Planning a Calm Christmas

by | Self Care, Slow Living

For many of us, Christmas is not something we’d describe as calm. Depending on your situation, Christmas can be busy, stressful and actually, not as enjoyable as you’d like it to be! Going back many years I used to work at Boots as a Christmas Girl, I’m most definitely sending solidarity to anyone who works in retail at this time of year!

It also feels to me like Christmas has reached new heights of commercialism over the last few years and can be very disconnected from what we would like Christmas to look like for us.

I was thinking over lots of these things while working my way through my own Wholehearted Course when I calm across the book Calm Christmas from Beth Kempton (affiliate link). It’s an absolutely glorious book – if you resonate with anything I share around intentional and wholehearted living I’m sure you’ll love it too!

This post is inspired by that book and I wanted to share some of the ways I’m trying to be more intentional this Christmas so it is indeed, calm and slow!

Something the book helps you do is look at what elements of Christmas are really important to you, like abundance, magic, heritage, faith etc. This really helped me think about what elements are important and what elements actually aren’t that important to us as a family and that we can therefore let go of.

What came out as most important for me were things like creating magic for my children, acknowledging the nature based origins of the season, i.e. marking the Winter Solstice and spending time with friends and family.

These are a few of the traditions I want to be intentional about creating in our family:

Putting up the tree together the first weekend of December and making a real day of it – Christmas movies and hot chocolates!

Wreath making – this year me and some friends have signed up for a wreath making class and this is something I’d like to do each year if possible.

Going to a Christmas / Santa event with our friends – the last several years a big group of us have done a proper Christmas event which included seeing Santa. This has been so magical for the kids and I love doing something like that as a group of friends.

Getting out in nature around the Solstice – last year Finley and I visited a park to feed some deer and hung out bird feeders in the garden. Then we had a nice dinner with lots of candles lit and a chocolate yule log for dessert. We talked about the winter solstice and read poems and books together.

A Christmas wrapping day – something I like to do myself is have a Christmas wrapping day where I get all the gifts wrapped and watch Christmas movies or watch reruns of Christmas cooking shows from Jamie Oliver or Nigella Lawson! That puts me right in the Christmassy mood!

Big Christmas Food Shop – I love doing my big Christmas food shop! To be fair, we don’t get loads in after years of realising we bought far too much, but I do enjoy getting some specific Christmassy foods in. I also make a donation to the food bank at this time too.

Christmas Eve – I think I might actually enjoy Christmas Eve more than Christmas day! In years gone by, before kids, James and I used to meet up with work colleagues and have a few drinks before all heading to my parents local pub where loads of our family would meet up. Obviously this isn’t so practical when you have kids, so our Christmas Eve looks a lot different!

Unfortunately James often has to work, but we try and get out for a walk somewhere with my parents before coming home and making cookies and watching Christmas movies. I now give Finley a new pair of Christmas PJs to wear for bed too. We put out a cookie for Santa and a carrot for the reindeer, then once he’s asleep James and I bring the presents down and watch Die Hard with a glass or too of something nice!

Christmas Day – seeing family was the highlight of Christmas Day for me as a child, we had a massive family and I loved it! So we always have lunch with my parents and make sure we see my sisters family too.

These are the little traditions that are important to us as a family and the ones I feel are sustainable to keep up with especially if you add in all the school events too!

Gift giving

I’ve really been thinking about how we set ourselves up as a family going forward when it comes to gift giving for the future.

I do really enjoy picking out the perfect gift for someone and giving it to them, but at the same time I’m very aware of not wanting to be wasteful or overspending! I’m also working on supporting small independent makers and businesses, but this has been hard and we have done a few Amazon orders. I’m giving myself some slack here, recognising the phase of life I’m in and being ok with what I have managed to do.

James and I are already very minimal when it comes to buying for each other. This year I’ve got him a Marvel Comic subscription and a bottle of very good Whisky and he’s bought me a beautiful gold locket I picked out from Cult of Youth. These are from Finley too, but I think next year we’ll get him more involved in picking out gifts for us.

We then only really buy for our immediate family and then a secret santa between my friends.

When it comes to Finley we’re trying not to go over the top. Something I picked up on in my own mindset was that because he didn’t have a physically large present (like a bike or giant plastic garage which he got last year) his pile of presents will look small. But I recognise that if we go down that path every year we’ll be searching for something ‘big’ which is just daft! I know that with a smaller more well thought out selection of gifts he’ll still be perfectly happy and we won’t be wasting money on items that might leave him feeling overwhelmed or not get played with anyways!

Linked to this, we have a specific take on Santa and his gifts too. Santa is magical, but we tell Finley that he’s brought only a selection of his gifts, not all of them. As he gets older and kids start comparing gifts, we don’t want him to think any children are more or less deserving of gifts from Santa because of their parents financial situations. We also want him to see that some of them are from us!

The between time – Romjul

Something that’s also key to a calm Christmas for us, and which is also covered in the book is having lots of time to relax between Christmas and New Year, something in Norway they call Romjul. This year I’ll be very pregnant and hoping I can make it to January (!) so we definitely will not be doing much but spending time together and seeing friends and family, like a slow pause before the brand new year begins.

Things we don’t do

We don’t do Elf on the Shelf (it’s just not for us, although I know some families love it), we don’t do church but we do talk about the Nativity and listen to carols and share that alongside Santa and the Solstice all as parts of what make Christmas, Christmas!

I also have a rule against going to the shops during the day once December hits if I can at all help it – we’ve already had a few times we’ve had to drive around in car parks trying to find a space and that’s in November – bugger that stress! Hence I’m online all the way after the 1st!

Also this year with me being very pregnant I’ve also declined quite a few invites to kids parties and things that are also happening over the festive season. Finley doesn’t really know any different at this age and I knew if I didn’t have a boundary around this I’d start and feel exhausted, frantic and maybe even a bit anxious due to just not having the space to feel calm and slow.

I’d love to know what a calm Christmas looks like for you. How intentional are you with how you spend Christmas? Are you making any changes this year to make it feel better for you and your family?

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Laura Agar Wilson is a wellbeing coach and business mentor who helps overwhelmed women live a life of more intention via planning, routines and seasonal living.

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