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Okay, guys, it’s November 14th, which means there’s no hiding from the holidays. We’re officially two weeks from Thanksgiving and six from Christmas, so there will be no excuses for being prepared, engaged, and excited!
This year has been an intensely emotional one for me, which means I am pretty finely tuned up to soak in the holidays and try to appreciate the relationships I have. (Read: lots of talking, lots of time with friends and family without pulling the excuse of work between us!).
Here’s my checklist for getting ready for the holidays from a supernerd/ limited diet/ introvert/ Catholic prospective to help me enjoy the holidays on a plan. Let’s see if I can’t help you do the same!
1. Order up all your toiletries way in advance.
I discovered this hair cream from Alba earlier this year and it’s been a staple ever since. It gives me really defined curls that aren’t crunchy (unless I go way overboard :-)) and it’s free of all the junk that gives me headaches (synthetic fragrances, parabens, etc). I ordered a batch of five to make sure I am covered through the New Year (and really this should take me through March since I don’t use all that much).
Here’s my often-unfortunate fro transformed into pure awesomeness by this gel:
But this is just one of many toiletries we need to stay on top of before the holidays are upon us and I’m forced to get a mystery cream from Whole Foods. We also stocked up on electronic toothbrush heads, the good coconut milk, and plan to take advantage of Whole Food’s black friday sale to stock myself on a year’s worth of natural makeup. I go through one tube of ZuZu foundation every year, as well as about three Mineral Fusion mascaras and two Mineral Fusion eye shadows.
Note: I use all of the foundation, but the rest of them just get germs and start to make my eyes water. It’s so frustrating that I don’t actually use all the product! If anyone knows where to find natural mini-mascaras and mini-eye shadows, please let me know. I would love to use just a bit at a time so I don’t have to trash a perfectly good (but germy) item. (I’ve tried cleaning with alcohol wipes, but it’s no bueno for my eyes after that).
2. Map out your spiritual experience.
I’m really excited to NOT approach Christmas and advent with my usual last-minute, thrown-into it feeling. I can’t take all the credit for this because a good friend invited me to read it with her, but I’ll be reading an advent series for women to get into the right mind for Christmas this year. I also invited my sisters-in-law and mom to read Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver (also recommended by a friend/sister-in-law). Between these two activities (and all the extra time at church with my new small group), I should have plenty of opportunities to tap into some peacefulness.
Note: I don’t think this means “I’m covered,” but I do think it will create openings of time where I’ll specifically focus on spiritual stuff, leading to a higher likelihood of getting something out of it.
3. Make boundaries around work.
Just as you can wander into debt by accident but you can’t get out by accident, so goes work around the holidays. It is so, so easy to “accidentally” over-work the holidays or not be present when you’re visiting people because you’re checking your work email (I am terrible with this, often checking email right before I go to bed even though no one expects me to reply or be checking).
Instead, thanks to encouragement from How Will You Measure Your Life by Clayton Christiansen, I’m going to put a strict limit on my working time by planning it in advance. I’m going to open up the floodgates for next week (Nov 16-19), finish things up Monday and Tuesday of the holiday week, and then totally unplug for the time JHubbs has out of work, the Wed, Thurs, and Fri of Thanksgiving.
Then, I’ll crank it out the first three weeks in December and make a plan to unplug 95% of the time for the last two weeks of the year. Like I said before, this is difficult because it’s the last opportunity to really boost my income and get a fancy number on my tax return for the year (Currently at $80K “But man, wouldn’t $90 be cool?” Says my nothings-ever-good-enough brain), but I can feel it in my soul that that’s not a game I want to play anymore and the joy of sinking into the holidays freely (without work as the backbone of my identity) would be a really good idea this year.
“You restore my soul & you give me rest”
Click here to listen to this amazing song
4. Prepare home & outfits.
This is more of an excuse to showcase some recent purchases! We are still on the Dave Ramsey program, paying down about $3,000 in debt each month, but not moving has allowed us to prioritize some purchases lately -slash- my birthday gifts allowed me to actually buy things again, so I’ll turn it into a lesson for us all ;-).
While preparing for all of the holidays, it’s worth evaluating your wardrobe for things that fit and that you actually like to wear and for things around the home that could use some touching up. That way you don’t have to go on a last-minute shopping spree before you go to a holiday party or have company over. This also lets you pad your schedule so you have the time to hunt for a deal. Nothing’s worse than last minute full price!
First, we paid $90 for a heavily discounted (and slightly scratched up) chair from the local furniture rental place, CORT Clearance, and Miss Kyle quickly claimed it as her own.
Since it’s for the office, I use business funds for this and mark it as a business expense. This will DEFINITELY make it easier to have a set place to get cozy and read all the business books I have checked out from the library. It’s also awesome if we have a larger party in our 1.5 bedroom apartment so there’s another space people could sit and mingle.
