By: Miranda Mong
The holidays can be stressful. Your to-do list has suddenly become a mile long, your money is disappearing faster than you can make it, you are scrambling to plan a party, or traveling. For most of us, life is busier and more expensive during the holiday season.
We all have dreams of a perfect Christmas. We see it in practically every one of those cheesy Hallmark movies, but, at least at some point during the holidays, the reality is probably closer to National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
There’s a lot of pressure to make the Christmas season perfect and to cram it with shopping and parties. But some of the simplest things can make the season bright and fill you with the joy of Christmas. So, here are ten ways to help yourself enjoy the holiday season.
- Set a budget for yourself. If you know how much you are going to spend this year, then shopping suddenly becomes much easier. Don’t feel pressured by the advertisements or shop windows to spend more than your price range.
- Forget expectations. Let this Christmas be what it is without hopes for it being perfect. We are often disappointed when things don’t go “as planned” during the holidays, so plan loosely and remain open to change. Embrace the unpredictability of life throughout the season.
- Keep it simple. Part of forgetting expectations is simplifying your holiday season. If you jam pack your schedule full of activities, shopping, and traveling, you will be stressed and will miss out on the beauty of the season.
- Spend time in nature. Yes, even in the bitter cold winter of Pennsylvania, you should spend time outside absorbing nature of this time of year. The smells, the sounds, and the climate of December are all part of the anticipation of Christmas. Making a snowman or simply watching the snowflakes fall are fun, relaxing ways to enjoy this aspect of the holidays.
- Buy gifts with care and thought. When asked by The Squire about the most stressful part of the season, junior, Breanna Vanderhoof answered with, “Definitely trying to figure out which gifts to give to people, and finding out what they like.” Don’t purchase a gift just for the sake of having something to give. Buy something that is truly a present for the person, something that makes them happy and appreciative. The best way to do that is either simply asking them, or listening to them talk about what they’re passionate about.
- Go caroling. Print off some Christmas carols from the Internet. Make hot chocolate, get some candles and call a few friends and family members to join you, and walk around your neighborhood and sing. It has become a bit of a lost tradition, but it’s definitely a fun way to spend a December evening.
- Reach out to someone lonely. If you know someone alone or lonely this holiday season, connect with them. Invite them over or include them in any parties you may have. It will improve their Christmas experience, and make you feel good as well.
- Take a drive or a walk. Get in the car and take a drive just to look at the holiday lights and decorations, or take a walk around your neighborhood. Carry a mug of hot chocolate, bundle up, and invite some people along.
- No last minute shopping. If you find yourself without a gift for someone at the last minute, don’t rush out and buy something so you won’t be empty-handed. Sometimes it’s better to make something homemade, as it will be less expensive, less stressful, and more personal for the recipient of the gift.
- Make Christmas Day last. Instead of ripping into gifts and rushing through the morning, open gifts one-at-a-time. Enjoy this time you have with your family. Light candles, put on music, and spend this gift opening cherishing the season.
Overall, the most important thing about Christmas is togetherness. That’s what the season is all about. If you’re with people you cherish, you’re most likely going to have a fun time. Make memories, smile, and laugh. And don’t forget to eat as many Christmas cookies as you’d like, because that perfect sugar cookie recipe only comes around once a year.