The holidays can be the most magical time of the year but they can also cause stress too. With all the expectations, traditions to continue and family and friends to entertain the list can become exhausting and before you realize it the season has come to an end and you are left feeling like you didn't have one moment to enjoy it. So, how do we put a halt on the craziness and take a minute to truly appreciate this joyous time?
We have created a list of seven simple ways you and yours can minimize the demands of the season to take time and enjoy each other and the things that are happening around you.
1. gIFTS GALORE
Everyone loves to watch their kids faces as they unwrap that one gift they have been requesting for months. It's fun to shop for someone you love and bring joy to them through giving. Also, for some of us trying to perfect our wrapping skills while enjoying a cup of eggnog with those Christmas tunes playing in the background can be an joyous holiday experience. However, for others, the idea of having to stock up on Christmas gifts, have them perfectly wrapped, and make sure that everyone is completely happy with what they received sounds terrifying!
Ways to minimize the stress when it comes to the whole "gift giving:"
A.) Shop throughout the year-> Hit up those memorial day, after Christmas, Black Friday and even Summer sales. As you're out strolling the boutiques with your girlfriends be on the lookout for gift ideas that you can stash away until December.
B.) Set a budget-> Don't break the bank trying to make sure everyone has the newest, shiniest, most wonderful stuff. At the end of the day that's what it is.... stuff! Set a budget for all of your gift giving, not just children but also extended family, gift exchanges and secret Santa parties. If you have set a budget on what you plan to spend this will not only help you pick out just the right gifts, but it will also help you feel less anxious about looking at that bank account when January comes around.
C.) Get Creative-> Everyone loves a handmade gift, especially those that have obviously been well thought out with love and consideration for the person they are being given to. Handmade gifts may not be the ticket for everyone but for some this can be a great way to show personalization and creativity.
C.) 3-4 Gift Rule -> I have heard of Christmases where gifts are overflowing from underneath the tree and I've heard of Christmases where children have opened up a few gifts they absolutely loved. I don't firmly believe either is wrong. However, I do think that sometimes the hype of "keeping up with the Joneses" or making sure your child has everything they asked for can be overwhelming and exhausting, as well as financially unrealistic. So, one solution is to come up with a gift system. I have heard of the three gift rule where you give One gift they want, One gift they need and One gift they are surprised about. Another one I've heard of is One gift you want, One gift you need, One gift you can wear and One gift you can give. This one sounds great because it reminds others to be thinking about ways they can be giving during this season rather than only focusing on what they are getting.
There are a ton of suggestions, opinions and tips with how to give the correct way during the season and sometimes overthinking that can be exhausting and cause stress too. At the end of the day just remember to stop adding extra pressure on yourself. The holidays should not be about gifts and toys and getting that latest gadget. If you are happy, healthy and have inner joy then you have received a pretty good selection of gifts anyways. As well, God sent Jesus to save us from our sins. What greater gift do we really need?
2. Christmas Music
A recent study has shown that if you start listening to Christmas music earlier you will be happier. So, why not get into the Holiday spirit by turning on the tunes, singing along and feeling that joy that comes along with some of those Holiday classics?
3. Set Expectations and Traditions
One way to minimize the calendar obligations around the holiday season is to create traditions that are expected and set expectations for what will happen around the holidays. Why reinvent the wheel and try and change tradition every year? I mean really, isn't part of the holiday experience bringing out grandma's recipes that only show up around this time of year while decorating the tree with those same ornaments that have been passed down year after year and continuing the traditions from one parent to child and so on? The holidays have become a time when new trends start to appear but really this can only stir up the "keeping up with the joneses" mentality and can cause more stress than necessary. If you stick to tradition not only will this create simplicity, but everyone in the family will eventually appreciate the ways things "have always been done" and look forward to that one time of year when these traditions make their appearance.
4. Involve everyone
Holiday stress can cause you to want to tell the whole family to just go in the other room so you can get everything done and take care of everything the way you want it. But really where is the joy and fun spirit in that? One way to keep the whole family entertained and involved is to give everyone a task. Hold everyone responsible for helping out with something. Maybe it's decorating the tree or hanging up the lights. Perhaps it's accepting the fact that when all the young ones assist with baking the holiday treats that it may not turn out to be the most beautiful, but the memories and joy that follow will outweigh that perfectly shaped and decorated tree cookie. The holidays give an opportunity to spend time, make memories and enjoy the family. So, be sure to set those perfection expectations aside, get everyone involved and enjoy this time that you have to spend with each other.
5. Don't plan The Month Away
This one is intertwined with number four. The holiday season is an easy time of year to overbook the calendar, try and participate in ALL the holiday events while also volunteering to provide all the food at every holiday happening. These are all great things that are enjoyable and important. However, too much can put a damper on the enjoyment of the season. So, instead of being part of EVERYTHING, choose to do a few things well. Maybe this can change from year to year but just remember the holidays don't have to be overbooked! Choose a few events that will bring you the most holiday joy and be sure to enjoy every second of them.
6. hAVE FUN & Take a Minute!
I can't tell you how often I catch myself getting grumpy during the holidays, feeling anxious and frustrated with all the checklists, to-do's and calendar outings. I regularly have to remind myself the true reason for the season and that it's not about all of the material possessions, perfect wrapping paper, festive cards and being at everyone's Christmas gatherings. If you aren't having a little bit of fun then you're doing something wrong! You know that old saying, "stop and smell the roses?" Well, don't forget to stop and take in the Joy of the season! If you don't remind yourself to take that break every now and then it will fly right by and before you know it another Christmas is behind you. So, have Fun! Enjoy the season, the festivities, and most importantly the people you share it all with.
7. he is the reason
I have saved the best for last! One way to minimize all of the commercialization of the Holiday season is to keep the true reason always in sight. The whole reason we celebrate Christmas is because of the birth of a savior, a baby born in a manger long ago. He humbly came to this earth to rescue us from our sins so we could have eternity in Heaven. Nothing else matters when we truly stop and put this into perspective. All of the fancy gifts, decorations, baking and gatherings are second when it comes to the true reason we celebrate Christmas. So, prioritize this in your home and your life daily, especially throughout the Holidays. We personally have an advent tree with bible verses that we read every morning as well as an advent book that we read daily during the season. This begins our day as well as ends our day reminding us of the true reason for the season. This is just one of the ways and examples you can incorporate this reminder into your busy days. Christ is our Prince of Peace! So, if we are looking for ways to find peace during the Holidays there is no better place to look than to turn our eyes towards Christ himself.
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