Ever found yourself stressed and annoyed at just the thought of getting ready for Christmas? I know—it can happen to anyone.
Our culture tells us we can do it all but fails to equip us with the tools to get there. So when I catch myself thinking, “This year is going to be so much better than last!” I know high expectations are looming.
Here are a few things I’ve started doing that help make this season a tad less hectic.
Disclaimer: The way I created this list was by struggling with all five of these things. So don’t you dare think I have these mastered or even managed. I purposely decided to work on them, not teach a class on them. But since untangling tinsel falls in the same category as counting grains of sand (thank you, no), I’m choosing to work at these to avoid tangled tinsel.
I’m a die-hard “Thanksgiving first” decorator. No Christmas tree, music, wreath, or garland before we do a fall puzzle and eat pumpkin pie.
But on the Friday after turkey? Game on. All the orange and brown decor gets packed up and the red and green take center stage. Enlisting help (even from whining teenagers) usually makes the process go faster.
2. Christmas Cards
Two words: Start. Earlier.
I took a Christmas card break for a hot minute, but last year my husband said he wanted us to revive the tradition.
Aww… that’s cute, honey. So when you say us…
Knowing the answer and feeling the stress, I put a note in my phone calendar to research cards in October. It felt ridiculously early, but I have bad memories of staying up wayyy too late and stressing over getting cards in the mail by December
It took me till my late 40s (read: this year) to finally admit that the whole Christmas card process takes longer than a week. Between choosing pictures, designing cards, buying stamps, writing notes, and addressing envelopes, sometimes I strung it out to a month.
Added Motivation: most online printing companies run huge sales in November and especially on Black Friday. And since I never want to pay full price again, this bird is planning on always being early.
Of course it’s the first week of December and they haven’t arrived yet, but it’s fine. I’m sure everything’s fine.
I don’t intentionally Christmas shop year-round, but when it comes to good deals and the “perfect gift,” my radar is always on. So if I find something in April that reminds me of my husband or kids and is on sale, you know I’m going to snatch it up and save it till Christmas.
As for extended family gifts, here’s how our gift-giving has morphed and gotten way easier over the decades:
- 1990s: Bought for everyone (no kids yet but still expensive)
- 2000s: Bought for just the kids
- 2010s: Drew names
- 2020s: White Elephant gifts
Making a game out of the gift-giving had us sitting in a circle, laughing at the ridiculous gifts, and building memories. On the flip side, the stress of choosing and paying for the perfect gifts for every single person no longer lingered.
If you’re at a point in life where you don’t want or need much of anything, I would highly recommend suggesting a reduction in gifts to your people. Not only will your stress be reduced, but your credit card will thank you too.
This year we hope to focus on each other and some fun experiences a bit more. Between puzzles, Kahoot, hikes, and board games, we have no reason to be spending thousands of pesos and opening gifts for three hours.
4. Serve Love
While working full-time, keeping a house running, and stringing a few words together, I tend to feel selfish about my time. Add two holidays, a few parties, and Christmas shopping, and this season quickly starts looking like Santa’s belly: full.
So why in the world, when I never feel like I have enough time, would I want to volunteer to serve others? In a word… perspective. Taking the focus off myself and turning toward someone in need shifts my mind from getting to giving.
Doesn’t mean I always want to serve, but I know the joy it brings. Plus it’s good for my soul. As soon as I get out of my own way I notice a difference.
Serving up dinner can be hard; sometimes serving up love can be even harder. Do it anyway and watch your heart change.
Speaking of taking the focus off ourselves, why do we all agree to do this crazy Christmas dance every year?
For the children? For our own nostalgia? For the eggnog?
Whatever your reason, I truly hope you take time to slow down at some point during this month and focus on why we do what we do. For me that could look like any of these:
- Reading an advent book or calendar
- Praying with my family outside of mealtime
- Watching a movie about the Christmas story
- Toning down the expectations I place on myself
- Telling a coworker or neighbor why we celebrate Jesus’ birth
Go tell it on the mountain
Over the hills and everywhere
Go tell it on the mountain
That Jesus Christ is born
Any tips or tricks you’ve learned to untangle your tinsel at Christmas? Do tell. I need all the help I can get! Share your thoughts in the comments below and know that I am grateful!