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What are you vowing to change about next year’s holidays?


Caraway
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I think this year may be my last hosting a giant multi day Christmas. It is SO much work and I’m feeling really resentful that none of the attendees have offered to help. 
 

For the amount of money we are spending (not to mention the effort and stress) we could take a family vacation instead. 
 

Anybody else already vowing to make changes for next year?

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Buy gifts earlier, wait for decorating, baking, festivities later. I’m getting radicalized and refusing to attend any Christmas related anything before our kids big Christmas concert (usually first Sunday after first full week in December?)

DH and I have been discussing this and we’ve realized we have no real family traditions with regard to Christmas, other than my parents expectation we will come stay a couple of days between Christmas and New Years. That’s easy. How we spend Christmas Day seems to center a lot around where his parents living and what their plans are. Are we on our own? Are they visiting? Are we visiting them? But now they live here and will stay. Nows the time to tell them what our plans will be for the foreseeable future. 

Edited by SamanthaCarter
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hmm...I have been thinking about this. It is my 22nd Christmas as a mom and my baby is 11 yo. So I have been balancing the last few years with being burned out and still needing to keep the fun alive for the youngest one (one year I was beating myself up for being grouchy about stockings...then I calculated how many stockings I had filled over the years and felt justified in being grumpy).

My thoughts towards future years are not so much about doing less. I have been doing less each year. Rather, my thoughts are toward being flexible with the needs of adult children. My oldest is graduating from college in May and has a job lined up so will be living two hours away and employed full time. My second ds will graduate next December. He thinks he will go full time where he is currently working part time (500 miles from home). Things could change but the reality is that both college boys will be graduated by next Christmas and have full time adult jobs. So this is the last traditional student Christmas break. Not to mention there could potentially be weddings, grandchildren, etc within the year or two. I am looking ahead to being flexible and working with their adult schedules. I will also need to honor the wishes of my two children still at home if they desire a traditional Christmas at home and not traveling to visit the big guys. 

I have experienced in real life enough of the strife caused by meeting expectations of in-laws and grandparents and have certainly read of so much frustration with meeting those expectations on these boards that I am just not tied to very specific traditions every year. We have done a variety of things over the years and it is sad, in a way, not to have very specific traditions. I am hoping the upside of that is that we all can be flexible going forward in how we celebrate and share the holiday with adult children and their partners. I have seen so much frustration and pressure that some traditions have caused that I have over the last few years kept repeating "it doesn't have to be the same every year" and "it is okay to try new ways of doing things".

So my plan is not to have a rigid plan.

 

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So far I have no plans to change things. We had one big change this year and that was exchanging gifts with fil yesterday rather than Christmas Eve before going to his mother's house for dinner. And that was the best so everyone agreed to keep that going. It was so nice to get home, put a Christmas movie in, and watch the kids play with their new toys from their grandfather instead of rushing off to another even.

Because of this change our Christmas Eve celebration doesn't stay until 6pm, which I'm really looking forward to because it means I have hours to prepare for hosting my family for Christmas dinner. There is zero stress involved with that.

I don't think we'll need to change the things run until the oldest kids are adults and even then who knows.

The biggest thing I've always done to keep Christmas less hectic is finishing my shopping before Thanksgiving weekend is over. That leaves Advent for a calm period before the fun of crazy Christmas celebrating

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I dropped the ball on Advent this year, only reading our Jesse Tree devotionals daily.  We didn't put up the Jesse Tree/ornaments, and we didn't get candles until yesterday!  Next year, I want to be more intentional about that.  

We also moved this summer, and we are missing a full social calendar.  I want to be at a place next year where we can host a party or two (with a large enough circle of friends).  We miss that terribly. 

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I have SAD and at this time of year I really just want to wrap in a blanket and watch TV or surf the internet. I enjoy having my family, but all the prep work is overwhelming. I really should be cleaning the house right now, but here I am. I want to start preparing much earlier, maybe buying gifts earlier and wrapping them or at least have it all planned, but there's always so many things I need to get last minute anyway for other events. This year we decided to buy far fewer gifts than normal. Our adult children aren't getting gifts and the ones at home are only getting a couple of gifts. The adult kids make more money than we do and buy whatever they need whenever they want so our celebration will be more about getting together. My first grandchild should be here next Christmas and I expect that to make the holiday different!

