December can be an amazing time of year. But with the holiday season also comes holiday advertisements for the latest and greatest, party invitations, special events, and preparations. Add to that the stress of shopping for the perfect gift, cleaning your house for your in-laws, and coming up with new things that Elf on the Shelf hasn’t done yet. There are many positive things about Christmas but when you pile that on top off of all the usual stuff that life throws at you, this season can create a lot of stress and a sigh of relief when it’s all over. So how do you make meaningful memories and minimize stress this December? The answer is to live December deliberately.
Gifts Don’t Make Memories – Events Make Memories
When you think of Holidays past, you probably don’t think about shiniest box under the tree, the box that held the newest, largest, toy or the one that lit up and made ten different sounds. But you probably do remember time spent with friends and family – drinking cocoa, games with family, and conversations around the dinner table. And if try asking your children about their favorite part of last year- the chances are that they have a great story to tell about something your family did as well.
3 Tips to Make a Memorable Holiday Season
1) Be Careful Not to Over Plan. In an effort to be the best parent possible you spend hours planning and scrutinizing small details of our holiday plans. But in reality, it’s probably the simple things that mean the most. And in reality, the memories you and your children have in future years will probably be of the times when plans went completely wrong. If you look forward to planning extravagant meals and coming up with creative Elf on the Shelf ideas then go ahead and keep going doing it! But give yourself some leniency when things don’t go exactly as planned. Remember, the focus is to create family memories this year that focus less on perfection and more on time connecting together.
2) Create Rituals of Time Together.
Children and adults will benefit from family rituals that include quality time together. Remember, “holidaymemories bind families together”.
Creating fun family memories strengthens bonds between family members and shared memories strengthen relationships. By establishing family traditions and rituals during December you can increase your family’s sense of connectedness – and have fun too! By being present and focusing on an activity in the moment, you show your family that time together is the most important part of the day.
3) Make an Advent Calendar.
One way me and my family have tried to make December a meaningful time in our home is to create an activity advent calendar. As a child, one of my favorite memories was waking up to open up the day on the advent calendar and inside would hold a special treat. As a twist to this favorite memory, we have made our own calendar, with each day holding a special activity for the day. On some days we plan for special events during this time of year, but most of our activities don’t cost a lot of money or require much preparation. Some of our activities include making cookies, looking at Christmas lights, making cards for neighbors, and having a Christmas music dance party. An advent calendar can look many ways but ours looks like this ——————>
The best part of this idea for our family is that it has forced us to live December with intention. By taking the focus off of gifts and living intentionally by focusing on people and making memories, December can be a very magical time. After all, isn’t friends and family what the holidays are really about? What are some are ideas or traditions you have that help youto live more intentionally this December?
Amanda Regalia, M.A. is a marriage and family counselor and clinician for The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. Amanda specializes in working with families and children ages 5 and up. She is passionate about helping people to create practical solutions that support them in achieving their goals and improving their relationships and life.