Practical Ideas to Have a Less Stressful Christmas Season | Ashley Varner
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Practical Ideas to Have a Less Stressful Christmas Season

Are you already feeling overwhelmed with all of the busyness that is the Christmas season?

If you are, I want you to know that you are not alone, and more than that, I want to give you some tools to take your stressful Christmas and turn it into a peaceful one, because too often we put way too much pressure on ourselves as moms.

Would you rather listen? We catch ya covered!

We put pressure on ourselves, as the homemakers of our family, to have these elaborate (which translates into stressful) Christmas seasons.

We have all of these parties, commitments, and all the shopping for presents, it can just add on top of each other.

I want to give you some tools today to make Christmas be about “the reason for the season.”

Tips to Have a Less Stressful Christmas

Let me tell you about several things that we can do to have a less stressful Christmas season.

1. Keep Christ in Christmas.

This might seem kind of simple but we have a tendency to take it for granted, but how often does our Christmas end up being about, “Oh, I have this list of people that I have to buy for. I have all of these parties or all these things that I need to schedule and we need to make sure that we’re there, and there is Christmas play practice and the choir production at the high school.”

There are all of these different things that we end up forgetting the real reason for Christmas in the first place. I think for a lot of us, we don’t do this intentionally and I’m speaking to myself here, but whenever we don’t focus on keeping Christ in Christmas, what that translates into is children who are not keeping Christ in Christmas, maybe because they haven’t seen what that looks like.

Practical Ideas for a Less Stressful Christmas | AshleyVarner.com

Maybe we’re not sharing with them what the real reason for Christmas is about, and so we end up having greedy kids.

If you haven’t checked out the Steps to Thankful Kids blog post make sure that you go back and check it out because I gave some really practical tips about having grateful kids.

We were talking about that before Thanksgiving, but really Thanksgiving is the beginning of this holiday season and there’s something about being thankful first that we sometimes forget about.

I have nothing against black Friday or anything like that, but we’re celebrating being thankful and being grateful and then boom, we’re fighting someone in the next aisle to get that last stereo system or whatever because it is the last one on clearance.

Make sure you focus on bringing gratefulness into your Christmas season because we want to keep Christ in Christmas, We’re focusing on him and we’re saying, “Jesus, You are the real reason why we’re doing all of this.”

I love celebrating Christ’s birth. I think that Christmas is the time of year that even if people don’t realize they’re celebrating Him.

But even if maybe they’re not focusing on Him in their own hearts, His name is still being lifted up during this time. Whenever we’re really intentional about teaching our kids that, it changes their hearts.

A lot of times kids can be greedy, I have two of my own. They’re constantly saying, ”This is what I want for Christmas. This is my Christmas list and it’s 20 pages long. This is what I’m going to ask Santa for and Mom, have you bought my presents yet?”

Those kind of conversations and those kind of attitudes are where we end up really losing the focus.

Practical Tips for a Less Stressful Christmas | AshleyVarner.com

We should be intentional about talking to our kids and letting them know that Christmas is about Christ coming to earth.  It is about him giving everything up.

Yes, we celebrate that with gifts and I’m not one that’s gonna say, “No, no gifts at all”.  I don’t think that’s the right solution, but as moms, we start by saying, “I’m going to keep Christ in Christmas, and I’m going to be focusing on the real reason that we’re celebrating all of this in the first place.

I’m not going to let the stress of obligations overshadow what Christmas is really all about. That will definitely ripple out to your kids.

One thing that I would say that would help you with keeping Christ in Christmas is to make sure that your traditions involve church and servanthood. That’s where you’re going to hear the truth about the real reason for the Christmas season.

If you have so much scheduled in your week that you can’t make it to church, I would really suggest that you look at everything else that’s going on that is stopping you from really focusing on the real reason for the season. By all means, have your kids active in the church Christmas play.  Also, have your kids learn how to be a servant during this time.

There are so many different things available to get involved in during the holidays, maybe a soup kitchen, or ringing a bell for the Salvation Army. Research things going on your community that can help you teach your kids how to be a servant.