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Okay, I don’t know if I can hold myself to it, BUT...

if the elf (and all of the other magical hoopla) isn’t naturally phased out, I want to do the sit down talk in the fall. I’ve been hoping every year would be the last for way too long now. I’ve been pulling magic out of my butt for 22 Christmases, and I’m exhausted. 

Side note: I didn’t start the elf. He was sent to us by Grandma. All the rest is my own fault!

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Next year we are having a much simpler Christmas dinner. Roast beef with all the trimmings is great, but tons of work. I am thinking Chinese takeout or lasagna. or just lots of appetizers and snacks. I already changed the time we eat this year to accomodate my mom, who is 83 and doesn't do well with mid to late afternoon events. I do the roast beef for her, really. We get the same dinner, or very close, on christmas Eve at my SIL's. (But of course, no leftovers!) 

I tried to make Advent less busy this year by skipping a couple of concerts and parties. And it worked -  until we decided to put ds in school, our toilet leaked and damaged our wood floors, and my FIL died. 

We have already simplified the gifts part and will probably continue to as our kids get older. Books, clothes, camping gear, and few small fun things.

Edited by ScoutTN
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I’m actually (Gasp!) pondering collapsing Advent as traditionally practiced into the five days leading up to Christmas. We’ll do readings and light the candles everyday starting at t minus five. I can handle celebratory stuff for 6 days, but not 22 plus. Better this way since dh likes to drag random things out of his hat til Epiphany.

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I am already making a bunch of changes this year. 

No decorating the house. Just a small tree. No baking cookies. Perhaps if DD feels like we may bake together over Christmas. No writing Christmas cards. I started out with 40 handwritten letters during December, reduced each year because I never get anything back. I am DONE. Only sending cards to people over the age of 80. Minimal gifts. Instead, DH, I, DD and her bf are going on a  trip (DS was invited but declined). No Christmas activities besides 1. CHoir concert and 2. my friend's ugly sweater party.

We celebrated the solstice this year with an overnight backpack in a remote area. Hiked 20 miles. Had a nice fire by a creek, had hot mulled wine, saw a wonderful starry sky away from all light pollution. I hope this started a tradition. I love celebrating the solstice. You can't argue about it, you don't have to believe in anything - it's an astronomical phenomenon that just happens. 

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We keep it pretty simple already. I do find preparing food for various things a bit stressful after awhile, but most are kind of hard to avoid if we are going to be fair to others (by not having them prepare everything). And while I get tired of the food preparation, I do enjoy the special times with friends. Decorating is pretty mild.

My main hope is that we are able to save more during the year so that Christmas spending won't be a strain. That includes for foods and entertainment as well as gifts. We like to all go watch one of the new movies that comes out at Christmas. We will probably travel next year as well, so that will add to the expenses. We don't buy a lot for our kids (mostly adults) and grandkids during the year, and so we really enjoy buying things for them at Christmas.

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14 hours ago, Carrie12345 said:

Okay, I don’t know if I can hold myself to it, BUT...

if the elf (and all of the other magical hoopla) isn’t naturally phased out, I want to do the sit down talk in the fall. I’ve been hoping every year would be the last for way too long now. I’ve been pulling magic out of my butt for 22 Christmases, and I’m exhausted. 

Side note: I didn’t start the elf. He was sent to us by Grandma. All the rest is my own fault!

It is so nice when the pressure is off!!!  And I bought that $&#% elf myself!!!  My son just realized it’s head turns all the way around LoL.  My boys are 14 and I want them to move the elf for me now!!!

Edited by mlktwins
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5 minutes ago, mlktwins said:

It is so nice when the pressure is off!!!  And I bought that $&#% elf myself!!!  My son just realized it’s he’d turns all the way around LoL.  My boys are 14 and I want them to move the elf for me now!!!

It doesn’t help that I tend to fall asleep before the kids. Fortunately, my teens sometimes help out if they notice, but it’s mostly me looking for new places in a very small house at 5am!  I definitely like the idea of them being the magic for me! 😄 

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9 hours ago, Zinnias said:

I dropped the ball on Advent this year, only reading our Jesse Tree devotionals daily.  We didn't put up the Jesse Tree/ornaments, and we didn't get candles until yesterday!  Next year, I want to be more intentional about that.  

