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Yes, I know. It’s only October. However, we are running straight into the holiday season. I think we can all use some tips for family Christmas.
First is Halloween. Next is Thanksgiving. Then we have Christmas and
many other winter holidays. Finally, we have New Year’s Eve and Day. (Technically, I think those two restart the entire year of holidays.)
Sometimes, the holidays are hard. They can be stressful. We need tips to be able to survive with our families.
Tips for Family Christmas #1: Focus on What’s Most Important
Is being in church for the Christmas service important to you and your family? Make a plan to be there, and then arrange other things so you are not double booked for that date.
Do you want to host the Thanksgiving meal? Begin your menu planning and shopping now. Get the items that can sit in the pantry for a few weeks. This will save you time and stress in the days leading up to the big meal.
If relaxing at home and spending time with your family is your priority for the season, only put the most important events on your calendar. Don’t overbook yourself. No matter what, responding “no” to an invitation is fine. You can politely decline and possibly send a card/letter to the person instead of going in person. (No, it’s not the same, but you have to protect your mental health and your time during the holidays.)
Tips for Family Christmas #2: Eliminate High-stress Traditions
If you typically create handmade cards or Advent calendars or decorations, consider other options. Do you have decor from previous years that you could use this year? Could you purchase handmade cards or other items from Etsy, a local craft fair, or a friend who makes them?
Do you normally have an Elf on the Shelf who does crazy things? Maybe this year, he/she could play “hide-and-seek” with the kids. Instead of getting into mischief in the house, he/she could “hide” from the children, and they have to find the elf during the day. (Hint: If the kids don’t find the elf, you can leave him/her in the same spot for a couple of days.)
Tips for Family Christmas #3: Accept “Good Enough”
Bigger does not mean better. How many times have we heard that?
Everything does not have to be perfect. However, if you are anything like me, you probably want the food, decor, and gifts to be perfect. Just remember, nothing is ever perfect, but sometimes I overdo it and try to make it the best I can.
I know that I need to hear this, but “good enough” is fine.
That means that the fresh tree can be from a lot instead of a road trip to the mountains to cut it down yourself. The tree will be just as beautiful either way.
The turkey can be a little smaller than normal. Trust me, unless you get a 5-lb turkey instead of a 20-lb turkey, no one will notice a pound or two. You’ll probably still have enough leftovers for sandwiches over the weekend.
Use the decorations from last year instead of trying to find all new ones for this year. “Good enough” is enough, and it’s good.
Tips for Family Christmas #4: Don’t Forget to Have Fun
For me, it’s easy to sit on the sidelines, watch others having fun, and take pictures. I love taking pictures and videos, so this is the easiest thing for me.
I plan all the things for the family, like the games for the family Christmas party. Then, I don’t participate. Who else does this? (I know I’m not the only one!)
So… we need to start jumping in. We need to be part of the gingerbread house-building competition. (We use graham crackers, store-bought icing, and random candies and cake-decorating things I have at my house. Everyone gets access to the same things so it’s fair. We work in teams of 2.)
I think this year, I might just set up my phone to video the entire table. Then I will be able to compete in the building. I can do pictures while the judges are doing their thing.
Make sure that you aren’t planning all the fun and not participating. Jump in! Have fun! It’s the holidays! It’s time to celebrate and make memories.
No matter what the activity is, be sure that you have fun with your family. Don’t just sit by and watch them enjoying everything.
Tips for Family Christmas #5: Make Lists
I know. You just sang the song, “making a list, checking it twice.” Make a list of and for everything.
Examples of lists to make:
People to buy for
Things to buy
For the people on the first list
Menu items and ingredients
Typical household items (like soap) that you may forget otherwise
Making lists will help you to keep organized. They will make it easier for you to manage tasks and priorities.
I make lists all the time, but that’s just me coping with ADHD. Most of the time, my lists have sublists. It’s what works for me, but figure out how using a list will work for you.
Tips for Family Christmas #6: Delegate
Every year, our family gets together at my parents’ house for Thanksgiving and Christmas. A few weeks before each, my mom (or I) will send out a group text to the family and ask who is bringing what.
