Happy Holidays! We put our tree up the day after Thanksgiving and I love how I’ve had more time to enjoy it! This year my husband and I got our first real Christmas tree. I LOVE it. I grew up having a real Christmas tree every year, so this has made me SO happy! I water it every day and definitely came back with a larger tree than my husband expected! 😉 (oops!) Although picking up the needles every day is a chore, it’s worth it 😉
I’m excited to collaborate with some other amazing mamas again and talk about how we simplify the holidays. This time of year is so magical and so exciting, but as someone who loves giving gifts (it’s my love language for sure!), it can easily morph into a hectic and materialistic season. This month it’s all about how to simplify the holidays.
Originally created by Hannah, a lovely mama who wanted to create community and shed some light on how these mom bloggers ‘do it all!’ She’s poured herself into her lovely weaving shop (Pact House Supply) and passed the baton onto Kacie from Elements of Ellis. You can see our first post here, our post on sleep + babies here, and our post on postpartum here! There’s a group of us mom bloggers who participate and the ones who are participating this month are linked below, so when you’re done reading my post, go check out their responses to how they simplify the holidays!
- How do you make the holidays less hectic around your home?|
This sounds simple but I try to remind myself to “simplify.” For example, at Thanksgiving, I tried to make it as simple as possible. I had to work that day at the hospital and so we celebrated on Saturday instead, but even then, I decided I was just going to do some of the cooking, not all of it. My main thing is pumpkin pie, so I decided I would make that and let Whole Foods do the rest! 😉 I love making home cooked meals for holidays because 1) I love the food, and 2) it feels like the “right” thing to do, but sometimes I forget that I have a lot on my plate and it’s totally okay to not “do it all” on my own. In fact, that’s insane. Why drive myself mad trying to make the day “perfect” and become worn out in the process? That leaves me unhappy and I don’t need to leave my family with a grouchy wife/mom! It’s hard to let go of some things, but it’s SO worth it. Wanting to have a “perfect” holiday can become an idol. We just have to let it go and remind ourselves what truly matters – our family and people we love. Everything else is just extra.
- In a season inundated with receiving, how do you teach your kids about giving?
I didn’t include Charley in any shopping since he’s only 2 (and I do 99% of mine online!), but I think as he gets older we will make getting presents for others a big deal. Right now we donate to some charities and one of them helps provide toys and presents for kids in need (essentially gives them a Christmas!). When Charley gets older, we will go buy some presents together at the store for other children, so he can have a more hands on experience. I love giving gifts so hopefully he can pick up on my excitement of finding the right gift, wrapping it and giving it to someone else!
- In order to enjoy the holidays, it’s important to be thoughtful with your celebrations and only do the things that make you happy. Are there traditions you’ve said “no” to? How did you make that change/tell your friends and family “no” is a way that didn’t upset them?
Even before we had a child, I knew I never wanted to do Elf on the Shelf! haha It just seemed to be so extra and I didn’t want to add extra work to my life, especially on an elf. To me, the only part of Christmas that I was okay in pretending about was Santa. I really want to start doing more Christ-centered things around the holidays with Charley. Soon I want to get the Giving Manger and start making that a tradition. It’s a great book that shifts our focus onto Jesus and giving instead of receiving. I’d like to find a great way to focus on Advent, too (that is toddler-appropriate). Other traditions we are starting: opening Christmas pajamas on Christmas Eve (of course wearing our slippers & having hot cocoa, too!), reading the Polar Express and the Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve, and maybe waffles for Christmas day (I haven’t committed to that one yet, but growing up we had a big brunch with pancakes, homemade blueberry sauce, scrambled eggs and bacon and I loved it!). Ben grew up having monkey bread, so I think I’ll need to continue that and incorporate it into the Christmas Day brunch!I love making Christmas cards, but in the spirit of making the holidays simpler, we’ve decided to only make them once every two years. This helps cut costs and also cut down on the chaos. I love handwritten cards and as snail mail seems to be a thing of the past, I’m trying to hold onto it and I’m sending out some handwritten Christmas cards to try to keep that tradition alive! I found these cute ones at Target & I love them! So simple and sweet.As far as saying no to certain traditions, we haven’t done that yet, although we’re feeling the pull to stay home for Christmas instead of traveling to see family every year. My family lives on the west coast and Ben’s lives on the east coast, so we’ve been traveling every year for Christmas. It’s hard to tell your parents no, you can’t see us or your grandchildren for Christmas, but thankfully our parents are pretty understanding. Making such a big trip across the country every year for Christmas is exhausting and it’s about time to start having our Christmases at home. Especially as Charley gets older! I think it’d be different if we lived in the same state – we’d probably drive over late on Christmas Day or see them the day after Christmas. It’s just different when you live so far away.
- It’s easy to overspend this season. Share your tips for limiting the amount you spend on gifts. (example; making gifts, the 4 gift rule, etc.)
Uh yes, it’s easy to overspend!! The thing that helps me the most is writing it down. I have a note in my phone with a list of ideas for people plus what we got them. I also have a piece of paper because I’m old school and it helps me to check it off! I have the price listed to the side of it and it helps me keep tabs on what we’ve spent. This helps me keep on track and see what all I’ve gotten for everyone. It’s easy for me to spend a lot on Ben and Charley – I see something I think would be a great stocking stuffer and I get it. Gift giving is my love language so it’s especially hard; I just want to love on them!!! Ben makes an excel spreadsheet and helps us budget, so that really helps. It’s a team effort!
- Preparing meals for the family can be stressful. Do you have a simple meal you prepare ahead of time to help lessen the stress?
I don’t have any simple meals I prepare ahead of time! I haven’t figured out what we’ll be eating, but I think that I’ll keep relying on Whole Foods to help me so that I don’t have to make EVERYTHING! Ben’s brother will be spending Christmas with us, so he’s offered to help with some of the food, too. I think that’s key – find a way to divvy up the work load! Whether it’s another person helping with the menu or getting some pre-made food from a store, find a way to allow yourself to relax and enjoy the season. Enjoy your FAMILY! I buy some simple snacks that I can set out and everyone can have. I even pay extra money for the gluten free/vegan treats so that people with dietary restrictions can have something, too. We don’t have to become a martyr slaving in the kitchen! It won’t make our family love us more & it won’t earn us any badges of honor. Sometimes simple is best!
Moccasins (40% today! Use code ‘TIME2GIVE’)
Kacie Ellis elementsofellis.com // Amber Hill amberlately.com // Kymberly Janelle lifewithkymberlyjanelle.com // Stephanie Pollock stephpollock.com // Camille Burley theburleytribe.com // Carla Thompson curiousnatalia.com
I’m linking some of the Christmas pajamas I got for us plus some of the gifts we’ve gotten for Charley or put on his list for family/grandparents! Shop them in this widget below: