I’m a huge fan of seasonal events and activities. Festivals? Please. Parties? Love to throw ‘em. Cookies? I always bake too many. So I understand the feeling that you need to do ALL OF THE THINGS. Because sometimes, I feel that way too.
But once my son was born, I quickly realized that feeling as though I need to be doing all of the things can turn into disappointment and stress, and even have the reverse effect I was trying to achieve in the first place.
When events become do-or-die… when the holidays are defined by things you feel you HAVE to do – then how is that fun for anyone? I may still be working on simplifying the holidays, but I’ve gotten much better about it over the past three years.
You don’t have to attend every event, no matter how cool it looks on Instagram.
This is tough. When you choose to sit something out, you’re probably going to see photos of other families at the event–even worse if they’re wearing matching buffalo plaid and smiling in front of a massive Christmas tree. But trust me when I say that choosing just a couple of “must-dos”, maybe a single light display or festival, will probably be more fun than a jam-packed calendar, cranky kids and no downtime. Oh, and most of those Insta-spammers are probably lying about their perfect time.
Stop saying you have to do things.
The last time I checked, nobody is forcing you to bake snickerdoodles or make mason jar snow globes for your entire book club. I’m realistic; I know that you will probably need to go shopping or cook at some point. But a few years ago when I heard a friend say that she had to make holiday treats, she acted like I had two heads when I said, “Wait, no you don’t!” But it’s true. So true! These things are supposed to be fun and done with the spirit of the season–not dreaded and done just for the sake of checking them off a list.
You don’t have to curate anything.
Say it with me: SHORTCUTS ARE OK. The refrigerated cookie dough is fine. Gift bags are my jam. The same holiday decor you’ve been hauling out for years isn’t outdated, it’s nostalgic. Do yourself a favor and just don’t look at Pinterest, Good Housekeeping or any other source that uses the word “curated” during the month of December.
Your kids just want to spend time doing something fun.
You know the old joke about buying kids toys only to have them play with the box? I see the holidays like that. You can make your house look like Martha Stewart threw up on it, but your kid will probably fixate on that ugly Santa from the dollar store. You can wait in an hours-long line for a drive-thru light display, or you could bundle up and walk around your neighborhood. You could spend money on a fancy, fussy dinner, or you could order pizza and watch Frosty the Snowman. Kids will think any of this is awesome! In fact, I think we should all look at the holidays like kids do!
The holidays are not a competition.
Trust me. I am over the moon when I have an adorable holiday card photo or someone loves the gift I purchased. But sometimes I have to stop and consider the meaning of the holidays and determine whether what we’re doing contributes to the spirit of the season. If you start to feel like you’re in a race to one-up others with your decor or Instagram likes, it’s time to slow down. Limit the social media, or deactivate it for the holidays. Don’t purchase something more than you can afford because you want your gift to be the best. Stop adding to your too-full calendar because you don’t feel like your kids are doing everything their friends are. It’s not a race around Candycane Lane, people.
Giving back is the best way to get back to the basics.
When you adopt a family for the holidays or grab one of those wish tree ornaments, it’s a truly humbling experience. When you feel like you are buying the entire toy store or feel disappointed that a couple of your bulbs went out on the tree, it’s important to remember that many of us are so very fortunate. The holiday mishaps we sometimes feel ruin things are so tiny when you think of those of us without the basics. Do something real–stop the curating and the competing. Your family will be better for it.