Whenever we become a servant, that’s whenever we are the most like Jesus, because he came to serve and not be served.

2. Only commit to what’s important to you.

One year we purchased a house, and it has a really great area for parties. One year we had a holiday party at our house every single weekend from Thanksgiving to Christmas… every single week. I had to came to the place where I said, “There are certain things that are important to me, and we have a work Christmas party that is important to us because we want our employees to know how much we value and appreciate them.” That takes a weekend and it’s usually a party and dinner at our house.

You need to figure out the things that are most important to you, maybe that’s going caroling with your family, giving back, maybe it’s time at home. So instead of going to all of those parties, you may decide you want to stay home and have a quiet night together.

Maybe holiday travel is important to you, going to see family, and you want to make sure that you’re committing to that. In some years it might feel like you never get to travel because there are so many obligations that come up at home, so really consider those things that are important to you. Like I said, whenever you’re considering that,  make sure that one of those important things is spending time with God’s family.

Every time you prioritize going to church and reading your Bible with your kids, you’re showing them what’s important to you and that’s going to be important to them. Make sure that you commit to having those special traditions.

3. Don’t turn your nose up to convenience.

This is something that I definitely have done in the past and I think that is due to feeling mom guilt. Don’t feel guilty thinking,  “This is how it’s always been and this is what I need to do, otherwise I’m not being a good mom or my kids won’t have this great Christmas because I didn’t do all these things from scratch.”

Back to the point to only commit to what’s important to you. Christmas cards are important to me. We have family all over the place and friends that live in different areas. My husband and I both grew up in separate states than where we are living now. We have this circle of people that our Christmas card may be the only time we even get to chat with them and tell them what’s going on in our lives, so that’s important to me.

We took family photos back in July, so I already had the photos ready. I had the cards ordered back in October and I am not an affiliate for Shutterfly, but I just love their services so I’m going to give them a plug here.

Anyway, they kept all of my addresses from the previous year, so all I had to do was go into that list, make sure that no one had moved, update those things, click on the ones that I wanted to send cards to and then once you make your first purchase from them, they send you coupons all the time in the mail.

I received one in October that had free, custom envelopes included if you purchased any cards from them and I decided to use them for my Christmas cards. I got free, beautiful envelopes that already had the return address and recipient’s address printed on them. All I had to do was upload my photo, click a couple of buttons, and had them ready to go.

I had them stamped and ready to go in November. All I had to do was go and throw them in the mail a little closer to the appropriate time. It was super easy.

I believe they even offer an option where they’ll stamp them and mail them for you too. I chose not to do that because I wanted to see them and have a little personal touch on them.

Practical Tips for a Less Stressful Christmas | AshleyVarner.com

That was something that was important to me, but I used a more convenient way to do that. Some people may think that I should have handwritten every single one. Well, that part is not as important to me.

I chose to commit to what was important, but I didn’t turn up my nose to convenience.

Another option would be gift wrap. We’ve all seen the kids that are outside of Walmart or Target that are offering free gift wrapping for a good cause. Use that!

Not only are you helping a good cause, but you are also letting go of something that might be causing you stress.

There is also gift wrap on Amazon. If you’re an online shopper like I am, you can just click on the gift wrap option and you can choose to send it to yourself or another address, already gift wrapped.  I’m sure other retailers offer this option as well.

Another way to not turn your nose up to convenience is to commit to what’s important to you. For me one of those things is baking cookies with boys. Whenever I’m making Christmas cookies I have time with my boys, we’re being creative and spending time together. We are decorating cookies while we are talking and playing Christmas music.

That’s what’s important to me. The fact that it’s from scratch may be important to other people. That’s not as important to me so we use a sugar cookie mix, which is super easy and convenient. All we have to do is roll them out, pick the shapes, and then we decorate them.

Another perfect example of this is prelit Christmas trees. Whenever you purchase an artificial Christmas tree, get one that already has lights on it.

