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Reducing Holiday Stress and Recapturing the Magic of the Season

Two market bags hang from the rail, in a southern home that's decorated for Christmas.

The Aim is Connection, Not Perfection

Do you ever feel like the holidays fall short of your expectations? That they’re less chestnuts-roasting-on-an-open-fire and more running-around-like-your-hair’s-on-fire?

At Urban Southern, we believe in getting back to the true spirit of the holidays: a time of togetherness and gratitude for what we already have, instead of what we can newly acquire.

That’s why we’ve compiled our 3 top tips for slowing down and savoring the holidays, instead of being overrun by them.

 

 

Tip #1 – Spread the Work Out Where You Can

Though there are different root causes for it, time scarcity is common for many of us in our society. And that’s purely considering our day-to-day lives. It doesn’t include all the “extras” that come along with the holidays.

The elaborate meals or parties to attend and host, special school programs and religious services, and the time and planning that gift-giving requires, on top of an already packed schedule, is a recipe for holiday burnout.

One way to lessen the stress of holiday busyness is by spreading tasks out over more time wherever possible. This could look like starting your gift shopping months in advance, or simply making certain sides or desserts a day ahead of the actual holiday meal. Big or small, these changes can help you avoid feeling like you have more to do than you could possibly have time for.

Another way to avoid the burnout that comes with a neverending to-do list is to delegate or work together on tasks. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, or even just company, as you make your way down the list. This could be as simple as asking your spouse to take over some food prep you would typically handle yourself or having a gift wrapping get-together with friends.

After all, many hands make light work. Help in the kitchen when you’re making an elaborate meal is not too much to ask. And playing some music, sipping some cocoa, and enjoying time in good-fellowship as you wrap gifts can turn a typically mundane chore into a time to recharge your spirit.

 

A mini market tote that has been styled for Christmas.

Tip #2 – Keep Your Traditions Simple

You’ve probably seen pictures of the Christmas Eve boxes that have become a trend in recent years. Parents pack a gift box with new (usually themed) pajamas and/or slippers, a Christmas movie or book, and hot cocoa or other treats. Kids open these boxes on Christmas Eve with the idea of enjoying a cozy night together as a family.

It’s an adorable idea and we can see why it’s caught on BUT…

Traditions don’t have to be perfectly packaged to be special. Opting for simple holiday traditions, rather than elaborate ones, is a great way to soak up the true spirit of the season.

A great example of this comes from our social media director, Sadie. When Sadie was little her family would always open gifts on Christmas Eve. What Sadie remembers most fondly about this tradition is that it was done by candlelight. The simple act of turning off the lights and lighting candles instead gave their exchange a cozy ambiance and made it all feel extra special.

Urban Southern’s production manager, Ruby’s favorite Christmas tradition growing up was when she and her 6 sisters would each bake their favorite Christmas cookie or candy. With 7 girls, that meant a lot of sweets were made! Ruby says the best part was that on Christmas day they were allowed to each indulge in as many of the treats as they liked.

Production assistant Joetta’s favorite simple tradition was when her mother would hide the pieces from the family nativity set around the house for them to find. Whoever found the Jesus piece won a prize but everyone enjoyed the search even if they didn’t win.

These are all great examples of how very simple traditions can become the most beloved. By making small adjustments, working with what you have, and focusing on togetherness, you can implement traditions that allow you to enjoy the season without adding to your stress.

 

 

Tip #3 – Aim for Connection Over Perfection

In the age of Pinterest and Instagram feeds, many of us feel more pressure than ever to keep everything camera-ready. Add the weight of a special occasion and that pressure only intensifies. That’s why it’s so important to remind yourself that what you see on Instagram or Pinterest is more like a highlight reel and shouldn’t be compared to your “behind-the-scenes” life.

Doing your best to let go of picture-perfect standards is key to reclaiming the true spirit of the holidays. As satisfying as it may be to have your house look like a spread in a magazine for a holiday gathering, chances are that’s not what you and your guests will remember about the evening.

They’ll remember the funny story an uncle told or a silly play the grandchildren put on for the grownups. They’ll remember how delicious the food tasted or the fun they had dancing to great music. Simply put, they’ll remember the way they felt in your home, and decor is only a very small part of that.

So give yourself a break and let go of worrying about everything being social-media ready.  We promise your guests won’t notice if your baseboards are a little bit dusty or your serving ware doesn’t match perfectly. They’re coming to spend time with you and your family, which is what the holiday season is truly about.

We hope these tips help you have a more peaceful and restorative 2019 holiday season. We’d love to hear about your favorite holiday traditions! Tell us about them and anything else that embodies the true spirit of the season for you in the comments!

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