We all have a holiday to do list that includes items like make cookies, get postage for cards, arrange a gift exchange. However, homesteaders have another important to do list from fall to winter that includes very needful activities around the land and home. How are we supposed to get it all done?! Is there any way to organize our holiday to do list and our homestead to do list so they merge into one? I’m so glad you asked…
Table of Contents
- Don’t Skip Little Things
- Holiday To Do List Introduction
- Lunar Holidays
- Free Book
Getting the garden and land ready for winter is actually fun for me because autumn is my absolute favorite season. However, I also have a lot of inside work to do. Chores like:
These all take up my time, too! I’m slowing learning as I age that time management is a lesson we iterate until we die. I mean, right?! I’m making progress, though.
I’m coming to see that…it’s just time. We’re surrounded by it, swimming in it and we all have the same 24 hours of it daily. There is enough time to do the things that matter most. The key is simply to prayerfully decide what that means for us on a daily basis.
If what you’d like is a list of holiday activities from October to January that you can celebrate with your family
WHILE getting your homestead chores done, please skip down one section.
If you’re still feeling anxious about your homestead and holiday to do lists, please read just one more section.
Don’t Skip Little Things
As my children and I get older, I’m coming to value the little things more. Eating dinner together is one of those simple things we make time for that pays big dividends overall. Here’s this from our upcoming book, Homestead Holidays:
“We don’t tend to think of eating dinner together as a family as a special event but in our modern culture it most certainly is! Seemingly small things like bedtime books, after school snacks and weekend hikes take little time when calculated against the sum total of the hours we rack up during each day.
“However, over a the span of a child’s life, the value of such ‘little’ things grows exponentially – one small snowflake can start an avalanche, after all! No activity is too insignificant, no moment is too frivolous to spend, if it creates relationships of trust and shared experience within our family.”
I’ve come to value the holiday and special day celebrations in our home and on our homestead. I don’t view their celebration as optional because I see how much we benefit from their observance. I love them so much that I’m nearly finished writing Homestead Holidays to share with you all the many ways we can celebrate the every day on our homesteads and with our homestead family. To learn about the release of this book and receive special offers and coupons, please sign up below.
Homestead Holiday To Do List
Since the holiday to do list is important, and since the homestead chores this time of year are important, too, we’ve come up with a way for you to keep track of both. The information below includes:
- A short list of holidays from October to January from around the world
- A bit of history and information about each holiday
- Ways to celebrate each holiday with your family
- Recipes and some crafts
- HOMESTEAD CHORES that correlate to each holiday
Yes, you read that correctly! Each holiday has a homestead chores attached to it so that you can see to your work AND celebrate with your family. Don’t miss these special holidays simply because you have teaching moments to facilitate or chores to do! Incorporate them into your traditions and include your family in their completion. Many hands make light work, after all!
The weather starts to nip and you can feel the holidays around the corner in October!
A Quick Note:
We’ve included one or two holidays for each month in this article, but be aware that there are several more holidays outlined in our FREE (for this season only) holiday book, Merry & Bright. You can receive this book by joining our newsletter family. Scroll down to the end for details!
All Hallows Eve, or Halloween
October 31st is a night of fun and frolic for many but for centuries it has been considered the time that the spirits of the dead are permitted to walk the earth. Families would wear masks in the hopes of confusing any wicked spirits who wouldn’t be able to identify them to do mischief. Turnips were traditionally carved in places like Britain to ward off evil spirits with light. (Americans were the first to carve pumpkins, a rather more commodious vegetable for carving. Just sayin’.)
Not everyone’s holiday to do list includes room for Halloween. So, to go along with Halloween and to perhaps give it an uplifting end, I suggest you learn more about All Saint’s Day and All Soul’s Day. To do so, please click here. FYI, these holidays occur on November 1st and 2nd.
- Don’t feel like carving pumpkins, try painting them with this article from Old World New.
- Catholic Icing has a great post listing many All Saint’s Day party ideas for kids – click here.
Homestead Holiday To Do List for Halloween
Pumpkins are a big favorite among homesteaders who like to garden and cook. When doing the spring planning for your garden, set aside some space to grow your own pumpkins. To learn to grow your own pumpkins for carving and baking, try this post from Learning and Yearning.
You might even be able to grow enough to have friends come get their pumpkins from you! Or, sell a few for a little side cash. Have you thought about getting some Homestead Side Hustles going on this year or next?
This is a good time of year to dehydrate your pumpkins. They store well at room temperature but they’re always underfoot at my house because I don’t have good storage space for them. I dehydrate as much pumpkin as I can each year. Especially so I can make this Dehydrated Pumpkin Pie.
To learn to dehydrate pumpkin, please visit Mom With a Prep. We have more pumpkin recipes for you in November below.
The house starts to smell like holiday foods and family is making time to visit in November! Counting our blessings leads to so many fun things to celebrate this month.