We also moved this summer, and we are missing a full social calendar.  I want to be at a place next year where we can host a party or two (with a large enough circle of friends).  We miss that terribly. 

We also moved this summer and are having a much harder time making friends here. My New Years resolution is to fix that, so hopefully by Christmas we can get together with friends. I miss it too. We were lucky this year one of our very best family friends from our previous home stayed with us two nights on their way to their family’s.

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Don't hate me, but I've already got my 2020 gift list started extended family. After scrambling to come up with the "perfect" gift for some hard-to-please relatives, I went ahead and created a private Amazon list called "Christmas 2020".  I added notes for each item detailing who the gift was for.  Now I have a ballpark budget for next year, and there will be no last minute scramble.  I will add a few alternate gift ideas for each person, in case the original idea is no longer carried by Amazon.  We live far away from everyone, so everything has to be shipped.  Not having the pressure of trying to come up with the "perfect" gift during a busy time will be very nice.  Click, click, done!

Last year, I wrote out Christmas cards for my relatives for *this years* Christmas. All I had to do this year was pull them out of the box and put a stamp on them. I filled them out a few days after last Christmas, while I was still feeling all holly-jolly, lol. I'm really glad I did that! Everyone got a card and felt remembered, and I didn't feel bad that I was rushing to mail cards. 

 

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6 hours ago, Suzanne in ABQ said:

I hope I will remember not to go to the grocery store on Dec. 23rd.

I went to our Walmart yesterday (12/23) at 8:30 am and it was almost empty.  Self checks had no lines.  Regular checkouts had one person in process ahead of me.  Almost no one in any of the aisles, etc.

Then again our Walmart is rarely very busy and is a super nice and clean store.

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For various reasons we had our Christmas celebration (opening gifts, movies etc) on the solstice this year instead of the 25th. I’d long wanted to make the switch (the solstice holds meaning for me, while Christmas Day is arbitrary for us) , and when I offered it up as a suggestion this year DS immediately agreed it makes more sense for us anyway. 👍

The whole thing was sooooo low key and relaxing. He’s nearly 17 so he didn’t miss doing it in early morning; we made it a late afternoon/evening thing. We made a strong commitment to giving fewer presents so it didn’t feel glutinous, just really lovely. I’d love to make this our new tradition, or at least a viable alternative depending on what upcoming seasons bring us.

As a bonus, it’s been fun getting a thousand frenzied emails everyday since touting “last chance for shipping!” and so forth while knowing we've already done our thing and the pressure (no matter how slight) is totally off. I ran to Target yesterday for some everyday item and felt so relaxed, knowing I didn’t have to scurry around for any last minute shopping or preparations. 

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I want to either have a new fridge and keep our old one (which is maybe on its last legs anyway) in the garage for extra cold storage, or have a very small chest freezer. We've never been huge on gifts or decorating for Christmas so there's not much to pare down or better organize there. But the boys are grown men now who still eat like teenagers, and we're hosting DH's entire family on the 28th. And I really, really, really hate having to shop when the grocery stores are super crowded. I need some extra storage to keep my sanity.

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We don’t celebrate a traditional Christmas however next year I really want to plan something.  We’ve started a few things but nothings ever really stuck, they’ve just flopped. 

and I really hope next year there’s no fires. Its hard on the kids with dh being out so much and less hard for us than others who do have Christmas as a really important day.  I actually really like regentrudes idea that sounds beautiful if the weather wasn’t so revoltingly hot this year. 

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 I'm considering an "experiences only" gift giving policy next year.  We do consumable treats for stocking stuffers and I'll keep it that way.  I think I'll start collecting gift ideas for different budgets.  All of my kids live within half an hour of my house and are usually flexible and cooperative about Christmas, so we'll see. We're at that point where it's hard to buy for people who don't need anything and wants are fairly few.

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23 hours ago, Caraway said:

I think this year may be my last hosting a giant multi day Christmas. It is SO much work and I’m feeling really resentful that none of the attendees have offered to help. 
 

If you don't want to be the central planner, then announce your retirement in January and reiterate throughout the year.  You don't have to be the one doing it all.  You can be the attendee.  You can choose to travel instead. Don't apologize either, just say so it an upbeat, matter-of-fact way each time you bring it up, and let it sink in for people.

