There's less than 20 days until Christmas (17 to be exact), and quite frankly, I'm a little stressed out about it. Along with being the "most wonderful time of the year" it's probably called the busiest and most stressful just as often.
It's all too easy to forget about the beauty of this season in the midst of 50% off sales and overstuffed Christmas trees. The "stuff" under the tree can often take precendence over the people around it- but this year (especially with a child whose old enough to understand what presents are now) I'm determined not to let that happen.
I've been thinking of ways we can "simplify" Christmas as a family (and in my own mind) and I want to share a few of the things I came up with, in case you're on a mission to do the same.
1. Shift Your Focus:
A simple mind shift might be all it takes to make the holidays more enjoyable and less "blink and they're gone".
- Remember: Grab a devotional or advent study to help you remember why we celebrate. Hint: it's not about the "stuff".
- Prioritize: Write a list of things you most want to get done, everything from practical (like cleaning or baking) to fun (like ice skating with the kids or a coffee date). Prioritizing will help you remember what's important and stick to it.
- Invest: Be intentional about how you spend your time this year. Start some new family traditions, or take a mini-vacation with the family instead of giving gifts. (Side note: I would love for you all to spam me with your family traditions! Evie is finally getting old enough to know what Christmas is and I'd love to have some fun things to do with her each year!)
2. Give Differently:
- Handmade gifts: for the past few years I've been making my Christmas gifts for everyone. Usually I'll crochet something or make some crafty food in a jar or something. That's where Pinterest comes in, my friends. This option is nice on the budget too ;)
- Gifts of time: I LOVE gifts of time. Last year, my brother gave AJ and I coupons for babysitting Evie so we could have a few date nights (and then he moved to Colorado before we could use them all, but whatever...). Gifts like that will make way more memories than anything you can buy at a store.
- Give Minimally: This year we aren't going to be able to lavish the girls with several gifts- but in a way I'm glad. AJ and I are planning on either making or buying one thing for each of our kids each year and "gifting" them with fun experiences and dates together the rest of the time.
3. De-clutter Your Home:
Clutter drags me down. It's going to be one of my 2016 resolutions to COMPLETELY declutter my house- which is going to be a huge project, trust me. But for Christmas specifically, don't overwhelm yourself with having a perfect tree and stockings and decorations in every room. Maybe that means you pick one room and go all out. Maybe you don't have a big tree at all- Charlie Brown Christmas trees were always my favorite anyway ;)
4. Don't Put Pressure On Yourself:
I think we tend to put way too much pressure on ourselves (especially as wives and mamas) to give our families the perfect Christmas. But honestly, our kids aren't going to remember whether or not the stockings were perfectly centered over the mantle or whether you got the lights hung up outside (we didn't, for the record). But they will remember the time you spent with them and the delicious cookies you let them help make (and destroy your kitchen in the process).
5. Take Some Time For Yourself:
In the midst of all your giving giving giving, it's easy to get burned out. Take yourself out for coffee or go shopping solo for the afternoon- it will give you some much needed time to refresh and refocus.
What are some ways you intentionally spend your time during Christmas? Do you find yourself getting stressed as well?