Find the Magic this Merry Little Christmas
What does it mean to have a merry little Christmas? It means less stress, less busy, less pressure. And even better still, it means more time with family and friends, more time laughing and having fun, and more magic moments to treasure for the rest of your lives. Sounds like the type of Christmas we wanted all along, right?!
Here are some ideas for making those magic moments with the family. Hint - there are no long shopping days involved here.
- Choose a Christmas movie each and watch them together. To make it even more memorable, have a special hot chocolate or snack, or everyone has to wear a silly Christmas hat. You get the idea.
- Go to your local Christmas carols. Don't go to the big, super, amazing ones if you live in the city - go to the little ones at the school/church/community centre down the road. Find one. They really do exist. And you don't have to fight for parking or good seats. Let the kids run around on the grass and enjoy the summer evening, and get out in your local community.
- Play board games together. Don't buy new ones. If you don't have any or the kids are sick of them all, try playing some of the things you (or the grandparents) used to play as kids. Traditional charades, anyone? If you've got older kids, get them to create a board game during the holidays for you all to play.
- Light candles. They help make the atmosphere more festive in such a simple way.
- Bake some Christmas snacks or gifts. Instead of buying everyone in your kids' lives those little gifts (swimming teacher, soccer coach, piano teacher, librarian, etc etc), get your kids involved in baking something for them. Choose a simple recipe that is guaranteed to be loved - coconut ice, gingerbread, etc. It will be a gift the recipient loves. Assume all the other parents are buying generic Under $20 Gifts and the teachers really don't want any more mugs, candles, chocolates, etc. Plus you get to have fun baking with your kids! If baking isn't fun, then Christmas is the time to loosen up and let it be fun. Don't worry about the mess. Buy extra ingredients in case they get spilled everywhere. No tears allowed. Bonus point if you listen to Christmas carols while you're baking.
- Make decorations instead of buying anything. Use up some of those craft supplies in the cupboard, or have a look on Pinterest for some fun ideas. It's amazing how many things we can make from household items not being used. If there is something you or your kids want, try making it yourself at home. Get dad involved too on some DIY xmas projects (he can do the trip to Bunnings and you can stay home!). Decorations include everything from garden signs to Santa, wreaths to household décor, table decorations and tree ornaments. No bons bons for us this year - we'll make some crafty Xmas hats and just have those on the table ready to go.
- Go outside and do something fun, something you rarely do. E.g. go fishing together, go for a big bike ride and picnic, go hiking, play soccer on the local fields. Just get outdoors and enjoy the summer weather away from shops.
- Walk or bike ride somewhere and have an ice cream with your kids. Remember getting ice cream when you were a child? It's one of those classic summer memories. Sure beats donuts and coffees in a crowded shopping centre.
- See how you can buy fewer gifts and ask the kids (if they are old enough) for ideas too. Maybe you could do homemade gifts instead of bought ones, or a Secret Santa style tradition where you each only buy for one person in the family instead of everyone. Ask relatives not to do presents this year, or to just buy a family gift instead of individual ones. Etc. Our theme this year is 'less is better'.
- When planning any meals, work out how you can do less and make it easier on yourself. Will people really mind if you have a simple salad and not a gourmet one? Will people really mind if you do a simple glazed ham instead of a fancy display? What about those dishes you always make but which never get eaten? What if you don't do a dessert and just have some delicious summer fruit for anyone who is still hungry? Be creative and think outside the box. Just think, if anyone really minds, you can change it back next year!
- Don't do Christmas cards. Seriously - save yourself the time and save the planet a tree or two. Send an email or phone people to literally say Merry Christmas and thanks for looking after the kids this year. Cards just get thrown away and make mess.
Those are my best 'general' ideas. In my own home this year, we are planning a very simple, and hopefully very happy Christmas. Here are a few ways I am planning on making it easier for my family:
- Only buying one gift per person. Yes, even my children are only getting one gift. It's going to be a good one though!! (And this is quite easy to do as I know they will receive gifts from other family members too.)
- We are going to have a special lunch meal, but only what is easy to prepare. For dinner we will just have leftovers from lunch. We won't do desserts, but we might do something little like a chocolate fondue when the kids are asleep.
- We are going to our local Christmas carols and Christmas Eve church service.
- We are avoiding the shops on weekends, late nights and boxing day. In fact, we'll go early mornings when they are quietest. I am planning on making a list and getting everything done in one go (if possible), so I won't spend time just browsing through shops for ideas.
- We have got a Christmas songs playlist we listen to every year, it's a special tradition and we all sign and dance lots.
- We will try to have lots of water play outdoors, to make the most of summer. We want to make lots of memories together.
- We will have a very relaxed sausage sizzle with our neighbours.
- We are making simple baked gifts this year.
- We aren't buying any new decorations.
So now it's your turn! How are you planning on simplifying your Christmas season? We'd love to hear your tips and ideas so everyone can benefit :)