There are a million and one ways to have a great family holiday. You can find most of them on Pinterest. But I’m not sure why no one is talking about how to RUIN your family holiday. So many people have terrible holiday seasons—this list of 15 ways to ruin your family holiday should help you on your way.
For best results? Try all of them. Then repeat.
15 Ways to Ruin Your Family Holiday
1. Make all plans without consulting any extended family. Be completely rigid and inflexible.
2. Or, the opposite: make no plans. Refuse to agree to other people’s plans. Say, “I just want things to happen as they happen.”
3. Go on a diet. Insist that all meals be prepared accordingly. If no one agrees, make passive aggressive comments around the table.
4. Plan to take a family photograph with every single family member in it. Rather than using one camera, use a one camera/one cell phone photo per person ratio. Do not stop taking photos until each person is smiling and looking at the camera, even children. Preferably plan this just before lunch or just before nap time.
5. Invite both sides of your family to stay at your house. Don’t tell either until they arrive.
6. Volunteer to bake or help with everything, but actually do nothing.
7. Make sure your kids have holiday outfits they wear all day and demand they don’t get dirty. Pick dry-clean only fabrics.
8. Don’t put tags on any gifts. Whatever people open, they must keep. No exceptions.
9. Make holiday travel plans at the last minute. Don’t ask if you can stay with family or friends. Just show up.
10. Read a long passage or story about your family holiday around the table. Especially if you have small children. Don’t let anyone eat until you are done reading.
11. Plan family dinner for 8pm. Do not allow for any snacking, but start pouring the adults glasses of wine and the kids glasses of juice at 5pm.
12. Make a list of recipes and crafts from Pinterest and do them ALL. If they don’t come out as perfectly as the photos, DO THEM AGAIN UNTIL YOU GET IT RIGHT.
13. Discuss politics/religion/vaccinations/co-sleeping/the economy/the direction the toilet paper should go in/college sports as much as possible in large groups.
14. Tell your kids Santa isn’t real just before you walk into a room full of their cousins/friends who still think Santa IS real.
15. Have ridiculously high expectations for everything.
It’s so easy to ruin the holidays, right? This time of year can be filled with so much wonder…or so much pain and difficulty. Stress over money, family, and expectations. Sometimes the memory of family members who are no longer there. (Or is that just my family??)
If you DON’T want to ruin your family holiday, the list is much shorter.
How NOT to Ruin Your Family Holiday
Lower your expectations.
Whenever possible, extend grace.
Remember the reason you are celebrating.
Those four things sound simple, but are much more complicated to carry out. Being flexible when you’re making travel plans is no easy thing. It’s hard to extend grace when a family member tramples your rights. (And there is a time for conflict resolution as well!) Lowering expectations in a high expectation time? That takes mad skill. And while it’s hard to forget the reason we are celebrating these holidays, in the moment when you realize the turkey you left out to thaw actually spoiled, it can be REALLY difficult to give thanks. (True story from a Facebook reader. Yikes!)
Don’t get caught up in outward appearances or competing with that imaginary supermom or super-person you see in your head. If you want to enjoy your holiday, it can’t be about having the best Christmas card or bringing the tastiest dish or even out-whatever-ing your sister-in-law. Make memories, even messy ones. Enjoy the moments, even if they don’t turn out as planned. Laugh at the things that go wrong and immortalize those holiday disasters in stories you’ll tell ever year. Take a quiet moment to remember the loved ones you miss. Forgive those little (and big) hurts that may come your way.
I read something amazing today: Perfection steals joy. I want to take that a step further:
Trying to be perfect will steal your joy.
We aren’t perfect. The whole point of Jesus coming and of Christmas is that we aren’t perfect! Jesus took on humanity and was born as a baby to live a perfect life that we can’t live and then die in our place on the cross. This should FREE us from feeling like we need to be perfect. We aren’t. We won’t be. Let Jesus be enough.
Enjoy your holiday season with all your imperfections, mistakes, and flubs. Even those can be special moments and memories! And if you want crafts, books, advent calendars, gift ideas and more, you can check out this board on Pinterest. (But remember—none of those pinners are perfect either! See my post on Pinterest Imperfection if you’re feeling intimidated or tempted to compare.)