I always sign up for more than I should. Now, we have more adults than children in the family. My daughter and most of her cousins are all adults. My sister has 2 school-aged daughters and a newborn. My oldest niece has an elementary daughter. Everyone else is an adult. Seriously, we could ask more people to bring things to the family parties, but we never do.
My mom takes on a lot of the cooking. I choose a large list of things to bring, and so do my siblings. I guess none of us are ready to allow the rest of the “kids” to be adults yet.
But, even if I sign up for a lot of the foods, I can delegate. My husband and my daughter can help me. Or, I can order them and let someone else do the cooking for us. It might cost a little more money, but the time saved will be valuable.
Delegate as many things as you can.
If you don’t like wrapping presents, let someone else do it for you. Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect.
If addressing envelopes for the cards is boring for you, let one of your kids do it. The recipient, especially family members, will love getting something with the kids’ writing on it.
Also, be sure that if you can’t get out of doing something make sure that you plan child and/or pet care. If you are working at the house, tasks take less time if you don’t have to stop for the kids and/or animals.
Anything that you can delegate, do it. The time and stress saved will be worth it.
Tips for Family Christmas #7: Keep Your Routines
Most of us have morning and evening routines to help us acclimate to the day/night.
Even during the holidays, you should keep these going. It will help you ensure that you are doing everything you need to do in the mornings or at night. If you have children, it will prevent uprooting their schedules any more than necessary.
Do your daily skincare routine.
Do your Bible study.
Read a book (or two) to the kids at night.
Keep your schedule as normal as possible, even if the holidays get a little crazy.
Tips for Family Christmas #8: Limit the Gift List
This is hard, but it’s not impossible.
The best way to do this is to decline invitations to the White Elephant (Dirty Santa/Secret Santa) parties.
In our family, we have so many people that we sometimes draw names. Everyone buys for the kids. The rest of us draw names; it’s usually couple for couple and singles for singles.
Another way to do this is to set price limits for gifts. No one can spend more than a certain amount on each gift. We typically do $40 per couple and $20 for individuals.
Finally, shopping online can help you to save money. There are apps and extensions for coupons and discounts. This will also save you in shipping if you have Amazon Prime. You can sign up for a free trial of Amazon Prime here.
Tips for Family Christmas #9: Limit Travel
If you have 2 families–yours and the in-laws–try to combine them, if possible.
If you cannot combine them, try to get one family before Christmas and the other in the New Year.
Or, if going to both family functions is not possible, alternate each year. Go to one family this year and the other next year. I know it will be hard not to see all your family members for Christmas, but it will help relieve the stress and financial burden.
Tips for Family Christmas #10: Say No
I know I’ve already said this, but don’t overschedule yourself.
Plan some of your gatherings or meetings with friends for after the New Year. This not only alleviates stress during the Christmas season but will keep the holiday going a little longer.
Tips for Family Christmas #11: Make Sure Your Refrigerator is Working
I’m sure when you read this tip, you laughed. However, when you have food prepared for the holiday or you have a lot of leftovers, that is not the time to find out that your refrigerator isn’t working.
A broken fridge can cause unnecessary stress. Plus, it will probably cause a hit to the budget as well.
Tips for Family Christmas #12: Check Car Maintenance
If your car breaks down during the holidays, it will make everything more difficult. You won’t be able to get to the stores, family houses, or gatherings.
Before the holidays get here, be sure to check the gas, fluids, and tires in and on your vehicle. If you live somewhere cold, be sure your car is ready for the cold weather. Here in NC, we don’t normally have to worry about freezing at Christmas, but it is a good practice for preparing for cold weather.
Make sure that you have an emergency kit in the vehicle. Check the spare tire, jack, and lug wrench. Check your insurance policy and be sure you know everything that it covers.
Have blankets and snacks in the car. If you get stuck on the side of the road in cold weather, you do not want to freeze without the heat. You may also need to have some snacks in case you are there for a long time.
Finally, have an emergency charging supply for your car and electronics. You could get a Halo Bolt; it allows you to jump off your car and/or charge your phone.
Holidays can be stressful. We have all experienced that through the years. It seems as though each year we add more stress to ourselves and our families for the holidays. I hope these tips for a family Christmas are helpful.
Leave a comment with what you found the most helpful and any other tips for family Christmas you have. Let’s build a community and share how we make it through Christmas with the least stress and the most fun!