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5 Simple Ways to Create a More Meaningful Holiday Season

2013 November 22

You never know the true value of a moment until it becomes a memory. ~Author Unknown

holiday seasonWith Thanksgiving just days away this holiday season has officially arrived. While a few will be content to avoid participating in holiday activities and traditions, most of us will willingly and wholeheartedly jump into the annual dance of joyful chaos that includes shopping, decorating, activities for the family, entertaining and maybe even travel.

If you typically “wing-it” through the holiday season – either because you feel you have no other option or because you genuinely enjoy the craziness – today I’d like to share with you a few simple ways to lessen the busyness and stress of the remaining weeks of this year, while creating a more meaningful holiday season.

Simple Ways to Create a More Meaningful Holiday Season

Clear the Clutter

Create a family project out of clearing the clutter in your home in preparation for a fresh New Year. Look through old toys, books, clothes, linens, coats, accessories, household décor, dishes, cups, pots & pans and bake ware and once and for all organize all the family photos and memorabilia. Donate things you no longer have use for to a worthy cause.

This serves you in four key ways:

  • Helps you to assess what you have, and makes room for things you may actually need.
  • Highlights special treasures and memories.
  • Creates a sense of clarity and satisfaction – not to mention an easier time of finding things!
  • Giving your unwanted and gently used items to charity will help those less fortunate, and as a bonus lending a hand to those in need has been proven to have both emotional and physical health benefits.

Evaluate Your Christmas List

Rather than continuing to automatically send cards (or gifts) to people simply because you always have in the past, go through your list and eliminate those people who are no longer significant in your life.

Are there people who have in some way had a positive influence in your life this year? Again this is a wonderful family conversation so everyone gets in on the act. You don’t have to keep these people on the list every year, or make a grand gesture, but why not reach out and let them know they made a difference. Trust me when I say this will make you feel every bit as good as it will them.

Now is the Time to Master Delegation

Some people have a very difficult time delegating … well, anything. But no matter how much effort you put into the holiday season there is no reason you should carry the load by yourself. Even after you’ve ‘cleared the clutter’ there’s the matter of daily housecleaning, which often feels like a necessary evil during the holidays. Let’s look at how you might change that for the better.

One simple thing you can do is to let each family member to be responsible for a room. Another option would be to compile a list of chores and let everybody take a turn choosing what his or her job will be. If this is a new reality for family members you’ll likely be on the receiving end of some moaning and groaning but if you keep a good spirit and get creative about finding ways to reward participation, it won’t take long for everyone to get in the spirit. Just remember, when you delegate, you have to make your expectations clear, and you need to be prepared to lower your standards a little bit.

When everyone is responsible, they feel involved and valued – and you feel less stressed. Simplifying the holidays can require short-term effort, but the long-term benefits are what create the most treasured memories!

Create a Holiday Family Calendar

Schedule a planning event with pizza, or whatever your favorite fun food happens to be, and as a family create a holiday season calendar. Prepare ahead of time by asking each person to come with their list of known commitments for the next few weeks and then start filling in the calendar. You might also consider assigning each family member a color to make it easy to keep track of their entries.

Then talk about entertaining and family activities. You might have each member come up with one suggestion for an activity they would like to do as a family this season. For example the entire family could get involved in service project or charity such as a food drive, winter coat drive, Toys for Tots, etc.

Once the calendar is complete, be sure to post it in a high traffic area. I also suggest you decide on how to communicate and highlight any changes to your calendar.

This project will not only help to minimize stress and unpleasant surprises, but it will create a greater sense of togetherness for the holiday season.

Create an Expression of Gratitude

Gratitude is such an important part of the spirit of the season, why not have each family member write down five things they are grateful for this year. You can keep these in a special book or jar, frame and post them near the tree or put them inside clear ornaments. Make gratitude a part of your holiday celebration and pick a special time to have each person read one or two of the things and/or people they are most grateful for. You can also create an “In Memoriam” in the same way, paying tribute to all of the special people in your life that have passed on during that year.

Consider the work you do to organize and create a more meaningful holiday season this year as a long term investment. Next year it will be even easier as you build on your experiences. Most important, you’ll find that making the time to plan ahead and organize your holidays will leave you more time to enjoy the season by creating many more special memories with your family and friends.

