I’m always shocked when, right after Thanksgiving, people start talking about their dread of the Christmas season. I’m tempted to call them grinches, until a few days later I start experiencing things that make me want to hate the season too.
But I’m determined to never despise this season. I don’t think you should either.
Here are a few ideas to make sure Christmas is one of the most enjoyable seasons, instead of the most stressful one.
1. Choose to be spontaneous.
You know why vacations are some of the most relaxing things in the world? It’s because you’re spontaneous. You don’t have too many expectations of what you can and should get done, so you get to enjoy whatever moments come your way.
Christmas can be that way too. You know your day will be interrupted in some way. Traffic. Long lines. Unexpected parties. So choose ahead of time to lower your expectations of what you need to accomplish during this season. Be spontaneous. Get out of your regular rhythm on purpose and enjoy it.
2. Less TV, less phone.
You’re going to be super busy this season. There’s no way around it. But I find when I don’t watch TV or when I’m not glued to my phone, I tend to have so much more time in the day. It’s shocking how much time that hour long reality show or scrolling through Facebook eats away from your time.
Choose to disconnect from those things as much as possible. You’ll find you have more time in your day than you once thought.
3. Give gifts from joy, not compulsion.
One of the things people hate the most – if your love language isn’t “giving and receiving gifts” – is having to buy gifts for everyone on their shopping list. I encourage you, lower your expectations of yourself. You don’t have to find the perfect gift for everyone.
I actually adopt this philosophy when Christmas shopping: If I see something while shopping that reminds me of someone, I buy it. Otherwise I don’t worry about it.
The cool thing about this is that I often spend less money than I would if I had been seeking that “perfect” gift. Some people, I spend more on. Some, I spend less on. And that’s okay. Giving can be a source of joy instead of an obligation.
4. Play the Christmas story on repeat.
I’m not talking about the movie. I’m talking about the Christmas story in the Bible. Read if every day if you have to. Or read a few verses each day leading up to Christmas. Keep the reason for the season in the forefront of your mind and you’ll remember the mystery of this amazing season – commemorating salvation for the whole world.
5. Be proactively generous.
This is the season where you will get tons of requests in the mail or by phone for your generosity. It’s important to be generous. But don’t feel the pressure of it. Choose proactively where you will be generous. Do it without anyone even having to ask. Budget how much you will give, stick to it, and be joyful from it. When others ask, you can legitimately say you’ve spent all the money you budgeted for Christmas this year. It removes the guilt from saying no.
Christmas doesn’t have to be a dreadful season. I’m convinced it can be the best. You just need to be intentional about the way you approach it.