Whole Parenting Family

5 Holiday Preparation Steps

Every December starts with a whoooosh. Thanksgiving pies settle in our stomachs and before you know it, it’s the beginning of Advent, the Catholic’s celebration of starting a new liturgical calendar and prepping for the celebration of Christ’s birth. Then it’s holiday shopping, holiday baking, holiday parties, and the actual holidays, and then New Year’s, and then recovering from all the goodies you wolfed down and resolving to work off all those calories. I’m exhausted just thinking about it. But, I’m resolved to follow these five steps to prepare better to truly enjoy and celebrate the holidays this year.

1) Shop ahead of time.

Go local, go artisan, go upcycled. Buy the same thing you can get at a big chain from a mom& pop shop (i.e., Smart Wool socks). Visit Etsy where individual artisans hand make their products. Visit the antique & thrift shops around. Support your own local economy. Handmade your gifts. Go simple. If possible, plan throughout the year who you want to give to, and look for good deals on your items. Remember that giving should be enjoyable for you and for your recipient and not a huge last minute run to the store headache. Try to plan ahead.

Our big family has decided to go handmade this year for our holiday celebration of Christmas. We’ve done gift exchanges in the past, but as we all love to give gifts, feel that this year, we can do gifts for every person but on a smaller scale than usual. That way it’s affordable, but still personable. I’m not telling that I’m doing for everybody, but you can bet it involves my sewing machine and knitting needles!

2) Decide which events to go to, and don’t feel guilty about saying no to invitations.

Feel like a chicken running around without a head? (I actually saw a chicken just post-head-chopping-off in Guatemala once. It was grotesque.) Pick and choose your events. Don’t say yes to everything. It’s a wonderful season with so many invitations and events for your family and your children. But who can enjoy it when you’re really a chauffeur trucking from one sugar-filled feast to another? Prioritize your time as a family, whether that be time with you and your siblings and parents, or time with your partner and children. Make that time sacred. Family/close friends first. The rest of the world next.

Time is the most precious thing we have. I realize that more and more. I want to be fully present with my own immediate family, and then with my family of origin, and then with close friends. The celebration of love and giving is too great to squander because I’m burnt out by taking my children to see every large holiday display, ensuring we see every single one of their little buddies in one week, or saying yes to too many lawyer-world get togethers.

3) Plan your traditions.

If you have a young family like ours, try to hone your holiday traditions. Do you go to extended family for the holiday? Make your own turkey at home? Open gifts Christmas Eve or Christmas Day? Celebrate Hannuka with friends or family? Is Santa a part of it? Is Baby Jesus? When does the tree go up? How do you prevent children from knocking it down?

I’ve seen that when my mom reads holiday books ahead of time for SuperBoy (as she did for Halloween and Thanksgiving this year), he is so much more into the holiday when it arrives. So we’re talking about Santa, Baby Jesus, Rudolph, Advent, etc. We’ve got our Advent wreath out, doing prayers and song every night with candles lit (SuperBoy’s FAVORITE part). We’ve got our Night Before Christmas book out. We’re talking up Baby Jesus’ birthday cake. We’re trying to bring it all alive in his imagination.

4) Eat, drink, and be merry.

Don’t diet. Don’t freak out about your caloric intake. Get out the yoga pants (oh-so-forgiving-in-the-waistband), the cookbooks, and go to town. What do you want on your menu this year? Try a new dish! Get inspired by all the wonderful food blogs out there. Maybe have a signature drink for the holidays? (I’m so boring in that department. I’ve been pregnant or nursing for the past 3+ years so booze isn’t really in my repertoire.) Butter your bread, and eggnog your glass.

I’m not saying be a glutton, but take on the New Years with a health resolution. Don’t ruin the cookie exchange for yourself. Speaking of that . . . we’re having a cousin one next week. Not sure what I’m bringing, but very excited for whatever everyone else is!

5) If you’re traveling, make the most of it.

If you already know you’ll be traveling for the holidays, still make it holiday-esque in your own home. Hang boughs, deck the halls, and apply your newly formed sense of craft inspired by Pinterest (follow me! I’m doing a holiday board that should be fun!). Even if you’re going to be out of town or in someone else’s home, it is very uplifting to change the colors and face of your space.

Don’t freak out about travel with a young child. Check out my section on travel on the homepage here. Get zen and be happy on the road! Happy holiday preparation!