I think one of the hardest parts of the holidays is the feeling of regret or lament that comes when all the fuss is over and you’re left with a craving for more meaning.
“We were together but were we really together?”
It’s a challenge to slow down and be intentional during the holidays. Family routines and habits, old traditions and customs are powerful. And sometimes that need to make things special overrides our need to keep things simple.
One of the guiding principles in my life is to keep it simple. Simple in all areas.
And the holidays are no exception. With the opportunity to overspend, overeat, overstress, and overdo it, keeping it simple should be the mantra of the season if you ask me.
1. Write a holiday plan
Benjamin Franklin is famous for saying, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”
Perhaps when it comes to something as traditional and rote as Christmas, we assume that a plan may not be necessary.
Things don’t remain simple, that’s why the saying is “keep it simple”. We have to be intentional in keeping this simple. The best way to do this is to create a Holiday Plan.
Don’t ask me where I got this from because I have no idea. All I know is that even with a basic idea of what’s coming up, you’re more likely to get what you actually want for the holidays. And I’m not talking about gifts.
Ask yourself these questions and then write down the answers.
- Who’s coming over/where are you going?
- What’s your #1 desire or outcome?
- What will you or won’t you bring or eat or agree to?
- Will there be a spending limit on gifts and food?
Set the intention up front for yourself and do your best to communicate your needs in a loving and respectful way. If that’s not an option, find a way in advance to let yourself enjoy the time.
This doesn’t have to be a long and detailed project just a few minutes of forethought to get your brain on board.
2. Create clear expectations with family about gifts
If you’re a minimalist or are trying to simplify life, it’s important to be clear about what you actually like and what you’re willing to give.
Budgets are important and though I don’t want to rob the fun out of the season, it’s super critical you keep to your budget and give others (parents I’m looking at you) the permission to do the same.
We want to delight our loved ones and can sometimes think that oodles of gifts are the way to do it when in fact it could be a combination of one intentional gift and lots of meaningful experiences.
3. Make a fun holiday bucket list
Every year I kick myself for not doing fun things I wanted to like make string popcorn or hosting a Craft & Wine night with my best friends, or a special day where my mom and I just make cookies. Christmas fun list could look like this:
- going someone different
- holiday market
4. Remember it will be over quickly so savor the moment
These days come but once a year. If it gives you mild anxiety thinking about facing family members or the pressure of gift giving and small talk, remind yourself that it will be over before you know it.
Focus on the positive notes remembering that in just a few short days, we’ll be whisked off into a new year. Take a few moments at each gathering and each day to soak in and savor a rare thing like the first snowfall, a warm cup of tea, or a particularly heart-warming hug.
5. Work with the olds to create new traditions
Maybe your grandparents live far away or are near but won’t be around for much longer. One cool way to make Christmas more intentional is by asking them to share a holiday tradition with you and for you to create a new holiday tradition with them.
It could be as simple as making a new recipe for cookies or exchanging a handwritten note. Keep it simple and it will be meaningful. I promise. Anything intentional for someone on in years is extremely meaningful. Just take the time and you probably won’t regret it.
6. Keep decorations simple and at a minimum
I know you may want to go all out in an attempt to make it “just so”. But as usual, simplicity reigns. One wreath, one string of lights, a lovely little Christmas tree tucked away in the corner goes a long way in making the spirit bright.
Don’t miss the forest for the trees. Look at the beauty that’s in nature and bring that simplicity into your home. I for one and headed out to my front yard for copious amounts of holly to dress my mantle with.
Intentionality goes a long way in having a beautiful, slow, and meaningful time with family and friends. Keep it simple by setting an intention, making a plan, and creating new traditions for you and your family. Focusing on the basics and doing the easiest thing leaves space and time to relax and enjoy rather than stress and miss the most wonderful time of year.
Now I want to hear from you! What are your favorite tips to make this season more meaningful, intentional, and slow? Please share your ideas in the comments below so that we can all benefit from your wisdom!