31 Days Living Inside Out: Holiday Expectations, Part 2

Do you feel like you're getting a handle on your holiday expectations? Are you able to finally breathe and say "you know, such and such doesn't really matter, it's the relationships and memories that really matter". Still not quite sure? Start out by making a few lists.

1.  A list of traditions:

  •      If you are married, ones handed down from both sides of the family and ones you might want to start for yourselves. 
  • If you are single but maybe living on your own or with roommates you can do the same, or you can think of a new tradition you want to incorporate in to your family or with friends.
  • Traditions would include things like:
    • When do we get a tree
    • What kinds of goodies get made
    • When do we open presents
    • Fill in the blanks.....

2.  A list of expectations:

  • Meals: Who will host, what will be served, who will bring what, who to invite
  • Gifts: Will names be exchanged throughout all extended family on all sides, gifts for just immediate family, gifts for friends, how much will be spent.
  • Decorations: Full on Better Homes and Gardens Cover Issue, simple yet meaningful, or not at all.
  • Family participation: Do you expect everyone to jump on board with your plans (do they even know your plans)
  • The entire house needs to be decked out in lights..I don't care what it costs.
  • Fill in your own blanks
Now, go through that list and decide what is realistic and what can be put in the "round file", even if it's not a permanent round file, you just realize that for now, this isn't going to work. I truly believe we can lower our expectations without compromising quality, memories, tradition. It just means we're willing to make adjustments for the good of everyone around us.

Here are some things that we have done:

  • We had decided that once we had kids, we wanted to spend Christmas morning at our own house. Now, this wasn't set in stone and sometimes we changed that, but it was important to us so we made plans to travel to visit family later that morning.
  • We also decided that we didn't HAVE to celebrate with family on those specific days, we could celebrate the next weekend or whenever it worked for everyone. 
  • My mom used to always do seafood on Christmas Eve, but hubby isn't as huge of a fan and it's spendy so we changed it up and now I make Clam Chowder for Christmas Eve
  • We used to buy gifts for everyone in the extended family (parents, siblings, nieces/nephews) and friends. Over the years we've had to adjust that as finances change, and if we do buy gifts for others we don't break the bank. We don't break the bank anyways.
  • Every Christmas morning I make cinnamon rolls. I don't know how this one started, but somewhere along the line it became our tradition and it has stuck.
  • While my hubby's family used to open all their presents on Christmas Eve, I just couldn't do it, so sometimes we open one on Christmas Eve and the rest in the morning.
  • As much as I love to host holiday, my Mother In Law really loves it and prefers if we have the holiday at their house. I decided I was okay with that and always make sure I bring several dishes to share. We usually head to their house early and spend the day. 
  • Every now and then we do a Christmas Card, but that can get expensive so sometimes I've done an email letter, or we've done a FB video or something creative and not as expensive.
  • When money is tight I cut down on the baked goods I make (because I usually cannot remember to buy things a little as a time in the months leading up to the holidays).
So you see, sometimes you just need to adjust your expectations in order to more fully enjoy the holidays. The above are just a few things we've done. Your expectations will look different than mine, or your sisters or someone elses. Just go with your flow and enjoy yourselves. 

With Joy UNquenchable,


  1. We don't have Thanksgiving here, of course, but my way of coping with Christmas is not to think about it at all until December 1.


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