Christmas is 11 days away and for many, the pressure is on. Whether it be holiday shopping, baking or social engagements – the holiday season can get insanely stressful for a lot of people (us included). I wrote a post about our holiday traditions a few weeks back that dealt with how we deal with gift giving and traditions within our own home but I didn’t really discuss how we deal with social obligations around this time of year.
Mer and I both have large extended families who graciously invite us over to celebrate and enjoy the holidays with them. Prior to Margs being born we’d often shuttle from one relative to another to celebrate Christmas and New Years. It was exhausting and stressful because we always felt pressured and couldn’t really enjoy our time at any one place because we knew we had to get up and get going shortly after we arrived.
Now, we’ve learnt to just say no. As grateful as we are for the invites, we simply have to decline. We much prefer to spend our holidays in one place and enjoy our time that way. We’re now able to truly enjoy our time with the people we are visiting and we love it that way.
We make or buy consumables as gifts. Shopping can be stressful and is very expensive. Often times, I’d be standing in a store looking to buy a present and would have absolutely no idea what to buy. Now, we usually gift consumables to our friends and families. I love to bake around this time of year and usually make four or five times the quantity of each baked good so that I can prepare small trays of goodies to bring to our favourite people. My go to cookie recipes include: lemon drops, pizzelle and zeppole. They are incredibly easy to make and are really quite delicious. I freeze each cookie as I make them and then just pop the quantity I need out of the freezer a few hours before they are needed – they are as good as freshly baked. Coffees, teas, chocolates and bath products are also favorites in cases where cookies or baked goods are not appropriate (We have a few friends with food intolerances).
We schedule and enjoy quiet time at home. There’s nothing worse than zipping through the holidays without any time to relax and just be. Mer is fortunate and gets quite a few days off around this time of year and many times he remarks that he got absolutely no time to relax and enjoy his time away from work. Now, we dedicate certain days during the holiday period as “inside days” – we stay in our pyjamas and do absolutely nothing (no cleaning, cooking or daily chores) but spend time together and enjoy these limited days when we can choose to avoid obligations like work. This year, we schedule Boxing Day as a pyjama day – our plan is to order Indian Food and spend time together as a small family.
The holidays don’t necessarily have to be stressful. We’ve fallen victim to social obligations so many years that we’ve finally decided to take back our holidays and choose to do exactly what feels right for our small family. This year that looks like Christmas Eve with aunts and uncles, Christmas Day at home and New Years Eve with friends. We no longer feel pressured to completely bust our budget by buying gifts or attending so many family gatherings that we spend more time driving than enjoying the people who are important to us.
The holidays are about both enjoying and relaxing and we feel we’ve found a good balance between the two.
How do you manage holiday chaos?