1. I love the word savor. Savor the favorite food, the special drink, those moments of wonder. That will be my mantra this year.

    What I struggle with in de-stressing? Giving up the expectations of what family means at the holidays. Yes, I still have the Norman Rockwell image…and no it has never, ever happened. And this year, with our huge life change – downsized house – I’ll need to be creating all new habits/traditions. For the first time in my life …I don’t have a fireplace mantle for stockings – big family tradition. I’m not sure where the tree will go, or what decorations will fit where. No big family dinner – no space for 10-12 dinner seating anymore. Do I make Christmas cookies – larger kitchen has the space – for first time in 16 years! So, my tip on de stressing with all that? Hah. My hubby would say “ it is what it is”….decide, accept, enjoy. Perhaps that should be my mantra.

    • That is a huge change, and I think you landed on the perfect mantra for your circumstance: decide, accept, enjoy. In fact, I may just borrow that mantra for life in general. So much of our suffering comes from indecision and nonacceptance. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Fran

    I agree with what used to be done in terms of decorating. I always think whatever I put up over a month before has to come down. The coming down part is not nearly so exciting. What i still like to do is use lights to brighten the darkness. I think it is special at this time of year.
    As far as distressing is concerned, my strategy has been to start early so that you can enjoy the holiday instead of rushing at the end! And if I do get into a bind, there is always egg nog!

    • Good advice, Fran. I try to do the shopping, at least, before Thanksgiving, so I can focus on the music, decorations, baking, etc. in December. And, yes, a little egg nog never hurts. 🙂

  3. Liz Gwynn

    Love this! I usually get pretty stressed out over the holiday season, even though I love it! One of my favorite traditions is coming to your house on Christmas day, actually! It’s a time to just relax and hang out with loved ones, and eat yummy food (of course).
    I have been wanting to start sending out holiday cards for ages, especially since having a baby, but I have felt overwhelmed by the task. I love your strategy of returning a card to the ones you’ve received. Maybe that’s a good place for us to start.
    Thanks for the tips!

    • Thank you for the kind words Liz. I love having the family over on Christmas and it warms my heart to hear that it’s one of your favorite traditions. I hope the holiday card tip helps. Here’s to a joyful, peaceful holiday season!

  4. I got rid of every cheap decoration and ornament that I had somehow acquired, but which had no real meaning to me. Now my Christmas decorations are reduced to only those things that make my heart sing when I see them once a year. And I’m planning on lightening up on the cards this year. And I’m with Pat – the real important advice is to SAVOR the meaningful events that make the season!

    • That’s great Lynn. I’m really thinking of sorting through my boxed decorations this year and either throwing them out or donating them. Time to declutter. May your holidays include lots of things that make your heart sing.

  5. We have cut way back over the years and I have ZERO regrets. We buy very few – if any – gifts, send cards to just a few older relatives, and decorate sparingly (no tree). By doing this – or, I guess, not doing this – our stress level is almost non-existent. We can enjoy the holiday season without the overwhelming expectations. We like to go out to the malls once or twice in the evening when the Christmas decorations are up to enjoy the lights and shop window displays. Seeing all the shoppers with their multiple packages and stress-out looks on their faces make us even more comfortable with our decision.

    • I love it Janis. Some people genuinely enjoy the hustle and bustle, but so many others go through the motions out of a sense of obligation. My wish for everyone is to have an authentically joyful holiday. I suppose some compromise is in order if the household doesn’t all have the same idea of joyful, but it sounds like you are on the same page at your house!

  6. I’m not calendar bound and I’m all about experiences.

    Christmas is one day, and it can be overwhelming and overstimulating for children. My niece knows I will never send her little girls gifts for December 25th. Instead, I have funded their dance classes and took them on a Disney cruise.

  7. Hi Christie,
    I’m with you on many of your recommendations, but perhaps most especially the one about not going into decorating overload. Over the last few years I’ve culled my decorations down to the most meaningful and am able to put them up and out in half a day. I decorate in the middle of November (Canadian so our Thanksgiving is done) and refuse to watch Christmas movies or hear a single Christmas tune until that date. Then I enjoy the Christmas season from mid-November to Boxing Day, take everything down and have a few days to get prepped for the feeling of a new year.

    No gift buying required, just plans for lots of great moments to savour. And one more change that I’ll make from last year. For my blog last year, I tested out sugar cookie recipes and made hundreds of them, loaded in icing and so delicious. But not this year. My body can’t take the sugar load!! So I’m planning to go to the bakery, spend ridiculous sums, and get a few perfect, icing loaded (that’s the best part!) sugar cookies,and savour every bite.

  8. Hi, Christie –
    I fully agree with your tips. Although I realize transition from a previous ‘OTT Christmas’ to a less stressful one isn’t always easy.
    This year for Christmas my family has decided to focus on ‘presence instead of presents’. We rented a ski chalet not far from our home, one that houses all four of our sons, their spouses, the grandchildren and my parents! Each family has chipped in for renting this Chalet instead of buying presents (except for our two grandchildren). This is our first Christmas doing it this way and I cannot wait! I’ll keep you posted with how it goes!

  9. Wonderful ideas Christie and I agree with each of them. I would love to have the “experience gift” and though it hasn’t worked out yet for us I’m hoping it will soon. It’s so sad that this wonderful season of the birth of our savior has been turned into a time that we dread, but that’s only true because we have allowed it to be true. I’m determined to turn that around and make it about enjoying the important people in my life and giving smaller, more meaningful gifts to a few. Thank you so much for sharing, I think it lets others know that it’s okay to do less!

  10. Christmas is that time of year when we let our own expectations take over and then are either disappointed or let down somehow. If it’s not about the gifts and giftgiving, but sharing time with family and friends I find it becomes much more manageable.

  11. Oh my, just reading this started to stress me out. Why do we let this time of the year do that to us? I’ve been shopping online for the grandbabies this evening. It’s kinda fun and enjoyable because they always have a wish list…but I confess, I do not like shopping for adults! Not even my own adult children. There, I said it! I like all of your tips. Thank you Christie for linking up and co-hosting at the #BloggingGrandmothersLinkParty #22. I shared your post on Fb, G+, Pin, and Tw.

  12. Haha! Exactly what my house smells like – cinnamon and panic! I’m with you on the decorating. I used to go all out when my kids were little, too. Now I take a much more laid-back approach. I will not be featured in BH&G either! 🙂

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