Christmas by DesignIf you found these tips helpful you may be interested to know this is an excerpt from my book Christmas by Design.

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18 Responses
  1. December 7, 2013

    This holiday season for me is not just shopping holidays and creating fancy dinner. I believe that the true meaning of this holiday season is to realize and be grateful of what we received the whole year as well as to give back to the people the blessings we received.
    Connor Harley recently posted..Help with Setting up a BusinessMy Profile

  2. December 2, 2013

    Being organized really helps when it comes to pre, during and post holiday tasks. Create a Holiday Family Calendar is an awesome idea and I will include the “ME” time after each finished task. This will be a great holiday de-stressor as one can regain energy to do more of the holiday buzz.

    This is a great article Marty!

  3. December 1, 2013

    I love the first one about “clear the clutter”. Of all the suggestions, that one would probably have the most effect for me, as I am a pack rat and can just get overwhelmed with “stuff”. These are all excellent suggestions Marquita and I appreciate you posting them!
    Eldon Beard recently posted..One Way to Eliminate Negative Thinking and Open DoorsMy Profile

  4. November 29, 2013

    Christmas can indeed be a stressful time when there is so much extra to do. I like my house to be perfect for Christmas including lots of room decorations and an increasing number of outdoor lights.. I am not looking forward to untangling all of those string lights again.

    Reading your article has helped me put it all into perspective. As long as I plan ahead it can be a stress free time.

    I love the expression of gratitude idea.
    Sue Bride recently posted..How To Avoid Breaching CopyrightMy Profile

  5. November 26, 2013

    Wow! What an incredible quote to catch the attention right off the bat in the beginning. Thank you Marquita for this awesome post keeping the Thanksgiving and Christmas season in perspective and guiding us to pay attention to what is important.

    I am traveling to India for a month in this holiday season and I will be having a lot of fun meeting family and friends all over the country there. But this is a great reminder for me as well.

    Thank you for sharing!

    Kumar Gauraw recently posted..WordPress Is Not A Ping Spammer And You Don’t Need Any Ping OptimizerMy Profile

  6. November 24, 2013

    well, well… this was a surprise for me… I never though of most of your ideas to prepare for Christmas.

    THANKS so much for sharing and thanks for offering your book with probably lots more interesting things to do as a family around the Christmas season…

    Clear the Clutter… This idea truly made a mark… I usually put things away for a while.. but get read off, is a greater idea… Thanks again.

    Create a Holiday Family Calendar…. Wow everyone in the family will love that so finally they do not have to do and eat what others chose.. everyone have their turn.. great one:-)

    Create an Expression of Gratitude… ok, this is usually done it automatically.. BUT doing Intentionally will make a lot more impact… love it.

    Thanks so much again Marquita… you have been a blessing :-)
    nick catricala recently posted..Let’s Take Control of Our Life and charge towards our dreams!My Profile

  7. November 24, 2013

    Great idea and I believe with all the writings and pictures for the past 27 years. We have what it takes to create a year book and have everyone sign it and add more pictures.

    I love everyday and treat it the same. The wonderful adventure each day and this year it is easier as I grow older. Yet, that special time once a year is Christmas for the day we really celebrate and take it easy with remembering when?

    Great stuff Marty and looking forward to your next amazing article.
    William Earl Amis, Jr. III recently posted..Focus On What Is To ComeMy Profile

  8. Cherrie Bautista from Inspiring Kids
    November 24, 2013

    I love bonding with my family especially during the holidays. One thing I would like to do is to volunteer doing some charity work with the whole family. I was looking at Feed my starving children but I cannot find a schedule that would work for us and can actually fit all 4 of us. Or maybe somewhere where we could hand over some gifts to the less fortunate ones. I hope to be able to do that this coming holiday not only as a bonding activity but also to give back to the community and get more meaning and fulfillment this holiday season.
    Cherrie Bautista recently posted..Powerful Me! Has Finally LaunchedMy Profile

