Sunday, February 02, 2020

After-Christmas debriefing

Every year after Christmas, I try to note down my thoughts about that year's season using the  Organized Christmas  After-Christmas debriefing form to help me evaluate how things went, what worked, what didn't, and what we might do differently in the coming year. This has been very helpful to me.  Wouldn't it be fun to snuggle into the cushion-filled rocker above and jot down your thoughts while sitting by a cozy fireplace and watching the snow fall outside?  I sure think so!

Here are my thoughts concerning Christmas 2019:

1.  What worked this holiday season?  What changes did you make to create simpler, less stressful holidays?

Again this year, there were a number of decorative items that I didn't even get out of the attic.  Another way I simplified Christmas decorating was to keep a box of things that I knew I wanted to use for decor this year, including the tree skirt, and to have it accessible through the year.  Those things were easy to find when the time came.  

I also decorated in stages, making sure things looked festive for a cookie swap early in the month.  We managed to get the tree up by then, with only lights, but it still looked nice.  Later, we added ornaments to the tree and other decor here and there.

Again this year, we shipped to Nevada using Click'n'Ship and carrier pickup.  This has worked so well in the past, but this year we did hit a glitch when for two days in a row the carrier did not pick up our packages.  We ended up taking them to the post office ourselves anyway.  We also had Amazon gifts shipped directly to Nevada where our daughter wrapped and tagged them.

2.  What was the worst aspect of preparing for the holidays this year?  How can you avoid the problem in the future?

Not planning carefully enough for several grandchildren's gifts.  I need to do a lot better planning next year.  I'm thinking we will also need to cut back on our spending due to Mr. T's retirement and being on more of a fixed income.  I'd like to make more of our gifts and probably do more kitchen gifts.

3.  Were you satisfied with your level of giving and/or spiritual observances?  How could next year's holiday better reflect your family's values?

As mentioned, I think we'll need to be more economical with our gifts in future, but I was very pleased with the gifts that we gave.

From a spiritual standpoint, all was good.  The cookie swap, though not hugely attended, was a lovely, low-key way for ladies to have a festive yet relaxed time together.  I asked each lady to bring a "sweet thought" in addition to her cookies -- a memory, Scripture verse, testimony, whatever.  To my surprise, all were of a spiritual nature.

We also had another church bless us with a Christmas musical performed by their children.  This added tremendously to our season.  All of our Christmas events at church ended up being scheduled earlier in the month than usual, and this turned out to be a great blessing.

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?

In general, I felt calm and cozy.  I did have a few stressful moments when I realized I did not have enough time to start several planned gifts, never mind complete them and send them to Nevada.  But once I faced that, I could shift gears easily.

I will have to do a LOT more planning, a lot earlier, this year, as the Nevada family plans to come here for Christmas 2020.    (At least no shipping of gifts will be required!)  But I will need to figure out gifts, baking, meals and housing, etc.  Not to mention plane tickets.  Gulp!

5.  Honesty time!  How did your holidays go?  Did you experience the expectancy, the magic, the sparkle of the season?  If not, what changes could you make to recapture the joy?

In general, we had a joyous season.  We enjoyed some lovely events and family times.  I tried several new recipes, gave a few handmade gifts, enjoyed a traditional outing with four local grands.  We got to have a lovely festive meal and gifts with them and their parents on Christmas Day, and the same with our dear young friends Sam and Jenn and their boys the day after Christmas.  My hubby and I didn't have quite the time with one another that we'd hoped for, as his retirement got pushed off by a month.  I posted in my Christmas blog daily and in my regular blog 19 times -- a gift to me as well as my readers.  We managed to get out for a walk most days, too -- great stress relief and mental health booster!

So there you have it -- all in all, a blessed Christmas season!


  1. Yes! the rocker by the cozy fireplace looks perfect for me!
    Love cookie swaps and having ladies ad a few thoughts is a great idea. This is such great idea, I need to make a plan like this, thank you so much for sharing such great ideas!

    1. Oh, you are welcome, Sue! I hope that you do make a plan for a cookie swap next year. And maybe also a plan for debriefing? This practice really helps me.

  2. Your idea to decorate in stages is really good, including stopping for a while after getting the lights on the tree. I like that.

    I understand the problems of gifts for the grandchildren. We have eleven of them (9 in one family). I try to spend the same $$ with each child but it’s a challenge at times.

    Bringing along a “sweet thought” for the cookie swap is clever.

    1. Thanks, Barbara! We have a dozen grandchildren and I am very thankful for Amazon wish lists. We try to get one item from their list and a couple of other smaller things, often homemade.

  3. Yes, a wonderful Christmas season here, too. If I were making gifts (I don’t punish myself that way anymore as I do NOT enjoy it; I know that you do), I’d begin yesterday. Time so gets away from me. That picture is really sweet and, if you’d leave out the falling snow, I’d join you! ☺️

    1. So happy that your Christmas season was wonderful, Vee!

      Yes, you are right -- I feel great joy when I am able to make even the simplest handmade gift.

      Falling snow ... guess you probably got some yesterday, as we did. All without any mention (here, at least) of a winter storm warning, winter weather advisory, or anything. Some of the hyped-up storms had far less snow than this one!

  4. The post-Christmas debrief is one of my favorite elements of the Season. It's a good time to honestly look at what worked and what didn't. How exciting that your family is coming to you this year! I don't know how many people you have in your family, but you're right to want to get an early start. I try to do most of my planning for family Christmas in July. I'm already thinking of Christmas for the CIJ blog posts and am usually well on my way in Christmas shopping. There are 15 of us in our little family now and it definitely takes some preparation! Sounds like Christmas 2019 was lovely at your house.

    1. I agree, Vicki, it's one of my favorite elements too.

      I too collect ideas for Christmas in July -- I save the links and sometimes a photo or two and keep them in a special document to refer to when I need ideas. I should do a LOT of blog posts ahead this year!

  5. Anonymous1:03 PM

    I too like to debrief after Christmas. Liked the idea of stopping after the lights are on the tree and decorate by stages… way too much to do in one time.
    Lucie from

    1. Yes, that worked out really well as far as decorating the tree. I don't think anyone at the cookie swap even noticed it was lights only ... it looked very festive that way.


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