If you are in that magical and harried time after having a baby, there is just no need to run around like a crazy person during the holidays. Really. Take it a lot easier this season by clearing out the family calendar and making space for recuperation and rejuvenation. Here are a few beautiful ideas to celebrate the season without running yourself ragged or having to dress up. Let the festivities begin.
1. Decorate Slow
Make decorating a family affair, and take it slow. Whenever your family is antsy for something festive to do, choose something to decorate, and take out just what you need for that area. It may be the tree, the porch, the nativity scene, the train set, or just wrapping a bannister in lights and garland. It’s festive, and it’s more than enough. Add some popcorn, hot cocoa and a few holiday tunes, and you’re set. Holidaying accomplished. (A note for those Type A’s: Don’t ruin the experience by biting off more than you can chew. Everything doesn’t need to come out this year. Really. Just do the one decoration. It looks pretty. Move on.)
2. Holiday movie marathons or TV specials
There is no better way to relax AND be festive at the same time. Have all the snacks, all the blankets, all the pillows. Spread everyone out around the room with all the coziness. Have full days like this. Permission granted.
3. Drive around looking at Christmas lights
If you need to get out of the house, calm crying babes, or just want some festivity without effort, put everyone in pajamas, tune the radio to holiday tunes, and take a drive.
4. Gingerbread Housing
This is a messy one, but it might just be therapeutic (especially if you don't have older kids; if you do it can be a great family activity). To minimize the mess, be sure to spread out newspaper so you can roll all the extras up and throw it all away. Forget the fancy and get gingerbread house kits- you'll be so happy you did.
5. Holiday Markets
If you need to get out of the house, a quick Google search for local Christmas markets can be the way to go (or if you dare, just go somewhere decorated for Christmas-even the mall might do). Call ahead and ask when the least busy times are so you’re not fighting crowds. The point here is not to shop, but to enjoy the bustle of being out minus the stress.
6. Christmas Cookies
This is the year of premade cookie dough, ya’ll. Roll out some of that business and go to town. Or better yet, ask the bakery at the local grocery to make you some undecorated sugar cookies so you and older kids can enjoy decorating them minus the baking part. Need some socializing? Invite another mom over, make some decaf, and make an evening of it.
7. Sleigh Rides
If you live in an area for this. Or a horse-drawn carriage ride. Or some time at a Christmas Tree farm. Make it easier: Have someone else research and organize this day out, unless you love scheduling and feel completely up to it.
8. Smores and hot cocoa around a fire
9. Take five
When you can get away for a moment, grab a hot cup of coffee, cider, or cocoa. Add whipped cream, a peppermint stick or some caramel syrup to make it amazing. Drink slowly, breathing deeply and allowing yourself a moment of peace.
If shopping needs to happen, online in your PJ’s (with hot cup of cocoa in hand) is lovely. That said, go ahead chill out on the gifts. Nobody actually needs all that stuff.
11. Spa days
The perfect Christmas Gift- to you. If a spa day isn’t an option, find a nearby hotel with a hot tub or sauna, ask someone to take the wee ones, and take a break for a few hours (many hotels charge a nominal fee for use.)
12. Celebrate Advent
Use an Advent calendar (Etsy.com has some beautiful options), coloring book (or this one) , or book (or this one for families), attend a candlelight service, or find a Nativity Pageants or Living Nativity. Movies that bring back the true meaning of Christmas are a must as well- BBC’s The Nativity is so beautifully done, it's my absolute favorite.
13. Take advantage of the sky
It gets dark early these days. If your schedule allows, give yourself the grace to get to bed close to when the sun does. If you just can’t sleep (or baby won’t), turn on the Christmas lights and some peaceful tunes, and take deep breaths as you relax in the twinklyness. All the things can wait. Christmas is here.
Whatever else you do, remember how amazing you are, and how this baby season full of its unique stresses, hormonal shifts, and exhaustion will pass quickly, though it feels long now. Seek out help if you can't find the joy right now. This time of year can be really hard during postpartum (which can last well beyond babies first year-- so if you think you should be over it and you're not-- it's ok.) Reach out. Find your people and get the encouragement you need.
Happy holidays, Momma. May your soul be full, rested, and joyful here.