11.21.2012

Celebrating the Holidays with a Joyful Heart

While many of us look forward to all of the festivities that come along with the holiday season, many of us get so bogged down in the details and the orchestrating and the managing of tight schedules and bank accounts that we find ourselves dreading what should be a a magical time for all.
I wanted to share some tips and thoughts on making the holidays more enjoyable despite your physical, spiritual, or economical situation this year.
1. The most important aspect of the holidays is sharing it with the ones you love.
Some people don't have family to share holidays with and that pains me.
I hope that should we ever encounter someone that is alone, that we would make any necessary arrangements to include them. 
If you know someone who is spending the holidays alone, invite them to something!
2. Time is the most important gift there is. Not money, not material things.
Be sure that wherever you are, even if it isn't where you'd like to be, that you are fully present and engaged with family members and making memories.
Put up the iPhones, iPads, and other electronic devices and just be with each other!

3. Getting caught up in sticking to a particular tradition can be fabulous, but when it begins to become cumbersome for folks to attend, it may be time to explore new options.
Remember, it's not about when and where you are, but who you're with.
If celebrating needs to happen on a day other than a specific holiday to make things easier, then make a change. All that matters is that you get together at some point to celebrate as a family. 
A date is just a number.
4. Menu planning: let's not make this more stressful than it has to be. 
Everyone should bring a dish or two so that not one person is responsible for making everything.
If the food is a burden, have your event catered-everyone chips in, or prepare a simple menu.
A soup bar is a great idea because you can make them ahead and serve them in crock pots (ask to borrow family or friend's) with liners so that clean up is a breeze.
Do your grocery shopping several days in advance.
Invite daughters, nieces, granddaughters, etc. into the kitchen and teach them some things and help out.
This is a great opportunity to build and strengthen relationships!
5. Hosting: Decide what you are going to wear ahead of time. Make the time to shower and put on a little makeup, you will feel so much more put together than if you are running around ragged. If you can afford it, hire someone to do your cleaning beforehand. It can be a niece or daughter or someone (ie. high school or college student or single mom) who really needs some extra cash, but try to hire someone else to do that job for you.
Even if the job isn't perfect, it's cleaner than it was before and you didn't have to do it.
Personally, I would rather sacrifice some other things to have someone else do the cleaning for once.
You might also consider hiring that same person to come back and clean again after the event.
The same also goes for yard maintenance. Hire a high school or college student or a single dad to take care of mowing the lawn and sprucing up flower beds and making sure all walkways and doorways are clean and welcoming.
Try to prepare as much food as possible the day before the event.
Set your tables/buffets up the day before.
Make sure there are plenty of extra towels, soap, and toilet paper in the restrooms.
As a pet owner and wife of a veterinarian, please BOARD YOUR PETS when you are hosting.
I recommend dropping them off at least a day before the event so that cleaning can be done effectively and without interference. 
Plus, not everyone loves our pets as much as we do, and some people are allergic.
It just makes life much easier if they go to a pet hotel for a few nights, I just realized this over the past year. Trust me on this one, it's the best thing for everyone.
It also eliminates the possibility of folks feeding your pets foods they shouldn't be eating and causing them to get sick or having to call an emergency vet.
Believe me, we have spent Christmas treating sick animals.
Above all, relax and make your guests feel WELCOME and AT HOME!!
 If you are all in a tizzy while hosting, it makes your guests feel uncomfortable and like a burden.
6. Gifts: DO NOT STRESS OVER GIFTS!! That's ridiculous!
 Our family has done a few things in the past to ease the financial burden.
We have drawn names and we've also played the White Elephant game.
Our price limit is always $25 each, but you could certainly lower it!
Christmas is NOT about tangible gifts, but rather about the gift of salvation. 
We should focus on celebrating that and realize that it is worth far more than anything money could buy.
I know with little ones much of the excitement comes in watching them open gifts and seeing what Santa has left under the tree.
If you have a lot of children in your family, then consider only exchanging gifts between them.
As far as Santa goes, kids don't have to have a hundred gifts under the tree.
Maybe just pick out a few things under $25, then have one larger priced item for them.
Focus more time on a Christmas morning breakfast or watch a movie or play games together as a family to take the focus off of just opening gifts.
If you can afford it, consider doing something or taking a trip together as a family rather than exchanging gifts.
We went to the Biltmore Estate one year on Christmas day and it snowed. That was one of my favorite holiday memories.
We celebrated Christmas on New Year's last year with my mama and sister by going horseback riding on the beach off the Georgia Coast. That was the ultimate experience for me!
If you are blessed financially, consider delivering old and/or new clothes and gifts to people in need on Christmas day.
Find families through local churches. Take them a hot meal.
You will be blessed beyond measure. I promise. 

7. Parents: I realize having your child on a schedule is ideal; however, over the holidays that schedule is most likely going to get totally thrown off. RELAX. It will be okay! Let the child enjoy spending time with family and making memories. Of course it will be painful for a few days after the holidays trying to detox and get them back on a schedule, but it is so worth it!

8. Pictures: Have your cameras charged and ready to go with clean memory cards ahead of time. Take pictures. People change every year and family dynamics do, too, and it's great to look back at pictures from over the years.

9. Schedules: When it comes to juggling schedules be thankful to have schedules to juggle.
Some people don't and wish they did.
Just do the very best you can and try to at least make an appearance at as much as possible.
I know it's hectic and tiring, but making the effort goes a long way and says a lot to those hosting.
It shows you care.
10. Remember, be thankful you have loved ones to celebrate with! Focus on making memories and spending quality time with each other and not on gifts and money.
Laugh and have fun. Life is too short to be so serious.
Be joyful, loving, compassionate, and grateful during this season.
Many families have lost everything. Many couples are going through divorce or other terrible seasons in their lives. We need to be aware and sympathetic to those people.
After all, Jesus is the reason for the season!
images via pinterest
"Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered."
Proverbs 11:25

8 comments:

  1. Hi! Totally agree! Do you mind if I share this on my blog with credit to you?
    Thanks!

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    1. Not at all! Go for it! :) Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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  2. So true! Our tradition is that Santa brings 3 presents because that is how many presents the baby Jesus got from the Wise Men. Now that they are in school and many of their friends get numerous items, we tell them that we talked to Santa about this and that we only wanted them to receive 3 items because we wanted them to know and celebrate the true meaning of Christmas.

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    1. Robin, what a wonderful tradition! I love that! Such a great idea! I love that the entire premises of the gifts is Biblical. I hope you and your family have a very blessed and Happy Thanksgiving! xoxo

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  3. I completely agree sweet girl! This was a great post...Thanks for sharing & thanks for the reminders!

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    1. Thank you!! Even I need to be reminded sometimes, so now that I've basically written it in stone, I will always have this to go back and look at around the holidays. :) xoxo

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