Christmas Decorating Party – You Need One Too!

Warm chocolate chip cookies, milk in a frosty glass, classic holiday music, and a tub of Christmas decorations. Sounds like a party!
Since being married 3 years ago, we have had an annual Christmas decorating party where we dig out the red tub, string up lights, and write out our Christmas cards.  We dance in the kitchen to the Christmas music I’ve dug out for the first time in the season while wishing we hadn’t eaten so many cookies and there are candles everywhere. Today I thought I would share a few traditions we have made together for our Christmas decorating party to make the holidays more meaningful and mindful. Enjoy!

Red glitter cards to share the love of God this season are a staple

The Food
This year we made chocolate chip cookies, most years there is at least hot cocoa involved too. I was smart and only baked half of the dough that was made up, but we still managed to polish off the entire plate that was made (Hey, don’t judge I’m headed to work out today). Taking time to make the cookie dough from scratch and smelling them while they turn golden brown are my favorite parts of holiday baking.

The Cards
We take time every year to write cards to family and friends. We love getting to put holiday wishes, a note that we’re praying for them, or letting them know how much we have appreciated having them in our lives this past year. Having a specific time set aside to get these done is helpful, and knocking the list out together makes it a cinch. It’s the thoughts in the cards that count and not what you paid for them, so I’ll share my little secret that I also always buy my cards on after-Christmas sales and store them in the red tub for next year.

Candlelight makes everything more festive!

The Music
We listen to the Pandora station for Trans Siberian Orchestra with all of their classical renditions of carols and songs. We both like the older classic songs and instrumental versions for our wild party. A little Lindsey Stirling in the mix makes for a pretty dreamy atmosphere. Check out the station shown in the picture  by clicking here.

Trans Siberian Orchestra and Lindsey Stirling are our favorite Christmas artists

Limiting the decorations
This one sounds a little weird for having a party. Trust me though, it’s much more fun. The house rule is it all has to fit back into the 20 gallon red tub at the end of the December. (We don’t presently have a Christmas tree – if we get one in the future it would be an exception.) No one wants to have to make numerous trips to the storage room and lug endless boxes from the attic. If you have ever been to a garage sale or thrift store you know the people I am talking about who have an extreme excess of Christmas decor. Tyler and I both said we never wanted that for our family. Being beautiful doesn’t have to mean being extravagant. Try it out! How can you streamline your decor? You might even find you are happier with less clutter during this holiday season.

Taking a moment in the middle of the busy season to spend an evening with family and decorate our home has grown to be a tradition we both look forward to immensely each year.

What Pre-Christmas traditions do you have? 🙂 Would love to hear in the comments.

Holiday Health Check. How Are You Spiritually?

Wait! Stop Winter! You’re running over fall. Be nice and wait your turn! Goodness, 4 inches of snow and a week of frigid temperatures does not look like a typical early Oklahoma November. Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday but it is being run over by Christmas with this weather. I just can’t keep a Thanksgiving mindset when I run to the store and they’re playing Christmas carols while it’s snowing outside! But I am trying to be grateful, the snow is pretty and God controls the weather too. Anyway, Thanksgiving is still coming and Christmas right behind it, providing the perfect season for a little soul searching. How is your spiritual health?

Our backyard, this view was gorgeous that morning

Priorities: How are you prioritizing God in your life? Are you investing in your daily spiritual walk? Maybe think about picking up a new podcast this week. Below are links to two, the first is a 5 minute once weekly podcast and the second is a longer podcast. I absolutely love the 5 Minutes in Church History one, it’s time efficient, thorough, and entertaining. The second one is totally worth your time with sound, deep, biblical teaching that will keep you grounded in your faith.

5 Minutes in Church History – Stephen Nichols

Grace to You Podcast – John McArthur

How about time in Scripture? You don’t have to wait till New Years to try to pick up a new habit of daily reading or to renew your former habit. We miss out on so many blessings when we don’t have His words on our heart daily. Engaging an accountability partner is a great idea to help each other out too.

Attitude. This one is a hard one for me. Remembering to be a thankful person who trusts God for what’s next can be a challenge; but if we trust Him to redeem us by His love and grace we have to trust Him with the rest of our lives too. We can’t be complaining, gossiping, irritable, people. We are called to be joyful, encouraging, patient followers of Christ. Does your attitude reflect your newness of life?

Compassion. Holidays are easy times to think of others but right here on the edge of the holiday season and following the season to the rest of the year, we have the privilege of  being the heart and hands of Christ to a church and world filled with hurting people. Visit a home-bound member of your church. Volunteer around your community. Watch the kids of a young couple at your church free of charge because they just need a break. Send a card to a person who recently experienced crippling loss. Buy coffee for a young person (not too young lol) and ask them about life. Experience the joys of having an overflowing heart when you choose to love the people around you.

Faith. Can you defend yours? What exactly do you believe? If you came across a high school friend on the street could you share your testimony with them? These are tough questions and the answers require a lot of diligent study, thought, effort, and prayer. It’s the 21st century, Christianity is still under constant bombardment from all sides. As a soldier of Christ we have to put on the full armor of God and be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks.

Many Christians today are considered “nominal” meaning they show up on Sundays and Wednesdays (sometimes), live to check boxes that earn them points toward heaven, only live pure lives in church service, or overbook their lives so that church and the things of God are just an afterthought. Are you a nominal Christian? Or are you a passionate follower of Christ, your Savior,  who takes joy in pursuing righteousness, and live a life that beams the light of truth to those around you?  Take this spiritual health check seriously and let’s be accurate reflections of the church we are called to be. 🙂
If you have a family the infographic below has some fun ideas:

What are ways you stay accountable for your spiritual health? 🙂

Other Tips:

  • This is not an exhaustive list
  • This is not a “to-do” list
  • This can be a fun exercise, especially with a spouse, friend, or family