This is the newest holiday pattern by Maureen Mills of Sweet Meadows Farm. Click on the title "Countdown to Christmas" and it will take you to Maureens wonderful website.
I usually wait until after Thanksgiving to start thinking about Christmas. It's not that I'm such a procrastinator when it comes to the holidays (well ok, I do sometimes procrastinate). But it's actually that I love Thanksgiving and want it to be given the proper respect. It's not simply a day we have to get through in order to arrive at Christmas. It's a day to stop and reflect on how fortunate we are to live in this country and enjoy the freedoms we have. Ok, having expressed that, I will now break my own rule and share a fun idea for Christmas.
My good friend, Deanna, and I often talk about what we can do to make our lives simpler and happier. We agree that we're relatively happy, but we've often regreted becoming frazzled and disenchanted at holiday time. The charm of the holidays is sometimes lost among the things we feel obligated to do at this time of the year - cleaning, baking, decorating, shopping, gift wrapping, cooking, and attempting to provide joy to everybody around us. Traditionally, we women are not very good at asking for help so by the time Christmas arrives, we're often tired, grumpy, and wishing it was over. Deanna and I don't like feeling that way, so two years ago we decided to challenge ourselves to try something we thought would be fun and bring us both joy during the season.
Deanna named this idea, "Countdown to Christmas". We wondered how it would be to prepare modest gifts for each other and open one each day in December, leading up to, and including, Christmas Day. We adopted a few frugal guidelines for this new adventure. First, we decided we'd explore our gift drawers and closets in order to find things we had purchased at the after-Christmas sales or found during a buy-one-get-one-free shopping experience, perhaps in a previous season. We agreed that it was perfectly acceptable to shop at thrift stores for our gifts, and we set a monetary limit of $10.00, not including the cost of postage, since we live in different towns and would need to ship our items to each other. The idea was to share what we had on hand or make gifts from supplies already in our possession. If we wanted to purchase something, we vowed to not pay more than a total of $10.00, for however many items we chose. That was truly a challenge.
We entered into our adventure with one additional agreement - that no matter what each of us received, if it wasn't something we could use, we would pass that item on to someone who might be able to use it and feel no guilt about doing so. We prepared one week's worth of gifts at a time and sent each other a box every week until Christmas. Each gift was uniquely wrapped and labeled as to which day it was to be opened. Deanna was expert at finding fun ways to wrap her gifts to me and I could hardly wait to open each one. Our countdown began on December 1st.
I'd receive a box, open it, and place the gifts for the week under the Christmas tree. I chose to open my daily gift in the early morning, as soon as I woke. Hubby was usually eating breakfast at the time and preparing to leave for work, and he shared in the excitement. He was always eager to see what I received. At one point he said he was a bit envious of the fun I was having, since "guys don't do that kind of stuff".
Having a gift to open each day was pure joy. Our gifts to each other were not elaborate or expensive, but they were so much fun to give and receive. We agreed it was uplifting to be remembered during the hectic holiday season. Deanna and I continued to go about our daily tasks of preparing things for our families during the holidays, but that year our hearts were lighter and we were happier knowing we were doing something for us too.
The only thing we would change is that we'd gather all our gifts to each other and present them in one container during a visit before the holidays. Postage has become more expensive and spending so much to send the gifts would be counter-productive to our goal of being frugal. It was so much fun that we might just have to do it again sometime. I hope some of you will try this. It's challenging to find gift items that don't cost very much, but it's oh so rewarding.