The Twelve Myths Of Christmas-How to put more jolly in your holly!

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This time of year brings out the absolute best in folks. Unfortunately, the stress and crazed spending also tend to bring out a bit of the worst from time to time as well. With our goal being to enjoy the season and cherish the true spirit of the holidays, I thought I’d bring you the top twelve myths of Christmas and then fully debunk them so we can get past the hangups and get on with the joy!

1. Just because it says “heirloom” on the box, doesn’t mean it will be.cupcakeparty 111

Most of us are looking to make more memories each year that will be cherished for a lifetime. Of course, marketing companies realize this and use words like “heirloom” to tug at our heartstrings, often to the extent that we are able to overlook higher priced tags. Last week I looked at a line of ornaments, trying to find just the right one for our tree this year to commemorate 2009. I almost bought a few different ones but in the end left the store having not spent the twenty plus dollars that any one of the ornaments would have cost me.

Yesterday, we were in Cracker Barrel and I found this birdhouse ornament. Birds are the symbol of Bountiful and this particular birdhouse caught my eye. What better tradition to start the first year at Bountiful than to have a different birdhouse ornament each year? Now, I just wanted to make it more special and came up with the perfect idea. I gave the kids a gold metallic pen and had them sign their names on the back of it. I then put the date and “Bountiful” on the front. Voila, an ornament I will always cherish that cost me less than five dollars.cupcakeparty 109

2. It has to be a store bought gift.

With all of the commercials, billboards, and signs in merchants windows its easier than ever to get caught up in the thinking that everyone on your list must receive a store bought gift but this movement actually works in the favor of those of us who prefer to give gifts of our heart and hands rather than our wallets because they prove to be “better than the norm” and a refreshing change for the person who has it all (and doesn’t want more to clutter things!). Rather than exchanging gifts, bake a loaf of sweet bread or a cake, even casseroles are welcome this time of year where sweets abound. Invite a family over to dinner and exchange handmade ornaments rather than buying gifts. Chances are your gesture will not only be appreciated, but will reduce a great deal of stress on both your family and theirs.

3. I have to be the perfect mother/wife/parent, I must do it all!

This is the myth that causes us the most stress, in my opinion. Ever see those women who seem to have it all together? Their house is immaculate, their children dressed to perfection, gifts are wrapped with designer bows and a perfectly set table awaits her guests. We all inevitably wonder how she does it all and berate ourselves for not being every bit as organized and on the ball as she is. Well, I’m going to let you in on a little secret as to how she does it all: She doesn’t.
No one does it all, and no one can. We’re only human and no one person can do what TV moms do this time of year. If anyone leads you to believe they can do and have it all they are either: 1. lying 2. hiring folks to help behind the scenes

My friend Heather put it perfectly. she said every time her house is immaculate, that means she hasn’t spent much time with her kids that day. It’s all a give and take and something is always giving so the other area can take. Based on this observation, I don’t really feel all that bad about the days my house goes completely neglected because that means I’m focusing more on the important things in my life: my children.

This year is a perfect example for me. I’m working on a book, keeping up with Southern Plate, trying to make sure we have clean laundry and food to eat and to top it off this is the busiest season for myself, the kids, and my blog. Normally, I’m a whirlwind of baking from scratch around Christmas but this year I just don’t have the time I usually do.

Rather than be heartsick that I can’t bake a dozen varieties of cookies from scratch with my kids this year, I just picked up a few rolls of refrigerated cookie dough at the grocery store. I plan on making a different type of cookie with them each night this week and all I have to do to prep for it is pull out the dough and mix up some decorations. My kids and I will have the same experience of being in the kitchen together, making treats and gifts for others, but I won’t have the added stress of trying to squeeze in baking and clean up time that I simply don’t have to offer. Remember, it’s about the time together, not which recipe you use to get that time.

