The Secret to a Simple Christmas
It is so easy to get overwhelmed during the holidays. The shopping lists, the Christmas events, the cookie baking. What if I told you that avoiding most of this stress really is possible?
My Choose Happy goal for the year was actually born out of the holiday season last year. I spent most of the Fall from Halloween until Christmas repeating a mantra to myself: Choose Happy. Whenever things started to feel stressful I would take a step back and ask myself why I was doing the task. Did it need to be done? Who said so? Why was this important? Could I let it go?
Often times I think we get bogged down by the stress of trying to live up to what we think we are supposed to do. I've heard often that you shouldn't compare your life to someone else's highlight reel/facebook album/Instagram feed. I think this is true, but it is also true that when you go on Pinterest or Instagram you aren't just looking at one person's perfect cookies, you are looking at everyone's perfect something.
We all have skills. We have parts of celebrating or parenting or homemaking or working at which we excel. I might be able to create art with my kids, take a decent photo, or generally stay organized, but I am also horrible at cooking, cleaning, and anything truly crafty. And that is OKAY!
It would be easy for me to look at someone's gorgeous Christmas dinner or handmade stockings and feel less than, but I choose not to think about it that way.
We cannot do it all.
The holidays are no different. There are parts that are fun for you and your family. There are parts that you are great at creating. There are also parts you don't like or can't do well. Accept that. Embrace that and you are on your way.
Below are 5 more simple ways to make your holiday simple and magical.
Get Organized Early.
Even if you don't excel at organization, it is helpful to make some lists early in the season. I usually do this on my planner (my Get To Work Book worked awesome for this!).
*Make a list of everyone you need to give presents to and maybe a few ideas.
*Get important dates like the Nutcracker, town parade, or school Christmas show on your calendar. Remember that you don't have to do them all so pick the ones that are a must or are most loved.
*Also make a list of the other things you need to do: plan the meal, mail Christmas cards, bake cookies, etc. You might add to this list (or subtract) but start one so you can jot down to dos when they come to you.
Some people may feel less stressed if they get their shopping done early, but personally I find it more stressful. Maybe it makes you feel more free to enjoy the season, but I personally enjoy picking out gifts for people and rushing to make an earlier deadline doesn't make me feel less stressed, it just changes when I'm stressed.
I think an important part of enjoying the holiday season is slowing down and actually enjoying each holiday. Instead of getting my tree up and presents purchased as early as possible, once some initial Christmas planning is done we sit back and enjoy Thanksgiving.
We celebrate the simple things about Fall and Thanksgiving that make that time of year perfect. The time with family. The good food. Traditions like the Macy's Parade. Then later that weekend or the following weekend, we pull out the Christmas decorations and get started.
Pick the parts you love.
I think this is key more than anything else. What is it about Christmas or the holidays that you love the most? What makes it magical for you? The food? Making your own gifts? The Christmas books? Christmas lights? A Christmas concert? For every person and family this list is going to be different. The important part is to make it YOUR list.
Last year I learned that I can't make a different kind of cookie and a Christmas craft every week. It is too much and not fun for me. We like being on the go, so this year we have more events on our 25 days of Christmas and the cookie baking, special snacks, and ornament producing has been reduced. Your list might very well be the opposite.
You have permission to mass produce, buy, or swap.
At Christmas time we turn into a little elven workshop a couple of days and get the majority of our Christmas gifts done. Whether you make a bunch of an ornament, mass produce some cookies, or something else, don't feel like you have to be completely original for every single person or event.
Have 5 Christmas parties to attend? Buy or make 5 hostess gifts and be done.
Need a gift for all of the kids in your child's class or all of their cousins? Pick an ornament, buy a ton of supplies, and spend an afternoon creating.
If you enjoy hand picking each an every gift and personalizing it to each person, then do that. Perhaps give yourself permission to order side dishes for Christmas dinner or buy Christmas cookies if that isn't the highlight of your season. Or host a cookie or ornament swap so you have a diverse collection without having to make multiples on your own.
Remember that the holidays are supposed to be fun and magical. Give yourself permission to let go of some of the things on your list or make them a little easier so you can enjoy the season.
Leave time for simple magic.
Amongst the hustle of shopping and flurry of Christmas events, make time to be at home. To sit by the Christmas tree and do a puzzle together, read Christmas stories, or build a train track around the tree. Drink hot cocoa or suck on peppermint sticks. Bundle up (or not) and go on a Winter Lights Walk.
That planning and letting go is to give you and your family time. I think we worry if we don't have something planned for every moment then chaos or disaster will strike. The gift of time is when you get to really enjoy each other. As a family we love going places and seeing new things, but we also balance that with time at home. Time to play and create and enjoy each other. Free time is when the magic happens.
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