Home Addict’s Countdown to Christmas

Shannon Quinn - November 29, 2019
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December is one of the most exciting months of the year. The holiday spirit is all around us, and holiday planning is in full swing. No matter what you celebrate, we can all enjoy the twinkling lights and a great cup of cocoa. Even though it may be cold outside, we can stay warm by the fireplace with a great Christmas movie playing on TV. Best of all, December is the month where we slow down from our busy schedules to make time to see friends and family. 

Here at Home Addict, we thought it would be fun to do a countdown to Christmas full of festive holiday ideas that can make this month of December the best one yet. Keep in mind that we don’t expect you to do every single thing on this list, or follow our instructions to a tee. This article is just filled with suggestions on how you can make the most out of the holiday season. Get ready to celebrate!

You can make your own advent calendar at home for your kids. Credit: Shutterstock

December 1st

Happy first day of December! It is officially acceptable to play Christmas music at full volume in the car, and bring your ugly holiday sweaters out of storage. Ditch your pumpkin spice latte for a mint mocha at Starbucks, because winter is coming whether we like it or not. Time to turn your calendar over from November to December, and plan out everything you need to get done before the holiday.

You may want to make a checklist on your calendar. Credit: Shutterstock

One of the most exciting parts of the first day of December is opening your first door of your advent calendar. Here in the US, advent calanders are not as much of a popular tradition as it is in Europe. If we see them in stores at all, they are usually the cardboard ones with chocolate behind every door. But if you haven’t tried it before, we highly recommend getting one this year. The most sustainable options is to buy a wooden advent calendar that you can refill every year with treat for your kids. Or, you can practice a little bit of self-care by buying a beauty advent calendar for yourself

Start searching for gift options online. Credit: Shutterstock

December 2nd

Many people begin putting up their Christmas tree and decorations immediately after Thanksgiving, or the first week of December. So if you haven’t already done so, bring down that artificial tree from the attic, and start trimming the tree with ornaments. Or, if you prefer to have a live Christmas tree, you might want to schedule a day to cut it down. Pick a weekend where your kids can help, too. They will be excited to help you put the ornaments on the tree, and relive the memories from years gone by.

Trim the tree with your little ones. Credit: Shutterstock

This might also be a good time to go through your gift list. Nowadays, it’s easy to create and categorize Amazon Wish Lists for everyone in your family. They also have a great section called Gift Finder that can help inspire you with ideas from the hottest trends. Amazon even has every item from Oprah’s Favorite Things ready to buy at your fingertips. Throughout the course of December, you can add items to the list for each person as soon as you hear them drop a hint, or immediately after your kids write their letter to Santa. Then, it should be as easy as adding the items to your cart and wait two days for the delivery truck to arrive. (Isn’t modern technology a lifesaver?)

Help your kids write their letters to Santa early. Credit: Shutterstock

December 3rd

Many people write their Christmas cards over Thanksgiving weekend. So if you haven’t already done so, make sure you finish writing your cards, and get ready to ship them. Some people plan a holiday photo shoot with the family to send photo cards far in advance. Millennials don’t typically send out physical Christmas cards as much as the previous generations, since we have Facebook, text, and e-mail as a way to communicate with everyone. However, your family (especially your grandma) will truly appreciate the gesture if you send them a physical card. 

Start prepping to write cards and send packages. Credit: Shutterstock

If you only plan to send one or two paper cards, check out your local Dollar Tree, because they now carry Hallmark cards. Or, buy a box of cards online. It would also be a good time to have your kids write their Christmas list to Santa. This would give you plenty of time to shop for the things they want throughout the course of the month. (You might also want to send a copy to grandma and grandpa.) Sending the letter to Santa along with your Christmas cards means you are getting everything done all at once, and you can move on with your month.

If you have family overseas, make sure you send packages early. Credit: Shutterstock

December 4th

It may seem like it’s too early to send packages in the mail by December 4th. In fact, most people wait until the very last minute to show up to the Post Office. Keep in mind that during December, the US Postal Service gets a huge spike in the volume of mail they need to process. They hire temporary holiday staff to help keep up with the massive amounts of cards and presents that everyone is sending one another. Even with the extra help, packages and letters still might take longer to arrive. If you want something to show up before Christmas morning, you had better plan to send it early. 

