Making Stress-Free Holiday Memories

Wait a minute! It’s December? How did that happen?  Panic! Excitement! Hysteria! Frenzy! The December Holidays are sneaking up on you and you still have to buy the gifts, iron the carpet, shampoo the tablecloth…   Wait… what??   Let’s take a few deep cleansing breaths….  There, that’s better. 

Now let’s take a step back. How can we make this season less stressful, but still create family memories? What childhood Holiday memories do you remember most?  Was it the year your mom forgot to get out the cloth napkins and you had to use….PAPER???  Or the year your dad bought the wrong type of butter for the rolls?  Probably not.  If you’re like most people, the Holiday memories you treasure the most pertain to family togetherness and traditions – and most likely involve those times when things didn’t go exactly as planned.

This year, when you’re feeling the holiday stress looming, take a step back and ask yourself, “What will my children remember?”   Will they notice that you ran out of clear tape and the gifts are wrapped in masking tape? Will they remember that you forgot to take the giblets out of the turkey? Ok…they might remember THAT, but it will be a fun memory and could even involve a science lesson or two.

So, what can you do to make fun and lasting holiday memories without raising your blood pressure?

—  Establish traditions. Children love yearly traditions and often pass these traditions down to their own families.  Find special traditions, such a going to see the Nutcracker Ballet or just driving around looking at the holiday lights and decorations, and do them every year.

—  Bake together. Sure, the kids are going to make a mess if they help you, but flour spilled on the floor can be cleaned.  It’s ok if the cookies aren’t Martha Stewart Living-worthy. It doesn’t matter if Jimmy ignored the bell-shaped cookie cutter and used a coffee mug to cut the dough or that he decorated his cookie to look like a spaceship….what matters is that the family baked together and built memories.

—  Watch classic movies. While we don’t think that television should be a central part of the holidays, there are a few classic Holiday movies that can become a family tradition.  ABC Family has a great list of family friendly holiday movies that anyone can enjoy, no matter which winter holiday you celebrate.

—  Read together. Take the time to read together as a family. Order books from your local library and learn not just about the holiday that your family celebrates, but learn about the other winter holidays as well. Amazon carries a variety of books for all reading levels and interests on Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Christmas, and Winter Solstice.

—  Incorporate music. We all know that holiday music is abundant during the month of December. Take the time to learn to sing or play some of your favorites. Then, the next time  you’re department-store shopping in October, you can sing along with the music.

—  Make ornaments. If you have a holiday tree, work with your child to make a new ornament each year.  Include the year on the ornament.  When a new Holiday season arrives, which ornaments do you think the children will put on the tree first?  The satin-wrapped red balls that you bought on clearance two years ago?  Or their hand-crafted snowman with a BLUE carrot nose because that’s the year blue was their favorite color?   Each year when you open the boxes of decorations, the children will spend time reminiscing about the ornaments they made the previous years.  And when the children are grown, they will treasure the box of ornaments they created over the years!

—  Volunteer or donate. Make volunteer time a part of your holiday tradition. Volunteering builds character, creates an opportunity for family together time, and  teaches kindness and  generosity.  Remind your family that the gift of service can be a wonderful gift!   Look for volunteer opportunities within your community or find some family-friendly opportunities on Volunteer Match.

Before you know it, it will be January and the holiday rush will be behind us. What do you want to remember? What will your kids remember?  Take this time to reflect on your favorite holiday traditions (and feel free to share them with us in the comments below.)  From all of us at Calvert, we wish you a happy and stress-free holiday season!