1. Remember the reason for the season. Let me start by saying that while I am a spiritual kind of gal, and I strive teach my children good morals and values, I'm not very religious. With that said, I do understand that Christmas is about celebrating the birth of little baby Jesus. I feel if people just remembered that one astounding but very simple ideal, they'd enjoy the season much more.
2. Make gifts! or shop with in your means. I mean if you got it... go for it... but if not, there are so many ways to show someone you care with out breaking the bank. My favorite thing to do is make presents for people. I used to do this more often, before I was caring for 2 little people and a home, but nonetheless, I still do here and there. It can be as simple as putting together a gift basket; try adding fun soaps, body puffs, and a candle for a spa in a basket, or make a date night basket with a favorite DVD, microwave popcorn, and perhaps a bottle of something sparkling. This year my nieces are getting a little bath caddy filled with toiletries just for them (Mary Kay of course; ) Making fun scrapbook pages is fun too (if you have the time), and for the quickest heartfelt gift... a picture with frame will be treasured by most. Trying to impress someone with an expensive gift just seems like the opposite of what Christmas is all about.
3. Don't go crazy for the kiddies! I have 4 brothers and sisters and my mom did her best on her teacher's salary to make our Christmases merry. We didn't always get everything we wanted... and we survived. I have so many awesome memories of the holidays; dancing to Christmas tunes, baking and eating cookies, decorating the tree... but honestly there are very few toys and gifts that I remember and count as a precious holiday memory. My boys are getting 2 gifts to share, 2 gifts of their own, and some fun bath things in their stockings. I don't want them to be overwhelmed by toys (that I will inevitably be cleaning up), and I also don't want toys and gifts to over shadow all the other great things the holidays have to offer. (BTW, shopping online is the best thing ever if you do want to spoil the kiddies and avoid lines)
4. Learn to say NO!! Last year the hubs and I decided to invite everyone we know (friends and family, neighbors... just about everyone we met!!) to our house for Christmas, and most of them came. I had the nerve (because it was my first time hosting) to try and cook almost everything myself, and that was all while trying to handle my 20m old Munchkin and nurse my 3m old Little Bear. By Christmas I was exhausted and all I wanted to do was hide in my room. This year I have been careful to say no to things I know I can't handle. I want to be able to enjoy the day with my family, and the small amount of guests we have over this year.
5. Create a special holiday tradition. When I was little we didn't get a tree until a few days before Christmas, and we didn't decorate it until Christmas Eve. We put cookies out for Santa every year, and always watched The Christmas Story (You'll shoot your eye out!!..yes that one). I love thinking back to those days. I've started my own holiday traditions with my own new family. We get our tree the Saturday after Thanksgiving, we will put cookies and carrots out for Santa and his reindeer and on Christmas Eve we will all snuggle together and read Twas' The Night Before Christmas. I am thinking of choosing a special book for each little one and writing something nice in it every year too.. but I haven't technically started that one yet.
Now as always, you can take or leave what I say, but I do hope that those of you out there that get overwhelmed by the holidays take just one idea and spin it into something that works for your family.