Will Santa get his letter on time? Credit: Shutterstock

If you have relatives overseas, you should be sending your packages as soon as possible, even as early as the 4th. International packages can sometimes take two weeks or more, depending on the type of shipping service you are paying for. If you want it to go faster, you would have to pay a lot more money for a service like FedEx or UPS. So if you are relying on the US Postal Service, you want to send it two to three weeks early to make sure it arrives by December 25th.

Go on a romantic shopping date with your partner. Credit: Shutterstock

December 5th

Once you have a good idea of what to buy your friends and family, consider going on a romantic shopping date with your significant other. Remember to keep a list on your phone, and make a plan as to what stores you want to visit. If you have an outlet mall near you, this might be the best place to go so that you can hit several different stores during one shopping trip. While you are out with your beau, you may be able to help them come up with ideas of what to buy for the people they love. Or, you can find a joint gift that you purchase together and present to someone special.

Your partner may drop hints about what they want for Christmas. Credit: Shutterstock

Each of you will eventually have to go shopping separately for the other, of course. We don’t want to ruin the surprise on Christmas morning! But now that you have gone out together, you should have a much better idea of what they are looking for. They might even drop some major hints about what they want. After shopping, stop by one of your favorite restaurants. And if you get cold, stop in a local Starbucks to warm yourselves up with a holiday flavored coffee.

Your kids will love sledding in the snow. Credit: Shutterstock

December 6th

By this time in December, it might have snowed already, depending on where you live. If you have kids, it’s time to go sledding, make a snowman, and have a snowball fight. As an adult, you might not want to get wet in the snow, but you can still enjoy outdoor activities like skiing and ice skating. If you are in a warmer climate where it does not snow, you still might be able to go to an indoor skating rink.

Building a snow man is a favorite holiday memory for many people. Credit: Shutterstock

If you don’t know how to ice skate, you can always take a class. Don’t be embarrassed to go as an adult. Check your local rink for details on when they are scheduling adult classes. This might be a good time to get your own kids into ice skating classes, too. They will thank you later when they’re adults, and they don’t have to sign up for classes!

Watching movies with friends is one of the best things to do during the holidays. Credit: Shutterstock

December 7th

One week into December, it is perfectly acceptable to start watching Christmas movies, if you haven’t already done so. (The Hallmark Channel begins releasing their new movies in November.) There are some amazing tried-and-true classics like Home Alone and The Grinch. Usually, movie channels like HBO will play holiday movies and Harry Potter on repeat during December. And streaming services like Netflix and Hulu always add extra Christmas movies for you to watch.

There are loads of movies streaming for free. Credit: Shutterstock

If you love Christmas romance, you’re in luck, because in 2019, Hallmark came out with a record-breaking 40 new holiday movies. Sure, the plot is relatively the same every single time, but fans still love to watch them. You can also find some of the older Hallmark movies if you look on Amazon Prime Video and get a free trial of Hallmark Movies Now. 

Everyone loves a good Christmas cookie. Credit: Shutterstock

December 8th 

Who says you need to wait for Santa to make home baked cookies? Baking is a great way to warm yourself from the cold when you get home after a long day at work. Whether it’s store-bought dough, or something you make from scratch, it doesn’t matter. Get a tall glass of milk, and enjoy.

The holidays are a great time to teach your kids how to bake. Credit: Shutterstock

If you have kids, consider using the holiday season as an excuse to teach them how to bake. If you make sugar cookies, there are so many cute holiday cookie cutters out there to choose from. If you are feeling ambitious, you might even want to make a ginger bread house. Looking for inspiration? Watch Rosanna Pansino on YouTube together with your kids. She makes amazing videos where she bakes intricate desserts.

