SummaryBreana English loves Christmas and Advent, but they frequently get busy! Here are her 4 favorite ways to slow down, and enjoy the season with the family.
Advent and Christmas are two of my favorite seasons in the year, but they can also be the most stressful, especially for busy homeschool moms.
Being intentional about slowing down has helped me avoid waking up on Christmas morning to realize that Advent has rushed by in a blur of frantic shopping, card writing, decorating and parties.
Do you long to slow down and savor the season instead of rushing through it? Here are four easy ways to simplify this Christmas:
I. Make a list and cross things off!
Recently, I’ve started creating a daily list of the things I need to or want to do, and I am considering it carefully. Is there anything I feel I *need* to do, but hate doing? Is it necessary? (If I saw it on Pinterest-it probably isn’t!)
Crossing them off makes my day less stressful and helps me focus my attention on the things that truly must be done, or that I love doing.
Make a list of everything you need to or want to do during Advent and Christmas.
- What adds to your stress?
- What do you dread doing?
- What do you not really care about?
- Do you really have to do these things?
If you don’t, don’t feel guilty about crossing them off or delegating them to someone else.
Take Christmas cards, for example.
Do you send them out because you enjoy it or because you feel like you must? It’s okay to let go of writing Christmas cards! I love sending out cards, but we limit ourselves to a few hours of writing them one afternoon in Advent. I write the most important ones first, and then just don’t worry if I don’t get to everyone on the list.
II. Create family traditions!
One of the biggest things that’s helped us to slow down and savor this season is our family traditions.
Encourage your family to focus anticipation and excitement on simple traditions. For example, you could set specific days to get the Christmas tree and/or decorate it, set up the nativity make Christmas cookies, etc. Make a big deal out of opening Advent calendars and lighting the Advent candles.
This turns these things you would do anyway into special family events that can help bring the focus of the season back to Christ and family and create treasured memories as well.
Traditions are not just meaningful and enjoyable, but they also simplify life by freeing us from having to make decisions.
For example, we’ve recently started the tradition of limiting our gifts under the tree to three gifts in honor of the gifts brought by the three Wise Men. Another popular idea is to give four gifts; something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read.
Are there consumable gifts you could make a tradition of giving each year? Growing up, one of my favorite presents was the box of Milano cookies my parents would get each of us every year. Do your children, extended family members, and/or spouse have a favorite treat they rarely get or something they really enjoy doing?
Instead of trying to think of presents for everyone in your extended family and/or circle of friends, could you host a family night each Advent or Christmas?
For example, you might have an annual evening of cookie or gingerbread house decorating relatively inexpensively. Double or triple (or more!) your favorite cookie or gingerbread recipe or stock up on graham crackers when they’re on sale, dig out all the old candy you have hanging around in the cabinets from last year (or, if that’s just me, find a few bags of cheap candy at the store!), mix up some frosting and let everyone go to town. You could make it even more fun by holding a contest and awarding silly titles to the finished products. (Put those hilarious pre-teens in the family to work making up the titles!)
Or you could host a Christmas movie night with fun snacks, a Christmas scavenger hunt/hike or ice skating with hot chocolate afterward, for example. Be creative, but keep it simple!
Traditions can also become burdensome or less enjoyable as children grow older, so reevaluate occasionally to make sure these are things you and your family still love.
III Perfect a simple signature Christmas dish or two.
Do you go to a lot of Christmas parties? If you do, consider choosing a signature dish or two. This frees you from having to spend time deciding what to bring to each party.
Here are a few ways to make it even easier:
Shop the sales before and after Thanksgiving for the ingredients that don’t spoil, so you have them on hand at a discounted price.
If it’s something that freezes well, save time by making up a double or triple batch before the first party and freeze the extra batches for your next few parties.
If you don’t love baking, don’t feel guilty about going with store bought instead of homemade.
IV. Spread out the celebration.
One wonderful thing about being Catholic is that we know that that Christmas is a season, not just a day! We shouldn’t stop celebrating on December 26th.
Are there things you could do after Christmas Day instead?
For example, my husband’s family exchanges presents on the Epiphany instead of Christmas and concentrates on preparing for Christ and celebrating his birth during Advent and Christmas.
Being able to shop after-Christmas sales for presents doesn’t hurt either!)
To send out cards, would it be easier to send them out after Christmas instead of before?
One of my favorite childhood memories was our New Year’s tradition of getting take-out from our favorite restaurants and eating it in front of a new movie.
How do you make Christmas simpler? I would love to hear your ideas!