After two years of very low-key holiday festivities due to a virus that will remain unnamed, this year is already feeling very full
I’m thrilled that we can gather again in large groups, and even do a bit of dancing if the mood and the DJ are on point. With this excitement in mind, it seems like a lot of my friends and family were keen to kick off the holiday season early this year. By November 1, I was seeing Christmas lights and hearing Mariah Carey's ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You’ everywhere—but I didn’t hate it—I think we’re all looking forward to feeling festive again.
In the interest of trying to pace myself while still making the holidays really special for my family, here are some of my top tips for getting ready for the festive season...
1. Get the “work” done early
My house was decorated for the holidays by the evening of November 2nd. My goal this year is to have all of my shopping complete and wrapped by December 1st. I’d like to get most of my baking done by the first week of December. Now that I have two young kids, I like to be able to enjoy the holiday season. Once the gift buying and wrapping is done, the movies, hot chocolate, dance parties, snow fights and couch cuddles can begin. I fully intend to enjoy this December which makes November a bit hectic, but it’s worth it!
2. Simplify gift-giving
Gifting over the holiday season can be overwhelming—especially when there are big families and kids involved. For larger families, I always suggest doing a Secret Santa gift draw. Generally, just the adults participate, as no one can resist spoiling kids and I’m OK with that. But for the grownups, we don’t each need to buy presents for one another—we have too much already. So pick a name, assign a budget, and hope that someone with good taste chooses your name.
3. Decorate strategically
Decorating for the holidays takes a lot of time, energy and resources—not only to put up ,but to maintain throughout the holiday season. I recommend picking a few areas of the house and letting your festive side go wild. I also encourage keeping a few rooms decor-free. The kids' bedrooms and your office don’t need to be fully decked out in festive decor. Sometimes it’s nice to have a more muted room to escape to if overstimulation strikes. You’ll also be grateful for this approach when it comes time to clean up in January.
4. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself
This is an easy one to say, but harder to stick to. I remind myself constantly that not everything has to be done at 110 percent. My decor can be complete even if every holiday piece isn’t out. My cupboards will be filled with enough baking. The holidays really are about spending time with friends and family, so focus on that. I don’t need to have the kids in matching Christmas sweaters—what’s important is that they’re comfortable and spending time with loved ones. I’m really focused this year on simplifying and enjoying being present.
5. RSVP ‘no’ sometimes
Another thing I’m trying to get better at. As we return to parties, events, gatherings and socializing, there are lots of invites coming in and events I’d love to attend. Sometimes I forget I can RSVP no and the party will go on without me. It’s so refreshing to choose a night in with the boys over going out. Not every night, of course! I love to get glammed up and go out and see friends, but every RSVP doesn’t have to be a yes. Pace yourself and decide what you really want to attend and what you could miss out on in favour of relaxing.
6. Find community activities
The holidays can mean lots of time at home, especially if, like me, you love to entertain. So it’s a great reminder to get out and do something festive in your community. I love ice skating, especially on one of the outdoor rinks. There are so many great places, like VanDusen Botanical Garden and Surrey Tree Lighting Festival. to see some incredible lights and enjoy the festive atmosphere. The kids love these experiences and it’s a great place for them to meet up with their friends and let them burn off some energy.
7. Support local
This is a no-brainer, but especially important over the holidays. Wherever I can, I love to support local artisans, bakers, florists, and any business that’s locally owned in my community. It’s been a tough few years for a lot of small businesses and I always feel the service and care I get when I shop directly from a business is so incredible. Wherever you live, find a local market and tick some gifts off your shopping list. Holiday markets are a great place to get gifts for everyone on your list, all in one place. I recently visited The Collective Winter Market and it was so fun to be out and around people again. It’s wonderful to meet so many local vendors and support their small shops, buying unique and handmade gifts.
It’s important to be intentional about your energy this holiday season. We’re not used to the hustle and bustle after a quiet few years. My main objective is to enjoy the season with my little ones. There are only so many years I’ll get to see their eyes light up at a giant Christmas tree or where Santa will feel as special. Happy holidays!