Make cups of coffee to go with your Christmas cookies. Credit: Shutterstock

December 9th

By this time in December, the cold weather has truly set in. You are most likely wearing your cold weather suit of armor in gloves, hats, and scarves. It may have even started to snow. Waking up in the morning to clean the frost off of your car before you go to work is a bummer. The only saving grace is a warm cup of coffee in your thermos or from the drive-thru window. At this time of year, anyone who tries to shame you for going to Starbucks at 6AM when it is still dark outside needs to shush, because you deserve it

Warm your hands with a drink at night. Credit: Burst by Shopify

In the afternoon or evening when you get home from work, you probably crave another drink to help warm you up. You probably shouldn’t drink coffee, because you’ll be awake all night. Make hot cocoa, decaf coffee, or herbal tea instead. Have fun with a flavored tea sampler, and don’t feel guilty about adding a splash of your favorite flavored cream to your cocoa or decaf.

This house is over-the-top with their Christmas decorations. Credit: Burst by Shopify

December 10th

If you haven’t already done so, it’s time to put on the finishing touches of your outdoor Christmas decorations by December 10th. The month of December flies by, and before you can blink twice, it will already be Christmas Eve. So you want to make sure all of your decorations are complete before you get really busy with holiday celebrations. You may also have to coordinate with the weather, depending on when it rains, snows, or drops below freezing.

It’s time to pull the 10th drawer of your advent calander. Credit: Shutterstock

Having Christmas decorations can be fun. Just don’t feel the need to go overboard, like the photo above. In fact, sometimes less is more. Don’t compare yourself with your neighbors, and just do the best you can on your budget. It’s possible to enjoy the holidays with just a simple string of white lights and a beautiful wreath hanging on your front door. If you are afraid to hang lights because you don’t want your electric bill to go up, consider buying solar powered string lights. They will charge up during the day, and you can keep them on all night.

Find a festive place to take family Christmas photos. Credit: Burst by Shopify

December 11th

We already mentioned sending out Christmas cards to your loved ones. Some people prep their holiday photo shoots as early as November. But if you are just planning to put photos on Facebook or send out e-cards, you may want to plan a Christmas family photo shoot around this time in December. If you want to be quirky, it can be fun to buy a matching pajama set for the entire family. Many of the sets you can find online even come with a little matching bandanna for your dog! You guys can re-wear them on Christmas Eve.

Your family photo shoot does not have to be fancy. You can just take photos on your phone. Credit: Shutterstock

Or, if you want to do something a bit more elegant, try to plan a day trip where you and your family go somewhere festive. It may be a Christmas market, or a light show at a botanical garden. If you want it to look professional, ask a friend to go with you so that they can take your family photos. Or, you could even have a photo shoot in front of your house standing next to your decorations with the lights on. Even without a fancy camera or decorations, you can always just take a selfie together in front of the tree.

Search your local area for a Christmas market. Credit: Burst by Shopify

December 12th

Nearly two weeks into December, you may notice that your community has announced the dates of their outdoor holiday events. It could be a Christmas market, a craft fair, a tree lighting ceremony, or a pop-up ice skating rink. Try to take advantage of these events as often as possible, especially if you have kids. They will remember these magical moments for the rest of their lives. If your own town does not have anything going on, try to search in towns nearby. A great tool to help you find something to do is Facebook Events.

It can be fun to support local artisans at a craft fair. Credit: Burst by Shopify

These events can also be a great (and cheap) date night. Just remember to bundle up with a jacket, scarf, and gloves. Even if it doesn’t seem too chilly at first, walking around in the cold will be difficult after an hour or more. So it’s better to be overdressed than unprepared. You may also want to bring hand warmers from the Dollar Tree, and have a plan of where you can run inside to get warm at a moment’s notice. 

Mulled wine is a popular holiday drink in England. Credit: Pixabay

December 13th

In the United States, very few people have ever tried mulled wine. It’s a warm mug of spiced wine that is a quintessentially European tradition. When you go abroad, it is always found in Christmas markets. Some of you out there might be thinking, “Warm wine? Really?!” But it is a holiday favorite for our English friends over in the UK. If you want to try it yourself, it’s actually very easy to make at home. All you need is a cheap bottle of red wine, orange, cinnamon, cloves, brandy, and you’re ready to go. Check out Delish for the full step-by-step instructions on how to make it. There are plenty of other variations to the recipe out there, as well.

