Monday, December 8, 2008

Simplify the Holidays

During the holidays, most of us are under a lot of stress. We have gifts to buy, events to attend or plan, homes to decorate, and things to clean besides the day to day duties of our normal lives, which can already be so stressful. Here are some simple things to keep in mind and to do during this time of the year, to possibly reduce some of your stress.

Presents, Presents, Presents

Once all the shopping is done and the gifts are wrapped and put under the tree, why not look around your house to see what you have an excess of or that you no longer need and start putting them in to bags. Take these down to your church, or to an organization such as Value Village. You will feel good that you have helped someone else.



You may feel obligated to go to every event, but once you are there, enjoy it. Stop thinking of what you need to do at home, what you need to cook, what you will be doing at work, what else needs to get done on that growing list of yours. Simply relax. You are not hosting it, let someone else do everything while you simply eat, drink and be merry.


You know when people tell you, "let me know if you need any help"....and we typically don't ask anyone to help? We take every burden upon ourselves. This year, why not try to learn to accept others generosities. We may be particular about how things should get done and when they should get done, but for once, let it go. This only causes more stress. Enjoy that there are people who want to help you and once they do help (cooking, bringing things, cleaning, decorating, etc.), you may find that it was the best thing that you have ever accepted and you may be more willing to accept offers like this in the future.


Cleaning is not always fun. During dinner parties, many feel that everything should be put away immediately after someone cleans their plate. Guess what? It can wait. When you are under extreme stress and pressure, just let things sit for a while (I am not talking about days), but if you feel that kind of stress, clean everything in the morning. Howeer, if cleaning is therapeutic, feel free to put things away, but please be mindful of your guests. Learn to sit (relax) and enjoy spending time with them.

For those who really hate cleaning, hire a cleaning service to clean up after you.

Enjoying the Season

What do you like most about the season? The lights, the snow, the presents, the eggnog? Take in everything, the sights, the sounds and the smells of the season.

Drink some eggnog or hot chocolate. Eat some candy canes. Roast some marshmallows. Crack open some pecans. Crank up the Christmas music. Watch your old holiday favorites (A Christmas Story, Frosty, Rudolph, It's a Wonderful Life, etc.). Attend Church events to really enjoy what this season is all about.

Light Shows

Go to the local parks that have all their Christmas lights and decorations up. I have listed some events that are here in the local MD-DC-VA area.

  • Maryland - Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia ($20 per car); Watkins Regional Park in Upper Marlboro ($5 per car); Festival of Lights at the Mormon Temple in Kensington (free, will need to walk once in); Seneca Creek State Park in Gaithersburg ($10-12 per car); Brookside Gardens ($15-$20 per car, although this is a garden walk); and Sandy Point State Park in Annapolis ($12 - $14 per car)

  • DC - the National Zoo in DC ($12 for non-members, $6 for FONZ members);

  • VA - Bull Run Festival of Lights in Centreville ($15 per car)
Here is a link for further information on all of the places that I have listed above

Petting Zoos

Take the family to one of the many petting zoos and farms in the area. They will sometimes have face painting, train rides, and arts and crafts for the kids to do along with refreshments. Some farms have reindeer, such as the Applewood Farm in Whiteford, MD. My kids loved seeing the reindeer, since it's not something that you would see just anywhere. The picture of the reindeer at the beginning of this post was taken at this farm.

Here is a listing of some local farms:

I hope some of these ideas will help you learn to enjoy the simplicity that the holidays hold!


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