Ahh, the holidays.
There’s so much to do. So many people to visit. Countless traditions to keep up with. A whole stack of favorite recipes to bake.
And suddenly, what was supposed to be a family-focused time to be grateful for the important things in our lives has turned into a stressful, complicated circus.
It doesn’t have to be so crazy though.
Instead of only sharing what I’ve learned about the holidays through the years, I’ve invited another 10 homemaking experts to help uncover exactly how to make the holidays the beautiful time of year they should be.
Be sure to check out the introductions post to read more about all of the homemaking experts and to visit their websites.
How can families manage the inevitable influx of assorted gifts (especially for kids) each year?
Emily Chapelle –
Make a kids’ wish list to share with relatives, including a few “wants” the kids have expressed interest in, “needs” like new clothing, and experience gifts like swimming or ballet lessons. Even if relatives don’t stick to the list when shopping, it will give them an idea of where your kids are developmentally and what their interests really are, to inform their gift-selection.
Then, your family has received and unwrapped each gift, be sure to find everything a home right away. Declutter things the new items are replacing (get rid of the tricycles if your kiddos just received balance bikes).
Laura Wittmann –
In November BEFORE things get crazy, do a toy toss. Involve your child, explain that Christmas is coming and it’s time to part with some toys in anticipation of more coming at Christmas.
You can also use it as an opportunity to gather toys for children who might not be getting any toys for Christmas. There are many charity organizations that will take good condition used toys to pass on to less fortunate kids.
It’s a great lesson for your child and it clears some clutter in the process making room for all the new toys.
Joshua Becker –
Communicate, several times if necessary, your desire for this year’s holiday season. Ask for quality over quantity, needs over wants, experiences over possessions, and provide gift lists whenever possible. Don’t lose heart if this is your first year asking and nobody follows through with your request. It will take some time to convince them you actually mean it.
Courtney Carver –
Try a one in-one out policy and donate as many items as you receive.That way your stuff won’t multiply.
Becky Rapinchuk –
If gift givers are okay with ideas for gifts, give them some options that you know your kids will use and love. Ask for more practical gifts like clothing and books or an activity that the gift giver could give to your child(ren). A magazine subscription, a family membership to a museum, tickets to an event, or something as simple as an activity that the gift giver could do with the child like go out for ice cream.
Jen Jones –
Before the kids can put away any of their new toys, they have to select items to donate to charity. It costs far too much to continuously purchase new storage, so we have to make do with what we already have. I also encourage the kids to think about their current favorite toys and collections while creating their holiday wish lists. This way, we are not having to invent new storage solutions or adding multiple new categories each year.
Andrew Mellen –
It’s never too early to learn that material possessions don’t bring happiness. Intimacy and love and a sense of integrity and self-esteem are at the core of happiness. We can choose to be happy every day–the holidays are no exception.
The holidays are the perfect time to leverage the power of The Organizational Triangle®: One Home For Everything, Like With Like and most importantly at this time, Something In, Something Out. I suggest limiting the number of incoming items and the practice of replacing things with new things as they come in. It’s a great opportunity to teach children and remind adults about the flow of objects and their impermanence in our lives. Rather than holding onto things tightly, the holidays are an excellent time to practice letting go and experiencing bounty rather than scarcity.
Volume doesn’t bring joy–meaning does.
Rachel Maser –
As a family we ALWAYS do the same 2-3 activities during December, and I make a point to let the kids know that those activities are a gift for our family. The kids NEVER remember the gifts they receive. they ALWAYS remember the feeling they had during the month & silly moments from our family activities. Such a good reminder when we are feeling the holiday budget pinch.
As a family we ALWAYS go to see the Christmas Carol together. This is a very special night where everyone dresses in their best-dress, and we go out to a nice dinner beforehand. We look forward to this more than Christmas itself! I make sure to purchase our tickets early (July) so that we get great seats & it’s set on the calendar.
Danielle Smith –
We make giving to others a priority in our home. It is important for my small people to know that Christmas and the holidays are not simply about GETTING – so we choose specific ways to make a difference each season. Before the holidays, we go through the kids’ toys and donate and we (as a family) have committed to giving them only three gifts each – for us there is a religious reference there, but it is a choice that allows them to slow down and focus on what is in front of them rather than always looking for something new to open.
Beau Coffron –
We come from a large family so we encourage each of our relatives to only give one gift to our kids. We also follow this rule. Otherwise our kids just become overwhelmed and they don’t appreciate each gift that is given to them.