The holidays can be overwhelming for everyone. Parties, sweets, activities, events. The list goes on and on.
We have found the best strategy for the holidays is keeping things simple and home based. The more we head out to try and accomplish the more stressed we become. The more we buy the more stressed we become. Slowing down and finding ways to connect as a family through the holidays is one of the best ways to simplify this busy time of year.
As our children age we are trying to find new ways to enjoy the holidays as our own family. When we had less children and they were younger our family traditions were still part of my parents tradition, but now as we have more children and they are older we are trying to create our own family traditions in our home. It is a challenging area to negotiate but one that we feel is important.
Strategies that we use for keeping the holidays simple are as follows:
- Avoid extras. Your kids will survive and live a fulfilled life even if they don't participate in every single special holiday celebration, event or activity. I promise you, they will be thrive. They will most likely be better off because they will learn from you the power of setting boundaries and saying no. They will learn strategies for finding balance in their lives.
- Keep gift buying to a minimum. Do you still need to buy for adults in your life? Can you do a gift exchange with family (including kids)? Often we buy gifts just for the sake of it without any real meaning attached to it. You know how it goes. Uncle Joe needs a gift. You go out searching for hours for that special gift for Uncle Joe, only to come back with a tie that looks identical to one you bought him last year. Instead let Uncle Joe know that you love him and appreciate him being part of your life with a simple homemade card. Uncle Joe can buy his own ties! Choose quality, long lasting gifts for your family and children that will last years and choose less! Check out our Eco Friendly Inspired Gift Guide for inspiration.
- Create your own traditions. Don't get stuck in other people's traditions. Create your own and keep them sacred. We like to choose 3-5 traditions for the holidays and no more. When we find we have too many traditions to pack in we get overwhelmed. Christmas eve stories and hot chocolate, Christmas day brunch, pyjama gift opening Christmas eve, filling a gift basket for a shelter, volunteering at a food bank, visiting children in the hospital, Christmas Eve Pot luck with family & friends. The options are unlimited and can be as simple as you want them to be or can be more involved if you have the time and energy.
- Choose experiences over things. Instead of buying an advent calendar filled with chocolates or toys, opt for experiences. Examples can include: Build a snowman, bake cookies, enjoy hot chocolate, roast marshmallows, make snow angels. Instead of bringing gifts to friends what about bringing a meal and sharing it together? Everyone will benefit from the gift of company and friendship.
- DIY Christmas Decorations: Holiday decorations create a huge amount of waste and can create enormous amounts of stress for some. They can also be overstimulating and bright. Try finding ways to decorate with what is available in your home or readily available in nature. Popcorn garland, pine/spruce trees for decking the halls, dried oranges for trees. Make your own salt dough ornaments or cut up some branches into rounds and paint them. Do you remember paper chains as a child? Your advent can be as simple as that (children's expectations aren't very high if we don't make them out to be!). Be creative and find ways to work with what you have.
Remember that the holidays are truly about connection with those you love. If you are finding that your losing the meaning behind the holiday then scale back and focus on what truly matters to you and your own family. Others may not be so happy about it at first but ultimately you need to do what is best for you and your family. Don't forget it!