It’s five weeks until Christmas! Are you ready? Is anyone? No one? Well, it’s not surprising really. There are the Type A, eager Christmas hosts, you know who they are…They’re the ones who have spent every waking moment since last January, in total prep mode. Then there’s the rest of us. Those who are stressed out and unprepared up until the last minute. There’s very little in between. Or is there?
What if there was a way to have a no-stress Christmas? Modern life is busy, hectic and if you find yourself running from sun up to sun down, day in and day out, there is really very little time to prepare for the holidays. Between the demands of work and family life, it seems impossible to have the time for Christmas home decorating ideas, or the perfect Christmas gift lists for your family and friends. Not to mention that the idea of Pinterest boards filled with Christmas dinner ideas might just put you over the edge. Yet still, we want to create a home life that truly represents the magic of the season. So how do we do it? Where do we begin? And how do we keep it as low stress as possible?
Well, let’s start small. With five weeks to go if you try to do it all in one weekend, you will find yourself burnt out and quite possibly hating the holiday season. It’s much better to separate the work into three categories. That way, you can tackle a few things on the list each day.
Christmas Home Decorating Ideas
When you think about decorating for Christmas, do you see visions of your entire family smiling and singing Christmas carols around the tree? Does your mind conjure up visions of a Norman Rockwell painting filled with classic, old-fashioned values? No? Don’t worry, neither is anyone else’s. The reality is that decorating is often ends up being the sole responsibility of the mom’s like us. So how do we make it easier? How can we have the perfect décor and still enjoy the holidays despite our busy schedules?
Here are some fun ideas:
Forget the whole Martha Stewart “Make your own wreath” and other Pinterest worthy projects. Depending on your budget, you can either buy stunning new wreaths at an upscale store or even real ones at a nursery. Prefer to find something at the mid-price point? There are tons of great deals at the big box stores and even farmer’s markets. And if you’re on a budget, thrift stores or online garage sales can score you some great finds. But whatever you do, do not start making wreaths out of garland and other items. Nobody has time for that! Unless, of course, you are a full-time crafter 😉
Reuse your tree
A synthetic tree can last twenty years. That’s twenty years of not having to go to the tree farm and choose or chop your own tree. Not to mention, you don’t have to water it to keep it looking good. And get the pre-lit one. Then you don’t have to string lights around it. Another thirty minutes saved!
Small Things Make A Difference
You really only need a few items in each room of your house to make it feel festive. A Nutcracker on the hall table, holiday hand towels in the washroom, a pine scented candle on the mantle. Little items carefully placed in each corner of the house are what brings forth the festive feel of the holidays.
Real or imitation, wood or gas, again it doesn’t matter. Just use it! And if none of those are an option, there’s always the fireplace channel. Twenty-four hours a day of a perfect, crackling wood fireplace right on your TV screen.
One of the easiest ways to make your home festive for the holidays is to have music playing. It can be classic Christmas carols or updated modern ones. Many of this top 40 singers of today come out with Christmas albums each year. Michael Bublé is pretty much the king of Christmas when it comes to music, one of his albums will make your home come alive! And don’t forget Mariah Carey’s time-tested version of All I Want for Christmas! You could spend hours the perfect playlists, or…you could grab a Spotify one, ask Alexa to shuffle Christmas music or just pull up a compilation on YouTube and plug in a set of small speakers.
Here are two scenarios. You decide which fits you best.
#1: Spend time and money buying up all the Christmas classics on your iTunes account.
#2: Get the Hallmark channel. Constant Christmas movies. Just turn on your TV and pour yourself a glass of wine. Done!
Non-Traditional Christmas Dinner Ideas
Roasting a turkey takes hours! As does preparing all the sides. For those who are hosting, it often means an entire day spent in the kitchen. It can be stressful and it keeps you away from your family and friends. While everyone else is drinking and socializing, the host ends up in the kitchen, elbow deep in gravy. Who came up with this idea again? It definitely wasn’t a mom. Possibly a dad? Just kidding. Maybe.
Instead, try following some non-traditional approaches this holiday season. They are guaranteed options that will have you celebrating in style with your family, instead of slaving away in the kitchen covered in cranberry sauce.
