Let’s dive right in to our 10 Tips for a Meaningful, Manageable & Memorable Christmas and talk about Tip One: Use a Calendar.

I’m talking about a good old-fashioned, month-at-a-glance, paper calendar. In our electronic age, this may seem antiquated, but I have returned to it as an indispensable tool for capturing a snapshot of my life as it appears in weeks and months. Buy one or print a November and December off the internet for free, and then immediately block out times you know are already dedicated to existing and ongoing activities: school, work, church, Bible study, youth group, sports practices and games, travel, volunteering, etc. This will expose your truly available time, as well as those things that are gobbling up your time (pun intended…ha!).

What’s left? Are you staring down a physically impossible schedule already? If yes, ask the Lord to show you anything He would have you move off your calendar, even if temporarily, and be ready to hear His answer and do what He says, even if it’s hard and might temporarily disappoint someone, including your own kids. Believe me, when it creates the framework for a peaceful and happy holiday season, they’ll end up thanking you!

Now look at the time you have free (or that you’re going to free up) and decide AHEAD OF TIME what you’re going to do with it:

  • When are you going to set aside for a daily quiet time with God? Block it out! I don’t know about you, but this truly is my most important standing appointment of all.
  • If you’re married, when is date night? Are you making sure you and your husband have time to keep the flame burning in your marriage?
  • What about family time? Specifically, family down time. Are there nights when you can just be at home together vegging, or is your calendar so full you’re gone every night of the week and have back-to-back commitments both weekend days? If you can’t find these times on your calendar, then I encourage you to make the time.

Again, decided AHEAD OF TIME what you’d like to do with any remaining time. This way you already have a plan in place to know if something you’re considering is something you can say yes to, as well as whether or not it fits your framework to say yes.

HELPFUL HINT: Use highlighters if it helps. Choose a color for the different areas of your life. I use yellow for family, green for our business and pink for writing and blogging. I don’t highlight everything, but I do color-code the entries that are of highest priority, especially if I would be dead meat if I forgot one or if they involve planning ahead or recovery time afterward. The colors help me pick out these entries at a glance without getting bogged down in all the little words on my calendar to find what I’m looking for or prioritize my time.

Take the time to make the time to get a grip on your time. Today.

Tomorrow’s tip: Set a Budget. Will you make sure to carve out just a few minutes on Thanksgiving day for tomorrow’s tip? I think you’ll be grateful you did (all puns intended…this really has to stop).

This series of tips is filling in the framework of The 3 M’s of a Merry Christmas. If you’ve missed a few tips along the way, you’ll find all ten here: 10 Tips for Making Christmas Meaningful, Manageable & Memorable.