Christmas Countdown Day 8: Reality Check Week!

Reality Check

Halloween is here, November on the horizon--and the holidays won't be far behind! Furniture ads weigh down the Sunday paper, and in the shops, retailers are busy sweeping the remnants of harvest merchandise away before the tide of red-spangled Christmas promotions.

It's the quiet week before the rising tide of holiday season to come.

Time for a Reality Check! During Reality Check Week, we take aim at holiday illusions that stand between us and the Christmas of our dreams. What are the ideas, preconceptions, and habits that drain the joy from your family's holidays?

Granted, this isn't always the easiest week. We'll be examining several hot-button holiday issues. Money. Time. Stress. Unrealistic expectations.

These factors are the not-so-secret underside of Christmas joy. Don't be surprised if this week's exercises raise some holiday-related anxieties. At Christmas, is there ever enough time, enough money, enough energy?

There's a method to this madness. By taking a long, cool look at the forces that complicate holiday observances, we gain the power to change them: to simplify, scale down and reign in holiday excess. Our goal: to remake our celebration so that it expresses our own deepest values, free from outside interference.

We won't leave you alone and in the lurch; each day, you'll find ideas and inspiration to arm yourself against holiday joy-killers.

Ready? Time for a Reality Check ... to get organized for your family's most joyous Christmas ever:

To Do This Week

Reality Check Week Assignments

To Do Today

Christmas card call!

Last week, we began a Christmas card list; this week, it's time to get to work! If you'll send a holiday letter, time to draft and print. If sending cards, be sure you're stocked up and ready to write; add any needed items to the shopping list.

Divide the Christmas Card List into five groups. Write and address one group this week.

Start a master shopping list

With the holidays drawing near, shopping can take on a life of its own. Between buying gifts, stocking the pantry and preparing for holiday decorating, shopping trips can multiply like snowflakes--and gobble up much-needed energy.

Holiday brains are busy enough! Save time and stress with a Master Shopping List. Keeping a one-page list of all needed items ensures you won't forget that must-have ingredient for the day's baking.

Color-code entries, or group them by store or category to speed shopping trips. Find a few extra minutes in your daily round? One look at your list will remind you that you need supplies for the week's handmade gift; take a detour into a nearby crafts store to mark one more item off the list. Neat!

Finally, grab the list when you go out the door. Knowing what you need--and where you need to buy it--cuts down on repeat trips to supermarket or shopping mall.

To Read Today

Planning your celebration, will you turn the volume down on holiday overkill this year? Try these ten easy ways to create a simpler celebration:

Simplify Your Holidays: Ten Tips for a Stress-Free Holiday Season

Today's Recipe

snowman soupIt's an easy holiday gift to make--and just the thing for good little boys and girls: Snowman Soup!

Assemble a packet of hot chocolate mix, a candy cane or peppermint stick, a small packet of marshmallows and a foil-wrapped chocolate kiss candy in a small food storage bag or cellophane gift bag.

Handwrite the Snowman Soup poem, or bring a bright spin to this easy stocking stuffer with free printable gift tags and bag toppers:

Snowman Soup Recipe and Poem

To Print Today

Reality Check Week Checklist

Master Shopping List

Master Shopping List (With Graphic)

Week 2 Checklist
Shopping List

Holiday Plans: