It’s here!!! As I write this, Christmas is exactly one month away. Our family LOVES celebrating Christmas, but something I’ve started thinking about more this year is how to simplify the Christmas season so that it is more fun, more meaningful, and more memorable. Here are a few things I started doing years ago, as well as new things I want to implement this year. When my boys look back on their Christmases as children, I don’t want them to remember stressed out parents or a calendar that is too full. I want them to look back with joy on a season full of great memories and experiences.
Keep the expectations of children and holiday activities realistic.
Before I had children, I imagined playing Christmas music while we all decorated the house together for hours. Reality check!!! My boys DO love decorating for Christmas, but what they love is picking out the Christmas tree and hanging ornaments. That’s pretty much it, and that’s pretty much enough. They have little interest in watching me rearrange the nativity scene on different tables until I think it looks just right. So I do the prep work. After we get home from Thanksgiving festivities, I get out the Christmas decorations after they have gone to bed, and I put fun little decorations around the house while I watch a favorite Christmas movie. Nutcrackers, an Advent calendar, and Christmas candles. When they wake up they are super excited to discover Christmas decorations in a various places in the house. Then we plan a time soon when we all pick out the Christmas tree and decorate it together. Win, win!
Choose your favorite holiday foods.
I used to spend a lot of time cooking detailed recipes for the holidays for other get togethers and for family. These days, I still make extra special food at the holidays, but I focus on a few favorites that are a tradition for our family, and I don’t stress about the rest. Our favorite Christmas cookie to make are chocolate chip gingerbread cookies and shortbread cookies, so we make those every year. Instead of expecting the boys to be fascinated by every step of the recipe, I know that their favorite part is pouring in the molasses, stirring a couple of times, then rolling the cookies in sugar or decorating them right before they bake. I’ve also discovered an incredible crock pot recipe for company! Cranberry orange pork tenderloin in the crock pot is amazing, company worthy, and gets rave reviews every time. It’s a literal throw everything in the pot recipe, and we look forward to it every year.
Simplify gift giving.
We have lots of family in lots of different states, but on both sides of the family we have found ways to make gift giving easier and more fun. On one side of the family, we make on-line wish lists on the same website, and when one family member purchases a gift, it is automatically taken off the list. It takes a few clicks to shop this way, and people get exactly what is on their list. On the other side of the family, there are lots of young children, so we started letting the children draw names for who they will buy for. It’s fun to see who draws who each year, and then we all open the presents who got for each other together the week of Christmas.
Do what brings your family JOY!
What are the holiday traditions that are the most fun for your family? Is it ice skating, going to see a Christmas movie, seeing the lights, or going to a holiday concert? Do those things! Looking back, my strongest and best Christmas memories as a child are about things that we did together as a family, rather than specific gifts that we bought. Yes, giving gifts is super fun, but it is the memories that last for years.