This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Bed Bath & Beyond. All opinions are 100% mine.
The holidays are here. Thanksgiving has passed but Christmas and New Year’s are on the horizon. It is the “most wonderful time of the year,” and yet it can become a time that flies by and seems to be carrying you along rather than you having the intention and true joy that it can bring. If you are not careful, you will simply survive this holiday season rather than thrive during it. Today, I want to bring you ten tips to claim back your Christmas celebration. I have teamed up with Bed Bath & Beyond who is bring you the Holiday Your Way blog that will be serving up freshly baked ideas and videos along with expert advice to help you stay on track as your prepare for holiday celebrations. They will be adding new ideas weekly
1. Bring Back Meaning
If this time becomes centered around the gifts, you are missing something. This time is about meaning. Christians are celebrating the birth of a Savior who came into this world to take away the sins of the world. That’s kind of a big deal. Don’t lose that focus. If you are celebrating Hannukah, come back to the roots of why. Focus on what is important – faith, family, friends, serving others, gathering around a table, laughing and joy. The mason jar advent calendar I made with my kids last year is one way we try and focus on the meaning behind Christmas.
Traditions are important in families. It gives kids a sense of belonging. It builds anticipation and excitement. It defines a part of what family is about, making kids feel secure. Perhaps you visit the same tree farm every year. Maybe a cookie exchange is on your calendar. Maybe Christmas caroling in your neighborhood has been something you have always done with your family. It’s possible that you didn’t grow up with many traditions. Create new ones for your family. You can be the person who makes a change and creates powerful experiences for your kids that helps bring the sense of security they need.
Food is such an important part of family life and gathering with friends. It bonds people together. Why do you think people gather in the kitchen? It’s a place of warmth, comfort and connection. Bring your family back to the table. Make time to do that this season. Use the time around the table to ask meaningful questions. Have your family talk about their “highs” and “lows” of the day. Bring amazing food to the party. People connect as they partake in wonderful food. This picture above is of Bacon, Cream Cheese Tomatoes and can be found at Bed Bath & Beyond’s “Holiday Your Way” blog under the Holiday Recipes tabHoliday Entertaining. This site is a great resource for a variety of wonderful looking holiday recipes including: Roasted Pear Salad, Sweet and Sour Meatballs, Rosemary Garlic Pull Apart Bread, Roast Pork Loin and Gravy, and Javier’s Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes. Whether you are looking for an appetizer, side, main course or dessert, I’d encourage you to check out their site.
Budget is important. Your family has goals. Stick to it. It can feel very disrespectful to a spouse if your spending goes crazy over the holidays. Create a reasonable budget as a couple and respect that budget. By having this conversation, you will honor your spouse more than you know. It is just important to make sure you are on the same page in spending, as conflict over spending and money is one of the leading causes of divorce.
There are so many fun ideas for themed parties. The Bed Bath & Beyond’s Holiday Entertaining tab on their blog is another great resource for themed party ideas. They have so many great ideas here, and I would encourage you to really check out what they have to offer. They also provide a bunch of ideas for holiday parties that are good for kids.
This Christmas season, think outside yourselves. It is a time where we can get so wrapped up in what we are doing. We can feel pressures to spend money in all the wrong places. There is a hurting world out there. There are children that aren’t receiving any gifts from parents this year. There are homeless people on the street who are freezing cold. There are people in your own neighborhood who are lonely and have no one to celebrate with during the holidays. There are widows who will spend the holiday season alone. This can be such an amazing, joyful time of the year for many but the most challenging time of the year for others. Look outside yourself to figure out how you can reach out to others who are hurting. Last year, we made homeless packs in lieu of cousins exchanging gifts. We will do the same this year. Become Santa for someone else in words, in actions, in generosity. It might mean sacrifices made within your family, but that is such an important thing to model for kids.
Isn’t it fun to watch your house transform over the holiday season. We are in the midst of decorating our home right now, and the excitement of it is evident by all the energy coming from our kids. Bed Bath & Beyond Holiday Your Way blog has a separate tab for decorating ideas. Their outdoor idea section has “Do & Don’t” section, which can be very helpful.
I know. I know. It all seems overwhelming when you start getting advice. How am I suppose to do it all? Make amazing food, have fun decorating, create family traditions, care for others…AH!! Overwhelming! Then, I tell you to slow down, and it feels impossible. It will take a lot of prioritizing. Yes, there is some busy that comes with the holiday season. It takes a bit of planning to schedule in down times for your family, but it is so important. We have Christmas books we have been collecting over the years. I try and add one more each year and read one a night leading up to Christmas. This is a tradition, but it also slows you down. Create family time that is simple: hot chocolate, game night, a favorite movie, reading, cuddling in pajamas. You will go insane if it is always rush, rush, rush. Try and schedule in those times that are still meaningful but give you the breath that you need to accomplish the other things on your list.
Trying to find the perfect gift can be hard. Don’t think you have to buy the world and spend loads of money. We have significantly cut back in our giving. We draw names in our extended family gatherings rather than a present overload for the kids. White Elephant gifts have been a fun way to creatively give gifts. These gifts can be good or goofy. We’ve been going the good route, but this year might be interesting. We drew names in one family. We have cousins exchanging slippers at another gathering. We have done a book exchange in the past. The adults, this year, are shopping only on Aisle #7 for one gift to bring to a White Elephant exchange this year. I’m looking forward to that idea. One idea being thrown around for the cousins is a very inexpensive gift challenge where they all try to pick out the goofiest gift they can find, and the winner gets a prize. Like I said, we did a homeless pack in the past where, rather than gifts, where everyone brought a contribution to the pack. Maybe your family wants to do a pajama exchange, and you can all get great pictures in your pajamas. An ornament exchange is always nice. In the past, we have done an exchange where all the guys bring a guy gift and all the ladies bring a ladies’ gift. Another thing we have done is an exchange of gift cards. The possibilities are endless.
This is a time to bond as a family. Don’t get so caught up in the craziness and focus on gifts that you lose sight of really spending time with your kids. Time is the most valuable gift you can give them. It’s a gift you can give your own parents too. Another thought is to become a family for those who might not have them this season. Look for those who need you to take the place of family this year. Sometimes family time can be stressful for you, but put all your effort into being the most reasonable, best YOU you can be. You can’t control your crazy in-laws. You can’t control your self-centered sister. You can’t control your absent dad. You CAN control how you respond it all, and you can model finding joy despite your surroundings. Make that a goal within your family.
What are your favorite ideas, tips, treats and traditions for the holiday season? I’d love to hear your comments.