5 Simple Ways to Create a More Meaningful Holiday Season
You never know the true value of a moment until it becomes a memory. ~Author Unknown
With 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.
If 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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