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How I’m going to maximize joy this Christmas!

How I’m going to maximize joy this Christmas!

Between my husband’s and my family, there are more birthdays than there are days in the month of December. I may be only slightly exaggerating. So on top of all the holiday busyness, we also have family busyness as well!

Every year when November hits, I say, “I’m NOT letting the holidays take over!”
Every January when the dust clears, I say, “Next year, I’m making a holiday schedule and sticking to it.”

Somehow, neither happens.

The irony is that while we’re making merry, the whole process seems to suck the joy right out of us. Well, I’m not letting that happen this year!

Even though I never create that ultimate master plan for mastering the holidays, I have learned how to maximize joy during the Christmas season by following a few simple steps.

One thing having two active boys has taught us is how less is certainly more. Overcomplicated plans do not pan out well with young children!

maximize joy this Christmas

Don’t have a plan.

That sounds really counterintuitive, doesn’t it? But this is what I have learned about holiday plans: someone gets sick, there’s traffic, you double-book. If you’re type-A like me, when plans fail or get out of whack, stress ensues! So hold your plans loosely.

Have family nights that don’t require lots of pieces to fall into place: strolling downtown to look at lights, family game night, window shopping the mall—these can all come off without a hitch because there aren’t a ton of expectations. And when the kids (or you!) have had enough, you can just finish the night peacefully.

But OK, there are plans that need to be made, so…

Plan for weather.

It’ll be good or it’ll be bad. Those are your options, especially living up north like we do! So plan for both.

Stock lots of warm clothing for snowy days, hot cocoa, candles, and board games.

Scope out pretty lights and riverside or trail walks that are good for nicer days. Local parks and beaches are usually abandoned this time of year, so it’s a good opportunity to drive over to a favorite summer spot and let the kids whoop it up without feeling like you’re disturbing anyone.

Whatever the weather brings, have a way to enjoy it with the family!

Eating Snacks by the Christmas Tree

Make your own treats; plan for meals at home.

Stores and restaurants are a madhouse this time of year (as is parking). Make some large batches of chili, meatballs, quick breads for breakfast, and cookies for dessert. Stash them in the freezer and you’ll never have to battle crowds for a last-minute dinner or treat for kids…or unexpected company!

Stocking some baking mixes, popcorn, and hot chocolate also goes a long way toward being company-ready at any moment.

Boost your holiday mood with seasonal movies and music.

Radio stations often play nonstop holiday music and streaming movies make it possible to find all your favorite Christmas movies, so turn on the tunes at breakfast and load up a movie after dinner for some mood-lifting fun!

maximize joy this Christmas

Here’s another simple way to get in the holiday spirit: drive around! You’re going to be traveling a lot this time of year anyway! As long as the weather outside isn’t too frightful, take the long way home or drive through your neighborhood enjoying the seasonal lights and decorations.

Nowadays, you can even look up streets that have those crazy Christmas lighting competitions! 

Don’t forget the power of a good story.

Part of the excitement of the holidays is memory making, but the other part is memory sharing. Tell your spouse or kids a funny story from your childhood holidays, like the time I snuck under the tree early and opened my gifts, then taped them all back up. I guess I thought my gift-wrapping skills at age nine were a match for my meticulous mother. Not so! I was caught right away! Not to mention having NO surprises on Christmas Day!

Storytelling is a simple yet important part of keeping children’s memories vibrant year after year, so let nostalgia reign!

I know my simple ideas for enjoying the holidays aren’t rocket science. You’ve probably done many of them yourself. I’m just reminding you (and myself) to take it slow. Savor each moment with your family in maximum joy!

Whatever you plan (or don’t plan) to do, the best moments are ones you intentionally spend together as a family.

maximize joy this ChristmasHow do you keep your holidays simple and enjoyable for the whole family? Share your tips and activities with us!

Danielle Jones

Thursday 3rd of December 2015

We have stopped trying to be at every event were invited to. We have learned to make the days leading up to Christmas more enjoyable by doing simple things together with mostly just our family.


Wednesday 2nd of December 2015

Great tips!!! Like you I always have great intentions and never quite hit them all! Here's to a year of embracing the joy in the midst of the crazy!