If you're choosing to travel, not because you want to travel, but because you're resentful about not getting volunteers, there are ways to get them, but you have to change how you handle things. Before we moved across the country a couple of years ago, I hosted Christmases, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Fourth of July for 25+ people for more than a decade while attending 2 other Christmas events for a total of 4 events within 2-3 consecutive days, depending on work schedules.   I have a lot of experience with this kind of thing.  You have to shift your mindset on this.  Do not expect people to volunteer to help.  Most haven't hosted/coordinated and truly don't get what it takes.  They never think about it. You need to learn to ask for what you need unapologetically without putting it in question form. Keep your tone upbeat and matter-of-fact, but don't compromise on the principle that everyone will be expected to help in all aspects. 

For out-of-your-household participants, beforehand, like mid-November-you need to ask people if they're planning on being at your gathering(s) or not, and ask them to specify what they will bring and help with with (not IF they will bring and help with things) by email or text so they have to write down their answers. Tell them in that message you'll be sending out an itemized menu and itemized task sign up list on Dec. 1 in the following categories: food and drinks, planning and running activities, cleaning before, set up before, clean up after, tear down after, etc.   Any item or task left unvolunteered for will result in you assigning it someone keeping equity in mind.  By Dec. 10 you'll confirm with them directly (phone, text, email) what they're going to do and bring to help so you can answer any of their questions.


Do a version of this within your own family they day after Thanksgivingish. Everyone has to tell you what they want to do in 3 categories:  activities, food, and gift lists. Each category's answers should be prioritized from most important to them to least important to them.  Have a firm deadline or make everyone sit down and work it out under your supervision. Listen to their answers.  If they don't care about whatever activity, don't argue or try to persuade them they do or should. Then you will pick from that list what works for your schedule and energy level trying to include at least one higher priority item per person in the mix.

Make it clear, by saying so explicitly out loud in an upbeat matter-of-fact tone) you won't be including everything, because that would be unrealistic and only breeds resentment. They will have to take responsibility for contributing time and energy to it.  If they don't have the time or energy to take responsibility for it, it won't be included this year and that's perfectly OK.   That's just reality.  This is not a fantastical Christmas movie, this is real life where people make choices, make it happen themselves, and live with their choices. You want them to have a lovely Christmas, but you're not going to create psychological or financial stress to do it, that's why you want prioritized lists. Assign what each person needs to help with and when exactly they need to do it.   Include any cleaning, shopping, preparing, planning, tasks they need to do and a deadline for each.  They're obviously new to this and need to be trained.

It really can become part of your family culture, but you have to take effective action and enforce boundaries and expectations to do it.

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4 minutes ago, Homeschool Mom in AZ said:

If you don't want to be the central planner, then announce your retirement in January and reiterate throughout the year.  You don't have to be the one doing it all.  You can be the attendee.  You can choose to travel instead. Don't apologize either, just say so it an upbeat, matter-of-fact way each time you bring it up, and let it sink in for people.

If you're choosing to travel, not because you want to travel, but because you're resentful about not getting volunteers, there are ways to get them, but you have to change how you handle things. Before we moved across the country a couple of years ago, I hosted Christmases, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Fourth of July for 25+ people for more than a decade while attending 2 other Christmas events for a total of 4 events within 2-3 consecutive days, depending on work schedules.   I have a lot of experience with this kind of thing.  You have to shift your mindset on this.  Do not expect people to volunteer to help.  Most haven't hosted/coordinated and truly don't get what it takes.  They never think about it. You need to learn to ask for what you need unapologetically without putting it in question form. Keep your tone upbeat and matter-of-fact, but don't compromise on the principle that everyone will be expected to help in all aspects. 

For out-of-your-household participants, beforehand, like mid-November-you need to ask people if they're planning on being at your gathering(s) or not, and ask them to specify what they will bring and help with with (not IF they will bring and help with things) by email or text so they have to write down their answers. Tell them in that message you'll be sending out an itemized menu and itemized task sign up list on Dec. 1 in the following categories: food and drinks, planning and running activities, cleaning before, set up before, clean up after, tear down after, etc.   Any item or task left unvolunteered for will result in you assigning it someone keeping equity in mind.  By Dec. 10 you'll confirm with them directly (phone, text, email) what they're going to do and bring to help so you can answer any of their questions.


