1. What worked this holiday season? What changes did you make to create simpler, less stressful holidays?
One of the biggest changes I made was the decision to have all handmade gifts finished by December 1, There were a couple of exceptions -- things I needed to print out that were not available until after that date -- but in general, I finished the gifts by then. It made a big difference in being able to enjoy all the fun and meaningful December activities.
Christmas being on a Sunday this year meant a change in the way we celebrated, and my dad being in a nursing home made a difference too. We kept Christmas dinner (actually supper) very simple and low-key, but it was still festive. Another thing done differently was that our ladies' Christmas fellowship at church was a Saturday brunch rather than an evening or afternoon event. This actually worked out much better for many of us.
I found that wrapping gifts, shipping gifts, and writing cards were the most stressful aspects of Christmas for me this year. I had many Amazon and Thriftbooks gifts shipped directly to our Nevada family and will plan to do that even more, hopefully earlier, next year. I need to check the grandkids' wish lists much earlier next year, too.
With cards, I have a system where I send a card upon receiving one, but I wanted to get the cards out of the way sooner, so that left me doing more of them at once. It felt like a chore.
With wrapping, I tried to wait until we had our tree up so there would be a good place to stack the wrapped gifts. That didn't work out very well since we were very late getting our tree up this year. I need to plan another place to stash the completed gifts in case that happens again next year.
3. Were you satisfied with your family's level of giving and/or spiritual observances? How could next year's holidays more closely reflect your family's values?
I was quite satisfied with our family's level of giving, and satisfied too with the spiritual aspect of our Christmas celebrating.
4. How well did your household function this year? Were you calm and cozy, or stressed and strung out? What improvements could be made next year?
Our household functioned well, but I did still have some stress. Next year I would hope to have my homemaking routines more firmly in place, and to use the slow cooker even more for meals.
5. Honesty time: how did your holidays go? Did you experience the magic, the expectancy, and the sparkle of the season? If not, what changes could you make to recapture the joy?
In general, our holiday went very well. There were magical moments here and there throughout the month. Next year I would love to do an Advent Bible study again, and would like to take the grandkids to a Living Nativity I learned about too late this year.
So ... there you have it: my debriefing for Christmas 2016. Have you done an exercise like this? It can only help with planning for next year!