Buy food or have it catered
Want to avoid the hassle and actually enjoy the holidays? Food doesn’t have to be homemade by you. Farmer’s markets and small shops often have delicious homemade (by someone else) food. Many small, local restaurants are often willing to cater and entire meal. All you need to do is drive by and pick it up!
Ditch the bird and go vegan
Feeling environmentally conscious? Try something different this year and go veggie. There are plenty of vegetarian and vegan alternatives for the holidays. Harvest veggie roasts, seitan instead of meat, even pre-made stuffed vegan turkey rolls with gravy. The longest and most time-consuming part of the traditional feast is the turkey, so why not ditch the bird this year? Give yourself more time and do a good thing for the planet and the animals.
How about an international themed Christmas?
Do you love Thai food? Then do that! Indian? Why not! No one says your Christmas has to be traditional and the reality is that traditions are different in different parts of the world. So be bold and try something new this year! Make new traditions with your crew and order in some delicious international food.
Go out to eat
Seriously friends, this is where it’s at. Sit in a nice restaurant, enjoy delicious food, be served and don’t clean up. Despite what you may think, there are many restaurants that are open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Asian restaurants are a popular choice but if you prefer a more traditional meal, hotels are a great option. Your out of town guests can even stay there overnight instead of in your basement! Perhaps you too will wish to book a room so that you can enjoy a few late-night drinks with your group.
Have a potluck
This is a popular choice for large families but one that everyone should really consider. There is no reason for all the work to be on the host. Simply email your guests two weeks in advance and have them sign up for a dish. Creating a shared document is the best way to ensure that you won’t have duplicates. It takes all of five minutes to prepare and another five to send out. The holidays are about being together and enjoying each other’s company-not trying to turn your home kitchen into a five-star Michelin restaurant.
Christmas Gifts for Him, Her and Them
What to buy is the bane of many people’s existence. And we all have that one or two members of the family that are practically impossible to buy for. The ones who have it all? Or the ones who never like anything?
So, how does one convey the holiday spirit without spending too much time on it? Step one is make a quick list of everyone that you will need to buy for. Using voice memos on your phone is a great way to do this quickly and efficiently. Then think about their interests. Do you know someone who loves to play golf? Start there. Or another who is obsessed with Ed Sheeran? Check his merch for ideas. Maybe you have a nephew who plays basketball?
Amazon is almost always your best friend. Actually, any online store is. Forget running through the mall on your lunch break, carrying heavy bags and giving yourself a backache. Late at night, when you’re snuggled up in bed, pull out your phone and shop. You will be just a few clicks away from having all your Christmas shopping completed. A great feature is also the suggested gifts options. Sometimes this helps you nail down the perfect gift just by scrolling through the options.
Best Gifts for Him
Be it your dad, uncle, cousin, new boyfriend or husband of twenty years. All men love gadgets. If it’s electronic, it’s a hit. Drones, remote control sailboats, electronic beer making kit. Go crazy. They’ll love it. Then pair that fun gadget gift with a practical one like a new sweater and you’re done!
Best Gifts for Her
This one is almost easier because you can pull from your own experiences as a woman. Spa days, a pretty necklace, a new perfume. The options are endless! What would you like to receive as a gift? Go with that!
Best Gifts for Children
When it comes to kids, it really all boils down to their age. And this is where once again, online options like Amazon, will be your best friend. Simple type into their search option “Gifts for eight year old girl or gifts for twelve year boy” and you will be hit with a multitude of hot list options. Alternatively, gift cards for their favorite store or mall are always a hit. Kids love to feel grown up and head off to the mall to choose their own items.
Experiences versus Physical Items
But if you really want to make an impact when it comes to gifts, then experiences are your best bet. Doesn’t matter who it is for, being able to get out and experience something fun together will last much longer than any physical gift.
Maybe you can even find a family gift. Spa certificates for all, indoor skydiving, dog sleigh rides, a day of skiing at your local hill? Tickets to a show? Depending on your location anything is possible. Plus having everyone in the family open this gift at the same time and realize that it is a group activity, is so much fun.
Basically, when it comes to the holidays. No one should be stressed out and not enjoying themselves. You, just as much as your guests should be right in the middle of the festivities singing along to the music, a glass of wine in your hand and a smile on your face. So, stop trying to find an extra ten hours a day. Use some of the above tips to make life a little easier, so that you can have a no-stress Christmas!
Happy Holidays everyone!