The holiday season is upon us. Does that make you feel excited or anxious? Do you worry about creating the perfect holiday celebration or do you savor Christmas?
In my social media feeds, there has been more than one debate about when the season begins. Is it okay to put up your tree as soon as Remembrance/Veterans’ Day is over? After American Thanksgiving? On December 1st? When is it socially acceptable to start singing Christmas carols?
I’m already seeing people stressing over getting their baking done, finding the right presents, and just generally finding enough time to get it all done. I used to feel that way too. But then I came to an important realization. If you look at the holidays as a season instead of a day, it becomes much easier to find ways to savor Christmas.
We celebrate Advent – four weeks leading up to the big day, spent focusing on the celebration of Jesus’s birthday. And we continue the celebration beyond Christmas Day with the 12 days of Christmas, culminating in Epiphany. By spreading it out and regarding this whole time as Christmas, we can pace ourselves, minimize the stress, and truly savor Christmas.
Want to find those special moments in the Christmas season too? Here are some ideas that we enjoy.
Ways to Savor Christmas
Go to a live nativity.
Read A Christmas Carol aloud. Try reading a few pages or a chapter every evening.
Watch a favorite holiday movie snuggled up on the couch under a warm throw. Snack on popcorn and hot cocoa.
Volunteer as a family at the food bank, soup kitchen, homeless shelter.
Write a letter to Santa. We put ours in our boots on St. Nicholas Eve and the elves come pick them up. They leave a little gift behind and deliver the letters to Santa for us. We also go through our old clothes, books, toys, and other items, leaving out a big bag (our Santa sack) to donate to those who really need them. The elves pick up the bag and take it to the North Pole to fix up and share with someone else.
Go to a live performance of Handel’s Messiah.
Head outside after dark and do some stargazing – it’s a great time to do some reflecting on “following the star” to Jesus.
Bake cookies with someone you love. For an extra special added bonus of Christmastime hygge, use a family recipe.
Attend a live production of The Nutcracker ballet.
Add a tiny touch of Christmas to every room in your home. You don’t need to go crazy and turn every room into a Griswold-inspired extravaganza. Small simple touches are often even cozier and more heartwarming. Think evergreen boughs, candlelight, and poinsettias.
Light candles on the Advent wreath every night. Simple Advent readings for each of the 4 Sundays.
Be a Secret Santa for someone. Perhaps get the whole family to act as Secret Santas for another family in need. This can be done through an agency or for someone you know of in your community.
Build an afternoon pause into your day – Make it extra special with some Christmas-themed tea and cookies
Diffuse essential oils or simmer spices on your stove – Look for those with seasonal notes such as orange, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, pine, fir and frankincense
Listen to the Vince Guaraldi jazz album “A Charlie Brown Christmas” or find yourself some great albums by crooners like Dean Martin and Bing Crosby.
Dine by candlelight. Candlelight has an amazing quality and ability to reduce the stress and introduce calm.
Take a brisk walk in snow – it’s especially lovely if the snow is gently falling at the time. Follow this up with hot cocoa or cider.
Find a church with a handbell choir. Those ringing bells really bring the Christmas spirit to life.
On Christmas Eve, bundle up in new cozy pajamas and read T’was the Night Before Christmas aloud.
Camp out in the living room, falling asleep by the light of the tree (put it on a timer so it turns off later).
Create a post-Christmas ritual – one that is all about cocooning and time together. Of course, it’s wonderful to be able to see extended family over the holidays but boy oh boy, can it ever get hectic! That’s why we have turned Boxing Day into our own little sacred space for our family. We don’t have any guests over that day. All invitations are turned down. We stay home, in our pj’s, snuggled up on the couches. We watch Christmas movies, nibble on holiday leftovers, and hide from the world for the day. It’s our favorite day of the whole year!
Christmas doesn’t have to be a jumble of to do lists and stress. Embrace the joy and savor the season.
For more ideas on how to have the best Christmas ever, check out these posts: