December 13, 2009

8 Surprising Things to Make the Holidays Great

Christmas TreeLet the Kids Choose and Decorate the Tree

What’s the worst thing that could happen by letting the kids choose the holiday tree? Even if they chose a Charlie Brown tree, would the holidays be ruined? Or would they just be more unique? The same goes with the decorations. Does the holiday tree really need to be symmetrically balanced with equal representation of glittery balls in all quadrants? Probably not. Plus, think how proud your children will be to have chosen and decorated the tree themselves. It might be hard to resist the urge to rearrange the ornaments after the kids are asleep, but what’s more important: a perfect tree, or the gap-toothed grin on your child’s face when they realize that you haven’t moved a thing?

Make Your Holiday Cards Fun or Funny

Trying to come up with the perfect picture of the family for the annual holiday card can add major stress to the holidays. Do holiday card pictures really need to be perfect? Does that really represent your life? Maybe you could try using a funny picture, or a collage of shots from the year that more accurately depict the fun and chaos of your family’s everyday life.

Go Green

Who says you have to wrap all your gifts? If Santa went green this year, you’d save hours of wrapping labor, and a few trees in the process. Maybe you could wrap just a few gifts to help the family transition to the new, green holidays. But they might not even mind skipping the unwrapping step, which takes hours to create and seconds to destroy. As a bonus, you’ll also have less to clean up!

Let the Kids Choose a Course

Living up to Martha Stewart standard for the quintessential holiday feast adds a lot of unnecessary stress to us mere mortals. Sure, you want your holiday meal to be special, but maybe you can make some changes to lighten the holiday mood and add some fun for the family. For example, try letting the each child choose a course. Yes, you might end up with too many sweets, or too many kinds of rolls. But let’s face it, holiday feasts are hardly about well-rounded nutrition. And by letting your kids add Rice Krispy treats or macaroni and cheese to your feast, you’ll undoubtedly end up with funny memories of your unique family celebration.

Start a Fun, New, Family Tradition

Whether it’s cutting paper snowflakes together every December 1, going ice skating every New Year’s Day, or watching The Christmas Carol after the holiday meal, consider starting a family holiday tradition that doesn’t involve lots of preparation, money or pressure, but does involve your favorite family fun.

Give Experiences Instead of Gifts

Does your family really need more stuff? Instead of giving a mountain of gifts, what about giving a trip to the mountains? Instead of surrounding your family in a sea of presents, why not spend the same amount on a winter trip to the beach, or to an indoor water park? Just ask yourself, “In 10 years, will my kids be more likely to remember the random toy they opened, or a special family outing?”

Don’t Go to Every Party

Just because you’re invited to a party, doesn’t mean you have to go. Yes, you might physically be able to get to every event, but at what cost? The holidays are supposed to be about good times with friends and family, but too many events can make your family too busy, tired and stressed out to enjoy any of it. It’s hard to say no to fun events, but sometimes it’s the best choice.

Customize Your Holidays for Your Family

The holidays are about spending special time with friends and family, so you should do whatever is fun, special and meaningful for your family. Maybe your family wants to have a Hawaiian luau, instead of a traditional holiday meal. Great! Maybe your family enjoys getting all dressed up for a fancy meal with all the traditional courses? That’s great, too! There’s no right or wrong way to enjoy the holidays. There’s no standard of perfection you have to live up to. Free yourself from all the external pressures to create anything other than what works for your family. Enjoy the holidays with your family’s own special flair and unique approach. Enjoy good times with your family!

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--by Marian Hyland


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