Only two weeks till Christmas! Better get right down to it…
10 Quick Ways to Spoil Your Holidays
- Make it about the stuff. Countercultural, yes and maybe even counterintuitive depending upon your habits the rest of the year, deemphasizing things over the holidays — no matter how sparkly, discounted or even locally made — can be a powerful way to enhance your holiday season. By giving less in the way of presents, and more in the way of presence you are not only filling a void that not a single thing can touch, but you are making a statement — against the notion of good will as an excuse to consume needlessly, against the clutter and chaos that has come to characterize Christmas and against the illusion that joy has anything at all to do with things in the first place. Make it a slow wean if you must, but the more you shape your holidays around tradition, togetherness and truth, the less likely you are to be lined up for after-Christmas sales, still unsatisfied.
- Expect your kids to “get it.” Your baby is not spoiled or antisocial because she screams when you pass her off to perfect strangers (no matter how kid-loving your uncle Lou). Your five-year-old is not unreasonable for refusing to get back in the carseat during your day-long search for the perfect party pumps and your eight-year-old is not rude for hanging on to you half asleep while you schmooze (and booze) for hours beyond his bedtime. No matter how child-centric your holidays, kids are easily maxed this time of year and require just as much sleep and downtime as ever (if not more). Factoring in a preventive pep talk before holiday dinners, scheduling plenty of slow days to counteract the crazy ones and making sure they’ve been fed real food before surrounding them with 300 variations on high fructose fabulousness will help prevent your own toddler-esque meltdown.
- Expect everyone else to “get it.” Your parenting style is almost certainly not the same as your advice-touting aunt Pearl’s and that’s okay. Likewise, your well-meaning brother-in-law may truly not have known that your kid is allergic to all tubers aside from those grown in the shade of birch leaves. Do yourself and everyone else a favor and kindly hold your family’s way as worthy without assuming everyone else is on board. Think through possible situations ahead of time, plan a comfortable course of action and remember, many of them already raised their kids. Yours are not their primary concern.
- Over-schedule yourself. More fun is more fun, right? Not always. Committing to not two but five holiday gift exchanges does not necessarily make you more festive or generous, but it will probably ensure that you’re more stressed than decompressed come January. Ditto for your kids, and stressed kids have built-in punishment mechanisms.
- Pretend you have money. I realize there’s always the temptation to buy into all the merriment (quite literally) and forgo budgets and common sense in the name of the savior (uh?) but do consider the other eleven months of the year and mind your money. Considering that (according to Consumer Reports) people actually “hate” one in five gifts they’re given anyway, you might resist that bird bingo and give your poor dad a foot rub.
- Expect your family to be something it isn’t. If they never have been respectful of your choices, expecting affirmation this year is a recipe for resentment. If uncle Larry always gets shit-faced on Christmas Eve, don’t think that he won’t this season just because you’re bringing home your (unsuspecting) could-be bride. On the same note, if you know there will be 56 kids running through grandma’s house, you’re better off getting a hotel room than expecting peace and quiet while your toddler naps. As for Aunt Mae’s perfume? You’re on your own with that one.
- Feed family drama. You don’t have to agree with everything they say, think or do, but feeding their fanatical fires or trying to convert them to your side of party lines is generally not the most palatable recipe for holiday cheer (nor silent nights for that matter).
- Pretend you’re back in college. Overindulgence is par for the course most holidays, but rarely worth the moment of pleasure for the guilt, pounds, hangover or uncertainty of events following its feeding. Slow down and savor your favorite foods. Indulge, but in small portions, followed by a wintery walk. Most of all, take notice — of the scents and the sounds and the simmer of the season. Take time to think about where your food comes from and offer your gratitude. Get drunk on the human connection, the stillness of time and the wholeness of the moment and you might actually be okay with a little less eggnog.
- Try to be Martha. Martha Stewart is a millionaire with a chauffeur, a staff of leaping lord-knows how many and someone to clean up behind her as she pretends to have it all together. Don’t play that game. Keep it simple, keep it fun and keep it real.
- Compare Yule Logs. This time of the year, The Joneses are on steroids. Forget their bling and blow-up baby Jesus. There is not one more iota of happiness (or salvation) born of having fancy things than having your head on straight (and the size of your yule log left to the imagination).