Inside: 4 ways to make Christmas less stressful and more meaningful for the whole family
From the shopping, endless bargain hunting, gift wrapping, and preparing to the gift-opening, frantic family-hopping, and everything in between, where has Christmas gone?
Somewhere along the way, we’ve lost the heart of the Christmas season and replaced it with piles of toys (that will inevitably be forgotten or broken within a week), the holiday rush that leaves us in a blur, and the sinking feeling that no matter what we do, all of it STILL isn’t good enough. But where’s the peace? Where’s the joy?
These 4 tips can help us all bring them back!
4 Ways to Bring Peace and Joy Back to the Christmas Season
Here are the ways I am intentionally choosing peace and joy this year:
1) Just say no to crazy amounts of gifts.
We go overboard EVERY SINGLE YEAR. Last year, my husband and I were pretty sold on doing the 4 gift idea (something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read) for each of the kids and our gifts to one another. But that just didn’t hold up for us…
Here was our issue with the 4 gift idea: certain things overlap and others just weren’t necessary. What if the thing you really want is the only thing you need right now? OR if what you need is also something to wear? OR if your wardrobe is all good, and you don’t even need anything to wear? It just wasn’t for us.
And you know what happened? WE WENT NUTS. We would feel bad because we thought they wouldn’t enjoy their gifts. So we’d pick up more things that we thought they’d enjoy more. Then we’d feel bad because things didn’t look equal between each child. So we’d run out and get more. Inevitably, we’d find more cool stuff for one kid than the others. So we’d go right back to worrying about things not being equal. And we ended up spending WAY TOO MUCH.
Instead, this year, we’re going to buy each child:
- one “big” item–something either actually large or kind of pricey, something they would normally be told “no” or “wait until your birthday/Christmas” about
- and then a few smaller gifts.
AND we’re going to stuff stockings MODESTLY because when I say that our usual “stocking stuffing” means filling the stocking then also covering the mantel and the floor directly under the stockings, I’m not kidding. It’s all just too much and emphasizes the wrong things to our kids.
This year, it’s all about quality over quantity.
Which brings me to my next point…
2) Magnify the little things.
What do I want my kids to remember from their childhood Christmases? Never feeling they had enough even though they got plenty of new things? Or feeling like the season was full because their hearts were full?
Instead of focusing on the things we get during Christmas, I want to focus more on the time we share together and what we can give (which I’ll talk about more in just a moment).
As for the time we share together, there are plenty of Christmas traditions that have NOTHING to do with gifts. And yet, they seem to get lost in the shuffle while presents are magnified. It’s not that we don’t do other things like making crafts and baking sweets. But more emphasis is somehow placed on Santa and that bag of gifts coming their way on Christmas Eve night.
When our kids are little, what do we do when they open presents? We usually make an excited or shocked face and say something like, “Oh my goodness, ___! Look what Santa brought you!” Or “..what so and so got for you!!” I’m not saying we shouldn’t teach our kids to be thankful when someone gives them something. What I’m saying is the way most of us currently handle gift-receiving makes kids more excited about the gift than the thought behind it or the person giving it.
In our family, that needs to change.
3) Let’s get over ourselves.
That may sound a little harsh. But during this season, it can be easy to get wrapped up in ourselves and our families.
This year, I want to look for more ways to give. Whether it be donating to local organizations, volunteering time, or even helping out a neighbor, Ms. Socially Awkward Introvert over here is going to make an effort to get outside of myself and my usual primary concerns.
4) Don’t stuff Christmas day with house-hopping.
This one may be a little tough, especially when you don’t want to disappoint people. Full disclosure: my Christmas day is usually spent house-hopping, and that may never change. But if there’s a way for you to avoid it by seeing more family on Christmas Eve or the day after Christmas, DO IT!
What stresses you out the most during the holidays? How do you minimize stress during this time of year?
Until next time,
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