Christmas in July Part I: How to Destress the Holidays
My love for the holidays is no secret. As I’ve gotten older with two babes at home I’ve found myself prepping year round to make the holiday season as stress free as I can for myself and my family. Stress free = more intentional celebrating, right? I don’t want my family to look back on my favorite time of year and remember me as a frazzled mom who couldn’t wait to get the season over with. I want to keep the magic alive as long as I can, and most importantly, I want those memories to encourage them to do the same when they’re raising my grand babies.
So, what can we do? How can we make it magical again? How do we prep now so it’s easy peasey in six months? That’s right, kids. You’ve got six months to check your heart and your savings account. I recently took a poll on Instagram asking what stresses you out most during the holidays. I’m going to make a list below with ideas that can literally change your life this Christmas season. Let’s get started-
MONEY: No surprise here, right? Finances during the holidays can be tough. It’s particularly bad if you wait until the month of December to shop, but what if you didn’t? What if your kids didn’t have to hear you chatting about how much everything costs for the entire holiday season? It can be done. Two things- the first one is setting up a savings account just for Christmas. With six months to go if you stash 100.00 a month that’s 600.00 you’ve got saved and ready to go. I like to use that savings on immediate family (my kids/spouse) because it’s hard to buy early for kids since their lists are ever changing. What about everyone else? Here’s my favorite trick- and don’t just read about it, DO IT. Make a list of all of the “extra” people you have to buy for ( aunts, uncles, friends, teachers) and each time you head to the grocery store or target grab a gift card in whatever amount works for your budget. Each time you purchase a card, cross a name off your list and before you know it, Christmas is here and your shopping is COMPLETE. You might be thinking gift cards are so impersonal…. I didn’t say you had to give them as the gift- You can if you want (give me a Target gift card and we will be BFFs), but if you don’t want to they act as a savings account. Closer to the holidays you can head to the store and shop for each person withing a specific budget on their card. It’s truly such a relief and takes the stress away like you wouldn’t believe. DIY gift giver? get started now by doing one gift or more per week. You’ll be done before you know it. Also, don’t forget to grab clearance toys like 5.00 barbies or playdoh sets when you see them. These make perfect gifts when your kids get invited to birthday parties year round. They’re also amazing to donate for Christmas.
DECOR: You’re always saying how this is the year that you’re going to go all out. You want a tree in every room, Santa’s sleigh on the roof, and your elf on the shelf is going to deliver baby Jesus himself this year. And every year you don’t do a darn thing. It’s to much work, you can’t afford it, or it never turns out like you wanted it to. This year is going to be different, because we’ve already talked about money and gift prep. With nearly 6 months until Christmas it’s a great time to start planning the “extra” things you’d like to do this holiday season to make sure they happen. Pick the holiday decor theme of your dreams and start your hunt to make it happen. Facebook marketplace, Ebay, and summertime Christmas sales make it the perfect time to grab Holiday decor for next to nothing. BUT before you get started create a reasonable list of things you’d love to have and try to stick with your original vision. If you don’t, you’ll have decor, but when Christmas rolls around you’ll be disappointed that nothing fits your original decor goals. Start a Pinterest board with styles you like and don’t forget to check garage sales through the summer/fall.
CHRISTMAS CARDS: You always want to send out personalized Christmas cards with a photo of your beautiful family on them and it either never gets done or you frantically get it done at the last minute and your attitude sucks because you’re stressed out… Which one are you? I’ve been both. It doesn’t have to be that hard! If you’re planning a summer photo shoot with a photographer use one of your outfit swaps for a cold weather look. Stick that baby on a card you design at Walmart or Shutterfly and get them printed. BOOM. You’re done. Not using a photographer? No biggie, set something simple up and use an Iphone. But, whatever you do, don’t skip it.
GIVING BACK: Every year you say you’re going to make time to give back during the holidays and it seems to always get pushed to the wayside during the holiday frenzy. The truth is that giving back is great for so many reasons. Not only does it help someone else, but it also gives you a boost and sheds some perspective on why we celebrate to begin with. That being said, it can be hard to fit it in and if you’re not careful you won’t do any intentional giving. Here’s my plan of attack for giving this year. I’m going to choose 3 ways to give. I think setting a small reasonable goal helps get things done and makes it less overwhelming. We all need to share this experience with our kids so choosing opportunities that they can be hands on with is important. For us, we will participate in a church food drive, adopt a family, and celebrate by surprising many of our neighbors with baked goods and other small gifts. The important thing to remember is to grab yourself a planner and make a note of your giving goals for this year. You can do it!
TRADITIONS: This one can be harder than you think for young families. If you’re like us, it’s hard to divide your time between big family festivities and small intimate traditions that you want to create with just your spouse and kiddos. It’s hard. And honestly, I think it’s one of the most stressful parts of the holidays. You guys are going to think i’m nuts, but you’ve got to get out the planner and make some notes of things you want to do with your family. Write it down. I love to pick a number- I’m going to intentionally celebrate by doing 5 things with my little family this year (for example). Choose your traditions and make them known. They can be the smallest things. The same movie every year with popcorn and Christmas blankets, Christmas Eve boxes with new pj’s and books, a decorative Christmas Village that your crew picks out a new piece for every year….. Where people go wrong is trying to create to many traditions. It becomes overwhelming and isn’t memorable. So, choose a couple, jot them down, and do them. As far as the craziness of trying to keep your extended family hap…. You have to learn to say no. It doesn’t mean you love them less, or you think something else is more important. But prioritizing your life is up to you and if they love you (and they probably do) they will want those sweet intimate moments you have with just your kids and your hubby (lights glowing, fire roaring, hot chocolate covered faces) to happen just as much as you do. This year, let’s slow down because those kids aren’t getting any younger and neither are you.
CHRISTMAS DINNER: it’s another part of the expense of the holidays. Feeding an army ain’t cheap. Traditional Christmas fare (turkey, ham, and all of the trimmings) aren’t necessarily budget friendly. They also take a ton of prep which, as we’ve discussed, takes away from intentional celebrating. If you’ve got the budget for it— hire a caterer. Take a head count now, set a budget, and call around for pricing. If you can’t swing having the whole dinner made you might consider just doing the turkey or ham. Want to do something less traditional? How about an Italian themed feast, or a fiesta ( don’t forget my invite)!
THE REASON: If there’s anything to remember from this post it’s this. Christmas will always be beautiful and seamless if your heart is in the right place. If you’re keeping your focus on the true meaning of why we celebrate you’ll find a calmness and beauty in even the smallest things during the holidays.
Let’s slow down this year.