Tuesday, December 21, 2010

How To Have A Zen Christmas By Betsy Henry


Life is really simple but we insist on making it complicated.
~Confusius

He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree. 
~Roy L. Smith

One of my preschoolers excitedly told me today that there are 16 days until Christmas.  YIKES!

I admit it.  I’m behind this Christmas.  Some holiday seasons I have everything ready to go by Thanksgiving.  This year, I’m helping my parents move, hosted a fundraiser for my preschool.

How can you make your Christmas more “Zen like”?  How can you let go and be closer to the true meaning of Christmas? For me this means being closer to my family.

There are so many reasons Christmas gets hectic.  One is our high expectations of what we can accomplish.  Another is the feeling you have to see all your family and friends.  You can’t say no to anything.  Another reason Christmas gets crazy is that we worry about what other people will think if we don’t make it to the cookie exchange and we’re not volunteering at the soup kitchen or our Christmas lights aren’t up yet.  There can be huge anxiety associated with Christmas.  Debt can be one of those anxieties.

Take the Christmas season back!
  Make it about your kids and being a kid again!  I decided to research simple Christmas ideas and here’s what I came up with:

1.  Make meaningful presents like a photo album or a framed picture. This year I'm making photo cards for all my family.

2. You don’t have to send a Christmas card.  I didn’t last year.  But if you do, try to get your Christmas card or letter done in November.  I may work on it this weekend. But maybe not!

3. Plan to get some items online like amazon.com.  Amazon has free shipping after you spend $25.  You can send the gift directly to the recipient also saving on time and money.

4. Pick family names out of a hat; don’t buy a present for everyone in the family.  And as young kids get older they can join the adults.

5. Entertain less and go out less.  One night at home eating chili and watching a movie and you’ll be hooked! (We're actually having chili tonight!)

6. Have Christmas traditions.  You don’t need to spend a lot of money.  Our family gets one big gift per person and then does little things for each other.  Baking cookies and reading favorite holiday stories can be some of the best presents.  We have a tradition of always doing the tree together.  We also watch “A Christmas Carol” together every year (The Muppet one!).  We have a family meal together at our favorite Greek restaurant every Dec. 18th.  These traditions are just as important as Christmas Day.

7. Have the kids do their shopping for family members themselves.  We go to the dollar store and 2nd hand shops.  They love the giving as much as the receiving.  It’s very meaningful.

8. Regift! Shop at 2nd hand shops.  I find so many treasures. Spend wisely.  Keep a list of what you’re spending.  You don’t have to spend a lot of money to make someone happy!  They are often just happy you thought of them.

9. Lower expectation of family members.  I have some friends who don’t enjoy Christmas because they’re expected to see all their family.  You can’t be everywhere and please everyone.  If you expect that this year everyone will be different, you should lower your expectations.  Then you won’t be disappointed.

10. Help others.  Every year we pick a family who is having a tough year and leave secret gifts outside their door for the first “12 Days of Christmas”.  The first day is A Partrige in a Pear Tree.  We try to find something that has to do with a pear or a partidge.  Sometimes it's hard but we manage to think of ideas.  The kids love ringing the doorbell and running away.  Also, being an anonymous giver is part of the fun, too.

Here are some wonderful low cost ideas for this Christmas

1.  Plastic stemless wine glasses are inexpensive and look like glass.  I'm giving this with a inexpensive bottle of wine for our preschool exchange.

2. Through blogging I have come across some great books. Here are two I recommend:
Courage & Croissants: 

I loved this book!  Jean and Suzanne leave their hectic San Francisco life and move to the south of France with their young daughter. There, they unplug and search for the joie de vivre missing for so many modern families. It is an act of taking back control of life in small and big ways, reclaiming their creative sides while embracing a change of priorities and pace. Courage and Croissants brings readers along on this journey. A gripping memoir and guidebook!!


Zensational Living: Loaded with sensible advice, Zen-Sational Living is a road-map for making good decisions and being your best. From the basics of Zen, to health (mental and physical), creating a personal space, and everything in between! Whether you're in need of a boost, a change, or are starting on your own road of self-discovery, ZEN-SATIONAL LIVING will guide you on your journey. Your life will change with easy to follow chapters on judgment, focus, compassion, forgiveness, stress, relaxation, and many more.


And don't forget my books!!  :)














3. Apple Photo Albums (or others like Snapfish) If you have a mac computer it's easy to make little professional photo albums with iphoto.  I've made one each year and it's everyone's favorite present!

Good luck and hope you find yourself having a more zen like Christmas.  I'll let you know how mine goes!

Picture credit: http://best-christmas-online.com/

Written By Guest Author Betsy Henry From Zen Mama.
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