4. I can’t have a party unless my house is dressed to the nines.

Keep it together, keep it in focus. Just as we have the kids turn away from the tv to avoid commercial bombardment of useless toys, we need to also look at magazines and decorating shows with realistic intentions as well. Sure, that designer tree and heavily decked mantle might be gorgeous on the big screen, but in realcupcakeparty 076 life, it can’t hold a candle to your custom created garland of paper dolls decorated with crayons by your budding artist. Which do you think your kids will cherish more: Your house looking like the cover of Martha Stewart Living or the fact that you were so proud of their Rudolph coloring page that you hung it right on the front door for everyone to see?

Keep it lighthearted. When I am in the midst of a flurry of stress, I often stop everything and take a moment to laugh at myself and how silly I must looking running around like the sky is falling. Having a sense of humor not only makes your own life more enjoyable but it helps those around you to be less stressed as well. One of our friends sets the perfect example of this by keeping out plenty of candles in her living room and when unexpected guests come by in the evening she lights the candles and turns the lights off. She says it creates an ambiance and helps hide the dust. “The dust has a pretty glow to it…” she jokes.

This past weekend we had a get together. We invited a few of our friends and their families over to decorate cupcakes and to watch whatever football game was on (I’m gratefully clueless). I had a lot of fun baking cupcakes, making icing, and making different trays and dishes to serve to them. However, when they arrived there were still dirty dishes in the sink and the den could have used a vacuuming. This is where guest list is important :). I knew we had all been pretty busy but still wanted to have people over for the holidays, I knew I didn’t have the time, energy, or inclination to make my house “perfect” and so I invited friends that I knew were in the same boat as me : overworked and just grateful to get together! No one cast a second glance at my dirty dishes and we all had a great time.

5. Every meal has to be a traditional feast.

This is one myth that my family bursts wide open each year when we gather at Mama’s house for our Christmas gathering. By this time we’re plum done in on turkey, ham, and dressing, and ready for a little non traditional food. While we still have the usual holiday desserts, our main meal usually consists of Tex-Mex. This is the only time of the year we eat Mexican at Mama’s and it is a real treat!

6. If I’m going to give homemade gifts, its going to take more time than I have.

While crocheting a scarf would be a lovely thought, not many of us have the kind of time that would need to be invested to accomplish that for everyone on our list. Gift mixes to the rescue! Gift mixes may be put together assembly line style by the entire family and make beautiful gifts that can be enjoyed after the sweets of Christmas have faded away. You’re also giving the receiver the gift of time in the kitchen with their family – just with the added convenience of your ready made mix! I have several gift mix ideas complete with labels on

kraftpaper7. It all has to be perfectly wrapped.

With Christmas budgets already tight, gift wrapping can be a considerable expense, especially if you add in designer bows and the fancier paper. As with gifts, the thought behind the wrapping carries even more weight than whether or not it is reversible designed gold foil. Smaller gifts can easily be wrapped in brown paper lunch sacks and trimmed with a pretty bow or curling ribbon. Larger gifts can be wrapped in kraft paper (that brown paper like you would wrap packages with) and then allow the kids to decorate it especially for the receiver with markers and crayons. Gift tags are great if you let your kids make them themselves. Santa usually leaves a few gifts unwrapped beneath our tree on Christmas morning as well.

cupcakeparty 0828. Nothing I bake will be good enough unless I make it from scratch.

Pfft. Cake and cookie mixes are here to make our life easier. Use ‘em. (See #3)

9. You have to visit your entire family.

This is something my parents had to do as children and we did for the first part of our childhood but after a while of getting up on Christmas morning and opening out new toys, then having to be dragged away and spend the rest of the day going from house to house when we really wanted to be home, my parents decided that enough was enough. Personally, I feel if you have small children and family members who don’t have small children and are able to travel, they should come to you. How much more meaningful will it be for your children to get to share Christmas morning with their grandparents, playing together and talking, rather than in holiday traffic? Christmas is about home and family. If your kids are young, see if you can arrange a family gathering before the big day or invite family members to your house.

10. You have to take professional photos and send them out in fancy cards

Pfft. No one says professional portraits have to be taken to include in cards and I can’t imagine someone being disappointed by you sending out cards that cost $5.00 a box versus $50.00. Christmas cards are a traditional way to reach out to friends and loved ones with well wishes and are still very much appreciated today. It is a lovely thought on your part and a treat on the receiver. All that is needed is a card from your heart, signed with love and well wishes by your hand.