Day of the Dead
Called Día de lot Muertos in its native Spanish, this is a Mexican holiday dedicated to the celebration of ancestors who’ve passed on. For Mexicans, death is viewed as a natural part of the human cycle and is celebrated. Day of the Dead is a time for families to gather together and prepare special foods, particularly those favored by the deceased. Altars are set up in the home dedicated to the departed ancestor and their graves are cleaned and decorated in the cemeteries around Mexico.
Here are 24 Day of the Dead Activities for Kids from Homeschool Super Freak.
If you’d like to star the tradition of decorating sugar skulls this holiday but don’t want to have the kids eat all that sugar, try our Low Carb Sugar Skulls.
Homestead Holiday To Do List for Day of the Dead
Both the homestead and holiday to do list should include room for talking about family history this holiday season. It’s good to know where your family has been so that you can better appreciate where you’re going. You may just discover an expert farmer or craftswoman in your family tree! Even if you family is messy, broken or not where you’d like it to be, sniffing out your genealogy can be healing as you keep warm together this winter.
For some ideas on how to get kids involved in genealogy, visit this post.
With your family over for the celebration save one big project for you to do together before everyone gets started socializing. For example, have a relay race over your garden beds to see which team can get their bed weeded first. Offer a prize, of course.
You could also plan to clean out the barn by having everyone form something like a bucket brigade for poop and compost. Have someone in the stalls shoveling into buckets and form a line to pass the buckets right to the garden where it can sit all winter. With a little ingenuity, you can make the task fun while still getting it done.
November is such a special month, we wanted to give you one more holiday to consider. Martinmas is another Catholic feast day commemorating the life of St. Martin of Tours. The legend of Martin says that as the young soldier returning from battle, he saw a poor man in the cold with no covering. He asked the poor man why he was without a cloak. When the man replied that it was because he had none, Martin promptly ripped his own in half and gave it to the man. That night, Martin save Jesus Christ in a dream wearing his torn cloak and thanking him for his care.
Martin went on to dedicate his life to serving the poor and took especial care of children. His feast day is typically marked with the lighting of lanterns to celebrate the light in the gathering darkness of winter as we head towards the winter solstice. Often, children will make their own lanterns and go on a parade in their town or simply in their backyard.
How We Celebrate Though We’re Not Catholic
Our family usually hosts a lantern making party and a clothing drive to remember how Martin shared his cloak with one in need. Guests bring gently used clothing to our home the night of the party and we pack it into boxes and bags for donation at our local shelter.
We also ask that our guests bring one pint sized canning jar for each child so that we can make these tissue paper and glass jar lanterns. Once everyone has completed their lantern, we get on our coats and have a scavenger hunt in the yard, in the dark with our lanterns and a few flashlights. If it’s not too cold, we’ll roast marshmallows afterwards over an outdoor bonfire. More often the November cold sends us back indoors for cider and cookies.
- To learn to make your own canning jar lanterns, please visit this article form us at Homestead Lady.
- For an excellent homemade cider recipe in your Instant Pot®, please visit this article by Recipes to Nourish. You could make this same recipe in your slow cooker.
Homestead Holiday To Do List for Martinmas
- Speaking of cider, have you ever wanted to have your own apple press for making juice and cider? Me, too, but the cost has kept it on my wish list. Practical Self Reliance had a reader share her super easy and cheap method of pressing apple cider.
- If that’s a little more work than you want to do, try simply learning to make your own apple cider vinegar for recipes and wellness. Joybilee Farm can teach you how here.
By the time December rolls around we’re primed to finish the year with celebrating! I hope you’ve seen, and will continue to see, in this article that you don’t have to subscribe to a particular religion to celebrate it’s festival days. My family isn’t Catholic or Jewish or Muslim, yet we enjoy the holy days of all these religions from around the world each year. Here’s another…
St. Lucia’s Day
The Catholic feast day of Santa Lucia and is celebrated most notably in Sweden and Italy, though she’s remembered in many other places, too. The story is that a young girl, in the year 304, lost her life for bringing food and drink to persecuted Christians hiding in the catacombs under Rome. She wore a crown of candles on her head so that she had both hands free for carrying the provisions. She was caught and executed; martyred for her service.
Special songs, festivals and foods go along with the celebrations of this day. Young girls often dress in white gowns with read sashes and wear evergreen crowns with candles – some candles are real, and some are electric. The girls will often perform in special choirs for this day or perform simple acts of service like bringing their mothers breakfast in bed. As a mom, I like this tradition.
We still have girls young enough to enjoy the novelty of dressing up and we do enjoy a special breakfast. We often make saffron biscuits, which are among the many foods associated with this day. Here’s a Lussekatter (saffron and cardamom biscuit) recipe from Lavender and Lovage – click here. I love, love these biscuits!
One of the benefits of celebrating several Christmas-oriented holidays during the month of December for Christians and friends is that you can observe them in special ways and stay focused on the meaning. It takes a lot of the pressure off Christmas day to be singular and spectacular!
Homestead Holiday To Do List for St. Lucia’s Day
This is a great time to make sure your candle supply is ready for those winter power outages, so add that right onto your holiday to do list. You can purchase simple candles like tapers and tea lights in bulk and keep them with your emergency supplies. You can also learn to make candles! This may already be on your homestead to do list, or even your holiday to do list. Candles are practical and the skill of making them is useful. However, they also make excellent gifts!
