Tuesday, December 23, 2014

6 Simple Ways to Find More Joy at Christmas

Almost as good as last year's photo.

Let's face it.  Moms, not Santa, make the magic of Christmas.  This can be a drag, or it can be joyful.  As I celebrate the holidays with two under two, there are a few things I have learned about being joyful as I "make" the magic of Christmas I thought worth sharing:

1.  Simplify.

In London we have had little room for storage (although we now have a Utah-sized storage room), so all of our Christmas decorations fit in one box.  We supplement with fresh decorations, and keep it minimal at that.  There is still the thrill of putting up the decorations, but it cuts out two days of work from the festive period.

I also avoid wrapping paper, and instead use newspaper or use our IKEA roll of paper either plain or decorated by our son and this twine and tape to make them festive.

Finally, instead of preparing treats for friends and neighbours and making the rounds, I invite them over (via a simple email) for a Christmas afternoon tea.

See the fun multicoloured walls?  Still not done after the damp proofing!

G with one of his little friends at our Christmas afternoon tea.
2. Go green.

In New York I started the tradition of using rosemary bush from Whole Foods as our Christmas tree. I searched all over this city and finally found this site through which I could order our Christmas tree, fully decorated with recycled or organic decor.

Alternatively, you could decorate a tree or plant already in your home.

3. Benefit from other people's planning.

Christmas events are a lot of work to plan, but fairly easy to attend.  They are a great way to get into the Christmas mood.

Santa letter writing station at a local shop, Mary's Living and Giving

Mason jar lights at the local carol singing.

This was one of my favourite events this year - the local choir was amazing.  Warm mince pies and sausages were served for free.  We all took part in the traditional carols and the choir did various verses and descants.

The Christmas jumper winners at family day for Lance's work.
I also won 2# in the bake off!  £50 voucher at Selfridges under the tree for me! 

Gideon with dad at Apollo's family day

Carols and Lessons at St. Pauls this afternoon.  Maybe not the best idea to take a 21 month old who got a morning nap rather than his afternoon nap, but we survived.

Oversized nativity at St. Paul's.  I taught G what the donkey said and he kept going hee-haw over and over.  Adorable.

4.  Procrastinate.

I push whatever I can to the twix-mas period.  Like Christmas cards.  We do a New Year's top ten rather than Christmas cards.  It pushes non-urgent items to the period of the holidays when we have more time.  This year, I will make two of my children's gifts - curtains and bunting for the nursery - during this period.

5. Catch the spirit.

It is hard to get as excited about Christmas as children once the magic of Santa and receiving dissipates, but there are a few ways that the spirit can be rediscovered. Making gifts, doing the 12 days of Christmas for someone (or a sub for Santa), or incorporating children into your Christmas plans can make it a little more magical.

I grew up with my mom doing the 12 days of Christmas for someone anonymously and I loved it.  I've attempted to replicate it a couple of times without as great of an impact.  I'm sure I'll get the hang of it over time.

Babies are always magical, no?

6. Remember the reason for the season.

There are simple ways to focus on Christ at Christmas.  Some like to read a Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.  Others like to attend Messiah sing-alongs.  You could also ask for a gift from the Savior - a spiritual quality that you are lacking.  This year, I'm asking for Charity this year (writing a book about it doesn't mean I have it!)

There is also this wonderful, Christ-centered advent calendar.  It comes complete with a quote from a prophet, scripture, song to sing, and a challenge for the day.

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