11. The most expensive toys will be the best received.

medium_stickDid you know there is a Toy Hall Of Fame? There sure is, and guess what toy got inducted this year? The stick. I kid you not. The stick just got inducted into the National Toy Hall Of Fame.

Past inductees have been Legos, the baby doll, the ball, and tinker toys. All classics, even if a bit obvious. This just goes to show that the majority of today’s newfangled toys will not become classics and a sad number of them won’t even be remembered past a few days into the new year so don’t berate yourself if folks aren’t unwrapping big dollar items from you. As with everything Christmas, make sure you put love and thought into your gifts and they will be received with love and gratitude.

If you have anyone on your list who feels otherwise, just be glad the Grinches are few and far between!

12. You can never have too many Christmas lights.

Alright, this one myth is gonna have to be debunked by someone else because in my mind, there is no such thing as *enough* Christmas lights! So if you’re like me, GRISWOLD AWAY!!!! disney-mgm-osborne-lights


Love is whats in the room with you at Christmas

if you stop opening presents and listen.

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How do you put more jolly in your holly this time of year?

We’d love to hear your shortcuts, streamlining techniques, or just general ideas that will help us have a Merrier little Christmas in the comments below!

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  1. Thanks so much for posting this! My stress level shot up over the weekend, and reading this has helped. I was looking at all I needed to get done, and I got overwhelmed. I just keep reminding myself that I can only do so much in a day, and can only do one thing at a time.

  2. Awesome Christy! Thank you so very much for this post I so very needed to hear it all right now. This Christmas is hard on us as I’m sure alot of people right now so my hubby & I were like what are we going to do with our extended families. The families start getting bigger & bigger everything is more expensive nowadays. The homemade & crafty ideas are a great idea and something we are very much considering. I also suggest doing a gift exchange if you have a large family draw names this way it cuts down on having to find something for everyone. Wishing you & your family the best!

    1. I also forgot to mention that our Christmases never consist of a ‘traditional’ meal anymore. My in laws usually fix lasagna, garlic bread & salad ..many finger foods everyone brings. Lately though we’ve been having a mix of things, different soups etc everyone has made. Gives us a variety of things to eat and recipes to pass. My family we fix Italian Beef and then will have different finger foods.

    2. When we all married and started having babies, we started drawing names. Eventually we dropped the grown-ups completely (all we really want for Christmas is to be together) and only our kids draw names. They love it! It’s a huge deal to see who gets and who and what they will find for them! We set a limit, too, on how much we spend.

      1. Ou families have grown in leaps and bounds also. Now instead of swapping gifts, we do “Dirty Santa” and everyone enjoys it so much. If anyone wants details on how to do this..feel free to email me. Also I read just this week about a great idea for a Children’s Gift Swap. Each child brings a wrapped book. Then they all sit in a circle and each child holds the gift they brought in their hands. Everyone sings Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer…and everytime you say “reindeer” the children pass the gifts to the right. At the end of the song, they unwrap whatever book they end up with. I absolutely love this idea and am pretty sure I am gonna do it at my Open House this year. I am gonna provide all of the books tho. At my Open House, I ask that people just come over…no food or gifts are allowed to be brought. I go to Sams and Walmart and get ready made goodies (appetizers) and its a no stress family and friends night. Several in the family have said it was their favorite Christmas gathering. It is just about visiting and enjoying each others company…not the gifts and not more holiday food.

  3. Thanks for this Christy! My boys made their lists today (running a bit behind this year!) and my head is swimming with how I am going to get them what they want on a very tight budget. I needed a reminder that it’s not about the number of boxes under the tree, but the joy of the holiday. And I too am a firm believer in being in your own house on Christmas morning. What kid wants to open the present of his dreams and then be told that he can’t play with it because it’s time to hit the road? FORGET THAT!! Takes the fun out of the day! This is the first time in 10 years that I have lived more than 5 minutes from my family, and I have made it perfectly clear that we will not be there on Christmas morning! You can’t please everyone, and I think that my kids’ happiness is more important.
    Hope that you and yours have a wonderful holiday!

