How to Create What YOU Really Want for the Holidays Ahead


I cannot believe I am writing a blog post on this, but it has already began – the thinking, the obsessing, the worrying, the planning, the stressing about the holidays ahead. The four upcoming holidays can feel like they all merge together into one massive overwhelm. It can be hard to separate them out. But of course it does not have to be that way. I want to share some ideas on creating holidays that are truly what YOU want. And now is the time to contemplate all of this – at the beginning of this time frame.

It is so easy to get caught up in it all and end up doing things you may not really want to do. Or to sometimes not really plan and end up not doing what you really want to do with your holiday time. So here are some ideas to consider.

 Questions you might ask yourself about the upcoming holidays that may help you be the true “creator” of  YOUR  holidays:

  1. What would my perfect holiday times look like? What would I be doing? Who would I be with? Ex. – For some it may mean enjoying time with loved ones. or slowing down to enjoy a special what ever it might be.
  2. What does each holiday really mean to me? Or what do I want it to mean to me? Ex. –  One family may say it is a time to reflect on what we are really thankful for?
  3. Does what I do reflect what I want my holiday to look like and be about? Ex. – Yes and No. Maybe yes we spend time together. But no there is too much competition with iPhones, video games, etc.
  4. What are my most favorite memories of past holidays? What was I doing? Ex.- One child may say when we had the snow ball fight in the front yard. Dad may say, when we went out looking at holiday lights and had hot chocolate after. Mom may say when we all made a holiday meal together.
  5. What are my most un-favorite memories and what can I do to avoid these from happening again? Ex. – This might be for some – the stressing and rushing and overwhelm.
  6. Do my holidays all merge together without a real feel of truly enjoying each one for what they are? A very good question, are we really mindfully enjoying each holiday?

Develop a Flexible Plan That Fits You and Your Family

  • Meet together as a couple or a family to talk about some of the above questions.
  • Decide together (or for yourself if you are single) what your main goals for the holiday are. Is it to relax? To be with family? Enjoy special holiday activities? Celebrate a particular religious belief? A mix?
  • As a couple or family you can put together a flexible plan of the kinds of things you want to do and begin gradually to work toward this.  Incorporating everyone’s ideas is very important if you are in a family or as a couple.
  • Keep in mind that too much will feel overwhelming for most people and that thoughtful choices are a much better route to go. It is not so much about how much you can pack in, but incorporating what you most want to do and really taking time to ENJOY it.
  • Try to stay open and flexible as plans shift and change as they will at times. Knowing you can be happy even if things do not happen exactly as planned.

My hope for you and your family is that you create what you most want and desire. Happy Holidays to you and your family!  holly-leaf-small

Professional Disclosure: This blog is offered as educational information and is not offered as professional therapeutic services. This is not intended to serve as treatment. For professional help contact your local mental health professional. Strom Individual and Family Therapy is not liable for any action or non action you take in regard to this article.

5 Ways to Create Holidays That are Meaningful and Joyful

Family Sledding

Does it matter what we do on the holidays? We all have pretty high expectations for the holidays and many times are disappointed. So why is that? As we scurry and go as fast as we can, we sometimes find it all a bit exhausting and a bit shallow. But we can have the holidays that we want. So what can we do to create holidays that are meaningful and joyful?

1. Decide what you WANT for YOUR HOLIDAY.  What a wonderful opportunity for you and your family to really talk about what matters to you as a family and what you can do to make it happen. You can call a special family meeting and ask for everyone’s opinion and try to really incorporate as many ideas as possible. It may be up to you as parents, if you have children, to lead this discussion helping children and adolescents expand their ideas about what Christmas might be about.  Before you lead your discussion with your family, you may want to decide as parents what you think is important and what you feel about the holidays. This can help you be prepared and be able to lead a thoughtful conversation. So what do you want???

2. Now that you know what you want, HOW can you achieve it? One way is to “brainstorm as a family” about how you can create THIS HOLIDAY that you want. Maybe you want to spend time together as a family? So decide as a family what this might look like and schedule it in. Maybe you decide it is about giving to those in need. So you all consider possible ways to do this. Planning together as a family with all involved in some way makes this kind of activity most rewarding. Maybe your family decides you want to be less commercial, so you decide how that would look for your family. Of course, you may have multiple things you want to achieve. It is all about what YOU and your family want and need for the holiday to be meaningful and joyful.

3. Be REALISTIC with your plans. The gist of this I think is we really can not do it all and we will probably have to CHOOSE what is most important to us. That can be hard for all of us. There are so many opportunities and things we can do.  They all pull at us. And it can be hard to say NO, but it really is ok to do so. It can be done respectfully and with appreciation for the offer. I remember one year after Christmas a co-worker telling me, “I am just glad it is all over.” If that is normally how we feel after the holidays, it may be time to re-look at how we are doing the holidays. It is also important for us to distribute the work load of the holidays. I have one relative who has said to me, “I hate the holidays. It is just all too much as I am the one who does it all.” So this is a needed family conversation.  In our home in recent years, my husband buys the guy gifts and I buy the gal gifts. It is a way to distribute the load. Look at your own unique situation and find a way so all can enjoy the holidays.

4. Take a Technology Break. As much as possible think about taking a break from technology and spending that extra time it creates with your loved ones. They will love you for it. This is a gift in itself.  Some possible limits might include: No cell usage during planned holiday events. Taking pics of each other would probably be a more connecting kind of use of technology so this may be an exception to this cell use limit. Video games and like kind of activities would not be considered a holiday activity unless it is done as a family and in a limited kind of way so there is time for other kinds of connecting. Or if this feels too restricting you could consider putting a limit on how much time is spent doing tech kind of activities and when these are ok. Letting children and adolescents know why you are setting these boundaries may help soften this request. Tell your children how much you love them and how you really want to spend one on one time with them during the holiday. You can point out to them that you too are taking a “technology break”.

5. Be flexible and be ready to go with the flow. Let the good come in even when things do not go as planned. Most holidays are not perfect and if we go into them knowing that we may have to be flexible and we may have to be ok with some shifts or changes, it seems to go better. “Choosing to be happy” even when some things go awry can help. Letting the good still come in even when the weather interferes with a planned activity or someone gets sick, etc. allows for joy even when things are not perfect.  Acknowledge and help each other to remember all the good that is going on. Talk about it, This helps to amplify and let it really soak in.

Enjoy this season ahead and remember what is important to you and your family. That is all that really matters. Happy Holidays to you all!

Girl And Mother With Cookies