6 days ago Christmas of 2014 happened.
Only 6 days? Really?
We are still eating left overs but it seems like it was more than 6 days.
I think it was a lovely day. I didn’t stress at all, I took some time to sit and chat a while. More on that later.
and as the new year approaches I can’t help but get all giddy and stuff… TOMORROW we get to use the reset button. (although really, we can reset at anytime)
I am excited for 2015.
I don’t know why, since we are living on shifting sand of the unknown, but
But for Christmas 2014 I was determined to make it more relaxed, and by that I mean more relaxed for ME. Therefore I sought the advice of my friends via a facebook post “When I think of Christmas, this is the feeling I get”.
Going to change it up this year….PLEASE tell me what tips you have for creating a stress free Christmas?
Janyce L: Make it all about the family and experience and less about all the commercial aspects. Keep it simple. It does work… good luck
Alie J:we barely do gifts at all and it is the best! Jack will usually get either one big thing (last year it was a red bike) or a few smaller things (I’m thinking kinetic sand and tanagrams this year). Tyler and I usually get each other one thing each, too. we’ll maybe spend Christmas morning in the kitchen with each other, and the afternoon at the beach. we are all about no-expectations around here.
Me: We have our gifts semi-sorted, I’m a simple gift girl too but I take the 3 gift approach from the Christmas story 1/ something of value to the person (Gold) 2/ something to represent ‘spiritual gifts’ (Frankincense – symbolic of his priesthood – stature) something to pass on (preserving nature of myrrh) 3/ … Mike and I are giving each other a 5 day RV trip prior to Christmas. meets our 3 gift approach in one awesome extended date! lol
Nola D:We do the three gifts as well. Love it, really makes things simple.
Elizabeth S: Shop cook and decorate early
Michelle R: Buy a few gifts each week before December rush and wrap them as you go. BBQ lunch (pot luck if others are coming to yours also)
Me: I saw a tip online that said to assemble them (put batteries in etc) before you wrap them, then the kids can play with them as soon as they open them and it’s one less thing to do on the day. Sounds reasonable.
Elizabeth S: We also had a major breakthrough. Mark took charge of the cooking. That left me to focus on decorating cleaning and making myself and the kids look good. Previous years I took charge of all those things and tried to delegate piecemeal to him. The new way was much much better!
Me: I’ve always done everything too… hmm time to start a discussion re: what others can contribute. I like that Christmas will be in summer for us this year, so I see much outdoor play happening (and we live next door to a school to utilize the playground)
Elizabeth S:It really works well for us. Having one whole piece I don’t think about or carry is the key.
Rachael B: Is this the first Christmas with all your boys and grandbaby? Wow! How exciting! Make a theme matching homemade gift for everyone like pj bottoms then you get a cute photo with everyone!
Robyn R:I am the same. I am not into it at all!
Kerrie O: I love the story of Mary and Martha in the scriptures. Mary just wanted to enjoy being with the Savior, and Mary was running all over the place. Choose to have a “Mary” Christmas!
Kathleen H:Distribute responsibilities w/ husband
Scott H: Mail everyone a gift cards and Christmas news letters before the end of November. Stay away from shopping in December. Plan fun get-togethers with family and friends.
Janis S: Remind yourself that gifts do not create happiness. Keep it reasonable and let them know you love them, but stop when you are done. If a friend brings you a gift and you are not ready to reciprocate, just say thank you with a grateful smile. Also, don’t feel bad about missing a party or two.
Kathryn B: I love Christmas
Amanda F: Cancel it
Suzanne C: One word, Amazon! I am done with Christmas for my kids and got everything from Amazon. Free shipping. We do a 3 gift thing with our kids. Christ got 3 gifts, so that’s what we get too. We do not count stocking stuffers against the 3 gifts so we can do some fun stuff there too.
ME: Some of these were fab suggestions, I am going to write them all down so i can remember them. I’ve starting planning the Christmas Day menu already, and will be assigning others what to bring. Plus if I buy a few Christmas menu grocery items in my weekly shop I should be well prepared on the big day. It’s almost exciting now that I have a way to better manage it.
After reading the comments I researched “Stress Free Christmas” on google. Many of their tips were the same and I didn’t want to get into the situation where I become STRESSED with how much I need to organize and do so I can be stress-free. But these were the ones I implemented.
Plan with the end in mind
I have been out of the country a long time and maybe that meant I felt extra pressure to create a nice day for everyone, but really? I was clear about my goal for this Christmas. I just wanted people to enjoy a really good meal with lots of yummy food, that made sense to our health and served as a gathering activity for the extended family. For myself I wanted a day where I felt relaxed and got to be ‘present’ with the chitchat and laughter. But mostly it was about the food for me, good food where everyone can at least enjoy something off the table. Turns out that lamb, chicken and ham didn’t cover all the bases for preferred meat choices to feed the masses. Turns out potato salad, lettuce salad, rice salad, coleslaw, corn. beans, peas and buttery minty new potatoes didn’t either. The promise of going to McDonald’s on the way home was made to a young nephew. I should have just cooked hamburgers and sausages. my bad. I really enjoyed the meal and the thing I enjoyed the most was NOT being the sole kitchen bitch. Everyone brought food with them, and everyone helped set up and clean up! It was a delightful treat for me!!! Here’s part of our motley crew on the day. Another brother, sister-in-law and niece arrived later in the day.