    1. Regarding kids and long Christmas lists….We always let our kids “wish” for as many things as they wanted for Christmas. Face it…advertising is aimed at them right now. Both of my kids had huge lists which they sometimes started as early as Labor Day. But, we also told them…put as much as you want on there…then decide on the 3 things you want most and put a star by them. My kids loved doing this. It seemed to make their Christmas lists more fun and those top 3 kept changing. My son even came up with a very sophisticated (for a 5 yr old) ranking system for his list. I still have some of those lists and we all love reminiscing about them and laughing at how hard Robert worked on his list. All that said..I don’t remember if they ever got all 3 top wants on their list. I don’t remember them ever being disappointed in what Santa brought. I just remember all of the fun and great memories. Both of my kids swear they will use this same system with their kids…so I guess that kinda speaks for itself as far as it being a success!

  4. I start Christmas shopping on Dec 26 (my favorite shopping day) for the following year. If I spread it out through the year, I’m not rushed, so I seldom pay full price for anything. I save money and sanity. My shopping is generally finished by Halloween and my gifts are wrapped by Thanksgiving so that I can put them under the tree when we put it up. Then, I can enjoy the holiday deals at leisure for our family needs and not worry about the insane mall traffic at that time of year. I do most of my shopping online because it is easier than taking the kids out 🙂

    1. I start my Christmas shopping around February and am done by the end of September. I have had everything wrapped and under the tree for more than a week. In fact this year I already have one gift put away for next Christmas. When I see something that I know somebody on my list would want, and if the price is within my range I grab it. I just have to remember where I store the items. lol

  5. I am the “Nana” now and where did those years go? I just try to relax and keep telling myself that it is only a day in the year. Special “yes”, but not the end of the earth. I proved this to myself years ago by asking my three young sons about three weeks after Christmas what they got from Santa and who came to visit, and what did we have to eat. The answers were pretty spotty and generic and none of it seemed like it was the big deal we all try to make it. I trimmed my tree Saturday and my sons, 36 and 38, now both exclaimed over two elf ornaments that they had at age one and three and were genuinely pleased that I still had them. I am having Xmas Eve at my house this year and it will be dishes that I can fix ahead and lots of snack type foods so I can enjoy my family and not babysit the kitchen. Any dishes or treats the families want to bring along will be appreciated. Christmas Eve celebrating will alleviate the kids having to leave their celebrating to go run around.I know this is getting long but one more comment. I am having the grandkids come here one day during the week before Christmas and we will bake cookies and wrap their parents gifts in secret. My daughters-in-law are delighted to have the time to wrap in secret and the cookies will be served at our party so the little ones are quite proud to have baked surprises.

  6. I have two magnets on my fridge. One says “Clean up after yourself, Joan is off duty.” The other says “Dull women have immaculate houses.” When it comes to cooking meals from scratch. I do very little of that. I use instant potatoes, canned or jar gravy, stove top type stuffing. I buy dinner rolls, and pies at WalMart. I have a friend that insists that dinner rolls have to be home made and then after she has made these fancy dinner rolls and taken them where ever she is going, she spends a week complaining about how sore her shoulders are from all the kneading. Pies have to be home made, instant potatoes are a no-no, etc. She about died when I mentioned buy potato salad at the deli, but to me it isn’t worth all the work for my adult mentally disabled daughter and myself. Her reasoning is all of these items are better home made. That might be, but my shoulders are bad, witht the right one being the worst, and that is the one that does most of my work, and it just isn’t worth the increase in pain to do these things. I figure when you get to being Grandmas it is OK to take a few short cuts.

    1. You are so right, Joan! No one wants to eat a roll and have to hear about how someone martyred themselves to make it for you. I’d much rather enjoy your smiling face and store bought rolls, knowing that both of us are relaxed enough to enjoy our time together!

      I love homemade rolls, but I’m also an equal fan of brown and serve!

    2. Pillsbury crescent rolls are my kids favorite … and the King’s Hawaiian rolls are always good and especially for little sandwich sliders later! No meal or baked goods are worth it, if you’re worn out from too much prep even before the family or guests arrive!

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