Most Americans enjoy drinking hot apple cider. Credit: Shutterstock

Most Americans prefer to drink hot apple cider, instead. Back in the colonial era, the first settlers probably had more access to apples, rather than grapes for making wine. So warm cider is actually a variation of mulled wine. This is usually non-alcoholic, which makes it a great drink to give to the kids while the parents try out mulled wine. Best of all, cider is available by the gallon around the holidays in most grocery stores. All you have to do is heat it up on the stove.

Be sure to book your holiday flights with plenty of time to spare. Credit: Shutterstock

December 14th

If you have to fly home for the holidays, make sure you finalize your travel plans with plenty of time to spare. Many people buy their plane tickets far ahead of time, while others have to wait to hear from their boss when they are able to adjust their schedule to take time off of work. Last-minute flights can cost a lot of money, and figuring out the logistics of getting to the airport, hiring a pet-sitter, and everything else that goes into a trip takes a lot of planning.

Make a list of everything you need for your upcoming road trip. Credit: Burst by Shopify

Even if you are driving instead of flying, you still may need to do some maintenance on your vehicle to help get it ready to go on a long road trip. You may want to consider getting an oil change, buying new winter tires, or cleaning your car so that it looks acceptable to drive around your friends. You might also want to download a few episodes of your favorite podcast, or a streaming music service like Spotify or Amazon Music Unlimited.

Your kids are probably browsing the internet for toys they wany for Christmas. Credit: Burst by Shopify

December 15th

With just 10 days until Christmas, make sure you are done shopping for everyone on your list. Remember those Amazon Wish Lists we mentioned earlier? You might want to think about getting those items into your cart, buddy. Even though Amazon Prime usually gives two day shipping, you never know if something might get delayed. Call your friends and family to confirm that you haven’t accidentally bought the same items for your loved ones, and always hold on to your receipts. 

You may need to make a second (or tenth) trip to the mall. Credit: Shutterstock

If you have kids, make sure to coordinate with everyone else who is planning to buy for them. With presents coming from aunts, uncles, grandma, grandpa, and- of course- Santa himself, they is a lot of potential for overlapping gifts. Your kids might also have to buy a present for their Secret Santa at school, or find something to give their teachers. Always check your list twice, just like jolly old Saint Nick would.

Does your office have celebrations for the holidays? Credit: Shutterstock

December 16th

Around this time, most companies will throw their annual holiday party on the last Friday before Christmas. A lot of people take two weeks off around the holidays, so it is typically done at least a week before, but the date will obviously change, depending on where you work. Even if your boss is waiting for the last minute to have the celebration, you still might want to bring gifts to your co-workers before they leave for the holidays. They might miss the wine around the water cooler, but they should still be included.

Remember to drink plenty of water after your office party. Credit: Shutterstock

Office gifts don’t have to cost a fortune. It’s always wise to give everyone the same thing, so that no one gets jealous. Alternatively, you could bring in one big present for everyone to share, like those massive Kit Kat or Reese’s Cups you can find on the shelves of Target and Walmart. You could also get a large box of assorted chocolates. (Amazon even has a massive box of 120 truffles.) Or, if you are great at baking, just make a ton of grandma’s secret chocolate chip cookie recipe, and call it a day.

Your kids may be in a holiday concert. Credit: Burst by Shopify

December 17th

Around this time, most schools will begin to have their annual Christmas concert. Even if you do not know anyone who is still in school, these performances are usually open to the public, so long as you buy a ticket. Of course, you might not want to pay money to see someone else’s kids sing off-key or squeal on their musical instruments. Your best bet is to find a local university that is selling ticket to a Christmas concert, because they are usually students who are majoring in music, and will be nearly as good as the professionals.

