Well, the sun has barely set on Halloween and the stores are already turned over and set up for Christmas. And to be honest, I love it! It’s such a fun time of year. The holiday traditions, nostalgic feelings, peppermint scented everything, the lights, the trees, I love all of it. However, it is easy in the middle of the holiday bustle to get swept along and feel like you missed the whole point. So in order to avoid that ugly Christmas hangover on December 26th, here is a quick list that will help have a great holiday season! Also, for all you Scrooges that are griping about the fact that it’s not Thanksgiving yet, get over it. After all, we’re celebrating Jesus!

1. Decorate early.

Bust out all those decorations early. Before your life gets filled up with a thousand things to bake and a million parties to go to, go ahead and set up your tree so you actually have time to enjoy it. Light a scented candle and enjoy the aroma of season. The kids will love it and decorating early will help build anticipation.

2. Begin crafting the perfect Christmas playlist.

I always like a good blend of fun songs, traditional, and worship music that is focused on Christ’s first coming.

3. Volunteer at a local non-profit.

This is a great way to give back and remind yourself and the family that there are those less fortunate. Here is a great list of places you and the family can volunteer.

4. Surprise a neighbor, colleague or stranger with a freshly baked treat.

But no fruitcakes, please.

5. Set a budget.

Looking at our bank account can be painful come January 1st. It’s almost comical how we feel like the holidays “snuck up on us” again. So before Black Friday rolls around and you are shopping like a mad person, look over your finances and set a budget. Trust me, come the new year, you’ll be glad you did.

6. Read a classic Christmas story.

Go ahead and actually read Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol this year. On Christmas Eve read The Night Before Christmas to the kids. Also, take time to read the Christmas Story from the Bible by yourself AND with the family.

7. Light an actual wood fire.

Do you want to create a cozy environment? Light up your fireplace. If you don’t have one, organize a bonfire with your friends. Nothing beats the smell good old fashioned woodsmoke. If you are in Fresno though, make sure its an actual burn day.

8. Go Christmas Caroling.

Yes, it’s corny, but with the right group of friends, this can be a blast!

9. Have a Christmas Movie Marathon.

Write out a list and work your way through them over the next two months. A Muppet’s Christmas Carol, The Polar Express, Jingle All The Way, nothing helps to get into the spirit like Christmas movies.

10. Two words: Scented Pinecones.

11. Attend a special Christmas Service.

Fresno Church will be hosting a candlelight service on Christmas Eve. This reflective service is one of my favorites. With select Bible reading passages, Christmas songs, and real candles, this service will fill your heart and remind you what Christmas is all about.

12. Keep Jesus at the center.

It is so easy to get so busy that we don’t intentionally create any margin to meditate on Christ. Whether it is through a holiday devotional, a Christmas themed Bible reading plan, don’t forget about Jesus this holiday season. Plan time on your calendar to NOT DO ANYTHING. I know it sounds heretical, but take time to just be. Experience the joy that is found in His presence (Psalm 16). He is the reason after all.

13. Remember others.

The holidays offer so many unique ways to give back. You kind of have to have your head in the sand to miss them. Whether you are going shopping for other people, or just taking some extra time to listen to that overall talkative neighbor, remember to spend time investing into others.

Nick Minerva

Author Nick Minerva

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