- Here’s how to make several different types of candles with kids; this includes the simplest, which are rolled candles, as well as dipped and molded candles
- To learn to make scented tea lights, please visit this post from Lovely Greens
- Sustain My Craft Habit can teach you how to make candles in citrus rinds. No, I’m not kidding – click here
- If you decide you’d like to decorate some candles to give as gifts for the holidays, please visit this post
You might think the celebrating is over once January hits and your holiday to do list can be scrapped, but, nope! Let the holidays wind down naturally with a few winter celebrations like this one…
3 Kings Day
Also called 12th Night or Ephiphany, this day is celebrated on January 6th and it is the day to remember when the magi visited the Christ Child. The date can move around a bit, especially if you’re celebrating the Easter Christian version which only commemorates the baptism of Christ. Common ways to celebrate include caroling, winter swimming, taking down the Christmas decorations and, most important to the children, King Cake.
King Cake is a festive, dense cake that is served to family and friends. Hidden within in a clean coin or bean. Whomever finds the hidden item becomes king or queen for the rest of the celebration. We always arrange it so that one of the kids gets the coin. Last year, big brother got it and nipped it into baby girl’s piece. She was delighted to find it where she’d already looked!
There are a lot of King Cake recipes online with colorful sugar sprinkles and rum. Neither of these ingredients suit our tastes, so we usually use our Tasha Tudor Christmas Tea Ring recipe and hide a coin wrapped in aluminum foil into one of the slits. For that recipe, please click here.
Homestead Holiday To Do List for 3 Kings Day
Having a sizable supply of dried fruit on hand is a boon at the holidays. Learning to dehydrate your own fruits for homemade recipes is a simple process and one that can fit easily onto your holiday to do list. You don’t even need a dehydrator!
- Here’s how to make your own raisins – click here
- Joybilee Farm can teach you how to do the same with cherries – click here
- You can follow the same basic procedure for most fruits; just look online for more ideas. If you have a solar oven, you can dehydrate fruit in it, as well; here’s how from us at Homestead Lady.
- Shelle can teach you how to condition dehydrated fruit before you store it at Rockin W Homestead – look for Shelle’s dehydrating book, Prepper’s Dehydrator Handbook, too!
These special holidays follow the lunar (instead of the Gregorian) calendar and so they land on different days each year. These days are so fun to observe that they’re worth putting on your holiday to do list. A quick Google search can get you the date for each holiday on a yearly basis. You can follow them around the calendar each year or, if you’re not of that particular culture or religion, simply chose a date to celebrate it and fix it on your schedule.
In Merry and Bright we feature several lunar calendar holidays including the ones below, along with Diwali (a Hindu celebration) and Eid el-Adha (a Muslim holiday).
Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot
In the year 2019, Rosh Hashanah begins September 29th; Yom Kippur falls on October 8th ;Sukkot begins on October 13th. In modern times, these first two celebrations are often referred to as the High, Holy days of Judaism. Sukkot brings up the rear as a fantastic harvest celebration.
These holy days are also known to Biblical Christians as the Feast of the Trumpets, the Day of Atonement and the Feast of the Tabernacles (or the Festival of Ingathering). The days in between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are referred to as the Days of Awe. Needless to say, it’s a very special time of year for both Jews and Christians. To start learning more about these festivals, please visit this link.
Homestead Holiday To Do List for the High Holy Days
This is a great time to get your apples preserved since they feature heavily in the recipes for Rosh Hashanah and can be enjoyed all through these holy days. For a few great apple ideas, here are some articles:
- Canned apple pie filling from A Modern Homestead
- Caramel applesauce from us at Homestead Lady
- Make Raw Apple Cider Vinegar at home with Melissa K Norris
- One more treat: Wassail Apple Cider Marshmallow from us again
If you’d like to learn to grow apples, consider planting a self-sustaining permaculture fruit tree guild. Fall is the perfect time for orchard tree planting and Tenth Acre Farm can teach you how – click here.
Need Ideas for Your Holiday To Do List?
The ideas above are just a sample of what’s available from our short, holiday E-book, Merry and Bright. We had hoped to have Homestead Holidays ready for you this holiday season but family came first this year and we weren’t able to complete it. (It should be hitting shelves around Easter, though!)
To tide us all over, we’ve written Merry and Bright to get us all ready for the holidays this year. This 50 page E-book includes:
- Brainstorming sessions for holiday preparedness – these will help you organize yourself.
- Goal setting – you’re prompted to really stop and ponder what it is you want to do this holiday season.
- Time, money and work are all explored – these are the three biggest stress inducers of the holidays!
- DIYs and homemade gift projects are presented.
- Holiday foods, time savers and low budget ideas are presented.
- Plus, a few more holidays like the ones presented here are laid out for you to consider.
To get that book for FREE this year, simply sign up for our newsletter below:
(If you’re already a member of our newsletter family,
you’ll be receiving Merry and Bright shortly (with your October emails).