Four Days Left??!!! Don't Panic!

Women across the country are panicking… Christmas is in four days??!!

It’s funny—I don’t recall seeing any men stressed out because of Christmas, do you? One reason for the difference in attitudes is I believe we women put so many high expectations and added pressure on ourselves!

So do this with me, okay? Take a deep breath. And another. (Psychologists say this helps clear the brain and calm us!)

Now, picture what you really want to happen on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with your family. It is probably laughter, going to church together, smiles, happiness, joy, fun, peace, giggles, good conversations, games, God being glorified, etc. Right?

So, will cooking that added treat or running to the insane mall help accomplish that picture you want to happen?

At one point I had to learn to ask myself the question, “What is the worst that can happen if I don’t do _______?” And usually my worry was that someone (usually myself) might be a little disappointed, but it wouldn’t be the thing that could make or break what actually made Christmas, Christmas. So, as the line from “Frozen” says, “Let it go!”

Now I know many of us really enjoy doing creative things at Christmas—I know I do. So pick and choose what those are very wisely.

Here are a few tips to make this next week a little bit saner and help you create an atmosphere that allows for a special Christmas for your family (with some additional ideas from some great friends as well):

Plan ahead!

I can’t stress this one enough: Plan your food for the next week NOW! AND take a half hour to make a seven-day menu plan with the recipes in front of you. Then add ALL the ingredients to a grocery list on my big tip of the day: WUNDERLIST APPThis is a great, free app that keeps lists you can share with your spouse and even older children. They can also add items to the same list you all share. And different lists can have different titles, hence, GROCERY list! 



Take half a day or two evenings to cut, chop, and pre-make anything and everything you can. Our traditional Christmas Eve dinner is Stuffed Shells BECAUSE I make them ahead of time (and they are delicious). I am attaching this recipe and some other favorite do-ahead recipes at the end of this blog to help you. Coincidentally, today I am making that Christmas Eve dinner and freezing it! Christmas Eve morning I will make our breakfast casserole, Bubble Loaf (also for Christmas breakfast), and several recipes for Christmas dinner, so Christmas Day is easy! Get the idea?! Turn on the Hallmark movies and make it fun!


Use frozen rolls!

 They taste homemade – really. And they are easy and delicious. I use them all the time for special dinners and for our Bubble Loaf. They cost a bit more but are so worth the saved time and work! I use the Rhoades brand frozen rolls because they are available where I live.


Don't work too hard on the hard stuff.

One item I do not make, which you may or may not agree with – and that is okay – is candy. At most I’ll make one candy recipe. People give us candy or goodies since we are in ministry, and I will buy some special things (especially for Christmas Eve), but I don’t want too many extra sweets around. And if I do make sweets, I just don’t make a lot, so they don’t hang around too long. Sorry, that is just how I roll at the holidays.


Have a daytime snack plan.

I buy a big veggie tray from Costco (or Sam’s) to have around for days. It is so inexpensive to buy this from a food club, and veggies are so good to have on hand for lunches or snacks, that veggie trays have become a high priority for me during the holidays. (Okay, I have an extra refrigerator in our garage and it can be so cold here in Chicago, I can use my garage as an extra refrigerator!)


Don’t be afraid to buy goodies to take shortcuts.

I know Grandma always made those cookies from scratch, but she probably wasn’t working outside the home, nor did she have the schedule you have. So be realistic. Our special treats for when we decorate the Christmas tree? Store bought eggnog and White Fudge Oreos! This has become our tradition and everyone loves it!


You don't have to cook it...

One ministry friend says she buys tenderloin, salad, and rolls for Christmas dinner, and a cheesecake from Cheesecake Factory for a special dessert, and that’s it. Her family is wiped out after their eight candlelight services (over three days), and this is special. Another ministry family orders Chinese every year for their Christmas Eve dinner.


Keep great lists. 

One ministry friend says she makes many lists, because staying organized keeps her from having to make two or more trips to the same store. Huge time saver. That is why I am so careful when I make my grocery list!


Plan (and cook) ahead.

My sister just reiterated to me to plan ahead on shopping and to cook as much ahead as possible! (We were raised by the same mother!) It may feel too late for you this year, but it is worth putting this on your calendar for November 1st to repeat every year. Save your menu plans. Everything does not have to be perfect, just do your best and enjoy.


Amazon is your friend.

One final biggie! Order TODAY any other presents you need from Amazon! They might cost a bit more, but you also won’t spending on gas or impulse-buying other things you see at the store, so you will probably end up saving money. Most importantly, you’ll save time. (And if you join Amazon Prime, 2-day shipping is free on most things!)

Here is praying that your Christmas is blessed, peace-filled, and focused on Jesus!

Loving You Women Christmas-Planners,

P.S. Recipes are on the next post! Please add any recipes that are “Do Ahead” on the next post!!!

Also... some oldie-but-goodie Christmas photos of the Harlow family!