How I STOPPED ruining Christmas

My journey with Christmas began in 2009. Up until that point, Nicholas and I had always traveled to our family’s and spent the holidays in someone else’s home. When Griffin was born, we spent our first holiday season in our own home and it was wonderful. The next year we traveled to Nicholas’s family for the holidays, which was hard, but we still only had Griffin so the trip itself was easy. 

As many of you already know, 2011 was the year that changed everything for our family and how we celebrate the holidays.

Nicholas lost his job in mid-November and we decided to celebrate Christmas without Consuming. We borrowed a tree. We canceled our Holiday Open House. We gave gifts of time and energy instead of presents. 

In many ways, that Christmas was the best thing that ever happened to our family.

The Secret to my STRESS-FREE Holiday Season

This is a guest post by my dear friend Jessica on an exciting co-venture we're launching!

When it comes to parenting, I get quite a big wrong. My kid eats mostly sugary food for breakfast. He asks for dessert after EVERY meal. Last year, I handmade pretty awesome “Camp Ryan” birthday invitations (complete with old maps cut and folded into envelopes) and then forgot to mail them. And recently, I tried teaching him that if you’re smart, you should probably find other ways to express yourself other than using adult words (i.e. profanity); so now whenever he hears a four letter word, he blurts out, “Mom! That person isn’t smart.” 

Oh geez.

I realize these aren’t exactly end-of-the-world parenting failures, but they’re not necessarily things I’m proud of or like to publicly acknowledge. 

Luckily, there are a handful of things I seem to get right. Planning for a memorable and less stressful holiday season is one of those things. My type-A personality combined with a history of infertility fuels my passion for ensuring we wring every drop of magic and excitement out of Christmas.

While there wasn’t anything specific that happened, I just remember being very frustrated that the joy of the holidays continually lost out to the rush and stress of this busy season. My initial plan was to cut back. For two years, my husband and I didn’t exchange gifts. Then, I didn’t host any holiday meals or get togethers. Maybe we saved some money and a little bit of frustration, but ultimately, cutting out items moved me even further away from any Christmas joy.

A few years into cutting back, nothing seemed familia

TEN Advent Calendars in 15 minutes or less

The OFFICIAL countdown to Christmas begins in only a few days! December 1st is a perfect time to begin building anticipation for Christmas Day, but what if you're busy doing the other 1,572 (approximately) things that need to get done before the big day. 

Not all of us have the time to hand knit a 25 mitten garland for the mantle or even order the more pricey varieties from Pottery Barn in time for a December 1st arrival. 

Never fear! I've rounded up 10 Advent Calendar ideas that you can complete in 15 minutes or less. And guess what? Kids. Don't. Care. They love any kind of countdown, ESPECIALLY if it involves candy. So, pull out that Halloween candy you stashed away and build a little holiday anticipation.

Elf on the Shelf® the EASY way

To have an Elf on the Shelf®? Or not to have an Elf on the Shelf®?

THAT is the real question at Christmastime.

For several years, Griffin was just too young. Then last year he never mentioned it. It was easy to ignore the great Elf on the Shelf® debate. I was ambivalent to an elfish presence in our home. On the one hand, I understood how much fun it was for kids and I knew several friends who openly advocated for the little guy. They said all the hassle was worth the look on your child’s face when searching for the mischievous creature every morning.  On the other hand, I wasn’t completely comfortable with the NSA-like surveillance that went with the elf and bribing my kid to be good.

Guest Post: Holiday Safety Made Simple

My favorite child safety expert Pattie Fitzgerald is back with a new book, a giveaway, and tips to keep your child safe this holiday!

Every holiday season I get lots of inquiries from parents, usually with two concerns:

“How do I manage all those tasks and errands with kids in tow?”  

“How do I deal with those big family gatherings where there are so many friends, relatives, and kids running around – especially if there’s that one relative I’m not so sure about?!”

When my 16 year old daughter was much younger, I was faced with the same concerns that every parent with young kids thinks about.  There’s a lot to distract us (and our kids!) whether we’re at the mall, the airport, or Auntie Barbara’s house for her annual holiday bash.  

Here’s what I did – and it worked.