I read a really thoughtful and insightful post over at Tales from a Happy Home, where Gillian noted that she noted the Christmas countdowns as they tended to make her feel panicked about Christmas looming ever closer. The thing is Christmas is not supposed to be a time of stress and strain or panic, but it is for many mum's. We are often the ones that keep the family ticking over whilst ensuring that everything is organised, made, purchased, wrapped and plans made. But I had an epiphany the year my mum died and realised that for me life is about the people I spent it with all year round and especially at Christmas and not what gift we give them on one day of the year. Christmas also got much less stressful when we stopped buying for adults (apart from the MIL and FIL and that present is from the boys). We do not buy for my brother and his wife or my Brother in Law and his wife. Instead we concentrate on making and buying a gift for our nieces. This really reduces the panic. Another thing that is really important to me is making sure the boys vision of Christmas is much more than the gifts they receive on Christmas Day. I do this in various ways. Firstly with their Christmas Lists, where they are only allowed to put four items on their list. This means they have to be mindful about their needs and wants. I also insist that they give three toys ech to charity and not toys that are heavily played with either! My spending time with the boys each day over advent doing something off our activity advent calender also ensures that they think a little more about Christmastime and Advent.