#956 Make the Holidays About Traditions and Family (not gifts)

24 Dec
Make holidays relaxed and fun - like focusing on decorating the tree or reading Christmas stories out loud rather than gifts.

Make holidays relaxed and fun – like focusing on decorating the tree or reading Christmas stories out loud rather than gifts. Photo via flickr by hodgers.

It’s much more fun to enjoy the holidays than spend your time dreading it and then slogging through the visits and dinners. It’s also much better not to dread your credit card bill or checking your bank balance. Start making it a tradition to focus on things that are really important and make you feel good for the long term…good food, good company, good laughs…than things that make your feel good momentarily or not good at all…gifts that you may or may not have wanted or may or may not have been able to afford.

To get thing straight, what you get your kid is not a measure of your parenting…and it’s not a substitute for your parenting. So that being said, you should relax about gift giving for the kids. And for the adults…well, we’re all adults here. We don’t really want or need much from other people in the form of gifts. A handmade or homemade gift is a nice touch. A thoughtful gift is nice. Neither has to be expensive. What we really want is to enjoy ourselves.

Here are tips to enjoy yourself during large family gatherings that have the reputation for being awful. They don’t have to be awful. They should be something everyone looks forward to. Your family. Enjoy it.

  • If you have beef with someone, get it out of the way beforehand. Family gatherings are not the time to air your problem(s) with someone. Passively or aggressively. Call them up or get together with them beforehand and tell them what’s bothering you. Talk it out calmly and reasonably. Hopefully everyone will feel better afterward and you won’t be carrying a grudge into the holidays. If you make no headway and the person is just as bad as before. Accept that you tried, not everyone is ready to say sorry, change their ways or work with you for a more enjoyable time. Let it go for now.
  • Catch up with people beforehand. I know, you’re supposed to catch up at the holidays. But with so many people to see and all the commotion, you’ll probably feel like you didn’t catch up with anyone by the end of it. If you want to really catch up with someone, call them up before and get some of the “what have you been up to” out of the way. It’s always nice to build relationships outside of the holidays and family gatherings anyway.
  • Don’t have one person be the chef, activity director or dishwasher. Rotate jobs and who does what. Help out in a supporting role if one person likes to take the lead on something. If your father-in-law refuses to do anything but sit on the couch while people bring him drinks, ask him for a hand on something you know he enjoys or have him take the grandkids outside. Or just tell the person it’s their turn for a certain duty. Asking directly never hurts.
  • Not everything has to be perfect. Don’t obsess over perfect cleanliness, decorations or table settings. No one will notice anything but how nice everything is.
  • Accept other people’s quirks and differences. Aunt Sarah likes to drink. Uncle Joe is crass. Cousin Bob is annoying. If you know something about someone going into it, accept it and move on. Don’t let it annoy you or make your cranky.
  • Get outside. Going stir crazy is no fun. A change of scenery can always change the mood and dynamics. Going on a walk or downtown to see the windows is always a good way to change things up and let people, especially kids, work out their energy and work up an appetite.
  • Disconnect from the outside world, connect with the people around you. This is true for any social setting. Turn off your phone, don’t look at email from work, don’t text people who aren’t there non-stop. Put down the technology and look around at the people who are with you. Enjoy their company, have a few laughs and a couple drinks.

2 Responses to “#956 Make the Holidays About Traditions and Family (not gifts)”

  1. 1000thriftythings January 13, 2013 at 4:27 pm #



  1. Easy Homemade Christmas Gifts | Excerpts of Awkwardness - January 11, 2013

    […] Tips for a Smoother Christmas […]

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