You can say “no” to societal pressures in holiday celebrations and stay true to what the holidays mean to YOUR family!
I have a confession: I can be prone to stress.
I’m a type A firstborn with the ENFP personality type. It’s not uncommon for me to bite off more than I can chew because I have unrealistic expectations for myself.
This happens in my homemaking, in my motherhood, and in my writing.
But one area where I simply do not stress out is in celebrating the holidays.
As Thanksgiving and Christmas and just about every other holiday imaginable have become more and more commercialized in the Western world, the pressure to conform to cultural expectations have mounted.
My opinion? It doesn’t have to be that way!!
Our family likes to keep things simple and stress-free in our holiday celebrations. You will see us throwing parties, but we don’t go over-the-top with decorations.
We give gifts, but we don’t go into debt or dig into savings not earmarked for giving.
We make homemade treats, but sometimes I’ll opt to bake an apple crisp instead of an apple pie if it saves me the added time from having to roll out just.one.more pie crust.
There are 3 areas where we focus to ensure we are staying true to what the holidays mean to OUR family:
1. Immediate Family
While we do enjoy spending holiday time with extended family when we can, we mainly focus on our immediate family at Christmas.
While, thus far, we have spent every other Christmas with each side of the family, we have considered making Christmas day an at-home event as our girls get older.
Since my parents are in town, it makes it easy to see them at some point on Christmas day, but even though I do sometimes miss breakfast with my family, we have decided that breakfast on Christmas morning will be something we keep for just our immediate family.
I make the same egg and sausage casserole for my family that my mom made when I was growing up, and I also make from-scratch gluten-free cinnamon rolls, with a dairy-free glaze on top, using my homemade powdered sugar.
We read the Christmas story together before the girls open their presents. It’s a very special time, and we don’t feel rushed to travel all over the country trying to spend the day with extended family.
2. Making Memories
For our family, making memories is so much more important than getting (or even giving) an abundance of gifts.
The gift of being present is the most important part of the day!
Even though my job requires I be online a lot, I pre-schedule as much as I can and put my computer and phone away on Christmas day, so I can give my full attention to my family.
Some ways we make memories during the holiday season include:
- Baking together: I don’t bake much year round, so decorating Christmas cut-out cookies and baking pies together is always a treat for me and my girls.
- Decorating a gingerbread house: I usually get a cheap gingerbread house kit from ALDI each year, and my husband and the girls put it together a week or so before Christmas. One year, though, we put together a homemade, edible, allergen-free gingerbread house!
- Crafting: I am not a crafty mom. It just doesn’t come naturally to me, so we do not do many crafts year-round. I make an exception during the month of December, and we either put together super simple and easy crafts, or we follow the instructions from the Truth in the Tinsel advent activity book. My girls love it!
- Community Events: From church caroling nights to serving together at our community center to light shows, we take advantage of the events offered by our town and county each year.
I’ve always been a penny-pincher, stemming from my childhood, when I grew up with ultra-frugal parents.
I’ve learned that holiday entertainment and Christmas gifts do not have rack up debt or even cause you to dip into your savings.
For entertainment, we stick to very cheap or free options in our area. Examples include:
- a free Walk Through Bethlehem that we attend each year.
- visiting free light displays.
- watching free Christmas musicals and plays put on by churches and community centers.
- free open houses at stores: Our downtown has one each Friday in December, and it’s a fun time to run into friends and sip on some free hot chocolate and goodies that the stores offer to potential patrons.
As well, giving our girls just three gifts each Christmas–a want, a need, and a gift for spiritual growth–help us to keep within our budget.
Lastly, check out the SunTrust resource center for even more free tips on how to stay within your budget and stay true to what the holidays mean for YOUR family!
How do you stay true to what the holidays mean to YOUR family?
For more holiday planning advice visit holiday resources
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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of SunTrust. The opinions and text are all mine.