five rules for an awesome christmas

I was once in a relationship with someone who hated Christmas. This was completely unfathomable to me, and, not for this reason alone though it did cross my mind, we broke up. Listen, I totally respect that different people love different things, but I knew that for my life and my future, a love of Christmas was essential.

So here we are, just five days away. I finally finished all my shopping last night, and now I can just relax (as much as a young momma can) and enjoy the spirit of the season. Because I have control issues and like things to be just so, there is a list in my mind of how to make sure every Christmas is awesome. A few of these are traditions I grew up with, others are ideas I want to implement in our little family going forward.

Rule #1: Be excessively celebratory at every opportunity.

This is the time to “sing loud for all to hear,” to quote Elf. All that pent up enthusiasm you’ve been so carefully restraining all year long—let it out, my friend. Smile and sing, laugh and love, dance and decorate to excess. My mom has like 30 nativity scenes that she sets up around the house. This is the kind of commitment I’m talking about, people! Find the thing you love most about the season and do it 30 times!

Rule #2: Decorate the tree as a family while listening to Christmas music.

Sure, you can decorate the tree by yourself, but it takes a lot of time, and the process is immensely enhanced by making it a family activity. Turn up the Carpenters Christmas album, or Nat King Cole, or even that Hanson Christmas album you pretended to throw away when you turned 12 but have been keeping in your iTunes for over a decade. Dance as you decorate, and have fun with each other. This is how memories are made.

Rule #3: Don’t forget to watch your favorite Christmas movies.

How sad is it to be scrolling through Netflix a week after Christmas and realize you forgot to watch Home Alone? Sure, you can watch it anytime, but for maximum Christmas magic, you need to pull out the DVDs (or add the movies to your Netflix queue), gather your family and friends, and watch. A few of my favorites:

  • Home Alone
  • Home Alone 2
  • The Holiday
  • Elf
  • It’s a Wonderful Life
  • The Nativity Story
  • Mr. Krueger’s Christmas
  • The Family Stone

Rule #4: Dress up for Christmas dinner.

Or Christmas Eve dinner. Whichever one is the biggest in your household. Dress up because, let’s be real here, this is probably one of maybe two or three days out of 365 each year you look forward to the most. It’s a big deal! So bust out your finest red, green, or gold, or just whatever makes you feel fancy and fabulous. This is one we didn’t do growing up but that I’m determined to establish in my own household.

Rule #5: Spread holiday cheer to your neighbor(s)

Christmas is about giving, but not just to close friends and family. Do something to serve your neighbor or others in need. A few ideas:

  • Bake a treat to take around to all your neighbors
  • Go Christmas caroling
  • Volunteer for an afternoon at an elderly home
  • Participate in Sub for Santa
  • Be a secret Santa for a neighbor or coworker—everyone loves surprise gifts!

For many of you, today is the last day before one of two weeks of vacation, so enjoy! Be merry and festive!

Sidenote: If you have severely procrastinated your Christmas shopping like I did, you may have discovered that it’s hard to find places online that will ship in time for Christmas, at least without a huge shipping charge. I discovered yesterday that Madewell is offering free shipping in time for Christmas if you order by tomorrow, plus 30% off all order with code TOYOU. They have some good stuff! Also, Nordstrom. Because they’re Nordstrom.

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