“It’s the most wonderful time of the year….” these are words I am striving to actually feel this year. I have eluded to it here and in my newsletter, but something in me this holiday season is saying slow down and simplify. I think it is due to a number of personal things in our life, but without even realizing the ‘why’ until recently, I knew I needed to scale back on the crazy and savor the moments. Today I am sharing how I am attempting to thoughtfully Slow Down during the Christmas Season.
I am here to say, it’s actually doable to decorate your home, bake cookies, enjoy Christmas movies, read plenty of holiday books, teach your children the meaning of Christmas, buy + wrap gifts for friends and family… and feel slow, relaxed and joyful. It almost seems wrong, as this is typically the season of hustling + bustling and shopping till you drop. But, I feel closer to accomplishing a December slowness that I have wanted for the last few years and I want to share how.
Make a plan to slow down.
It sounds so obvious, but it has taken me a long time to actually narrow down my plan of slowing down. Having younger children, I let myself get so excited about starting holiday traditions with them, that I suddenly found myself doing ALL the traditions. Wrap up 25 books and open one each night to read aloud? Yes, done. Bake every holiday cookie ever known to mankind? Yes, done. Deck the halls, watch the movies, see nightly light displays while in our pjs AND drinking hot chocolate….. done, done, done and done. Before you know it, you’re completely exhausted and it’s only December 8th. (I know, that was me two years ago.)
Decide around Thanksgiving time, possibly even earlier, what you really want your Christmas season to look like. Then be ready to hold fast to it. My husband is nearing the end of a two year phd program, so my plan this Christmas was family time. No to tons of extras and yes to family. Yes to family slowing down together. We’ve not been able to do ‘together’ all too much during the last year and a half, so together time is seriously needed for us.
Let go of the un-needed.
Oh, this is where it starts to get hard. This is where “traditions” and “obligations” and the like, start really pulling on you. In order to continue on with your plan of slowing down, you have to let things go. Decide ahead of time, how many parties you will attend during the month of December. Decide ahead of time, if you will make just a few homemade gifts versus all homemade gifts. Decide ahead of time, how much of your home you will decorate. And then, let the rest of it go.
We had a school related party we needed to attend for my husband and all other parties this year, we have opted out of. As I mentioned previously, we were in need of a “family together season”, so by all means attend more parties if your family is able. (I LOVE parties and most years we’ve actually hosted holiday parties.) However, we needed less, we needed slow, we needed together. So this is what we choose to do this year. And because we’ve not filled every single moment on our calendar, we’ve been able to enjoy lovely time with dear friends, have a few weekends of absolutely nothing but baking cookies and building legos and coloring and movies It’s been relaxed and so memorable.
I’m not sure if I have stepped into an actual store this entire month (Okay, Target and the grocery store). Again, typically I love the hustle bustle but I planned and purchased nearly every gift from the comfort of my sofa this year. There is no shame in not getting every single “bargain” and early morning “Black Friday” sale going on. Gift purchasing alone has freed up quite a bit of my time and having Amazon ship the gifts right to my home or the recipient’s home is added bonus.
This is also a great way to stay on budget during Christmas. It’s so much easier to over spend when in a store, but I find having to click on “my cart” and see all the items lined up with the total makes it much easier for me to say… okay, that’s not really needed and remove it from my total.
Don’t worry about The Jones’.
I would really love to get a real Christmas tree but as magical and romantic as that sounds, it would have added more stress this year. Our fake tree is perfectly fine and I burnt a few evergreen scented candles and it was great. I also really wanted to put up white lights outdoors this year. I just did not have the energy to get it done. Guess what, it’s fine! Keep your expectations realistic. You can make your home lovely and cozy without going all out on every detail.
This year, I decorated our living room and it’s wonderful. But that is pretty much the end of the decor. I normally want all the color, all the pom poms, all the fluff and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But this year, I wanted my holiday decor to reflect that slower pace. It’s special but not over the top.
Plan for unplugged brain time.
Guess what, electronic devices are taking over our lives. I’m sure most of you feel the same way. Commit to a puzzle with your kids. I KNOW! A puzzle. I just bought a 500 piece puzzle and I’ll be honest I might have over been over zealous with that one, but maybe little by little we will get it done.
This is time where you can organically do some of the traditions you actually enjoy doing. Baking cookies, watching a movie all together, checking out Christmas lights, etc… when you have already spent time planning to slow down, letting go of un-needed tasks, being smart with your shopping, etc… then you have the time to unplug and enjoy your family. Imagine that!
Maybe this one seems odd to include on a Christmas slow down list, but I’m a night owl and my natural instinct is to always stay up late. Now that it’s dark so much earlier and cold outside, I’m making a conscience efforts to rest my body.
A rested body creates a more rested me in the morning and thus continues in helping me stay clam and relaxed during December. Plus, with all the extra colds and sickness during the winter months, sleep is a great first start in keeping as healthy as possible.
This one is still a work in progress for me. I’m probably going to add it to my 2017 New Year’s Resolution list. I’m always tired and going to bed too late is 99% my fault.
Keep your priorities focused on the real meaning of Christmas.
Don’t stress about your activity calendar. Don’t fret that you didn’t get out to make a snowman yet. Let go of your feeling of obligations. Slow down. Focus on counting your blessings and remembering what you are grateful for every day of the year. This will help you gain perspective on what the holiday season should really be about.
We believe Luke 2:8-14. We are celebrating Christmas because Christ became a man, to pay for our sins and to walk with us on this road of life. Now that I actually have slowed down, I have time to meditate on this with my family.
There you go, seven ways I have been trying to slow down during this Christmas Season. This entire month has felt so wonderful that I am thinking I might adopt a slower December attitude from here on out.
How are you feeling this holiday? Any additional tips for an enjoyable Christmas? Share share below. I’d love more ideas!