The Holly and the Ivy

cookies.jpgWhen do you make Christmas cookies?  Do you bake early and often during December or wait until Christmas is upon us?

Unless I am called upon to produce Christmas cookies for an exchange or potluck, I prefer to save my baking until right before Christmas.  We start eating them on Christmas Eve and continue enjoy them throughout the rest of the week.  If I baked cookies too early then they’d be gone before Christmas.

It’s also part of my plan to have a low-stress Christmas.  I have my shopping done around Halloween and my cards mailed by the 17th.  Cookies are baked around the 21st.  The rest of the month we just enjoy the sights and sounds of the season.  Too many rushed and hectic Christmases past have taught me to plan ahead, slow down and relax.

We do our decorating during the weekend after Thanksgiving.   Except this year, where we were busily packing for our cruise.  Did I mention we went on a cruise?  The ship was beautifully decorated for Christmas and the Disney characters were dressed for winter.  Wait, where was I?  Oh yes – the decorating.  I held off on decorating during Thanksgiving weekend for years.  It was still November, after all!  But then days and sometimes weeks would pass with nary an evergreen on our mantle and I would get frustrated.  I finally realized that the crucial step in decorating, without which there would be neither holly or ivy, was Philip retrieving the Christmas boxes from the garage/shed/under the stairs.  If I tried to wait until December, then I also needed to wait until he was home from work and probably even after dinner.  The boxes would then sit in the house until he had time to climb the roof for the lights and help me assemble the tree.  Manly work, that Christmas decorating.  So one year I gave in and used Thanksgiving weekend for decorating.  And what do you know, just like that, my December to-do list was shortened.  I’ve never looked back.

Now growing up, one set of my cousins didn’t even put up their tree until Christmas Eve.  I thought that was sad and a bit extreme.  I know that the Christmas season technically and liturgically doesn’t start until Christmas Day, this being the Advent Season afterall, but that’s a bit much.

I just refuse to let Christmas stress me out.  I want to sit back and listen to Christmas carols and look out our tree.  I want to go to Christmas parties knowing that I don’t need to rush off to do some last minute shopping.  And you know what I do if the Christmas cards don’t get out in time?  I send New Year’s cards!  Vista Print and Kodak even have some nice New Year’s photo cards.  Order them right before Christmas when you realize your Christmas cards aren’t going out and they’ll arrived just in time to mail around the 28th.  Actually, go ahead and order them now and let yourself off the hook for the Christmas cards.

So what do you do to relieve the load during Christmas time? (and have you noticed that when I ask a question at the end of a blog post, hardly anyone answers?)

More Mac and Cheese, please!


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  • Hi Lorri, I find that every year seems to get harder and harder. I am really trying to keep the reason behind Christmas in the forefront, and find myself going back to the same simple traditions my parents had for all of us growing up. We put our tree up usually around two weeks before Christmas, and I don’t get as crazy about decorations around the house like I used to. As long as I have the tree,the manger, and stockings hung, I’m happy. Cookies have to be done next week for a cookie exchange. Six dozen, so I’ll have plenty to share come Christmas. That’s about all.

  • Hey Lorri. I do most shopping online, so that cuts out the running. My mil and I get together and make cookies all day and only for one day. I only take what I know will get eaten (and not by me). I wrap at night when the kids go to bed and it relaxes me. I wrap as I get the gifts so I am not stressed trying to get them all wrapped at one time. The tree and decorations go up Thanksgiving weekend too. I feel that Christmas is here and gone so quickly that I like having it up longer. Hmmm, whatelse? I have opted out of most pal exchanges this year. It was too stressful and too expensive. Hmm. That’s about it.

  • Your plan sounds so lovely. I wish I were as organized. I’m on the fence whether to skip Christmas cards this year. And if I post a question it is a guarantee I will get NO comments at all and feel stupid all day. :)

  • Hi Lorri! This year I did almost ALL of my shopping online. I had surgery the week after Thanksgiving, and this was a lifesaver for me. The girls and I have been doing a little wrapping at a time, so that is under control. The only stress I feel at the moment is how much longer till the long johns get here so they can be mailed off to Iraq. Meanwhile, tomorrow will be fudge making and some cookies to send with the longjohns(enough to feed a Company).

  • My goal every year is to have the shopping done by Thanksgiving. I had planned to keep up our normal schedule, but one of my kids thinks that the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years are holidays- no school. It’s hard to get anything done. I have to work pretty hard to keep December from turning into a movie-watching, candy-eating frenzy. I’m cutting back on the decorations some this year. While I don’t feel Scrooge-like, Christmas doesn’t seem to have the same meaning to me that it has in years past. I’m slowing way down and focusing on the spiritual right now. I think that’s the key. If I’m peaceful, the celebration will be too. If I feel out of control. so will the celebration. My best of intentions are.. keep a normal schedule, limit TV and sugar, keep it all in perspective.

  • I did most of my shopping early – I began in October but that was to avoid the overseas mail rush. I did realize two days ago that I don’t have enough gifts for youngest ds’ bday (which is two days after Christmas) but dh and I are going to Regensburg this weekend so I’ll be on the lookout for another item or two.

  • Lorri,

    I sit here with my head hung in shame. . .the only decoration out is the Advent wreath. I am dreading Christmas decorations with my very busy toddler!
    On-line shopping has been a great help this year, less running around and it is always so fun when the UPS truck stops at my door.
    As for holiday baking, I used to do it all at once. Now that my kiddos are older and like to help out, we do a little here and there. I find I don’t have the patience for a whole day of baking messes, so one or two batches of cookies at a time works well. I choose recipes that freeze well, so we enjoy a few and freeze the rest for our Christmas visitors. I also try the freezer trick with foods to make meal prep easier. For example, if I make lasagna, I’ll do a double batch and freeze one. Then all I have to do is thaw and bake.
    Merry Christmas,

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