10 Tips to Keep Your Holiday Joyful

I just can not believe that the holidays are already upon us and I don't know about you but I always feel like this time of year flies by the fastest.

While I just love Thanksgiving and try to hold off a bit on the Christmas festivities until after we've enjoyed our turkey dinner and remembered to really reflect on all that we are thankful for it is unrealistic to not do anything to prepare for Christmas until after Thanksgiving.

Here a few things I try to do each year to keep the holidays fun and manageable.

1.  Start early and have a plan!  I start planning for Christmas early in the year by writing out a list with my budget, some gift ideas for those I will be buying for (or even just a list of who I am buying for), and some ideas for craft projects and family fun activities.  That way I have an idea how to plan my time and where to put my money to best use.  Usually I am just about done my shopping by the time Thanksgiving rolls around so we can spend the month of December focusing on family fun and activities.  (You can read more about why it's never to early to start planning for Christmas here.)

2.  Keep it Simple!  I know so many people use Christmas as a time to go completely overboard but I like to keep it very simple.  Handmade and heartfelt gifts when I can, simple and tasteful decorating ideas, little touches here and there that don't take all my time and effort are what I strive for the most.

3.  Keep the Meaning of Christmas in Sight.  It is so easy to loose sight of the meaning and spirit of Christmas.  When I start to feel overwhelmed with all that I still have to do I remind myself that my two main goals of Christmas are to enjoy time with family and help my boys have good Christmas memories.  Everything does not have to be perfect.

4.  Make Time for Yourself.  The holidays can be stressful and, I don't know about your house, but in our house 99% of the holiday prep falls on me.  I make sure to take time to stop and read a book, relax by the fire, or soak in a hot bubble bath.  We all need time to recharge and it's OK to say no to a few things if it saves your sanity.

5.  Know Yourself and Your Limits.  I was hosting all the holiday parties at our house and after 10 or so years found myself dreading the holidays so much... I finally asked other family members to take over and now we travel to someone else's house. I have found that I enjoy the holidays so much more now!  I also do not enjoy stepping foot in most stores after Thanksgiving as they can be crowded so I do a lot of last minute shopping on line or at odd times to avoid crowds.  Knowing yourself and your limits can help keep that joyful feeling going the whole season through.

6.  Don't Spend More than You Can Afford.   It is no fun to face the new year with mountains of debt.  I would rather spend fun and quality time with family and friends than get yet another hat and scarf set or another kitchen gadget.  If you are truly strapped for cash try suggesting a fun Yankee swap party or having family members pick names so you don't have to buy for everyone.  Or perhaps you enjoy giving gifts to everyone; then think creatively.  Are you a goddess in the kitchen?  Whip up some homemade goods.  Are you good with crafts?  Make your gifts; upcycling things from thrift stores, dollar stores, and using scraps from other crafting projects.

7. Make Time for Fun Family Traditions.  I have been pretty careful to just pick one or two family traditions to keep going each year.  We have other fun things we like to do but I like to know that if I am really crunched for time there are only a few things I HAVE to do to keep my boys happy and not feel disappointed.  For us this means baking Christmas cookies; one of the only traditions that has stood the test of time.

8. Don't Try to Do Everything at Once.  I know many people who decorate their whole house in one day but I tend to spread out the decorating over a couple of day while listening to music or watching a Christmas movie.  I feel less rushed that way.  Same goes for those people who hit the stores and try to get ALL their gifts bought at once.  Since I make my list early in the year I'm on the lookout just about all year long for gift ideas and I will start purchasing them as early as August a bit here and there.  It helps to spread out the spending and make the shopping fun rather than a chore to check off my list.   

9. Enlist Help! I know I mentioned that the bulk of the holiday planning and prep work is done by me in our home but in the last few years I have been so much better about asking for help.  My husband and I have started shopping together for our three boys (who are getting harder and harder to buy for now that they're older). I have delegated my husband to come up with the gift ideas for his side of the family; I don't mind buying the gift but I can't keep coming up with ideas on my own.  I have enlisted the help of my boys to wrap all the family presents and they're actually getting pretty good at wrapping! Just knowing it's not all up to me helps.

10.  Focus on What You Love.  In reality the holiday season goes by in the blink of an eye and it's important to keep your focus on what you love and what you love to do.  The biggest part of keeping the holiday season joyful is to remember what makes it joyous!  So if you love watching holiday movies watch away!  If listening to Christmas music puts a smile on your face make sure you're listening as often as you can.  Are you most joyful when surrounded by family and friends?  Then you might want to plan an extra (low- key) holiday gathering or a couple more fun family outings to maximize the time spent with those you love.

Do you have any tips for keeping the holidays joyful?  

Linking Up With: Thinking Out Loud, Over the Moon, 

JENerally Informed

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  1. Oh, I love these tips! They are all so important. Thanks for sharing.

  2. These are great ideas, and definite sanity-savers! I especially appreciate your recommendation to do Christmas things YOU enjoy. For me it's definitely Christmas movies! Visiting from Marilyn's Treats.

    1. Thank you! Yeah, without the movies Christmas just isn't the same.

  3. Be flexible about celebrations. Years ago when my older sisters first started getting married my Mom started hosting a Christmas Eve open house that people could drop in and stay as long or as short as they could. People could come for Christmas Day, but this allowed flexibility for those who needed to be with other family or had to work the holiday. For food Christmas Eve has always been a buffet of cold foods or foods that can be kept hot via crock pot, etc.

    When Mom and Dad moved to be closer to one of my brothers I inherited the holiday and it's been going strong ever since. It's a crazy night, but we have both sides of the family come because it leaves the holiday itself open to do what they want to do with the rest of the family.

    1. That does sound wonderful! I find flexibility is key in just about anything that has to do with family. :)

  4. Such wonderful tips. We might be the same person... except ain't doing nothing handmade except some baking LOL. Also, love the know yourself and your limits.

  5. Sometimes it is well worth it to say no and just pamper yourself a little bit!


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