Ready or not, the holidays are upon us! I don’t know about you, but I feel like I just finished putting away all my Christmas decorations and now I’m getting them all back out again! Where did this year go??
For some of us, this season is the most wonderful time of the year. Others are just hoping to have at least one silent night (c’mon kids!). Maybe you are one of those with visions of sugar plums dancing in your head. Or maybe you are one of those who thinks you need a cup of….”cheer” just to get through this season. Either way, I have come up with a list of 16 ways to not just get through, but actually enjoy the holidays this year.
1. Set a Budget
Ok, so this is not the most enjoyable thing on the list. Honestly, I hate making a budget, but I know that it is necessary. You need to know who you’re buying for and how much you are going to spend on each person. Make sure to leave a little wiggle room in case you forget someone. But also, don’t feel pressured to buy every single person you know a present.
Leave plenty of room in your budget to be generous too! There are so many great opportunities to give back this time of year. One of my favorite things to do is give donations in honor of someone else. Organizations like Compassion International and Samaritan’s Purse both have gift catalogs that allow you to choose a specific cause to donate to. Then after you donate, they will send you a card to give to the person you donated in honor of.
2. Give Anonymously
Jesus (you know, the birthday boy?) couldn’t stand how the leaders in his time would brag about how generous they were. They would make a big spectacle any time they gave to the poor. Jesus said we should give in secret! He said we shouldn’t even let our left hand know what our right hand is doing (Matthew 6:2-4).
The point of giving is not so that everyone can see how generous we are. We give because we care and because we want to help. I can’t tell you how good it feels to give to someone and expect nothing in return. Whether it’s paying for the person behind you in the drive-thru or making a large donation anonymously to your favorite charity. Just let it be between you and your Creator…I guess you kinda have to let your spouse know too.
3. Walk through the woods
I know…baby, it’s cold outside! But put on some layers, gloves, hat, scarf, and go for a walk. Take the dog. Take the kids. Take your sweetie. Hey, go by yourself if you need to. But just get outside and feel the sunshine!
If you live somewhere with lots of snow…go play in the snow! Here in the south, if we get an inch of snow, you better believe we are out there trying to build a tiny snowman. Also, no one knows how to drive in snow so we’re all stuck at home anyways. And yes, Walmart is completely cleaned out of bread and milk!
4. Make a natural wreath
While you’re out on your walk through the woods, gather some leaves, berries, moss, etc. When you get home, cut a hole in the middle of a paper plate. Then, glue your leaves, berries, acorns, etc. all around the plate. Ta da! It’s a natural wreath! My little one and I did this last year. Here’s how it turned out…
He was so proud of his wreath and made sure to show it to everyone who came over to the house. It was one of those special little moments that he will hopefully always remember.
Just as there are hundreds of opportunities to give this time of year, there are also so many ways to volunteer. Non-profits cannot do what they do without volunteers. Go serve a meal at a homeless shelter. Be a friend or mentor to someone. Help out at a food pantry. Play with some furry friends. There are countless opportunities!
6. De-clutter and donate
Spending time with those less fortunate will make you quickly realize how much you have. And how much you have that you don’t need! Last year, I de-cluttered my whole house in 5 days. Each day, I took a carload full of stuff to Goodwill. Read this post to find out exactly how I did it.
7. Go ice skating
Now, I know all you northerners think us southerners don’t know the first thing about ice skating. Well…you’re right! Most of us have never skated in our lives. We don’t have the luxury of just going down the road and skating on the lake. Although, I do remember my brother trying to skate on our frozen pond when we were kids and almost falling through the ice.
If you don’t live somewhere with real ice, you can always go to one of the fake ice rinks like we have here in the south. There are several set up around Nashville. The one at the Opryland Hotel is probably my favorite though.
8. Drink hot chocolate
This is an absolute must for our family! And you have to make sure to drink it from a big ‘ole Santa mug (or other kind of Christmas mug). I love these!
We tend to use the instant packets to make our hot chocolate, but of course you can always do homemade. Check out this recipe from Little Spice Jar.
9. Read the Christmas Story
No, I’m not talking about ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. I’m talking about the actual story of Jesus’ birth. Open up the Bible to the book of Luke and read chapter 2 verses 1-21. After all, Christmas literally means “the birth of Christ.” This is what it’s all about.
Unfortunately, we lose sight of this and make it about everything else but the birth of Christ. Thankfully, the story doesn’t end with a baby in a manger though. If you want to know more, here is a good place to start.
10. Watch Christmas movies
Everybody’s got their favorites (this is mine). Some are hilarious. Some are cheesy. Some are terrible. But they somehow make us feel good.
Grab a bowl of popcorn and a big mug of hot chocolate. Light the fire and get out the blankets. Sit back and watch as that workaholic city boy loses his girl to the hometown hunk on Christmas Eve. Oh yeah, and it starts to snow right before they kiss!
11. Sit in front of a fire
There’s nothing more mesmerizing than staring into a fire. I may not have a real fireplace in my house, but I do have this nifty little heater that looks just like the real thing! I can also turn on the yule log channel and listen to instrumental Christmas music while watching the fire on my TV. It doesn’t get any cozier than that!
12. Listen to Christmas music
I remember every year when I was little, my mom would turn on Johnny Mathis singing Christmas songs. Something about those old classic Christmas songs would make it feel like Santa was just around the corner. I still love the old classics, but I also love some of the more modern Christmas songs. This is a great album to check out. It will have you in the Christmas spirit in no time!
13. Make gingerbread
I have to confess something. I had never made homemade gingerbread until last year! I used this recipe from Pinch Me, I’m Eating and it turned out delicious. The boys and I made a bunch of gingerbread men and had the best time decorating them. The recipe made a lot more than we could eat which leads me to my next point.
14. Bake something for someone else
You can’t get through the holidays without baking something. Chances are you will have more than enough to share. Why not bake some cookies for a neighbor? Or take a pie to your friend? By the way, have you checked out my recipe for fudge pie? It is so easy to make and so delicious!
15. Make your house smell like Christmas
Scents with cinnamon, clove, pine will bring back all those warm Christmas memories. You can also make your own scents on the stovetop with just a few ingredients from your kitchen. Check out this post from Burkatron.com.
16. Do some random acts of Christmas kindness
These are so much fun! I have already mentioned a few things on this list like giving anonymously or baking something for someone. The boys and I have done things like taking breakfast to the local fire department or taping a gift card to a shopping cart. One year we even made homemade Christmas cards for an entire nursing home. It was a big undertaking, but the residents loved them. Doing something kind for someone else is the best way to teach your kids the true meaning of Christmas. Here are some more great ideas to check out from the blog Coffee Cups and Crayons.
Don’t let the holiday season stress you out. Remember to take in all the little moments. Take your focus off the presents you have to buy and the parties you have to host. Try your best to avoid the mall and the crowds of people shopping for the absolute lowest price. Take a deep breath and focus on why we celebrate Christmas in the first place.
What are some things you do to enjoy the holidays? Leave me a comment and let me know!
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