Here's the part where I tell you that since we started doing this, our holidays go off without a hitch. Push-pull-click-click, right? I cannot tell a lie: Things still sometimes go awry. It's still a challenge to get that many people ready to go anywhere on time. We still sometimes plan more than we can do. But I will tell you this: There is a lot less disappointment and frustration.
We have clearer expectations and a conscious sense of what our individual priorities are. As a result, we can relax more, laugh at our foibles, and just enjoy each other. We see that the priorities, even for the kids, are less about presents, money and costly activities, and more about creating the memories that keep bringing us back together. Even when budgets are tight, it's the simple things that we remember and look forward to each year, such as being together for meals and having sister time or cousin time or grandparent/grandchild time—just to hang out. But we do find that it helps to schedule such things so that they don't get lost in the rush of the season.
You may think your family would never go for a more conscious, planned or organized holiday together, but I suggest you try it. People like having a voice in what happens—you may be surprised. Grandpa may end up with curlers in his hair. But hey, if he does, he will know it was the collective group priority!
Here's wishing you and yours a happy and organized holiday season. And don't forget your flip chart.
Tips for an Organized Family Holiday:
Hold a family conference. Even if there are only of a few of you, it's still a good idea to sit down and prioritize all the things you want to do. The season goes faster than you think it will. Remember to give everyone a voice—as soon as children can talk, believe me, they have opinions and deserve to be heard.
Plan ahead. Start saving articles about local holiday activities early in the month so you know what your choices are.
Brainstorm activities. Make a list of free or low-cost activities your family can do. Try these:
- Take a walk in the neighborhood at night so you can see the lights.
- Go for a hike whether you are in the snow or in the desert—it can be a beautiful time of year.
- Have a snowball fight.
- Plan a family game night with games for all ages—charades is still tops for interaction among the generations.
- Have a family "no talent" show—compete for who has the worst act instead of the best.
Lighten up and be open to changes. Sometimes the spontaneous things are the most memorable. You probably won't get to do everything you want during the holidays. Get over it. Enjoy the moments you have.
Share responsibilities. Take turns with things like meals, baby-sitting, cleaning, and driving.
Communicate clearly and often. Take more time to listen than to talk, and you'll go a long way toward open communication. Everyone has a viewpoint, and sharing can alleviate a lot of stress. Miscommunications over the holidays can cause problems that can haunt many holidays to come.
Honor family traditions. Traditions of all kinds have different meanings to different family members. No matter how insignificant a tradition may seem or how difficult it is to pull off, respect that it might be the one thing that makes the holiday season special for someone else.