From parties, dinners, gift exchanges and school activities to the gatherings with co-workers and family, the holidays can be extremely overwhelming. But, there’s hope. We’re here to help you NOT lose sight of what matters most to you.
Take a moment before the holidays even begin (right now!) and honestly ask yourself:
What is the single-most important thing you want to GIVE?
For me, it is making memories with my kiddos– and worrying less about the monetary gifts. To take it further, I want to offer all of my loved ones and friends “the gift of time” this year. I hope to work towards spending valuable time with those who matter most to me this year, as opposed to spending money on them for the holidays. (The older you get, it seems the more you realize the holidays aren’t about the gift in hand- it is who is beside you.)
Below are some of my favorite traditions to help brighten my mood (and my pocket book!)
- Volunteer at a local food pantry or shelter. All I can say is WOW!!!!! This is one of the most humbling experiences you can do. Often, volunteers prepare the meals several days before the large gathering. Call and see what they need help with. It may seem small to you, but huge to so many!
- Go Christmas Caroling. It’s one of my all-time favorite things to do and see. It costs NOTHING! Grab your kids, your family and friends and take off in your neighborhood. I can assure you no one wants to hear my ‘angelic’ voice, but doesn’t the thought of carolers in your front lawn just make you smile and fill your heart with Christmas joy?
- Set a Time and Watch Christmas Movies. In 2016, the historic theatre in Poplar Bluff showed, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ for free! (A goodwill offering was made available, too.) This Christmas classic is great and often forgotten about in today’s tech-savvy world with our kiddos.
- Purge your ‘treasures.‘ C’mon now, I can’t be alone here in admitting I like to hoard? It is a great time of year to go through household items, clothes, beauty products – you name it, and donate them a local women’s shelter. Not only is it a tax deduction, but I also know that I am helping someone in need.
- Schedule group shopping outings. Bonus points: schedule it around the time your community offers a downtown open house and shop local! Often, you’ll find when shopping in a group, the fun is simply being with your pals during what can be a hectic time. This is a great time also for me to give a shout-out to my gal pals who have reached out to my husband before our outing and let him know they would keep an eye out for things I really like! Now, that is a good friend, right?
- Compete in an Ugly Sweater Party or start your own party with a group. I’ve won one, and I’m proud of it! Whether at work or with friends, this is often a great way to share some good (and often much-needed) laughs during the holidays.
- Host a Neighborhood Block Party –Now, don’t do this, if it’s going to add one more event to your list. However, have you thought about hosting a neighborhood party where you ‘check’ things off your list AND enjoy each other’s company? For instance, we are planning to gather to make crafts and cookies one afternoon/evening. I love gatherings like these!
- Schedule time to drive around and look at Christmas lights. There is always that ONE house that looks like the Griswold house–all lit up with a million Christmas lights! (If that’s your house, let us all say thanks!)
Time is a truly wonderful gift.
The memories you make will last a lifetime and maybe, just maybe, those seeds you are planting in your children’s hearts will grow and continue on through their adulthood! I am thankful to my own parents who took time to do special activities with me. Sure, I still have a doll or two that I have kept, but it is the memories I carry with me that mean the most. Traditions don’t have to be a grand event. Budget your time and your pocketbook to simply do things that make your heart happy.
(Have more ideas? Post a comment and share the fun!)