Do a version of this within your own family they day after Thanksgivingish. Everyone has to tell you what they want to do in 3 categories:  activities, food, and gift lists. Each category's answers should be prioritized from most important to them to least important to them.  Have a firm deadline or make everyone sit down and work it out under your supervision. Listen to their answers.  If they don't care about whatever activity, don't argue or try to persuade them they do or should. Then you will pick from that list what works for your schedule and energy level trying to include at least one higher priority item per person in the mix.

Make it clear, by saying so explicitly out loud in an upbeat matter-of-fact tone) you won't be including everything, because that would be unrealistic and only breeds resentment. They will have to take responsibility for contributing time and energy to it.  If they don't have the time or energy to take responsibility for it, it won't be included this year and that's perfectly OK.   That's just reality.  This is not a fantastical Christmas movie, this is real life where people make choices, make it happen themselves, and live with their choices. You want them to have a lovely Christmas, but you're not going to create psychological or financial stress to do it, that's why you want prioritized lists. Assign what each person needs to help with and when exactly they need to do it.   Include any cleaning, shopping, preparing, planning, tasks they need to do and a deadline for each.  They're obviously new to this and need to be trained.

It really can become part of your family culture, but you have to take effective action and enforce boundaries and expectations to do it.


This is fantastic advice, and I will be going thru it with a fine tooth comb. I was thinking of assigning days, but your approach may be more realistic. My sibling is like Teflon when it comes to any commitment or obligation, so I’ll have to think about how to approach him. Perhaps I’ll make my husband’s job to micromanage my brother. 😂

 

You really should offer a counseling package. I would pay to have someone give me this advice once a week from October to January. ❤️

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We’re going to fine tune the way we did it this year. We’ve never lived near family so we’ve always had a low key holiday- Christmas Eve looking at lights, watching mass from the Vatican. Christmas Day is gifts, lasagna, and we go to a movie. That stays.  But being near family now, we did Christmas w my dad and sister last night- nice dinner, fun low key evening. And over the weekend we hosted Dd and the grands for cookies, hot chocolate, games, and a sleepover. The kids weren’t overtired from being dragged everywhere, and we had a great two days.

We enjoy exterior illumination so we’re already planning next year’s additions,  and bought the lights and stuff today for 60% off.  
We love sending cards and will do that again. Dh and I sit at the table and work on them together, talking about the people we’re sending them to.  
 

However, I am a subpar gift giver and hope to really work on that next year.  I’d love to do experiences because I value the time I spend w my loved ones.  

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1 hour ago, Caraway said:


This is fantastic advice, and I will be going thru it with a fine tooth comb. I was thinking of assigning days, but your approach may be more realistic. My sibling is like Teflon when it comes to any commitment or obligation, so I’ll have to think about how to approach him. Perhaps I’ll make my husband’s job to micromanage my brother. 😂

 

You really should offer a counseling package. I would pay to have someone give me this advice once a week from October to January. ❤️

By the way, be open to the idea that some people may not care and give them options. 

So group emails that say “nobody has offered to help with dishes or cooking so all should bring $10 per family for pizza and paper plates.” Are perfectly appropriate.

i don’t care if thanksgiving and Christmas with family is a big traditional meal on fine China or a bucket of chicken on paper plates.

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For those of you who like to do Christmas cards with a handwritten message, but life is nuts in December, you can make it a Thanksgiving season event by having everyone sit down together and saying what they're thankful about as it pertains each card recipient. Have someone share something simple and sincere like:

Grandma and Grandpa: You always listen so attentively to our stories and encourage our interests; we feel so loved.
Auntie Gertie: It's just not [insert holiday here] without your [insert her home made dish here]. We're looking forward to [insert next gathering where you'll see her here.]
Cousin Cordelia: I smile every time I remember [insert type of shenanigans shared in childhood here.]
College Roommate: You were always such a good friend to me, especially that time when [insert a situation here.]

You get the idea.  You can buy some Christmas cards and stamps now at the end of the season and put them in with your Thanksgiving decor. You can do it for a few, some, or all of the recipients.

