December Habit: Advent

+ Yay! It’s the last post of the month which means a new monthly habit and a recap of last month’s. Instead of an even longer post, I'll be back later with thoughts on my habits from October and November. These monthly experiments help me build healthy habits, break unhealthy ones or just learn more about myself so I can figure out what’s really essential!

I'm slowly getting back to "normal" life and so excited to reinstate my monthly experiments. I love love our December Habit: an Experience Advent Calendar! A day or two after Thanksgiving, we pull out our two boxes of winter holiday stuff including lights, wreaths and ornaments. I start to think through my ideas and intentions for the season. 

December Habit: Experience Advent Calendar
For the month of December, we like to do a festive little something every day to help celebrate and be present with the season. This is our third year doing something similar and it makes the holiday season much merrier with less stress. We started our Advent Calendar the Sunday after Thanksgiving this year but December 1st also works! 

Here's the list we start with to help give you some ideas but the more personal, the better:

Make a list for Santa (or our family): Done!
Start Christmas shopping
Wrap our gifts (see Lean Wrapping)
Open our stockings (My grandmother insists on Christmas Eve :)

Hang the lights!
Tree shopping
Decorate the tree
Hang mistletoe and enjoy ;)

Make Alton Brown's Eggnog (and use the leftovers for Baked French Toast)
Enjoy the Apple Cider/Scotch cocktail (or the Olive Oil one) at Third Rail
Make or eat latkes at a Hanukkah party
Humphry Slocombe Hot Toddy Sundae!
Make Chex Mix (my favorite holiday snack)
Make Scott Beattie's Hot Buttered Rum or homemade Baileys
Try the Douglas Fir Eau de Vie at Absinthe
Try the Burritt Tavern Hanukkah menu
Make Greg's Grandma's Bee Hive Cookies
Out for a fancy hot chocolate

Create and share a Spotify holiday playlist (I'll share mine soon!)
Watch Diehard (my fave Christmas movie)
Watch an old Christmas movie like A Christmas Carol or the original How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Read The Night Before Christmas or The Polar Express
Start a Christmas puzzle (this years)
Watch the SNL Christmas Special
Watch A Charlie Brown Christmas
Make Star Wars snow flakes

Go to a Holiday Party
Watch a new Christmas movie like The Night Before or A Very Murray Christmas (on Netflix)
Visit the Remodelista Holiday Market: Dec 12 10-5, Dec 13 11-3 at Heath Ceramics
Take a class at 18 Reasons like the Gingerbread House Workshop or Cognac Tasting
Try a new red lipstick, because if not now, when?
Go to a holiday event at the Symphony like A Charlie Brown Christmas - Live
Volunteer wrapping gifts or at a food bank (Greg likes to teach kids to code ;)
Go see a Christmas concert
Go see the decorations (and kittens?) in Union Square
Enjoy the lights and a holiday excursion on a train like this one
Donate to a toy drive
Go to the snow or find indoor snow!

Some thoughts to help you create your own Experience Advent Calendar:
+ Sit down and list out everything you want to get done, punctuated with many fun activities.
+ Schedule away. Start to add bigger activities to your calendar. (I'm much more likely to go to UPS and ship gifts if it's time blocked on my calendar.) Have extras and simpler options available for busy nights.
+ Allow room to add last-minute invites!
+ Remember why you're doing this. Enjoy the activities and be present while doing them. You don't have to do any of this... focus on what's fun for you and not what you dread!

+ I organize all of this in Asana (my to-do list app) and my calendar. It's paperless and works for our family. But it's also fun to have physical items to open and I'm sure we'll shift that way when the kid gets old enough ;)

++ If you'd like more help slowing down for the holiday season, look into Courtney Carver's 31 Days of Gifts You So Deserve 2015. It's a meaningful "advent calendar in your inbox", reminding you to make room for yourself and enjoy.

Happy December!! <3