    • November 24, 2013

      Welcome back Cherrie. Honestly there are few program that actually allow volunteers to connect with those on the receiving end of donations and there are many reasons for that including the fact that some people are embarrassed or even ashamed to need the extra help. One of the organizations I support each holiday is Women Helping Women and I take small gifts and supplies to their shelter for the women and children there over the holidays. But for the safety of their clients they normally don’t allow people to visit – I’m only allowed to go there because I’ve served on the board. You might check with your church for programs they may be sponsoring or if you have a homeless shelter in the area they will often encourage volunteers to come and help. Ours holds an annual Christmas party and I’m sorry to say there are always plenty of children on hand.
      Marquita Herald recently posted..5 Simple Ways to Create a More Meaningful Holiday SeasonMy Profile

  9. November 24, 2013

    This is great outline for shaking up your normal routine when holidays come around, Marty.

    Too often, we just do the same old things year after year because we’ve gotten used to doing things that way. You’ve illustrated some really powerful options we have to the “same old” (some people like to call this “tradition”) way of doing things.

    I especially like the idea of delegating things to other people in the family.

    It always seems (to me) like the 80-20 rule applies to holidays, unfortunately. 80% of the work, responsibility, organization and even clean up, gets done by the same 20% involved, year after year. Let others help, and as you point out, they may actually enjoy the holidays more, too, by being participants instead of spectators.
    David Merrill 101 recently posted..Sales Funnel Part 2 | Front-End ProductsMy Profile

  10. November 24, 2013

    What a great post!! I could always use some tips.. I chuckled at your delegating things for others to do but having to downgrade my expectation . I use that often.. It can be stressful if I don’t’ include in my instructions how well I like it to be done!! and of course expect a different result than how I would have done it!! Happy Holidays!!
    Holly recently posted..Who Is Steering Your Life? Are You Looking In The Rear View Mirror?My Profile

  11. November 24, 2013

    Declutter, declutter, – that is my day set…making room for new and like you say holiday season is certainly here and that means we can think about 2014 and there is some ‘stuff’ we all have we just don’t want or need to take with us…declutter…going to be my mantra for the day…! Thanks Marquita!
    Sarupa Shah recently posted..8 tips to manifest more time for your businessMy Profile

  12. November 23, 2013

    We’ve “cleared the clutter” in our family for many years now and it gives all of us such a sense of starting the year right. It’s great to go through all those things that you’re not using and donate them, have a garage sale or pass them along to friends and family .

    I haven’t evaluated our Christmas list in a while – and it’s a great suggestion – one I probably wouldn’t have thought of on my own. Funny how busy we all get and how that doesn’t leave any time for contemplation… which is really what this time of year should promote.
    Marty Diamond recently posted..Are You Keeping An Active Newsletter?My Profile

  13. November 23, 2013

    Hi Marty,

    Your book sounds delightful judging from your post and I imagine that numerous people would benefit from reading it. Several years ago, I made a simple decision while in the midst of all of the holiday hustling. I decided that I was going to prepare for and celebrate the holidays effortlessly. I don’t do anything out of guilt…sort of ‘as the spirit moves me’ attitude. Simply put, I do what I can and I am perfectly fine with whatever does not get done.
    Rachel Lavern recently posted..A Healthy Dose of Professional DevelopmentMy Profile

  14. November 23, 2013

    Love the thought behind this post, Marty. I would choose the de-clutter move as the most valuable to me this year. We are pretty casual about the holidays, so winging it will be OK…only two of us at home now. It is a time to appreciate the true meaning behind it all and avoid the mayhem of running around, over-spending and over-indulging.
    Rachel Williamson recently posted..Thankful for Perry MarshallMy Profile

  15. November 23, 2013

    Marquita, I did chuckle as I think 99% of us “wing it” lol It is great advice to work out a schedule as there always seems to be so much to do and so little time to do it. I wish you a happy and successful holiday season!
    The Food Curator recently posted..Kenwood Chef ReviewMy Profile

  16. November 22, 2013

    Hi Marty, I would’ve loved this book when my children were growing up! Now, they’ve “left the nest” as people say, and there’s only two of us at home. We used to travel south (a long way from us) to spend Christmas with the rest of our family. However, it got quite stressful being with everyone during that time, so last year and this, we decided to stay home. We have family here too, but they are more relaxed about it all.
    Julieanne van Zyl recently posted..A Gig In The Middle Of NowhereMy Profile

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