10 Ways to Have a Calm Christmas

By catherine | December 12, 2013

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Calm Christmas. Now, I know it might sound like an oxymoron, but from an organizing perspective, there are several strategies, when applied, that can take you from chaos to calm and maybe even help you enjoy the holiday season.
While doing a little Christmas reading, I came across a lovely quote. It is from Caroline Kennedy. She said:
“It’s true, Christmas can feel like a lot of work, particularly for mothers. But when you look back on all the Christmases in your life, you’ll find you’ve created family traditions and lasting memories. Those memories, good and bad, are really what help to keep a family together over the long haul.”
This rang true for me. As I think back to all my Christmases past – it was my mom who created the traditions, and put in the work that made the holiday so special for me. So, today I wanted to offer you moms out there a few tips that might just help you keep your sanity over the next 60 days!

1.    Make Your List and Check It Twice – No, we are not Santa but we sure do feel like it – with all of the presents to buy and parties to throw. Part of what makes the holidays hectic is the running around town buying gifts. Complete your shopping with minimal fuss this year with a master present list. Write down everyone you need to get a gift for, don’t forget teachers or classmates, next to their name write the gift(s) they will receive and the stores where those gifts can be purchased. Then, divide your shopping list up by part of town so you can knock out your shopping like a pro!

2.    Plan Your Attack –Set aside some time the first week of December to plan your month – include everything that needs to happen -decorate for the holiday, stuff and mail your Christmas cards, shop, wrap, and deliver presents, and craft your holiday menu. Get it all down and be realistic about the time it will take. Once you have your list, take it one step further and schedule time on your calendar to actually get these tasks done and honor that time like you would lunch with a friend. This will cut down on the last minute hustle. They say every minute you spend planning saves 10 minutes in execution, so if you can get this plan in place, you will get a 1000% return on your energy.

3.    Create Space – for new gifts entering your home. “After the holiday stress” is often made by trying to figure out where to put all those new gifts you received. Don’t cram them in a corner or shove them in a closet! This year, if you already know a big item will be entering your home – like a new TV or a big toy or game for the kids, decide ahead of time where it will live and what you might need to clean out to make room for this new treasure.  That way, when the gift arrives, you can put it in the new spot and enjoy!

4.    Share the Love – In anticipation of all the incoming presents, December is a perfect month to sort through your kids’ toys, games and clothes. Pull out anything that is broken, no longer played with, or no longer fits. If your kids are older, involve them in the process and take them with you to donate these goods at a local charity so they begin to appreciate the importance of sharing and giving to those less fortunate.

5.    Tune Out – the holiday season can be a time of overstimulation and late nights. So, it is more important than ever to carve out time to slow down. Pick one night a week to unplug as a family; turn off the phones, shut down the computers, don’t turn on the tvs – instead turn on some Christmas music, play a board game, share a favorite moment from the week or something you appreciate each family member. This simple trick has an amazing power to reconnect you as a family. And isn’t that what this holiday season is really all about?

6.    Experience the Magic – of giving adventures instead of gifts. This day and age, we are inundated with more “things” than we know what to do with. So, try giving gifts that involve an activity instead of a product – for example get tickets to a show and then go to a fun dinner as a family. If your kids are older, ask them to pick a destination they would like to visit and plan a trip together. You will be creating lifetime memories that will last much longer than just a season.

7.    Tell a Tale – about the meaning of Christmas. Bedtime stories are a powerful way for children to unwind from the activities of the day. Their only responsibility is to snuggle up to you, listen and allow their minds to be open to the magic of the story. What a fantastic time to share with them the story of Jesus’ birth and the true meaning of the season.

8.    Take a Time Out – You have a million things on your holiday to-do list, but I would suggest you add one more and it may be the most important “to-do” all season– a scheduled time out just for you. Do this once a day, twice if you can – take 15 or 30 minutes to unwind – read a book, go into the bathroom and sit quietly, or sneak in a quick workout. As women, we set the tone of the home, so if you can reduce your anxiety and stress, you win and your family wins. This little break will also leave you feeling refreshed and re-fueled to get through tomorrows to-dos.

9.   Curtail Christmas Morning Clean up – Christmas morning can be a hailstorm of paper, bows, and sugar. Try these 2 simple tricks to make it a little easier. 1) Take one sheet of paper for each family member and write their name at the top of a single sheet of paper, as gifts are open, record who received what and from whom. Later one, set aside a time to write thank you notes. If your kids are too young to write their own notes, have them participate by drawing a picture, including stickers or signing their name to the cards. 2)After all the gifts have been opened, grab a few trash bags and tell your kids it is a contest to see who can pick up the most paper and bows first. It’s a win, win for everyone – your living room will be clean before you know it and the kids will have had fun doing it.

10.     Give Thanks. For these wonderful people who you get to call family and friends, for food on the table, and presents under the tree, for memories, for music, and for the true meaning of this holiday season –joy, renewed strength, healing and the gift of a tiny baby boy.

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