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6 hours ago, Caraway said:


 My sibling is like Teflon when it comes to any commitment or obligation, so I’ll have to think about how to approach him. Perhaps I’ll make my husband’s job to micromanage my brother. 😂

You really should offer a counseling package. I would pay to have someone give me this advice once a week from October to January. ❤️

I've had relatives at times unable to contribute time and energy, so they offered to fund some or all of the meal.  They'll hand me a significant amount of cash. That reduces financial strain.  If you can couple it with grocery pick up or having a restaurant cater some or all of the meal, it's a huge win. You could also use funds to pay a teen/young adult to help with the work. Make it clear when you send out your initial contact that this is an option.

Since I just flew Friday morning (up at 4am)  to another state and helped my oldest daughter and son-in-law pack and drive 10 hours to our house last night at 11pm, my middle daughter is hosting this year.  We have food from Costco and a local restaurant. We paid for the restaurant made part of the meal and my husband picked it up yesterday.  It will keep in the fridge. It will be on pretty, festive  disposables, which we bought, and dessert is all the treats from our stocking stuffers because that makes sense this year.  Last year I hosted, baked, and cooked almost everything because it made sense then and I had the energy for it.  It's an equally lovely Christmas either way.

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I just made tacos for supper.  It was sort of a defeat because I was too busy to plan anything due to some travel earlier this week and because DH was craving them.  Well I plan to make them a family Christmas Eve tradition.  They may not be "festive" but they were quick and easy, everyone ate them without complaint, and my skinniest/pickiest eater is still picking at her plate, despite loads of sugar, junk, and snack foods in the past several days.

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1 hour ago, Stacia said:

I want to do Jolabokaflod (Icelandic book flood) for Christmas Eve. Or perhaps New Year's Eve.

 

We've been celebrating this the past 3 years - it's wonderful! Neither of my dc or my dh are big readers (not sure how that happened!), but all love Christmas Book flood after our Christmas service.

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1 hour ago, Stacia said:

I want to do Jolabokaflod (Icelandic book flood) for Christmas Eve. Or perhaps New Year's Eve.

 

How about both?!!

I think the Jol start indicates Christmas like Yuletide.  We could get another name for the New Year’s Eve book tradition and start ourselves a new holiday tradition in this thread!

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Next year we are going to have the kids trade names.  Up until this year the kids tended to give hand made things or toys their siblings like.  Not a whole lot was added to the household.  But they all have some sort of funds now and the pile of sibling to sibling gifts is considerably more substantial this year.  I love that they are generous but none of us really need a bunch of "stuff".  Especially since the younger three are still shopping at the Dollar Tree.  I think a single, more thought out gift would be nicer.

I'd also like to not be missing a loved one that passed away that year (it's been a regular part of the holiday for about 4 years now).  Otherwise we already keep things fairly simple and I enjoy our traditions.  Although I could give up decorating sugar cookies, so much to buy/mess/sugar for something no one is super excited to eat after the first one.

 

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I think it’s time to change. Next year DS won’t be in high school and DD will be out of college. I’m ready for new traditions. We generally do lots of kid gifts, fondue Christmas Eve, and some kind of nice Christmas dinner. Usually I spend Christmas Eve baking/prepping and caring for DS (special needs) while DD and DH do a last shop and get lunch together. I don’t want to step on their tradition, but fondue is a lot of work (or it just felt like it tonight) and I’m over it. 

Next year I’d like each person to get one gift for each other person. I’d like to be somewhere else (cabin or beach condo). I wanna skip the fondue and do a meal out or take-out on Christmas Eve and something easy or ordered Christmas Day. I’m good with pizza and movies or reading a new book. 

I think I need a few years of low-key, low-stress adult holidays so I can regroup and recover before grandchildren and we have to go full Santa again. 

 

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I will go shopping for presents for me and DH in November. I have a few small things for us, but nothing big. With getting Christmas ready for the kids, stuff for us slipped through the cracks.

Get the kids asleep before 11 on Christmas Eve!

If my parents come for Christmas next year, ask my Dad as soon as he arrives of needs anything wrapped or put into gift bags, so I'm not scrambling on Christmas Eve to find wrapping stuff for him.

Remember to put away the elf when setting out presents so I'm not doing that at 4 am in the morning!😆😆

Take a nap on Christmas Eve!

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