There are probably plenty of public concert events happening locally. Credit: Shutterstock

There are also plenty of professional concerts, ballets, and plays that you could buy tickets for. If there is nothing happening where you live, it may be worth planning a trip to the biggest city near you. One of the most popular events is iHeartRadio’s Jingle Ball, which tours around the United States. In 2019, the headliners are Taylor Swift, Camilla Cabello, The Jonas Brothers, and Halsey. If you are more traditional, you might want to buy tickets to see The Nutcrackers or A Christmas Carol instead.

If you are a college student, you will be finishing up college exams by the 18th. Credit: Shutterstock

December 18th

If you are in college, you are probably crunching for your final exams right about now. Most universities begin final exam week on the 15th, and end the semester by December 20th. Even if you have graduated a long time ago, make sure to give your student friends and family plenty of support, since they are likely to be stressed out. This could be as simple as making a Facebook status, or texting someone you know to let them know that you care.

Wrap up the semester just before holiday break. Credit: Burst by Shopify

Even if you are someone who has no connection with a student at all, you might want to keep finals week in mind when it comes to holiday travel plans. There are going to be a lot of kids partying and driving out late at night around the 20th of the month. And if you live in a college town, you will notice an influx of parents helping their kids move out of their dorm rooms, which can clog up streets around campus. You may want to avoid these areas if you are driving on this day.

Christmas crackers make a snap when you pull them apart. Credit: Burst by Shopify

December 19th

If you are looking for a festive craft to make for the holidays, consider making a Christmas Cracker. These are very popular in England, but not as many people buy them in the United States. In case you have never had one before, a cracker is traditionally a paper tube filled with candy, toys, a paper crown, and a corny dad joke. There is usually also a firecracker strip inside that cracks when you pull it apart. If you buy pre-made crackers online or from your local Walmart or Target, you never know what you are going to get inside. This can be fun, but you might find yourself paying upwards of $40 for a pack.

It is possible to make a cracker on your own. Credit: Burst by Shopify

If you want to plan ahead, these can easily be made at home with recycled paper towels or toilet paper rolls, wrapping paper, and tissue paper. This might be a much better option if you don’t want your kids to end up with plastic toys that are just going to be thrown away. By making your own, you can customize what surprise goes to each person. Check out this blog post by Jamie Oliver where he explains how to make the traditional British crackers at home.

Hooray! It’s winter break. Time to get ready for the holidays. Credit: Shutterstock

December 20th

As we mentioned earlier, December 20th is usually the beginning of holiday break for anyone who is going to school. So, if you are a student who managed to survive the semester, congratulations! Now, you have an entire month off before you start your spring semester. If you have anyone in your life who finished their finals, be sure to congratulate them on a job well done, and make plans to see them over their winter break.

It’s time to say goodbye to friends you made during the fall semester. Credit: Pixabay

If you have kids who are getting out of school around this time, you may have to start planning for extra child care time. It may be necessary to hire a babysitter to come over while you are still going to work, or plan to take time off so that you can be home when your kids start their holiday break. Kids will be incredibly excited that school is out for at least two weeks. So, you might want to plan a fun day of shopping, a good movie, or a Christmas craft for them to do at home.

Make sure you wrap your presents in time for the holiday. Credit: Burst by Shopify

December 21st

Happy Winter Solstice! Now that it is officially a new season, you can stop making your Game of Thrones jokes about how “winter is coming”. For thousands of years, people celebrated the winter solstice rather than Christmas.  If you want to learn more about how people have celebrated winter solstice throughout the ages, check out this list from Britannica. You just might want to incorporate some of the old traditions into your day, just for fun. Teaching your kids about the solstice is also like a miniature history lesson rolled into a celebration.

Have fun getting creative with your wrapping. Credit: Pixabay

If you have not already done so, you should wrap all of your Christmas presents by the 21st. Some people like to wait until Christmas Eve, but most people are going to be too busy to wait until the last minute. You might have to travel, cook, clean, and so much more. It is much better to get everything done and ready to go. So put on a good movie or music, make yourself a cup of cocoa, and get to wrapping as soon as possible!

