This time of year is crazy for my family. I can’t even count the number of times my husband has said, “Everything just sped up when we got back from Cincinnati (our vacation at the beginning of September).” And he’s exactly right.
Soccer started the next week. Then my husband started working a lot of overtime. Family pictures, Halloween, trying to organize our new house, church events, a trip to the pumpkin patch, birthday parties, and lots of other things quickly filled our family calendar. Sound familiar? This past week after we finished another round of family pictures, this time for the church directory, I mentioned to a friend I finally felt like I could breathe for a few days!
Now we are moving into the season of Thanksgiving, homeschool group events, more birthdays, our wedding anniversary, more crazy overtime hours for my husband, lots of shopping, children’s plays at church, and Christmas. (As I type this I am reminded that I am supposed to go to the eye doctor’s office to pick up my husband’s contact today. Ha! It never ends.)
I was recently introduced to Man Crates and the great gifts they offer for men. They ship cool gifts for those hard-to-buy-for guys in a crate with a crowbar to open it. Really fun idea! It got me thinking about the things I do and use in an effort to calm some of the chaos. I like to simplify things, but not at the expense of having fun and enjoying this time of year. For example, this year we did a double birthday party for two of our kiddos – complete with two themes! I also have little things and traditions I keep to give us calm moments and fun memories.
The first of my holiday must-haves is our Amazon Prime membership. Oh my, whoever thought of that was a genius. We live over twenty miles from the nearest Wal-Mart, almost 40 to the nearest Target. I have 4 kids under the age of 5 that still take naps. Amazon Prime is my BFF. Last year my husband’s Christmas gift arrived on December 23rd at 6:30 p.m. I’m not joking. I tend to be a last minute shopper. It takes time to decide on the perfect gift! Amazon Prime saves me. I use it to buy everything from gifts to toilet paper. (Seriously, their subscribe & save option is awesome. Delivered right to my door, so I don’t have to worry about forgetting and running out with guests here.) Right now there are two boxes downstairs from Amazon – one with a gift for my son and one containing a part for my husband’s truck.
The second must have on my list: hot chocolate with a peppermint candy cane. When the days get hectic and exhausting I love to sink into my bed or a comfy chair with a cup during nap time or after putting the kids to bed. Sometimes it’s from a box and sometimes it’s homemade. I’m not too picky on what kind. The candy cane is a must though. It makes it a bit more fun and festive, and luxurious maybe?
Number three on my holiday survival kit list: Crockpots. Yes, that’s plural. I can cook supper for my family in one while I’m shopping or wrapping gifts, and cook that potluck dish in another crockpot, or a side dish for our own table. Or a dessert. Or a meal to go in the freezer for a hectic night when I won’t have time to cook! The possibilities are endless. Having multiple crockpots take multitasking to a new level. Last week my husband came home and found me using three crockpots and a stock pot at the same time. I might have a problem.
Another item on my must-have list this holiday season is my meal planning calendar! Every two weeks I sit down and write on the monthly calendar any events we have that will keep me busy during the day. Those days I know to schedule crockpot meals. I told you I’m addicted. 🙂 I also put down any church dinners, evenings we will have guests, be eating out, etc. Then I plan what meals I will cook. I post that on the front of my refrigerator. That way I don’t have to rush in from the boys’ Christmas program at church and try to throw a meal together at 7:30 at night, and I’m not scrambling to figure out what I have ingredients to cook for our small group Thanksgiving meal.
The fifth and final, absolute must-have on my list: Christmas morning breakfast at my Big Mama’s house. (Yes, that’s really what we call my grandma.) I haven’t missed a single one in the 27 years I’ve been on this Earth. Biscuits, gravy, eggs, sausage, and lots more spread on folding tables end-to-end in her kitchen and living room, surrounded by aunts, uncles, cousins, babies, friends, some years neighbors and relatives of relatives, and usually a puppy or two under the table waiting on someone to drop a bite of food! It is my favorite part of Christmas. I’m so thankful I get to share it with my husband and children.
So now I want to know, what would you put in your holiday survival kit?
Also, is it bad that 4 of my 5 involve food?