Its also a time where you start to feel sick as you pull out that bank card for the 50th time and you realize ANOTHER $100 has just been dropped towards this season. You gorge yourself with sugar cookies and dip into those tins of bonbons that are conveniently lying around everywhere at work and you say to yourself "That's it, I'm going on a diet before Christmas" so you can fit into your holiday outfit. It's that time of year when you wonder how you are going to fit everyone in and sqeak by another Christmas without causing a family rift. All of these emotions and feelings, some wonderful and some stressful ...all squeezed into one tiny month. Faster than you can say "Happy Holidays" you are taking those damn lights off the tree, cursing and wondering if you should just take the whole tree lights included to the depot and buy new lights next year. In a flash all those toys you spent a fortune on to create that perfect Christmas morning are in the bottom of the toy bin as they reach for their old faithful toys. Quicker than you can say "Season's Greetings" you are looking through your bank statements and your closet in January wondering was all of this was worth it? All the shortbread and sugar cookies you mindlessly stuffed in your mouth, going all out and buying gifts you couldn't really afford but couldn't admit it to your family and friends. Now January's here and you're muffin topping out of your jeans and you are on a budget of all budgets trying to balance out the mess you created by going "All out." You make excuses for yourself all season...because well "it's Christmas time." Is there a way to enjoy a more balanced Christmas season? Is there a way to delight in the sheer bliss that comes from this time of year without breaking the bank and causing ourselves unnecessary harm? For a such a short time of year it sure can do alot of damage! Let us remind ourselves of the simple pleasures of the season, and here are some of my ideas to help you find joy this year without falling apart this month.
Photo collage from top left going clockwise: 1. My family and I picking out our tree this year 2. My fresh wreath on the door 3. My glittery snowflakes hanging over the dining room table 4. The cranberry centrepiece in the hurricane vase that I created for next to nothing!
*As you can see above I created a centre piece for my table using a hurricane vase and some fresh cranberries with a pillar candle. I think it looks fabulously festive and it was very affordable. A bag of fresh cranberries was around $2.99 and the pillar candle you can likely find at your local dollarstore. I found the glass vase at winners on clearance! I've done pinecones in past year as well. The best part is...the hurricane vase can be used all year round...filled with other things.
*I found these big gold sparkly snowflakes at the dollarstore, I got some clear fishing wire and hung 3 them at staggered levels over my dining room table. The key is to buy them in odd numbers like 3 or 5. But essentially you are adding great flare and sparkle to your dining room for under $5.00
*No time to bake? I found the best idea this year to take oreo cookies and dip them in milk or white chocolate then jazz them up with crushed candy canes or red and green sprinkles. I made these at work with my kids for a holiday open house and they were so pretty all lined up on a Christmas platter...and they taste great! While you're at it, grab a bag of pretzels and dip those in chocolate too! You can create wonderful little bags of goodies for friends and family or co-workers for little money and time. The are also a pretty little cookie to put out for Santa with some milk :)
Photo credit: these chocolate covered oreos can actually be purchased online at amazon.com
*My family and I have friday night movie nights with popcorn, grab a Christmas favourite and curl up with hot chocolate and whipped cream, turn the Christmas tree lights on. My family watched "Polar Express" tonight and had popcorn made the oldfashioned way. There is something magical about shaking the pot on the stove and watching those kernels pop up in the pot.
*Practice your assertion and say "No" this season. Set limits with people. Set limits with money. Set limits with food. You'll be glad you did.
*Create and buy gifts from your heart. I know it sounds cheesy but personal gifts really do mean alot. That extra effort to find something that is based on what you know someone would love rather than setting a dollar amount. My dad got a new blu- ray player this year so I bought him "Charlie Brown's Christmas" , it's his favourite childhood movie. It didn't cost me alot but it's something he will love. This year my husband gave me an early Christmas present of diamond earrings! Okay so the diamonds are spectacular, but...my point is he gave me the earrings with the most beautiful poem that he wrote just for me. I'm not lying when I say that the poem touched me way more than the diamonds did.
photo credit: creature comforts blog
Be true to yourself(and your budget)...follow your bliss...enjoy this wonderful season for what it is but don't lose your money or your mind trying to create an image of what you think Christmas should look like. Christmas is not spending a certain amount of dollars, it's not pulling your hair out trying to bake cookies from scratch (unless you have time and you want to) Its a time of simple pleasures and being grateful for all the blessings you have. It's watching the joy in your children's eyes because they believe in the magic of Santa. When things start to feel tense gently remind yourself of the true meaning of Christmas. Just as Mary Ellen Chase has said:
Christmas, children, is not a date. It is a state of mind. ~Mary Ellen Chase