Holiday smarter not harder! These 10 holiday tips for parents will help you prioritize, delegate, and have a lighter holiday season.
The “Extra Busy” Season
Most of us know the holiday season as the busiest time of year.
There is decorating and wrapping, a calendar full of parties, and many gifts to gather. Add travel to that list and you are likely to feel overwhelmed!
On top of the tasks we want to complete, we’re supposed to be jolly all the time! We want the season to be more than one day of opening presents, especially for children. Caroling, pancakes with Santa, gingerbread building, decking the halls, and gift giving.
The holidays are a time for togetherness. When we imagine the season, we think of cozy family time – not feeling stressed.
Take a moment to think about your family’s priorities and holiday traditions and make sure your December schedule matches those goals. Let go of everything that doesn’t fill your cup with hot cocoa.
10 Holiday Tips For Parents
Here’s a round up of practical tips on what you can do to make the holiday season as jolly and stress-free as possible.
Simplify your priorities
The list of things we “should” do during the holiday season is really freakin’ long. But what do you want to do? When you’re sitting on the beach in July and you think about the holidays, what comes to mind? Make a list of your top priorities and let the rest go.
Old Saint Nick will not be mad if you skip a few parties or events and simplify the season a little. Your home doesn’t need to be decorated like a Pottery Barn catalog. (Heck, skip the tree if you want – I did when my boys were babies and we were traveling on Christmas morning!)
Maintain Sleep Routines
Do not undervalue the importance of rest. That goes for kids and grownups alike! If you have toddlers, you know when sleep starts to slip all hell breaks loose. A car, stroller, or shoulder nap is better than no nap. And if skipping the first or last part of an event means we get a crib nap, I’ll take it.
The same applies to the adults. It’s tempting to stay up late chatting with family or friends, watching holiday movies, or knocking back a few extra drinks that will lead to poor quality sleep (that’s not just me, right!?). Make rest one of your top priorities and keep bedtime as consistent as possible for kids and parents alike.
Have a theme gift
There is no rule that you must gift something different to everyone on your list. While your dad and your hairdresser likely have different tastes, group like with like when you can and do a theme gift. The more people you can gift the same, the easier it will be.
Pick a different theme gift each year and bulk buy it for teachers, girlfriends, colleagues, services, and more. Add some trinkets (chocolate bars, coffee gift cards, etc.) that you can pair with your theme gift.
Some ideas: cozy gloves, pretty pens, self care lotions and bath sets, local pottery, nice socks, or jewelry. The Beautycounter Hand Cream Trio is universally gift-able! Buy 5 sets of 3 and you have 15 gifts halfway done. Pair a lotion with a gift card and you’re ready to roll.
Travel When It’s Convenient
“To grandma’s house we go.” If packing up your family FOR Christmas sounds stressful, consider going right before or right after. Most kids have a good 2.5 weeks out of school, so consider spreading out the fun and visit the grandparents on days when you don’t have anything else to do at home (like play with all the new toys!).
After a few years in a row of packing up Christmas morning right after gifts were unwrapped to head to the next family house, we decided we have to stay put on Christmas at least for that day so we can actually enjoy it. Time with the other side of the family will be just as special on the 26th or 27th as it would be on the 25th. Stretch out the holiday visits by a few days to lessen your stress!
Weave the holidays into your everyday
Rather than add to your calendar, figure out how you can weave holiday cheer into your everyday. The crowded ticketed event with Santa is never as fun as it sounds. Have family dinners with a theme (like a gratitude conversation-starter jar), play forgotten board games to “Silver Bells,” surprise the kids with a hot chocolate bar for after-school snack. The season doesn’t have to be about all the doing but more about the feeling.
Delegate To Older Kids
Does your older child love to wrap gifts? Absolutely delegate that task! My parents’ Christmas tree was so big when I was young that we each had to put in one hour of ornament hanging a night until it was complete (I’m talking hundreds of ornaments!). I’ll take a child-decorated/wrapped/baked thing any day if it means they get involved. I let my kids decorate their rooms with the….let’s say….more colorful Christmas décor we own. Their rooms feel special and the living room stays serene. We also help them buy sibling gifts that they pick out and wrap themselves.
Budget For The Season All Year
Dave Ramsey always says “Last I checked, Christmas comes every year!” Don’t act all surprised when you suddenly need more gift-buying money on November 1. A few years ago I started a “gifts” line item in my budget. I totaled up approximately what I spent on gifts the year before (I included birthdays, weddings, charity gifting, and Christmas) and divided that number by 12. Setting aside a little each month means that when a birthday or the holiday season rolls around, I am ready to go with cash in hand. If you haven’t done this before, keep track of what you spend on the holidays this year and start planning for 2022 on January 1.
Lean Into Crafts
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If your kids are into crafting, you can get a 2 for 1 to have them craft some of your decorations! KiwiCo has a great assortment of holiday craft kits this year – from a spinning Christmas Candle Carousel to Santa’s Mini Workshop to an ice rink that actually moves with gears you’ll be able to strengthen their STEM skills, keep them entertained for hours, and create some decorations for your home (or their room!) at once. Check out all of KiwiCo’s holiday projects and sales here and get up to $30 off your KiwiCo subscription with code JOY. It’s not too late to have one arrive well before Christmas.
Get Creative With Holiday Cards
I am not one to get all giddy about holiday cards. Probably because I share so many photos digitally each week I don’t feel the need to spend $200 to share the same photos inside an envelope. I have used Canva Print a few times for KERF projects, and I realized how easily I could design a card myself. And best of all, 100 postcards cost me just $20 to order. Done and done. I put stamps on while I watch TV and address them all while listening to a podcast.
Plan Quiet Time
Finally, I know how important some quiet time is when my days are full (and especially when the kids are home from school). Of all the holiday tips for parents, don’t forget your self care during this season. My go-tos are escaping the house for brisk winter walks and reading in bed. I love to escape a busy house with my AirPods for a loop around the block. I need that reset like Santa needs Rudolph’s nose.