"Have yourself a merry little Christmas, Let your heart be light, From now on our troubles will be out of sight" This is one of my favourite Christmas songs, but often times the Christmas season brings little lightness. Rather we experience the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping, the stress of family dinners and events and the heaviness of an overloaded schedule and tight bank account. Add in the pressures of social media to have a "Pinterest worthy' Christmas experience and lightness seems miles away. Not having children has really allowed us to streamline our Christmas season and spend more time focusing on enjoying our time together. Personally I have made it a habit to finish all my Christmas shopping by the end of November so the entirety of December can be spent relaxing and enjoying tasks that would otherwise be stressful, like holiday baking or preparing a meal.
We start by protecting our schedule. Just as we need to tell our money where to go, we also need to direct our time. If we don't protect our schedule we can easily end up with a full calendar and a Scrooge-esque Christmas spirit. Decide how much time you want to dedicate to events and how much you want to dedicate to time at home and time with your family. My husband's side of the family has 3 birthdays in December, plus Christmas with them and Christmas with my family. We've chosen at the very minimum that Christmas morning is off limits. We like being able to wake up slow, make some pancakes and enjoy the quiet morning together. Non-negotiable, Christmas morning is off limits to all other plans. Once you've decided when your time is, choose five activities you want to do. Will you have time to do more? Most likely, but when we make our lists too long we add pressure to accomplish all those things. Five activities are manageable in most anyones schedule, and that leaves a bit of room for spontaneity!
Intentional Gift Wrapping - I might be a little biased because I love wrapping presents. Many people wrap as they go but there's something about making an evening of it that really brings some extra Christmas spirit into the atmosphere. I love collecting all the gifts, pouring myself a glass of wine and throwing on a Christmas movie. When we take the time to intentionally wrap the gifts we can appreciate the people we are gifting to and put in maybe just a little extra effort to make their gifts look beautiful.
Christmas Scents - Fill your home friends! Whether you're a fan of sweet gingerbread or the aromatic scent of fir and cedar, fill the house with it. Wax melts, candles, essential oils –– pick your poison. There's something about a home that smells good that seeps right into your soul.
Winter Hike/Walk - Summer weather is much preferred for my adventures outdoors, I can't say I'm even mildly a fan of the cold but living in Canada I've accepted that in order to still enjoy 6 months of my year I'll have to get adjusted to the cold. Two years ago we splurged a little and got ourselves some Northface coats, my husband bought some warm pants and off we go for walks in the snow. There's something peaceful about and evening walk in the winter. The streets are quiet, you're extra lucky if you get a light snowfall and hear the soft crunch of snow beneath your boots.
DIY Christmas Decor - There's a few amazing perks to creating your own Christmas decor. Not only is it better for the environment by not purchasing cheap plastic or non-recyclable decor but you also don't have to store anything once the season is over! You can make dried orange slices, purchase some greenery to make your own garland, scented salt dough ornaments and decor and you can even try your hand at arranging some scavenged natural elements!
Practice Gratitude - We can get so caught up in the busyness of the season or the shopping pressures that we forget to recognize how blessed we all already are. If you are still able to work during this pandemic season, if you have gifts under your tree and a Christmas dinner on your table, you likely have more than others. Take some time each day to recognize the blessings you have in your life.
Bake and Share - If you're terrible at baking, here's your permission to contact a bakery or pick something up in the bakery section of your grocery store, but if you can move Pillsbury cookies from a package to a tray I encourage you to bake something for your neighbours or friends or even family. There's nothing better at Christmas time than delicious home baked goods, especially if it's a surprise!
Look at the Christmas Lights - You don't need to be a kid to appreciate the beauty of Christmas lights! Every year we pop through the drive-thru for a hot chocolate or a tea and take a drive down to Niagara Falls every year and enjoy the Festival of Lights Christmas display. There's something magical about a snowy evening, bundled up in our warmest winter clothes and the sparkle of Christmas lights that can't help but make you feel all the nostalgia. Christmas Eve Basket - Another favourite tradition we've implemented is our Christmas Eve Box. This idea was originally directed at families with children but I took it upon myself to tweak it to suit our family better. Our Christmas Eve Basket includes our two favourite Christmas movies (The Santa Clause and Four Christmases), some adult beverages, a few of our favourite snacks and a new board game. We pull it out Christmas Eve and settle in for a fun movie night together.
Candles, Wine & Michael Buble - Between streaming, social media, text messaging and emails, screens can overtake our lives. As someone who's top love language is quality time, I appreciate evenings without a screen in sight. Light a few candles, pour yourself a glass of wine and turn on the sweet Christmas sounds of Michael Buble. There's nothing quite like a quiet evening to stir up some stimulating conversation and closeness.
Christmas Church Service - I love our Christmas Eve church service. The music, the candles, the reflection. Attending, in person or virtually this year, a Christmas Eve church service is a great way to slow down, practice gratitude and really take some time to enjoy the Christmas season.
Simplify Christmas Dinner - Hear me out, if you absolutely love cooking a big Christmas dinner and that just fills your soul, then go for it. But if you find Christmas dinner to be tiresome and chaotic and more work than joy, change it. Two years ago we did sandwiches and a luxe charcuterie board and it was one of the best Christmas dinners I've had in a while. No one was stuck in the kitchen, there wasn't a pile of dishes to do after and we were able to spend the entire evening together. Don't feel guilty if you want to switch turkey roaster for turkey sandwiches.