How to Have the Best Holiday Season (For Your Family & Yourself!)

Well it's that time of year again. One moment you're filled with excitement for the season, and the next you're in tears just wanting it to be over. I absolutely love decorating, pinning seasonal recipes, and making gift lists, but sometimes I just feel so overwhelmed. My husband and I have had some of our worst fights during the holidays, and I get anxiety just thinking about it. I think we all have the goal of making Christmas magical for our families, as well as actually enjoying it ourselves. I have come up with a few tips to make the most out of your holiday season, without losing your mind. :)

1. Commit to a do-able amount of gatherings. 

This gets so crazy for us! Both of our families live near, so we usually have around 10 gatherings to go to between Thanksgiving and Christmas. As moms of little kids, we have the most stress getting to where we need to be. Making food, getting the kids ready, trying to look presentable ourselves, and working around nap times can take all the fun out of it. Men (usually) get the easy road with this, because all they really have to do is show up, eat everyone else's food, and lay on the couch. Haha! Communicate with your spouse on what is do-able, and what you can skip.

2. Make a family holiday bucket-list. 

Have a small list of activities you want to do with just your immediate family. Things we love to do (just us) every year is visiting Santa, drive around to look at Christmas lights, have a candy-making day, and go to a candlelight service on Christmas Eve. It's also nice to have a break from all the kid activities, and plan a date night! It's really refreshing to just have dinner somewhere, and then pick up stocking stuffers from Target without the kids. :) Prioritize these things, whatever your own list may look like!

3. Don't go into debt trying to buy everything.

Financial situations get so stressful and awkward around Christmas-time. Set a rough budget of what you can spend before you run up a credit card and have that to deal with in January. You do not have to do everything! There are so many random exchanges, people asking for donations everywhere you go, and it gets overwhelming. Communicate with your loved ones, and never be afraid to stop an exchange. Example: My sister and I stopped buying each other gifts, and decided to just get our nieces/nephews gifts to simplify things.

4. Don't let anyone pressure you into anything.

I'm pretty sure every single person can relate to this. I've felt so much Christmas pressure from my family members. Even my mom. (sorry, mom! lol!) Everyone wants you to go to every single function, visit every single relative, and be in all the gift exchanges with all the people. If you don't really want to be apart of a white elephant game, just say no.

When Cory and I first got married, our finances were tight. Our first Christmas with Lux, we didn't even buy for her or each other. So when people put pressure on us to buy something for "great uncle twice removed Bob", or "play white elephant with a $50 minimum", we were stressed out. We weren't even buying for each other then, so the thought of having to fork over cash just to please everyone was upsetting. Point is, do what you're comfortable with, and what you actually want to do as a family. Don't ever feel bad for saying no thanks to something or someone. If people try to make you feel bad for what you're spending, they are the one being rude.

5. Schedule in some down time. 

Some of our most magical Christmas moments were just us watching a holiday movie by the fire, and staring at the glowing tree. If you have to write in your planner, "Friday night - pizza delivery and the Grinch", do it. Having more down time to relax will help you be your best self when you have the hectic days of gatherings and parties.

6. Do something nice for others. 

I've been so bad about this the past years. It's so easy to get wrapped up in all the buying, cooking, and places you have to be, and completely forget the reason for the season. It could be something as simple as baking cookies and taking them to the elderly. Or visiting someone you know is lonely around the holidays. I encourage you (and myself) to find a few small things to do that take the focus off of ourselves. 

7. Get your look together. 

If I'm not feeling myself, I'm going to have a bad day. Haha! I've been tagged in way too many photos where my outfit sucks, and I look like a potato because I didn't wear any makeup. Take a little time for yourself, and do what makes you feel your best. I like to get a few new outfits, a spray tan, and get my nails done. I also allow myself some time in the morning of gatherings to put on my makeup and style my hair. I'm the most confident when I make some effort on my appearance.

8. Take photos! 

Get some cute family shots of everyone in their holiday best, but also take the imperfect candid photos. The ones where the kids have chocolate on their faces, or when you're just lounging in your sweatpants watching "Four Christmases". (My favorite!) You will be so glad you had those when the kids are older. My girls now love looking back at the photos/videos we take.

9. Give yourself some grace. 

If you tell yourself right now that everything won't go exactly as planned, you'll have a better season. We might not make it to every event (or make it to too many. Lol!), get everything checked off our family to-do list, or get those cookies made. I can be a perfectionist about holidays/events, so when I didn't get to something I feel really bad about myself. Last year, we didn't get around to making a gingerbread house. You know what? No one really noticed, cared, and life went on. Haha! Kids do not care if your house is immaculately decorated, or if you bought them designer clothes. They remember the lights, treats, movies, warm snuggles, and fun traditions. Just be present, relax, and enjoy the magic of the season.


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