Thursday, December 16, 2010

Maximize Your Hugs

The holidays are such a warm and magical time. We get to spend quality time with our loved ones, share wonderful meals, and create life-long memories . . . Are you wanting to shoot me yet? We all know the truth about holidays, specifically, Christmas. The stores are too busy, people are racing around town, honking their horns, trying to get from one place to the next. Moms are stressed out trying to teach their children about the meaning of Christmas, get their shopping done, give something meaningful to a charity, organize a holiday party, help their children buy their own gifts to give. I am not even mentioning the regular daily chores of grocery shopping, getting the kids off to school, preparing weekly meals, cleaning the house, picking up the toys, showering . . . Have I even mentioned be a wife? Or a friend?

How do we do it?

No, I am not going to give you the answer. What I am going to do is attempt to kill a few birds with one stone. My advice is to start a cookie exchange. If you've done it before, hopefully you immediately know what I am talking about. If you haven't, I think this is one of the greatest ways to spend half of one of your Saturdays in December. Organize a group of friends (and even new acquaintances) and each choose a cookie of their own to bake and bring to the exchange, as well as a snack or drink to share. Children are welcome but optional. One mom (or dad) gets tasked with preparing the home-made (of course) sugar cookie dough and frostings of different colors to bring to the exchange. Please visit
for fun decorating tools and so much more for any holiday!

The beauty of this format is that you are not enduring the stress of baking every cookie together, but you are enjoying the baking and decorating experience with the sugar cookies. Creativity is fostered when you are among your trusted friends and the decorating results can range from quickly slapped on frosting, to plaid mittens, to hula-dancing gingerbread men and women. The laughs that emit from this table are aplenty.

No, the children are not involved in this part of the event. This is one of those times where we are trying to be as productive as possible in the shortest time possible. And frankly, if the kids were involved in this part, our mommy (or daddy) bonding time drastically reduces. The way it works at my house is the kids that do come entertain each other. Minimal interference is needed. And there is an understanding among the friends, and the children for the most part, that we are all our children's parents. We all look out for each other and our children.

What does doing it this way accomplish? Well, you just spent an afternoon bonding with your girlfriends, you ate delicious snacks, your kids were entertained and you (and others) baked several different kinds of holiday cookies. You now have plenty of cookies to divide up and make your own small gift plates to hand out to other friends, neighbors, work, or extended family, or anyone else you decide. You are teaching your children about everlasting friendships, old-fashioned home-cooking and good ole holiday spirit. You avoided the mall, but still prepared something of genuine meaning. You probably even saved a few bucks. This party can also come in the form of a craft party, floral decoration party, or any other group-effort gift preparation forum.

Please, share with me your stories of how you get it all done!

1 comment:

  1. I do believe that holidays can be a magical time, creating life long memories. We, as parents, just need to 'take back' the holidays! It's our job to give that gift to our children. We just need to slow down, and not stress out over what is supposed to be a magical time of year.

    This year, I had my girls help make holiday cards, instead of purchasing like I do every year from a photo website. True, I had to give up my perfectionist/control issues, and let the stamps fly where they may - and they sure did! I even let my husband select a picture that I absolutely hated, to include in the card. Now that was magical! The girls had a blast, and all of our friends and family received a unique, handmade card, made with only the honest, pure, creativity a child can do. My girls helped take some of the pressure from me for doing all the cards, and we had a great time as a family, doing something for others. I plan on making this a holiday tradition.

    In addition to our children, we have 18 nieces and nephews, so shopping could be thought of as a nightmare, but we make a thoughtful decision to think of it in a positive light, so it doesn't become overwhelming, or stressful. I have the girls help me shop, they get to help select the gifts they think their cousins would like, and then they get to help wrap them. It's thrilling for them to see the happy faces, when their cousins get to open their presents, that they helped buy. The lesson of "giving is better than receiving" actually does sink in a little bit.

    Lastly, we go thru all our toys and clothes, and pull out all the ones we don't use, or don't fit. We decide what organization we're going to give them to, and I have the girls hand them over. It really makes a difference when it comes directly from them. They are so proud of themselves for helping those in need. We're just "making room for new toys from Santa" so it's an easier task that way.

    Happy Holidays!