Even in our house, where I strive ferociously to have all gifts purchased and documented (yeah, that’s right, I have a Christmas spreadsheet, judge away) by Thanksgiving, it’s far too easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. The overall meaning of the season disappears faster than you can say “Oh my God, is that the cookies burning?!”
So here are a few simple ideas to help you inject a little bit of ‘presence’ into your every day. I hope they bring you as much joy as they do our lot.
- Go local. There are so many opportunities around Knoxville for family friendly Christmas experiences many of which are free or at least budget friendly! Check out our Holiday Events Round-up to see what’s happening in your neck of the woods.
- Library time. I’m not just talking about meeting Santa or super cute PJs and story time events. How about just popping into the library together to check out a handful of Christmas themed books each week of December, then snuggling up and reading together as a clan?
- Get the shopping out of the way. I know I mentioned this earlier, but it’s a big one for me. By planning out gifts and getting them all bought and squirreled away early, it leaves more space in my brain to just relax and enjoy all the Christmas feels. Plus, it has the added benefit of me not shopping the sales blindly into financial oblivion, which is nice.
- See the lights. There is no greater tradition according to my little dudes, than loading up in the van spontaneously with homemade hot chocolate and driving the nearby neighborhoods to see the Christmas lights at night. Fun, pretty much free, and a much-loved staple in our quality family time each Christmas.
- Oldies but goodies. We all know about family movie night, but I suggest you whip out the holiday favorites from you own childhood. We love a good ’90s Christmas movie around these parts, and the fact that I’m actually interested too, watching our kids laugh at the same parts that we as children also were tickled by, just makes it all the more sweet.
- Don’t fret over food. Seriously. I know we all strive privately (or publicly) to spontaneously morph into the Pioneer Woman over the holiday period, but there’s really no need. Buy the pre-formed pull and bake cookies. Grab that can of cranberry sauce. Jar of shelf stable gravy? Oh, go on then. Let go of the stress that surrounds striving for culinary perfection during the busiest month of the year, and remember instead the folks with whom you’re blessed to break that take and bake bread.
- Listen to the music. A simple dance party has been a saving grace for our little family. We find it distracts and diffuses things when we’re all getting on each other’s nerves (real talk here), and adding a little bit of a Christmas jingle to that never hurts.
- Gather round the ‘radio.’ If you happen have a Google home device in your midst then try this: make some instant hot chocolate, throw some marshmallows and a reindeer themed blanket at your offspring, and ask it to “Tell me a Frozen story.” This interactive radio play style entertainment is bound to be a hit with any Disney fans in your house (adults not exempt), and it’s a cute way to be entertained together without relying on a screen. You can also request a Christmas joke told by Santa himself!
- Give together. This is a big one when it comes to keeping the season in perspective. Whether it’s filling a box with food, making cards or wrapping presents alongside a charity, or simply shopping for someone in need via something like Angel Tree, do it with your kids. They will remember this, I swear. More is caught than taught, and what better way to promote gratefulness and compassion than to have your kids hands on and leading the way when it comes to putting other’s first this season.
- Just. Say. No. My final suggestion is to limit that calendar come December to the bare bones of what you need/want to do — don’t overfill that bad boy! Leave room for the moments. You know the ones; they are the seconds in time when you realize a memory has been made or a tradition has suddenly been formed. Busy seems like the right path — the only path sometimes — but truly this season is about us together, not us run-ragged. I hope that makes sense.