I am excited to share this guest post from my good writing friend, Amy Harke-Moore. If you know Amy, then you know what a treat awaits you below. If you don’t know her or you do, but haven’t checked out her new site yet, then you should go here and soon! And what she says below is so spot on–I feel the same way…
Doing Christmas at my Pace
By Amy Harke-Moore
I have a confession to make. Although I often write about living the simple life, when it comes to Christmas, I’m like a starving woman at the buffet table. My inclination is to load up my plate with seasonal activities until it fairly overflows. Several helpings of shopping and lunch with family. A few spoonfuls of festivals, church plays, and recitals. A nibble or two of craft shows and fashioning my own ornaments. Cooking, baking, and making piled high on top. Parties tucked in around the sides. And if I carefully balance the plate just so, I might squeeze in that DIY Christmas tree project from Pinterest. . .
My December calendar can quickly spiral out of control. But here’s the unvarnished truth—I don’t have time for everything I want to do. Not even close. And even if I did, the result wouldn’t be pretty. I’d find myself overwhelmed, frustrated, and frazzled, complaining and enjoying very little of the season. I know this about myself: I need my downtime.
So how do I balance what I’d like to do, what I have to do, and what I can reasonably do with the time and energy available? I use the following tips.
Make a list of what’s most important. What do I want to do? What brings me and my family the most joy? Which traditions, events, foods, and activities do I want to include? Who do I want to spend my time with? These questions help me prioritize.
Of those parties and gift exchanges that didn’t make the main list, I decide which ones are obligations and which ones I can politely decline.
Embrace convenience. I buy frozen meals or make large batches of a family favorite for busy days when I have little time to cook. I’ve also been known to purchase the pre-made break-apart cookie dough when I need to bring something to a gathering. While I appreciate the time and effort it takes to make something from scratch—I do this often myself—I’m also equally delighted with those savvy shoppers who have a knack for finding just the right festive foods to bring to a party.
Do tasks incrementally. Often I’ll keep the wrapping paper, tape, and bows handy to wrap one or two gifts at a time. I also stretch out my baking over several days. My pickles and jams were made back in the summer, so they only need to be packaged for gift baskets. Breaking tasks into smaller parts keeps me from getting overwhelmed and frustrated.
Practice wellness. In the busyness of the season, it’s easy to let those daily good habits slide. To remind myself, I’ve come up with an acronym: REV—rest, eat healthy, vitamins. If I want to keep up with the extra activities I have planned, plus maintain a good attitude, I need to get enough sleep, make good food choices (mostly), and take my supplements. I’m also mindful to get plenty of water and some exercise. Being on the go this time of year usually takes care of the latter. If I feel the start of a sore throat or sniffles, I’ve got a tube of Airborne handy to keep me from getting sick.
Keep up the daily routine. Morning coffee and checking my emails. Reading. Unwinding in front of the television before bed—these are a part of my everyday life. They help me relax and stay sane, which goes a long way in keeping my stress level in check. My routine balances out the hectic times.
Remember the reason for the season. Spending time with the people I love and care about, giving to those less fortunate, attending church to celebrate Christ’s birth—these give my life meaning and put the “why” in the choices I make every December.
While I’m still tempted to load up my plate with the annual Christmas “goodies” of celebrations, crafts, parties, food, and fun, being mindful of what truly matters and prioritizing accordingly results in a less stressful more joyful Christmas not only for me, but for those I love the most.
Thank you, Amy, I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Amy Harke-Moore is a writer and editor, living in rural Missouri. To find out more about Amy, please see her great About Me page on her blog. It’s one of the best I’ve seen!
If you are desperate for some great holiday gift ideas, you need to check out her holiday gift ideas page!