Home for the holidays (sung by Perry Como) has special meaning for me this year. We're spending Thanksgiving at my son's house so we can stay home for Christmas, which we haven't done in years. It's a good thing because last year we decorated the house but didn't put up the tree knowing we'd be gone, so sad.
Christmas is my favorite holiday and yet, I'm struggling to find words to describe why I love this holiday so much. I could take the easy way out and share lots of great photos of holidays from great food and decorating, to parties and other holiday activities. That's what you'll find on Pinterest.
But that's not what I want to share here. My goal is to shift our focus, mine and yours, to the people and activities that give us the greatest sense of fulfillment, that make us smile, that create memories we can enjoy for years and years. We're all so busy these days that being home for the holidays is about slowing down and doing the things that make me feel good. Home for the holidays is not about spending lots of time and money to decorate our homes to compete with the photos in magazines!
Home for the Holidays Starts with a Plan
The last two months of the year are busier than normal. That means you've got to plan out your schedule so you're spending the little free time you have, on activities that you'll enjoy the most, ones that you'll remember for many years. It turns out that most of my holiday plans involve other people and these are the ones you need to plan early, as it requires coordinating calendars.
So here are my favorite home for the holiday activities, starting with … dreaming of a white Christmas.
When I was little and living in New York City, it seemed like we had a white Christmas every other year. Snow doesn't happen much often so my favorite white Christmas is when we lived in Tokyo. We came home for Christmas and woke up to a beautiful snowy landscape. It was too early to go to my sister's house, so we drove to LL Bean in Freeport, ME. We had hot apple cider and were probably the only people that morning and I still enjoy the memory 20 years later.
Spending Time with Friends When Home for the Holidays
- Making ginger bread houses with friends and neighbors – is great fun for children, and a nice way to bring together neighbors during the holidays. I make the house pieces ahead of time and ask each family to bring two kinds of candy for decorating the houses (How to Have a Gingerbread House Party).
- Making Christmas wreaths with friends – is another tradition started years ago when my friend Julia invited me to join her and I love it, except for washing all the sap off my hands when we're done. Check local nurseries and signup!
- Visiting New York City with my husband – is one of my favorite activities as I'm really a city girl. A tradition for more than 30 years, I started taking my au pairs to the “big apple” to enjoy New York all dressed up for the holidays (Christmas Trees Create Lifetime Memories.
- Adopting a family – is another family tradition. When my boys were young, they loved filling up their own grocery carts and we played secret Santa, dropping the groceries off at people's homes. Now my husband and I pick stars off the giving tree at the mall, and have a blast hunting for those crazy things that kids want these days.
Enjoying Time Alone While Home for the Holidays
Sometimes it's just fun to have some quiet time away from all the hustle and bustle of the holidays. While I like to get together with friends at least once a week, it's also fun to enjoy being home for the holidays with some of these activities.
- Planting paper white daffodils.
- Decorating the Christmas tree and we finally got an artificial tree, that we add evergreens to and all through the house so it smells wonderful.
- Making banana bread with cranberries for simple gifts, to give to friends and neighbors.
- Listening to Christmas music for weeks, to get in the holiday mood!
What's wonderful is the anticipation of Christmas for weeks and weeks. We used to save wrapping gifts to Christmas eve after the boys went to bed and fortunately, they don't really care how well things are wrapped. It's fun to sit back, relax and watch the kids opening their gifts and with a two year old granddaughter, we'll be watching via Skype this year.
What's your favorite holiday tradition (share below)?
Will you be staying home for the holidays this year?