I mean, holy cow, it makes it so much easier. On the other hand, if buying a real tree is important to you, then do it. By all means, commit to what’s important to you.

4. Challenge yourself to consume less.

If you can commit to doing this it will knock the stress out of your life.

For instance, you can order online. I was done with all my Christmas shopping back in November. I’m someone that likes to get everything done that I possibly can ahead of time.

I also lowered the number of gifts that I gave. Not only did I limit the number of people that I gave gifts too, but I also lowered the number of gifts that I gave to people.

My husband and I have been guilty of buying our kids too many gifts. We want to make sure that under the tree is completely covered with presents. It’s just so pretty when there are so many presents.

We decided that we were really going to limit what we got our kids so they can each give a gift to each other. We each gave them two gifts and then Santa gave them each a gift, so I bought three gifts per child and then they each bought each other one. There’s nothing wrong with that. Three is plenty. That’s what Jesus got from the Wise Men, just saying.

I also limited the number of people that I gave gifts to. I talked to my mother in law and my mother and they are both so awesome about this, even with birthday gifts we give experiences.

Last year my husband’s family, instead of giving gifts to all the adults, we had a trip away. We had a couple of nights stay, and we went to a professional basketball game as a family. We went out to dinner and my husband and I paid for everyone’s dinner while we were there for a lunch.

You can also include a fun activity. I think we did an escape room. What you’re doing is you’re giving an experience, so that is filled with memories. We’re still talking about that trip, and we consumed less.

Practical Tips for a Less Stressful Christmas | AshleyVarner.com

We were doing more with each other than just a bunch of gifts that we would have probably forgotten by now.

The last way that you can consume less is by avoiding buying more decor. So I definitely have been one that would troll on Pinterest and find these beautiful decorations and it would change all the time. I like more simple decorations, so I decided that this is the declaration that I’m going to use and maybe in five or 10 years I might do something else.

Christmas decor and holiday decor is not something that I spend a lot of time and money on. Again, if that’s something that’s important to you, then, by all means, do that. Just realize that if everything is important, then nothing is important.

If you find yourself thinking “This is important to me, and this is important, and this is important” then take a step back and say, am I really keeping Christ at the center, or am I getting a lot of my confidence and a lot of my security in the fact that I’m doing instead of being? Am I doing all these things rather than just being with my family, being a child of God? Then let that guide the way that you spend your Christmas.

5. Do things as a family.

Play games during the Christmas season and turn off the TV. Have a no TV night. You can listen to Christmas carols while you, gasp, let the kids entertain themselves.

This is something that always seems so daunting to me, but every time we let our kids go to their own devices, they’re building their imagination.

Practical Tips for a Less Stressful Christmas | AshleyVarner.com

Not only do they get along better, but they entertained themselves longer than a game or a TV show or something would.

Make sure to light candles around the house, you know, do things that really make it feel like home during this holiday season.

My husband serves on a board and once a month they have meetings and II wouldn’t say that I was resentful, but I would think, okay, there’s one more night that we’re not together as a family.

I decided instead to switch my perspective and think how it could be a night that my boys and I could spend together and really have this special mom son bonding time.

Consider doing things as a family like, decorating cookies, reading the Christmas story from Luke, going to look at Christmas lights together, and really finding those traditions that focus on people rather than things.

There’s one thing that my kids and I always say and that’s “We love people and we like things.” So, anytime that I feel like they’re being a little bit too focused on stuff or too focused on fighting over something, I’ll say, “Remember, we love people and we like things.”

I’m going to leave you with that quote. I hope that your Christmas season is everything that you want it to be and that it is filled with the peace that can only come from the prince of peace, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Practical Tips for a Less Stressful Christmas | AshleyVarner.com

Merry Christmas! From My Family to Yours!

Practical Tips for a Less Stressful Christmas | AshleyVarner.com
Practical Tips for a Less Stressful Christmas | AshleyVarner.com
Practical Tips for a Less Stressful Christmas | AshleyVarner.com

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