always go home with half of it and end up eating cake for weeks.  Or if you do, at least make it a cake you like more.

•Buy a few more boxes of lights when you see them on sale!  The ancient decade old ones have finally died.

•Have John Paul learn more carols on the piano.

•Make at least some of the cookie dough at the beginning of Advent and freeze it.  You'll be grateful that last week.

•Get packages to send in the mail out as soon as possible.  Every single year you breathe a sigh of relief and feel more at peace when that is done.

•It was really fun letting the boys put the small tree up in their bedroom and decorate it themselves.  Do that again.

•Cut down a tree.  Yes, it's easier to get the precut ones but they lose their needles faster. Plus, if you want, you can send the boys and let it be their manly tradition while you make the ultimate sacrifice and stay home to make the hot chocolate...

•Don't ever forget those faces.  Take the pictures even when you don't feel like it. 

Do you have any notes for next year?


  1. I'm still chuckling over your note on the Advent candles. I do that every year too - buy them after Christmas when they're 60% off but then I buy more when Advent starts b/c I never remember my money saving/convenience ways from 11 mos. earlier. Go figure.
    Last year, my mom was wise and told me to write it on my new calendar. So when I got my new 2013 calendar I flipped to Nov. and wrote "The Advent candles are in the dining room closet. Don't buy more, you fool!" :)

    1. Hahaha! I need a much bigger calendar for all the things I forget like that!

  2. No more Advent candles not safely tucked into glass...apparently at age 51 I am not responsible enough to manage Advent candles. We had our second fire in two years. Yikes! Hopefully just absent-minded business and not early dementia. ;-)

    I put that book on my wish list. Looks good.

    I made only one handmade gift this year (other than jewelry) and I was so much more relaxed about gifts.

    I need to make fewer cookies. Each child gets to pick one recipe for me to make, but we have so much left. I guess now that half are adults we don't eat as much.

    Good to make lists. The old memory just isn't reliable.

    1. We had way too many cookies this year, too! We still have so much left. I'm not sure why we didn't eat as many but I suppose that's a good thing!

  3. I'm the same with candles, bought lots a few years back and we're good for another few years! Great idea with the cookie dough.

    1. So I think we all need an Advent candle intervention...

  4. Good idea! I've been burning down our advent candles for the last week so I can justify getting new ones next year - H. should be old enough to enjoy those roll your own kits I've been eying for a while!


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