The Christmas season can get really stressful for a lot of people. There just seems to be so much extra “stuff” involved this time of year. Calendars are filled with parties, plays, and special events. Then there’s shopping to be done, decorations to put out, families to visit, and baking to be completed. Add to that the high expectations the season brings and you have the perfect recipe for a very stressful holiday season.
In an effort to keep things all about reflecting on Christ’s birth and spending time with loved ones, we try to be really intentional about keeping the season as stress-free and enjoyable as possible. Each year is different because our lives are constantly changing… so we adjust things to fit whatever phase in life we’re in.
My rule is that if it’s not fun, if we don’t enjoy it as a family and it’s not something we are obligated to do, we don’t do it.
We put our tree up the day after Thanksgiving as always and it was wonderful. The kids went to bed and John climbed the stairs to the attic to bring down exactly two boxes. One held the tree and the other held the ornaments plus our nativity scene and garland for the mantle. While I set up the nativity John put the tree together, then while he put the garland up I decorated the tree with our ornaments. And that was that. Relaxing, enjoyable, and instantly made it feel like Christmas time had come.
The look on the kids faces the next morning was priceless. Mareto stands in front of the tree just gazing at all the lights and ornaments several times a day. I love how magical Christmas is to them.
A week later I got my advent calendar from Naptime Diaries hung on the wall and I printed off two downloads from Angela Hardison to go above our nativity scene. That was that. Christmas decorations complete and I didn’t feel like it was a job at all. The best part is that our home is still clutter free, and the “take down” in January will be equally easy. Our home still looks festive (honestly the tree alone achieves that effect) and with a little Michael Buble Christmas tunes coming from the stereo all feels right in our hearts.
As for the shopping and baking… we are probably the most scaled back family in America! John and I haven’t bought each other Christmas gifts for the last couple years and it doesn’t bother us one bit. We know we love each other and we also know our budget. We try to do little things all year long and don’t feel like we’re missing out on Christmas morning. We buy the kids one gift each for two reasons – first, they are too young to know the difference, second, they have grandparents plus aunts and uncles that spoil them rotten so we sit back and enjoy!
And I don’t bake for Christmas. Nothing more than I normally would, which is a batch of muffins every Saturday morning and a couple “break and bake” batches of cookies a week. I don’t hear any complaints and if we get a craving for homemade cookies we can always swing by my parents’ house. 😉
There you have it… our guide to enjoying the Christmas season without breaking the bank and losing our minds! For more great ideas to simplify your holiday season check out a less fuss Christmas over at The Tiny Twig!