Do you ever really listen to the words traditional Christmas songs like Silent Night? “Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright..” It sounds wonderful, but not a thing like the Christmas season, which is a little more Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer (by the way.. how terrible is that song?!).
In the past few years, our family has tried to make changes in the direction of calm & bright. Last year and the year before, we did handmade gifts, which was really fun for those years, and this year, I felt like I had really maxed out my creativity and it was causing more stress to make every gift. This year I identified 5 steps to a more joyful and peaceful Christmas.
ONE/Gifts. They can be handmade, or store bought. Whatever makes your stress level next to nothing, as long as they are given with love, they are right.
TWO/Budget. I am really passionate about this one. If you aren’t doing this already, try a cash only Christmas. Start in January, setting a little bit aside each month in a Christmas fund, or build Christmas expenses into your December budget. Either way, no credit cards. I think most people you buy gifts for would rather a smaller gift (or a nice note!) than have you go into debt to give them something amazing that you really can’t afford. Gift within your means.
THREE/Decor. Keep it simple! Some of my favorite decorations are the simplest – family heirlooms like my grandfather’s model trains and great-grandmother’s copper molds, a rosemary tree, and candles. The absolute best new thing we did this year, was to do a major declutter and purge before bringing out the Christmas decorations – we donated and packed away almost all of the boy’s toys that were in the living room. It has been wonderful and much easier to tidy up.
FOUR/Tradition. I think traditions and rituals are one of the sweetest gifts I can give my children, so we’ve been trying to focus on experiences more than anything else this year. We’ve had a few nights in with Christmas cookies and hot cocoa watching some of our favorite Christmas movies, gone to Zoo Lights, attended the Winter Faire at Reid’s school, and I have plans to see the Nutcracker with Reid in a week. Some of these things are traditions from our childhoods, and some are new to us.
FIVE/Breathe. Be kind to yourself and take time to recharge, no matter what that looks like – wine with the girls, a dinner date, yoga, daily quiet time, or reading a book with a big mug of tea (or all of the above). Let yourself off the hook when it comes to doing it all. Do some well, let the rest go.
Wishing you a calm & bright Christmas.