Then, I used birthday funds from my parents (thank you, Mom and Dad!) to get an awesome fair trade alpaca scarf from One Little World, a local etsy shop. It’s a little larger than your average scarf — more like a wrap — and it’s an awesome, glowing, garnet green (in the photo, it’s the one in the middle, but it’s more neon mint/garnet than blue). I cuddle up in that when I read in the new chair and I feel kind of like winter royalty. No word yet on whether or not I trust myself to take it out of the house.
Finally, I retired my trusty $10 wallet during an epic while-driving spider attack (my worst fear realized). I started looking at Fossil wallets on Amazon because of the great quality of the bags I got at outlet about 6 years ago and I fell in love with the Sydney Flap.
I ordered one and it had a defect, then I got the free replacement and it had the same defect (off-center snap buttons so the whole flap tugged to the side). So, I high-tailed it to the Fossil store nearby and bought it full price: a gloriously soft, Indiana-Jones-leather-colored wallet (same color on the inside).
It’s luxurious, but I’m definitely uncomfortable having something this nice. It will take a while to feel like it’s mine or to not treat it with kid gloves. It was $95, marked down 10% for signing up for the newsletter. I used $45 birthday money and $20 family money (AKA the reasonable price to replace a wallet), and $25 spending money to make it happen.
This happened on the same day I got my starburst-colored fossil bag back from the cleaners after a spilled-kombucha incident left the entire bag infected with mold. It took $80 and about 6 weeks, but it’s nice to have it back (and cheaper than buying a new one, of course!).
As for holiday clothes, I am pretty sure I’m set. I wear the same uniform for work every day (tank top, lounge sweater, and shorts) so my clean-up clothes are pretty unused.
One or two of the dresses I have are on the too-big size because of pesco-AIP, but both can still work with a stretchy belt. I’ve also leveled-up into some pants that weren’t fitting before, so there’s an outfit boost there.Also, that means I’ll be more comfortable without clothes being all tight all the time (that’s been a neat, noticeable difference: lots of room in the stomach of the shirts that used to be tighter).
The only purchase I should need to make is for winter shoes like a good dress boot (synthetic ankle boot, of course). I also may need some winter walking shoes, as I’m still just wearing Keen sandals with socks (super classy) for my daily walks right now. That won’t cut it when it starts to slush outside.
5. Make a list of quick meals & snacks & stick it on the fridge.
This is one I made up right now and that will be a very important part of not crying through most of the holidays. Since I’ll be packing and traveling with all of my food (and I’ll need to regroup at home for all food, like when I’m spending the day with friends or doing something seasonal), I really need to make a list of quick and no-bake foods and snacks. I’ll still bulk cook some things, but being tired and just having a meal ready will be huge. Here’s’ what I’ve got so far:
- Tuna salad with coconut oil sweet potato chips and veggies This is a go-to, and it’s especially delicious with the Jackson’s chips from the store. I’d love to prioritize making these at home since I subsidize the grocery bill with my spending money to splurge on these chips about once per week
- Pre-cooked shrimp Keeping a bag in the freezer, I can defrost pre-cooked shrimp in about five minutes and heat in a little oil, then add to veggies
Desserts (to not be tempted by other desserts)
- Pumpkin AIP bars Great to make and keep in the freezer to grab
- Dried mango and/or dates (sugary, but chewy and filling)
- Homemade ice cream (requires some prep in putting the machine bottom in the freezer overnight, but WOW is it worth it! On our anniversary earlier this week, I made some strawberry maple clove ice cream (coconut milk base) that blew my mind! Though JHubbs didn’t like the clove. The next batch for this afternoon will be cinnamon (because you really need a secondary flavor).) Doesn’t travel well but is an amazing thing to look forward to and keep me away from other temptations.
That’s about all I’ve got that’s fast right now, so I’ll work on expanding this list. Please add to it in the comments if you’ve got some ideas!
6. Plan your expenses in advance.
And of course as the finance nerd, I’ll save the best for last. Right now we’ve budgeted $500 for all Christmas things (gifts, travel, extra food, cards and stamps, etc) that we’ll save in a lump sum at the beginning of next month. This comes with an extensive list of all the people we plan to buy for as well as how many cards and stamps we’ll need and home things like a Christmas tree and extra party food.
I’ve found that if we don’t set a limit, the list gets longer and longer throughout the month and we’ll start throwing truly random things on it. Before you know it, we’ve spent it all and there’s still a lot to buy.
We may still go over this amount, but starting with a specific budget makes it way easier to go over by $50 instead of spending $750 without a plan and wondering where it went.
How Do You Prepare For the Holidays?
So, tell me about it. Do you wait til the last minute and let the holidays hit you with seasonal cheer? Or are you out here planning it like I am? JHubbs is definitely in that first group. I find that we both still enjoy the holidays about equally, so I think this is more a personality thing than not.