Hello! My name is Melissa, and I am a homemaker and artist living in Texas. I believe deeply in cultivating home as a sacred place for you and your family to come together and be restored. Life has a way of being chaotic, and the holiday season often comes with its own frenzy. I would love to share my thoughts with you on how we can reclaim and savor the holidays this season as one of intention and nourishment for our families.
There are two primary ways we can go about reclaiming the holidays from the frenzy: by shifting our perspective and by guarding our time. These both take practice and time to learn how it works best for you, so take it slow. Try things that feel natural to you and the flow of your family life. This is not about life-altering changes, just gentle nudges and shifts that in time can begin to guide towards a natural rhythm. I like to keep track of ideas and jot down thoughts about shifts in routines in a notebook so I can look back and get an overall feel for what is and isn’t working. Have grace for yourself and remind yourself that there is no final destination in creating a slower home, just the journey, which is the beauty of it.
Shifting Your Perspective
Shifting your perspective on the holiday season can be difficult but is worthwhile. The looming message of the season is that the holidays are almost here. Deadlines must be met, events attended, shipping days are slipping by. It is hard to not internalize that message and feel more rushed and frantic.
I like to counteract this by finding time each day to slow down and be present and enjoy the season. This can be making a new recipe for dinner, going to bed early, taking a long bath, starting a new tradition with your family, or reading a good book. Anything flies that gives you a moment to breathe and quiets your mind. On a practical note, I also like to take this time as an opportunity to unsubscribe from mail and email lists! This way, I am not bombarded every day by someone else’s idea of what I need and when I need to buy it. This has helped me tremendously with my perspective shift both during the holidays and throughout the year.
Guarding Your Time
Guarding your time looks different for each family, and this can look different in each season. At the beginning of an upcoming season, I ask myself this question, “what are our priorities in this season?” The answer to this question helps to shape our days without feeling so overwhelmed by rules. Mindfulness allows for breathing room and rest, no matter the season. In the summer months, the sun is out longer, and time is naturally spent outdoors. In the winter months, we like to escape the chill and be cozy inside, spending quality time together at home.
I find the holidays in particular foster this need for comfort and warmth in our family. We tend to prioritize time at home by creating unique traditions and routines that we look forward to. Most of my favorite holiday memories are centered around being home and present with my family and friends. I carry those memories on by creating new traditions and routines to encourage slowing down during this time.
Creating & Savoring Holiday Traditions
I’m sure many of us share similar traditions and routines during the season: putting up the tree with our favorite ornaments, decorating our homes, and playing holiday albums. I love that Christmas brings so many cherished traditions along with it.
Traditions have a particular way of connecting us with loved ones and the present moment. Looking back at holidays past, it is the traditions and the people I enjoy them with, rather than gifts that I remember. Traditions don’t have to be expensive or take up a lot of time or energy. I encourage you to tailor traditions to your family and to let go of expectations concerning them. It’s all about creating memories and being together, even if they don’t turn out as planned!
Traditions That Help You Savor the Holidays
- Candlelit dinners: These are often written off as purely romantic endeavors, but I beg to differ! During these darker months lighting candles while cooking and eating make it seem like a special event. I find it easier to set aside our devices and engage in conversation over piping hot soup and drippy taper candles.
- Puzzles: Puzzles are one of our favorite things to do during the longer evenings. I love to find winter or Christmas themed puzzles, but there are so many beautiful and fun options out there! I like to place them on a table where it can be slowly worked on, which is such a fun and relaxing activity for friends and family who visit as well.
- Fudge Day: We grew up with one day in mid-December being fudge day. It was one of our favorite days during the holiday season, and one we still all gather for. We would spend all day in the kitchen “helping” Mom make our family fudge recipe with Christmas music playing, lots of laughter, and plenty of spoons filled with hot fudge. Once it was made and cooled, we would package them and gift them to friends, neighbors, and our mailman. This is such a fun way to give to others and to create memories while doing it.
- Light Looking: I always appreciate a free activity in the holiday months, and light looking is a favorite of ours. We will bring snacks with us and maybe stop by a favorite local coffee shop for cocoa before heading into the neighborhoods. If you ask around, you can probably get tips on where the best light displays are in your city, or maybe your city has a designated light tour like ours does!
- Holiday Handicrafts: Crafts can bring so much joy to the holiday season, whether you are doing them with your children or by yourself. I have so many fond memories of doing crafts that my Mom came up with, from coloring Christmas cards to making salt dough ornaments and beyond. I still love to incorporate a craft in the season to do myself or with friends. Some ideas are making wreaths, advent calendars, rolling beeswax candles for gifts, sewing a stocking, or knitting teeny ornaments. Whether they are for you to enjoy or for a gift, there is truly nothing better than something made with love.
- Simmer Pots: On days where we are staying home, I love to set a simmer pot on the stove. It makes your house smell divine and incredibly festive. There are so many different ingredients you can add. Still, I often keep it simple with oranges and apples, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, and other things I may have on hand to toss in. You really can’t go wrong! Whatever combination you decide on, slice the fruit if needed, and place everything in a full pot of water on the stovetop. Simmer on low, and as the day goes on, keep the water level above halfway. Some of my favorite combinations are:
- cranberries + orange + cinnamon
- apple + clove + cardamom
- orange+cranberries+rosemary+star anise
- a fresh spring off your garland (cedar, spruce, etc.) + orange + apple
- cinnamon + nutmeg + cardamom + star anise + peppercorn + orange
- Putter: Set aside time to simply enjoy the season. Play music, lay under the tree, snuggle under a blanket to watch your favorite Christmas movie, make a blanket fort, perfect your hot cocoa recipe. Spending time at home puttering is one of my favorite things to do when the tree is up, and all the lights are twinkling.
- Reading Together: Reading holiday books with family is a sweet memory of mine, and it is a nice way to take a moment and enjoy being together. Mom often found Christmas books secondhand throughout the year, and as the years went by, we had favorites we always wanted to re-read. Making an advent calendar from your beloved books is a fun way to bring excitement to each day. No need to buy all new books each year, just mix in any new finds with the familiar ones. Wrap up each book and number them, and count down the days with a favorite read!
These traditions are some of my favorite things about the season, and I hope that they might encourage you to adapt and rework them to fit the flow of your daily life. The holiday season is often the season that slower living can most tangibly nurture you and your loved ones. The cold, shorter days that encourage you to enjoy warm soups and roasts, and the candles and twinkling lights are all reminders to be present and enjoy this time that we have.
Creating a slower home is a journey that you will be on your whole life, but it is a rewarding and beautiful one. I hope that this season and the new year to come are full of joy, hope, laughter, and growth for you and your loved ones.
Melissa is a homemaker and artist living in Texas. She is currently practicing watercolors, quilting, and photography. She believes in pursuing a mindful, slower-paced life, and is always seeking out simple, sustainable practices for her home.
Be sure to check out Melissa’s gift guide for your home this holiday season!
Images edited with the Local Milk Instagram Preset Collection.