There’s been an absence of posts in the last month of this blog. The truth is that I’ve been out in the Christmas trenches, just scraping by. Presents were wrapped on Christmas Eve. All dishes transported to various holiday gatherings were prepped right beforehand, often with a trip to the grocery that very morning. Dry shampoo is my new best friend.
But I’ve been (trying to) make the conscious decision to slow down and soak it all in, to enjoy everything this season has to offer. We may have sent out the Christmas cards rather late, but I’m counting it as a victory that they made it out the door at all. In fact, this post is more of a reminder about the way to approach Christmas – next year. So either I’m a month late at posting this, or I’m on the ball for next year!
This is hands down, the most tumultuous time of year for us. My son’s birthday is 2 weeks before Christmas. My husband and I both work full time. Each year we make the Christmas tour across the state from family gathering to gathering. (6 total!) Sometimes these few weeks can feel like a gauntlet that I’m not quite sure that I’ll make it through. This year though, just a little shift in my attitude made a massive difference. I lost the perfectionism and focused on making good memories.
How to cut corners at Christmas time
1. For party planning, focus on the aspects that are most important to you. Ditch the rest.
I completely forgot to call the baker and order a cake for Alex’s birthday party. Birthday cake is important to me. I’m not sure why. I have fond memories of pretty awesome birthday cakes growing up. In my ideal world, I would loving hand-craft every little detail on my kids’ birthday cakes. I just don’t have the time for all that. And I’ve made my “piece” with my birthday cake deficiencies. I have decided to buy the kids’ cakes. When I forgot to call the baker with a reasonable amount of fore-warning, everyone was completely booked. So this year, I spent the time on the cake and decided not to allow each birthday guest to choose their own pizza toppings from an array of little glass bowls and decadent accoutrement. I served take-out pizza at my son’s birthday party: No one was mortified by the boxes. My dad helped and made a fantastic salad. I actually enjoyed the party.
I made a cake for his great grandmas as well. They both celebrate their birthdays within 2 days of Alex.
2. I ordered 99% of Christmas gifts online. I almost never paid for shipping and I ordered from a wide variety of stores.
My favorite online sources for gifting:
Paper Source: more than just stationery. Great glasses, neat calendars. For each of the kids teachers, I made custom journals with their names. Those went over really well.
For the pub in our house, I created custom coasters to stuff into the hubby’s stocking. Another winner!
Rifle Paper Company: Some really cool gifts, like iPhone covers, recipe boxes, and prints.
Penzey’s Spices: a fantastic selection. They even allow you to make custom boxes of jarred spices surrounded by a bed of bay leaves, cinnamon sticks and whole nutmeg. Their 4-jar collections are lovely hostess gifts.
Aveda: Great gift boxes. Plus, they always send you numerous wonderful samples (with free shipping) if you sign up for their e-mails.
Land of Nod. Gorgeous, unique toys that last.
Anthropologie. I want to live in their catalogue.
Amazon. The granddaddy of online shopping. They have everything and it arrives in two-days if you’re a Prime member. It’s a huge time-saver and it’s an incredible resource for the forgetful gift-giver.
3. Spend time creating meaningful traditions, but be flexible enough to know that you can’t do it all.
A few years ago, I created an Advent activity calendar to celebrate the season with my kids. I wanted to spend time doing things that mattered and creating memories for them. To do that, we cut corners elsewhere. I strategically choose quick, easy activities for busy days and reserve time-consuming activities for weekends. And I give myself a break if we just can’t do it all. The point is to make the effort and enjoy the activities that we do complete.
The activities can be simple, but they’re designed to celebrate the season:
reading the Christmas story in the Bible
PJ + Christmas music dance party
picnic breakfast in front of the tree
eat dinner by candlelight
choose gifts for the angel tree at Church
4. Take the Pete the Cat approach: “It’s all good.”
I didn’t take my kids to see Santa this year and we didn’t decorate cookies together. The shame!
We decorated a gingerbread house, made bird feeders, ate “Christmas” popcorn, donated gifts to the angel tree, and had hot chocolate while checking out the fantastic lights at our zoo. The point isn’t to do it all. It’s to enjoy what you do.
Hope your holidays were the merriest!