I want to share how my family says no to the holiday crazy and chaos. I used to run around like a crazy lady this time of year, cramming in all the things, barely sleeping, being insanely stressed, and still feeling like I wasn’t doing enough. Then, a few years ago, I was on modified bedrest for my second pregnancy during the holiday season and losing my mind trying to figure out how to still do all the holiday traditions we’d started when my son was born. I was suffering from insane mom guilt and feeling like I wasn’t doing a good enough job making the season special, and it wasn’t until we had to cut WAY back due to this medical mandate that I started realizing how little my family needed to make this time of year memorable. That year was when our family tradition of holiday bucket lists started, and it has truly helped saved my sanity during a time when so much pressure falls on parents, and moms especially.
Here’s how we make our holiday bucket list work for us.
1. Every family member shares their top two items for the holidays– we DO set boundaries on this. It has to be things that are feasible in our budget (or else spending a month at Disneyland would always be my son’s #1 item). Family obligations on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day are non negotiable so no naming anything that would conflict with those days.
2. These top two choices from everyone become our core holiday bucket list, what we focus on from the week before Thanskgiving up through the new year. It was important to get our kids involved in this because a lot of times their top two choices are way simpler than what we would guess. In my head I’m thinking I’m disappointing them for not planing a trip on the polar express, and in their heads adding hot cocoa to anything would be enough to make it the best day ever! (This year our bucket list includes Zoo Lights, a holiday lights scavenger hunt with hot cocoa, and a cookie exchange.)
3. If there are any repeats, we don’t add more items. We enjoy the fact that everyone is happy with similar things. Having less items on our list is just another chance to embrace calm moments over the holiday crazy.
4. Everyone also lists a third choice activity that we can do at home together as a family. One of the top two choices may have fallen into this category as well, but generally the third choices end up making sure we watch a favorite holiday film or making something special in the kitchen. (Mine is always making homemade ravioli, which is a special memory I shared with my mom and grandma and want to pass down to my kids.)
5. We hang our holiday bucket list up where everyone can see it. We usually add little pictures so our kids can visualize some of the things to look forward to.
6. We practice saying “Not this year” to a whole lot of other holiday offers that come our way.
7. We keep margin in our calendars and debt off our credit cards. This keeps stress down and lets us say yes to some smaller, spontaneous things because our to-do lists and budgets aren’t crammed to the breaking point.
8. We enjoy the heck out of our choices and if we feel any FOMO for one activity or another, I make a note of it for us to talk about as a top choice option when making our bucket list the next year.
9. On the first day of the New Year, we look back at the pictures of all our fun bucket list memories and practice gratitude.
10. Repeat the next year!
This is how we tackle the holiday crazy as a family of four… I’m not sure if this process will get a little too cray as our family grows, but I’m willing to tweak and try new things as the years go on.
I’d love to hear how you keep things calm and bright instead of stressed and sleepless as we head into the most wonderful time of the year!