This post is dedicated to sharing my tips for achieving that perfection. I know, it's hard. We want to share those perfect family moments and I have to pause sometimes and remind myself that it's okay. After all, it is just about my family- the rest of the world does not matter.
We took Tbomb and Kodabug to see Santa last Saturday. I was getting frustrated when Tbomb would not sit still and look at the camera, even though Kodabug was just sitting there pretty as can be. I was trying everything and he just wouldn't do it. In fact, I didn't even get a quick photo that I could put here (I have to wait for them to come back). The lady taking the photos, that I have known for about 18 years, told me that most kids react that way. That's when I realized that it is okay. I will cherish those photos forever.
That experience is what got me started thinking about this post, so I want to share with you some tips to have the perfect Holiday season. These tips will allow traditions, new traditions, memories, and fun- without all the stress.
Here goes y'all!
1. Decide what kind of holiday you want. Do you want a quiet season, a picture perfect time, or to focus on making memories?
2. Try out a simple advent calendar that will be easy to keep up with. I printed one with a nativity scene and the stars are what counts down (sermons for kids). We actually put star stickers, but you can color them as well. There are also some I've seen that you can glue cotton balls on Santa's beard (Spend With Pennies).
3. Select only 10 or 15 Christmas activities. Let's face it, most of us do not have the time in our days to add a different Christmas activity each day. We have 15 different items on our "Christmas Bucket List," with a range of activities. Some are as simple as PJ day, while others are more like decorating cookies. We have also included things like have hot cocoa and a movie, make ornaments, look at Christmas lights, and even deliver cookies to the neighbors. Just put your desired items on a list and do them as you have free time throughout December.
4. Get prepared for random acts of kindness. Create bags with snacks and hygiene items for those in need, print some quick cards explaining about random acts of kindness, and gather your loose change. Have gift cards for free food, you can even leave those around. In fact, as a member of Chic-Fil-A moms, I have received some gift cards for free food. I love Chic-fil-a but also want to spread holiday cheer, so I have left them in random places with a note to pass it on.
5. Stock up on batteries! I cannot stress this enough. This is probably the biggest tip. I have also invested in a portable charger this year, so that I can always charge my phone (and the kids' electronics) on the go. (Another thing to help with pictures- make sure your smart phone is set up to automatically back your photos up to dropbox or google. You will be glad)
6. Get organized! Take some time to update your calendar, double check dates, and decide which events you definitely want to attend. I promise, you will be glad you did this.
7. Need hostess gifts this season? Go ahead and get what you need now, instead of waiting until the day of the party to pick one up. Go ahead and pick up a couple generic ones in case you decide to attend a last minute holiday party. Want to take it one step further? Pick up some of these cool packs for the host/ hostess kids. They come in a variety of characters. (They are only $1 and can be picked up at Wal-Mart. There is also a $5 pack that has more stickers, crayons, stencils, and a bigger book).
8. Keep activities handy for your own kids. My Tbomb tends to get more anxious during the holidays, so I do not leave the house without activities for him (I usually don't anyway). I have picked up a few of those play packs, travel games, and little notebooks. This way, he never gets bored.
9. Throwing a holiday party? Opt for a brunch with your closest friends, a cookie swap, or tree trimming party. Much simpler and more enjoyable.
10. Does decorating stress you out? Figure out what makes your family the happiest. For mine, it is the outside lights and the Christmas tree. That's what we focus on.
11. Gather all the Christmas books in one spot. Ours stay out all year, so at Christmas, I put them in a basket, so Tbomb gets to pick two books each night to read.
12. Gather "go-to" outfits for the kids. I have 3 for Tbomb, and 5 for Kodabug. These are their nice, festive clothes for special events/ church/ photos. This way, when he have to be somewhere with nice clothes, I just grab an outfit. Also, go ahead and change out the clothes in the diaper bag. This time of year, I keep a "play" outfit and a nice outfit for each kid in it.
13. Make gifts for family members/ close friends when possible. Include the kids in this. You are making memories and saving money. Also, most o the time, these are the most appreciated gifts.
14. Are you doing Elf on The Shelf, Christopher Pop-In-Kins, or another elf? Keep it simple. I have a few things that Christopher "gifts" to the kids, but for the most part, I just move him to a different place each night. I don't want to stress about this, so I don't.
15. Cook quick, simple meals most days. Save the more difficult/ time consuming meals for special days, Sunday dinner, or cozy days at home. Why not go ahead and make some big batches of lasagna, soup, and chili to freeze. Then, you have a hearty meal quickly.
16. This year, we have started something new. We have been wrapping the kids' gifts as we get them. This way, we have less to do on Christmas Eve. In fact, we are even considering having a Christmas Eve bonfire for those that do not have family near.
17. Keep a holiday binder with your recipes, addresses, wish list, and everything else you need for the season- then you have it all together.
18. Get the whole family in on signing and addressing Christmas cards.
19. If affordable, get your parties/ big dinners catered. You will enjoy it a lot more. You may be able to afford it, even if you think you can't. Many places, like Chic-Fil-A even cater!
20. Have your heart set on a big party, get a couple of your girlfriends to co-host with you.
21. Get the whole family in on cleaning. First thing (after coffee, of course), get the whole family to cleaning. Assign jobs everyone can do. (Tbomb helps dust and holds the dustpan). It will get done quicker so you can enjoy your day.
22. Set up a holiday playlist. We add to ours every year. We play it randomly during dinner, while cleaning, and other times throughout the day. It gets everyone in the spirit.
23. Buy up some generic gifts. This is especially handy for family Christmas parties. I cannot tell you how often this has saved me. I always throw in a couple extra in my basket that I carry gifts in. This way, if someone new is there, someone you forgot, or that was unexpected- you still have a gift on hand.
24. Figure out what is important to your family, focus on making memories, keep your camera handy, and have as much fun as the kids. I watch them play and get excited and it always gets me in a better mood and melts the stress away.
25. Smile! When you are smiling, everyone else will have fun too!
Our family is not big on eating fast food. The exception is Chic-fil-a. It is a wholesome, family friendly place to eat and I know the kids are getting healthy food that is also real food. Even with that, my favorite thing is the atmosphere- always so friendly and it always makes me smile to hear "have a blessed day." Plus, the kids can play, even though it is cold outside. They also have special holiday events at each location (check your location for details).
This year, Chic-fil-a has a special treat. They have started a holiday focused blog to help moms get through the season. Check out the Chic-fil-A Holiday Guide.
Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post, and I was not asked to write it. I simply want to dedicate it to my fellow #chicfilamoms as we all strive to give the #giftofpresence this holiday season.