Jesus Follower | Word Stringer | Avocado Eater

Tag Archives: Blogging

5 Ways to Untangle Your Tinsel: Tackling Christmas Without Tackling Your Family

5 Ways to Untangle Your Tinsel: Tackling Christmas Without Tackling Your Family

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.

1. Decorating

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. 

Usually.

My boys… 2001 & 2006

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 20th 22nd.

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. 

Bahhhhh humbug.

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. 

My favorite spoon rest.

3. Gifts

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. 

5. Focus

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!

My 4-Day Frustrating Forced Phone Fast: What I Learned in the Silence of Being Unplugged

My 4-Day Frustrating Forced Phone Fast: What I Learned in the Silence of Being Unplugged

Day: Saturday morning Location: Apple store Issue: Stripes on screen I stood on the curb at the quaint mall, 20 minutes before they opened, fifth in line. I hid my irritation around the nearby strangers, but inside I felt my nerves starting to get on each other. It’s fine. I’m sure it’ll be fine. It’s… Continue Reading

Leaves Turning 80: New Season, Old Skin, and an Organized Dental Office

Leaves Turning 80: New Season, Old Skin, and an Organized Dental Office

My before-and-after title works better if you’re a Wheel of Fortune fan, I know. Lucky for me, my dad is a lifer.  I grew up with the sound of an audience clapping and the tick, tick, ticking wheel coming from my parents’ room… Every. Single. Week night. The memory sits permanently nestled in my hippocampus… Continue Reading

Baby Steps, Bob: How to Replace the Overwhelming Thing with the Next Thing

Baby Steps, Bob: How to Replace the Overwhelming Thing with the Next Thing

If you’ve seen one of my favorite movies, What About Bob, you know taking baby steps (literally) is what got Bob Wiley out of his own head.  Repeating the words “baby steps” also got him on a bus, through a sliding door, and on a boat… all things that previously terrified him. Similarly, if you’ve… Continue Reading

September Fire, Welcome Rain: The Disaster in SoCal This Week and How Your Family Can Help

September Fire, Welcome Rain: The Disaster in SoCal This Week and How Your Family Can Help

If you hadn’t heard of the town of Hemet before the 5th of September, you’re not alone. Nestled inland from the Temecula Valley and Riverside, it’s not exactly a vacation destination. It’s the town we go through to get to Palm Springs, Big Bear and Lake Arrowhead. If you’ve never been there, here’s some context:… Continue Reading

Spring Decluttering with an Organizing Pro: 20 Items You Can Quickly Donate or Toss This Weekend

Spring Decluttering with an Organizing Pro: 20 Items You Can Quickly Donate or Toss This Weekend

It’s no secret—I looove me some organized spaces. That doesn’t mean every square inch of my house is organized, but I’m working on it.  Disaster areas usually elevate stress and organized spaces usually usher in peace. But sometimes getting started is so overwhelming some people don’t even know where to begin.  Been there? After decluttering… Continue Reading

A Unique Mother’s Day Gift Guide for all the Young Moms, Busy Ladies, and Older Women

A Unique Mother’s Day Gift Guide for all the Young Moms, Busy Ladies, and Older Women

Let’s be clear from the beginning—not many women want cooking or cleaning gifts for Mother’s Day. Nothing says, “Now you have a better tool to clean up after us!” like an upright dirt sucker. Bleh. Unless of course she’s been drooling over the latest Dyson…. Between wanting to be sensitive and thoughtful, gifts can get… Continue Reading

Sunday Night Sadness: 8 Ways I Prepare to Beat the Monday Morning Blues

Sunday Night Sadness: 8 Ways I Prepare to Beat the Monday Morning Blues

I assumed it was just me. Then a friend commented how she doesn’t enjoy Sunday evenings because it’s like the fun party she knows is coming to an end. Her mind vacillates between enjoying the evening and dreading the next morning filled with work, chores, errands, and crazy.  Coming in the door from church always… Continue Reading

Creating an Organized New Year: The 3 Best Places in Your Home & How to Start

Creating an Organized New Year: The 3 Best Places in Your Home & How to Start

If you’re assuming this post is all about turning your whole house upside down and starting over, you can exhale now. This isn’t for the expert organizer, the detailed filer who never has a paper out of place, or the housekeeper who scrubs with a magnifying glass and Q-tips. And all the normal people said amen. … Continue Reading

Christmas Eve Chaos: The One Where We Went to Church Dirty and Avoided Our Friends

Christmas Eve Chaos: The One Where We Went to Church Dirty and Avoided Our Friends

The morning of Christmas Eve 2019 in NorCal started like any other: frosty, sparkly, and bulging with practical anticipation. But the way it ended messed with my mind pride in ways I didn’t think possible. Without fail, every Christmas Eve of my whole life consisted of the same things: nice clothes, hair-sprayed hair, and a… Continue Reading