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Reclaim Joy During the Holidays

Lately, I’ve struggled with getting swept up by the commercialism of the holidays.  Between the ads that constantly consume my social media feeds – and countless “deal days”, “Black Friday” deals, and other promotions – it’s easy to feel pressured into buying things just because they are on sale, or feel like you need to be doing certain things to make the holidays special for your family due to social media pressure. 

As moms, the pressure of making the holiday magic happen often falls on our shoulders solely (ok, with a little help from Amazon, UPS, and Target drive-up).  Not only are we responsible for buying gifts for our families, but we’re usually also responsible for coming up with ideas for things for others to give our children. All of this can make it hard to enjoy the holidays and leave us wishing for the days of our childhood when we were carefree and this time of year was magical.  Here are some tips to manage the holiday chaos and hopefully relieve some of the pressure, mama. 

Have a plan to tackle holiday gifts

I create a spreadsheet each year to track my gift expenses.  Our family also has several birthdays in December in addition to Christmas gifts that we must plan for. When I make a purchase, I log it in the sheet.  I also use this sheet to plan ideas before I make a purchase. It helps me ensure that I spend evenly and don’t go overboard.  It also helps explain “where all the money is going” when my husband asks why the credit card bill is so high.  

As you have gift ideas, put them in a wish list. That way you can direct family members there when they ask for ideas for gifts for your kids (or yourself!).  If you can, delegate gifts for your partner’s family members to them.  

Also, a lot of retailers offer price matching for others retailers’ prices, or will match if they price the item lower between when you purchase it and the holidays.  Keep an eye out after you make purchase, especially for expensive items, to save a few dollars (or add to mama’s coffee fund!).

Hide gifts in empty totes for holiday decorations

This one is a bit random, but  I learned this hack several years ago and it’s so brilliant!  Once you have the gifts purchased and you know your UPS driver by name (if you don’t already), you have to hide the gifts from family members until you can wrap and place them under the tree.  Once your decorations are up, you likely have several empty large totes.  These are a perfect place to hide your unwrapped gifts (or wrapped gifts from a certain someone), because everybody just assumes they are empty! 

Prioritize activities over things 

When you think about your childhood, the memories that stand out are likely not to be regarding “that one year that you got so many great gifts”. More likely you’ll find yourself recalling the traditions and experiences.  Decorating the tree with the same ornaments each year and reflecting on the stories that surround them. Baking cookies as a family or with friends. Jumping in the car with mugs of hot cocoa to look at holiday lights. Singing traditional songs at Christmas mass. The traditions you have with your children will ultimately be what they gravitate toward as they reflect on their holidays as a child once they’re grown.      

In a few years, those trendy items that feel like must haves for the holidays will be in the donate pile, trash, or forgotten.  The toys that your kids “had to have”  will sit in the corner unused. Who wants to join me in making the holidays simpler, with less pressure and more quality time with family and friends to make life long lasting memories? Let’s hit that pressure relief button on our internal instant pot and find a little more joy for ourselves for the holidays.

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