From the back Left, Sandra (DIL), Kieran (Son), Mike (Husband), Rima (Brother) and Me
Front from left in zigzag fashion. Bailey (granddaughter) Macallum (son) Marjorie (mother) holding Olivia (granddaughter) Bailey (Nephew) Savannah (Niece) holding puppy Garrett , Lisa (SIL) and Boy at her feet.
I planned a menu and invited the family to bring a few items way back in October, this allows for items to be bought weekly to spread out the costs. And so I could enlist help from others, experts in things I lack. like COOKING. I hate cooking. with a passion. My dear friend Suzie offered to do some baking for me, she gave me a grocery list and I purchased all the necessary ingredients. She baked up a storm and we put everything in the freezer until needed. Christmas cake, Christmas pudding, shortbread, apricot truffles, mint chocolate truffles, russian fudge. Everything was delicious and well received on the day. This is the first year I have ordered a ham and I ordered it from my favourite organic butcher Banfields of Beckenham. I have to say… that ham was drop dead delicious, everyone commented on how scrumptious it was. But when you grow up on a farm and farming folk are your people, you don’t order ham, or lamb or any meat from a butcher, Non si fa (it’s just not done) You eat your own. Forgive me family… but I am so glad I did.
Keep traditions that are important (to the family or more importantly, me lol) Each year I give Macallum and the 2 grand children a Christmas Ornament. I try to pick something a little different but that also identifies the year. Plus we always do new pj’s on Christmas eve. I usually want them to be Christmas pj’s but it couldn’t happen this year. I had a heard time finding some in the right sizes.
Drop the Unnecessary Need to decorate? do you really need to trim the tree? Truth is, I love to decorate. But only in an attempt to impress others with a smoke screen of how really lame I am at such things. It takes me a long time to get started, Mac is usually the one to give the call to action. He LOVES to celebrate, decorate, and make merry. I love that about him. So when he comes up with ideas, my mind explodes with possibilities and eventually I make it happen. Our decorating was minimal this year and mainly because our decorations are in storage in the US still. And because I no longer see it as necessary in capturing the spirit of Christmas. One less task for me. We did buy a pathetic little tree and I let Mac go for it with borrowed decorations from the neighbor, a few handmade snowflakes and some scrappy on-sale Christmas lights. It was good to pass ownership onto my young padawan. (but shhh, don’t tell him that I forgot to take a photograph of the whole thing. Here it is in the back ground though.
Other things I dropped? There were a few natural changes that contributed to being less stress for me this year merely because I am no longer in the US. One change was that I didn’t do our annual Christmas card = less family stress in getting a photo for the card, and less stress by not editing, ordering and mailing. I hate the post office at the best of times but Christmas time is NOT the best of times, so one big task off my list. Woot. The other thing was not photographing others for their Christmas card. Usually I have 4 families that want family sessions at the same time, but I’ve stopped photographing other people’s family, in favour of photographing my own. Feel the freedom?! I decided ahead of time what a good, better, best Christmas looks like. To have a good enough Christmas, is it no frills.
Gifts? to gift or not to gift.
No Amazon this year. The shipping from the US is KILLER HUGE, so no international purchases were made therefore I started collecting early. Each year I try to do a theme, this year was beach. I loosely keep to a $150 budget per immediately family child and I prefer to get things they really want, and/or need. I like to gift experiences more than gifts, but love to give gifts that create fun family memories. This year I suggested to Mike that we do a road trip together for our Christmas gifts to one another. Usually Mike will spend a lot of money on me each Christmas, but since our living situation is uncertain and I don’t want to cart gifts around the world I put the damper on our spending. So we had a week away just for ourselves and it was 100% wonderful, despite the crappy weather and the many things that went wrong. We enjoyed ourselves and each other very very much.
For the 2 grandkids and Mac I went with beach theme. I wrapped each persons gifts in one paper design and put them in one of those flexi buckets. Pink for Livy, Purple for Bailey and Light Blue for Mac. That saved a lot of time naming the gifts and decorating them all pretty. Wish I had taken a photo…DUH! You can see them in the background in this pic of these crazies. From the times we have been swimming this year I noticed that Mac doesn’t last long in the water before his lips turn blue and he starts stumbling around. So the obvious gift? A wet suit. It’s worked brilliantly in keeping the kid warm. We add a boogie board, beach towel, sun glasses, outdoor over-sized badminton set, lilo and swim suits and a new outfit.
I went a little over board with gifts this year. Next year I will embrace Joshua Becker’s (becomingminimalist) gift protocol. “our kids receive one thing they want, one thing they need, and one experience to share with the family.” I like this very much, he also has many other wonderful suggestions for getting rid of clutter in our lives. Brilliant stuff.
I also really loved this advice from Stacy Julian via Big Picture Classes
“…Look at what remains on your list. If it isn’t wrapped up in love, generosity, or devotion, let it go. Step back. Recognize all that you have already accomplished and reflect on how you want to feel and how you want others to feel when they are around you.
In a week, it will all be over for another year…”
Things learned…I need more serving spoons. And we didn’t have much of a focus on Christ.