“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” I hear the music and sway to it with a smile, but do I really feel that way? Do you feel that way? I can honestly say that sometimes the added pressure of buying and wrapping gifts, decorating, sending greetings, baking, and all the rest can be very overwhelming for me. Add to what we already do in our life: work, caring for our families, caring for one with special needs, etc.—it can be added work and effort to an already busy, full, fast moving schedule and life!

To help me in this process, I’ve had to put a few things in place that sometimes gets laughs, maybe even ridiculed. But I don’t like the pressure of the holidays with everything else happening, so I’ve had to make it work for me and our family if we’re all to enjoy it! Here are a few thing that have helped in my life and for our family:

  • I purchase gifts throughout the year. Our list is smaller these days, but as grandchildren are added, the list will increase! As I see something my family member would like, I buy it. I keep a list so I don’t keep buying. I do this because I don’t like the crowds at CHRISTmas and I don’t like the pressure. This for me is so simple and workable.

  • I wrap the gifts in fabric bags I made. I’ve done this for years, and recently updated my fabric bags, giving the previous ones to someone who enjoyed the idea. My fabric was purchased at the end of the CHRISTmas season, to take advantage of the big sales, and then as I had time, I simply made various sized bags to accommodate various sized gifts. I have a drawstring on each, so as I buy a gift, I place it in the bag, tie it in a bow, and put a name tag on it. Done. These bags will be used for years. The first set I made we used for over 25 years. I hope these will be used as long! I do this knowing how much money I spent in the early years on paper that would take hours to wrap, and then recognized that all that money is thrown away. This works well for us.

  • I keep all the bags in one place—a closet that keeps them hidden—so I don’t forget where I put them!

  • I begin writing our CHRISTmas letter every August and keep tweaking it until it’s done. Then, the second week of November I take it to my printer, stuff the envelopes, stamp the cards, and send them so that each family receives them the day after Thanksgiving. Because we’ve done this for years, if our ‘usuals’ don’t get their card, they’re asking if we’re okay! I enjoy writing it, but love it when the letter gets mailed! Done. This year it might be a little later, as our third grandchild was born in November!

  • I don’t bake. I cook. As we have guests and they offer to bring something, I always ask for dessert. We always have too much food anyway, so this is helpful, and we can divide and give extras to our guests to take home—both food and dessert. And by the way, I don’t mind if our guests buy it. I just didn’t have to bake it!

  • Decorating! This part I do love—perhaps because it is a family effort. We decorate the Saturday after Thanksgiving and get it all done in one day. When we downsized a few years ago, I also went through all my decorations, keeping just four bins. For our new little place it’s plenty, but we keep it simple and get it done together. We generally take it down right after the New Year arrives. I love putting it up, but love getting back to normal again!

  • Guests. I used to do a lot more with hospitality, but these days it’s CHRISTmas Eve. The kids like CHRISTmas Day at their places—which we love, so we visit. Depending on the year, I might also have an evening dinner or dessert night with friends. We have so much company throughout the year, we keep the holidays more simple.

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Source: Special Needs Parenting- Key Ministry

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