Relax – You Don’t Have to do it All!

Hey, friend. Christmas is almost here! Are you feeling joyful? Excited? Or maybe just super overwhelmed and tired and stressed out…?

I hear ya. Well, good news! It’s time to relax, weary mama. Grab a cup of hot cocoa, load up the marshmallows (and feel free to add a little nip of “something extra” if you wish) because the time has come to SLOW DOWN and RELAX.

I know – you don’t have time to slow down and relax. You have a million things to do. You still have 32 presents to wrap and four dozen cookies to bake and Christmas dinner to plan and stamps to buy for the last five Christmas cards you still need to mail because you didn’t know you’d get a card from THEM this year and now you need to send them one of yours so as not to offend!

So, I’m not going to tell you to just skip it all. I’m a realist after all and I get it – a lot of it has to be done. I mean, the family does need to eat something for dinner on Christmas. But if you’re feeling a little Christmas-crazy, you might benefit from taking a little time out to reevaluate your to-do list and decide what is absolutely necessary, what can be simplified, and what you can do without this year.

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4 Ways to Simplify the Christmas Season

Here are some of my tips for handling the last-minute craziness during the countdown to Christmas:

1. Prepare to accept less than perfect.

Someone is going to show disappointment in a gift, someone is going to spill red juice down the front of his new shirt right before family pictures, and someone will likely decide five minutes before it’s time to leave for church that she can’t stand her Christmas dress and she has nothing to wear.

My issue was always family photos. Some families are just really photogenic, but we are not. I have a friend with five kids between the ages of three and nine. We all know that your chance of having a great family photo decreases exponentially with each child you add, but somehow this family seems to pull it off perfectly every time. Whether the photo is candid, professional, standing in front of a dumpster- everyone looks darling. My kids on the other hand, well… this was our attempt at a Christmas photo a few years ago:

christmas-2013

At one time, things like this pathetically unsuccessful attempt at Christmas pictures would have really stressed me out. But at some point you just have to choose to laugh, shake your head, and send it out to all your friends and family anyway.

2. Let it go.

Maybe it’s a tradition you’ll have to skip this year and resume next year, or maybe it’s something that you decide you don’t need to continue at all because it takes too much time or money or you just don’t love it. For me, I don’t do Christmas cards. That was one thing that had to go. Now each year I send out a Facebook post with a family photo and a Merry Christmas and call it good. (Feel free to steal my idea and save yourself some time, money and sanity if you’d like. You’re welcome.)

3. Simplify!

You said you’d make cookies for the holiday party tonight but your day is full … grab a package of gourmet cookies from the store and put them on a plate. They will look pretty and taste delicious! If you need homemade cookies for the neighborhood cookie exchange- pick a quick and simple recipe. Here’s one of my favorites!

Nutella Mocha No-Bake Cookies

In a double boiler (or better yet, the microwave!), heat 1⁄2 c. butter, 1 3⁄4 c. sugar, 1⁄2 c. milk, 2 T cocoa powder and 2 T instant coffee granules until thoroughly dissolved and right to the point of boiling. Remove from heat and stir in ½ c. of Nutella until melted. Add 3-4 cups quick- cooking oats. Drop by spoonfuls onto cookie sheets lined with wax paper. Cool in refrigerator, then store in airtight container with wax paper between each layer of cookies.

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4. Be creative!

If you planned on making a fancy dessert for Christmas dinner, but you’re running out of time… change the plan. How about a hot chocolate bar with storebought cookies? Simple, fun, delicious! If it’s too late to get to the store, but you still need one more gift… How about gifting an experience with a homemade “coupon”? Or even wrapping up an IOU with a picture of the gift in a big box! If you’re doing last-minute wrapping and you’ve run out of gift wrap… use newspaper, grocery bags, tissue paper, wallpaper, fabric- or even an old map!

 

The Cold Hard Truth About a Perfect Christmas

Here’s the truth: in ten years your children will most likely not remember what you got them for Christmas this year. They won’t remember what you had for dinner- but they might remember a fun hot chocolate bar! They probably won’t remember whether or not the house was perfectly decorated, but there’s a good chance they will remember the time spent listening to Christmas music and decorating the tree as a family. And I guarantee they won’t remember if you brought store bought cookies to their holiday concert, but you can be sure they will love seeing you out in the audience!

So now it’s time to relax. It’s time to enjoy your family and enjoy the holiday. What’s done is done. And what’s not done might not get done- or at least not perfectly… and that’s okay.

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