Organizing Blog

Take A Holiday From Tradition


What is a tradition? It is the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way.

Most of us celebrate the holidays the same way every year. The rituals of shopping, gift giving, holiday cards, decorating, baking, parties and visits to family near and far are a non-stop, high-speed dash through the holiday season. We hope to fit everything in before New Year’s Day arrives – and if we don’t … we continue these rituals into January! It is ABSOLUTELY OK to simplify your holidays so you have more time to enjoy them!

Let’s apply the Major Mom Method to organize our holidays!

Picture It: Call a family meeting. It is a good idea to include grandparents and aunts or uncles in the conversation. Get everyone’s input on what are the favorite family traditions: Big family dinners, sleigh rides, lighted harbor cruises, caroling, charity work, church or temple services, cookie exchanges, a night at the symphony or the local theater, a vacation getaway – it will be fun to hear what everyone has to say … especially the little ones!

Plan It: As a family, decide which traditions will continue during this holiday season and which traditions will change this year. Have a family note taker send the decisions to everyone (via email or mail) so everyone can remember the details. Publish a family calendar: it’s easiest for all if everyone knows who will be at which house for dinner on which day – it can be so confusing with large, extended families.

Gift Giving: Gift giving is certainly one the most stressful aspects of the holiday season! How can you change this? Try these ideas:

– Set a budget – and stick to it!
– Ask family members what they really want for the holidays & let them know what you want, too!
– In large families, do a gift exchange – each family member picks a name and buys a gift ONLY for that person.
– Skip the gifts this year and focus on family time: special meals, game nights, movie time, and fun excursions!
– Only give EXPERIENCES:

  • Tickets to a play, concert or sporting events
  • Green fees, fishing licenses, recreation center memberships
  • Annual Memberships to museums, zoos, aquariums
  • Fees for athletic teams, dance lessons, music lessons
  • Pet food, shots and annual exams
  • Gift Certificates to restaurants, fun centers, bowling alleys
  • Gift Certificates to spa days, mani/pedi outings, massages
  • Car washes, dry cleaning, maid service
  • Baby sitting and pet sitting services
  • Lawn care or snow shoveling services
  • Haircuts, shaves, shoe shines
  • Lift tickets, scuba lessons, zip lining
  • Vacations

The possibilities are endless! There are so many gifts you can give that will add absolutely NO clutter to your home!!

Once you have a picture and a plan for your holidays, proceed with the S.T.E.P.S.:

Sort: Collect all of the holiday ideas for your family, and sort by “must do’s,” “hope to do’s,” and “nice but not a priority.”

Treasure: Work on your family calendar and budget. Put all of your “must do’s,” on the calendar. Those are your treasures. Then try to work in the “hope to do’s,” and lastly accommodate the “non-priorities,” only if possible.

Establish the details: What are the costs? Who will attend each event? Are reservations necessary? Make the planning easier by putting one family member in charge of each event. If one person is left to coordinate every event, chances are his or her holiday will be stressful. Spreading the work also means spreading the fun!!

Put your own special touches on each event:

  • Have everyone pose in the same color sweater for a family photo every year
  • Choose a family traditional beverage: hot apple cider, eggnog, cherry punch
  • Let everyone write two to three lines of the family newsletter
  • Choose a holiday movie you watch every year as a family
  • Turn off all electronics for 24 hours and focus on family time
  • Select a charity to support every year
  • Create family interview videos: what will your six-year-old ask grandpa?!

Start New Habits: Traditions develop because kids learn from their parents. What traditions do you want your kids to share with their kids? If spending, overeating, and crankiness are your holiday traditions – it’s time to change! It’s never too late. It always starts with an idea, leads to a conversation, and ends with a great new experience. Give it a try this year. Remember, even a little bit of change makes a difference. Don’t be paralyzed by perfection – the most important holiday tradition of all should be to spend time with your loved ones.