The holidays are a tough time for many families and, therefore, moms. Whatever your religion is or wherever you live, chances are you’ll be solicited by these ecstatic seasonal festivities.
You want to spend some time with our families and also to indulge delicious food. As it’s cold outside, at least for the northern citizens, you may lack energy. But the bad news is: you’ll need more energy than usual!
Or, maybe not! Planning ahead is my personal secret. If I don’t plan my family celebration well in advance, the chances are high that there won’t be much to celebrate, because I’m not very good for elaborating last-minute parties and festivities.
1- It’s time to decide: where are you going this year
Exactly, it’s high time to choose where you are going to be and with who. First, if you have to travel somewhere without your car, you may already have some difficulties to book plane or train tickets. Secondly, if you need a hotel too, it could already be a little challenge on its own.
Christmas, or whatever celebration your family is having in December or January, we all have to follow the school planning, and we all have the same availabilities. That’s why you should decide now where you plan to go.
If you celebrate at home or can travel by car and don’t need a hotel, then lucky you! However, I would recommend deciding right now if you are going to visit uncle Bob or celebrate with your 42 siblings plus family in the family cottage in the middle of the wood or not. It will save everybody’s nerves!
The more people involved, the sooner you should plan. If your aunt Mary thinks she’s a “last-minute” kind, then tell her kindly that, as far as she wants to be with her family for the holidays, she will have to go with the flow and make this small sacrifice. Only the ones who celebrate Christmas on their own (or do not celebrate anything) can really do what they want when they want.
But even for those who don’t want to celebrate, and still want to enjoy this vacation, I would recommend to plan and book what is necessary now.
2- Plan your “Special Meal”
Meal planning is the best way to reduce your stress by 200% during the winter holidays. For sure, you’ll have to get ready for the traditional family dinner or lunch, especially for the Hanukah or Christmas friends. Maybe you are kindly invited by your Mom who wants to take care of everything.
But, even in that case, you may want to help by bringing something you cooked in advance. It would ease the burden of the last-minute dozens of dishes to prepare. If several members of the family agreed in bringing something very specific, it would be so much easier to warm up everything instead of having to cook, at the last minute, a five-dish meal for 30 persons.
Of course, you have to be very clear on what everybody’s bringing because you don’t want to end up with four turkeys and five cakes. But let people be inventive and surprise you with their own star-dish. You don’t want to turn into a tyrannical Mom for this festive time of the year!
3- Do your meal-plan and grocery plan for the rest of the vacation too
Whatever big your special meal is, you are not going to eat one meal for all the holidays. I find it very hard to be consistent for the rest of the holidays when I spent so much time on one or two big family meal. That’s why it’s crucial to plan for the whole vacation time.
By doing so, you will be ready to feed your family with absolutely no rush and no extra stress. And I find it much easier to get my family involved into meal prep when the plan is already very clear for everyone. You can do this as a family special time.
It’s not Christmas every day or for everyone, but planning a cookies-bake is always a pleasure for all. There will also be more excitement looking forward to something we love than improvising at the last minute. It’s also an excellent opportunity to please everyone. You will have less chance to meet a disappointed look if each member of your family already knows that they are looking forward to something they love!
Don’t forget to plan your grocery shopping too. Buy in advance when you can. It is several hours you won’t spend in line in your neighbourhood grocery store on Christmas eve. For the fresh food that can’t be bought in advance. Make sure to order for a due date at your favourite shop.
Being a minimalist, I would especially advise you to think well in advance about this one. It’s only when you don’t know what to buy for someone, that you tend to spend money on useless and often unwanted stuff.
What is most important for someone you love? Having a dozen useless gifts that clearly show “I didn’t have time for you, but I love you, so I used my money instead” or one perfect present. I bet that your loved ones will be far more impressed if you show some interest in them.
But I will recommend a more minimalist approach: except if someone needs something very specific, don’t buy more stuff! Invest your good money in quality time and experiences instead. I’m sure a 1-hour massage will please a businessman far more than another tie he will place along with the 225 others in his dressing. Your kids will enjoy a day in a special place having fun with you more than another doll or robot.
Think well before spending your money, if you need some more help read my last year post about buying presents for Christmas.
5- Family activities
Just as you are planning your meals, plan your family activities during this school break. Many families find themselves running for one diner to another, to start school again in January exhausted and lacking real family bonding.
It’s so important to organize some special activities. When I say special, I don’t mean you have to bring your family to Disneyworld. I mean that you should have a family planning session and ask everyone what they really would like to do during this vacation time.
I advise the same during the summer, but I think people tend to forget that Christmas is not made of unfulfilling duties toward some almost forgotten cousins. It’s all about having a fantastic time with the persons you love most. It will be more rewarding to travel 20 hours to go and visit your grandmother if you are dying to do so, rather than running from one invite to another for ten days non-stop, to only spend time with people you don’t really care about.
It’s time for love and bonding
It’s not about money or pleasing people. This time of the year is for love and quality time. Do want your heart tells you. Indulge in what really matters and make your loved ones happy. This festive time of the year should only be about memories, not stress nor obligations.
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