In 2019, December 22nd is the first night of Hanukkah. Credit: Shutterstock

December 22nd

December 22nd, 2019 is the first night of Hanukkah. That means it’s time to break out the dreidel and chocolate gold coins so that you can play a game with your kids. Light the first candle on the menorah, and say a prayer. Everyone gets their first of eight gifts, too. Even if you are not Jewish, you might want to consider having a little celebration, anyway. Some people celebrate both holidays by combining them into “Christmakkah”, as popularized by The OC. If you do both holidays, the eight nights of Hanukkah could have smaller gifts from Dollar Tree like a pair of socks. Then, on Christmas Day, everyone gets their big presents.

Playing dreidel is a classic Hanukkah game. Credit: Burst by Shopify

Whether you keep up with all 8 nights or not, teaching your kids about Hanukkah will help your kids understand a different culture and religion. And if you are a Christian, the story of Hanukkah is on the Old Testament, so you could easily incorporate it into a lesson of your own. If you have never made a traditional Hanukkah meal before, consider trying matzah ball soup, kugel, or challah. For newbie cooks, consider making latkes pancakes. They taste a lot like hash browns, and they are amazing with a dollop of sour cream. 

When your friends are home for the holidays, meet up for a drink. Credit: Shutterstock

December 23rd

By December 23rd, a lot of people are already back in their home town for the holidays. This might be a great time to meet up with your High School friends at the bar to catch up and see what they have been doing all year. There are also usually plenty of Christmas parties going on towards the end of the month. Since Christmas Eve is usually spent with your family or significant other, make sure you make time to see your friends beforehand.

It’s important to look snazzy to see your friends. Credit: Burst by Shopify

If you haven’t seen your friends in a while, it may be a good idea to get your hair cut, get a manicure, or shop for a new outfit. After all, you want to look your best when you see everyone. Remind yourself of some interesting stories you can tell over a cocktail, and most importantly- have a great time. Many people tend to go their seperate ways as they got older and start their own families. So if you are in your 20’s, or if your friends have managed to keep up with the tradition much longer, remember that these moments you spend with your friends are just as precious as the time spent with your family.

Put the finishing touches on your Christmas tree on the 24th. Credit: Shutterstock

December 24th

Happy Christmas Eve! You and your kids are probably very excited to know that there is only one more sleep until Christmas. What you do on the 24th of December is entirely based on your family’s traditions. In the UK, Christmas Eve is the day when everyone is expected to travel to see their relatives, and spend the day opening presents from grandma and grandpa, since Father Christmas won’t come until the 25th. For others, Christmas Eve might mean going to church for a Midnight Mass. In Japan, Christmas Eve is similar to Valentine’s Day, because it is a holiday mostly meant for couples to go out on dates. The possibilities are endless.

Get ready for Santa by setting out milk and cookies. Credit: Shutterstock

A lot of families have the tradition of opening at least one gift on Christmas Eve. For some, it may be that everyone gets a brand new pair or pajamas so that they look great on Christmas morning. Just before you go to bed, remember to bake or buy cookies for Santa. Lay them out on a plate next to a glass of milk. Make sure you listen for the sound of reindeer hooves on the roof, and clear out the fire place before going to sleep.

Christmas is one of the most exciting days in a kid’s life. Credit: Shutterstock

December 25th

Hooray! It’s Christmas Day! This is the day that you have been waiting for all year. The kids will probably be awake by 4AM to tell you that Santa came. The family can gather around the Christmas tree and begin opening presents. For most people, this is a day where they allow themselves to spend all day in their pajamas. Without any need to go to work or school, you can finally relax, at least for one day.

Most kids can’t wait to open their presents on Christmas morning. Credit: Shutterstock

Now that it’s over, there are just 365 more days to go before you can experience this all over again. Remember to cherish every single moment you have on Christmas morning, especially if you have kids. These are memories that will last a lifetime. Make them as special as you possibly can. From everyone here at Home Addict, we wish you a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.

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