Elle’s Holiday Survival Guide// Part 1: Planning for a Stress-Free Holiday

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Just had a baby and wondering how to keep up this holiday season? Don’t worry, Friend, I’ve got you. I’ve been there (4x over) and have talked to so many other mamas about how to make it simple and beautiful and enjoyable instead of just a time to survive. I’m a minimalist at heart with a huge love for the holiday season so I’m going to take you through every step of my personal holiday guide, made especially for the new mama or papa. We’ll start with my fail-proof planning, considerations for hosting or “guesting”, and I’ll share my overly-thorough gift guides for everyone in your life, and my family’s most memorable traditions, recipes, and simple home decor. I’ll show you every corner to cut, what to say no to and of course I’ll pull out my life coaching tool belt to help you keep calm, collected, and full of love, or whatever you want to be feeling this holiday season.  

1 // Ask yourself, “What do I want to feel this holiday season?”

Everything we want to happen in our lives is so we can feel something, but articulating that ahead of time can make it so much easier to generate that emotion, no matter what happens. Keep it simple and just write down ONE WORD to sum it up. The year after my second baby I wanted to feel more peace and the year after my fourth I wanted to feel more presence. This year I want a stronger feeling of love. No matter the feeling you want to feel, I’m telling you articulating it ahead of time is like magic.  

2 // Plan ahead.

I don’t like unnecessary fuss and I really hate overly-planned “fun” so planning 8 weeks in advance used to feel like a total kill-joy, but now I’m sold. I have found that the more I plan ahead, the more present I can be in the moment because I already did the “thinking” ahead of time. This equals less frustration, more peace in my home, and more room for both spontaneity and relaxation. Also, in The Book of Lykke, Danish happiness research Meik Wiking found that the further ahead people plan your fun, the more they will enjoy it when it comes. (This is why I believe traditions are so fun.)  

3 // Make a family calendar.

This might be the dorkiest tradition you’ve heard, but I don’t care, bring on the dork, I’m all in. Growing up my mom made a holiday calendar every December. It was made from cheap poster board and festive stickers and we all loved it. She would put all the holiday activities on the calendar and hang it so we could all see and look forward to the fun happening that month. I have kept that tradition with my kids and, while the poster board really doesn’t matter (for the record, I use a foam board now just to make it a little classier 😂), laying out your month so you can see the big picture makes all the difference. We made you a less dorky calendar that you can download here. Beautifully designed by Oana Befort. | @oanabefort  

4 // Let everyone plan one activity.

After I’ve printed or made my calendar, I ask my husband, my children, and myself to plan one thing for the calendar. This could be watching a movie, a favorite tradition, drinking hot chocolate, reading a holiday book or driving to see lights, what matters is that each person feels like something on that calendar is for them. (If you’ve got a newborn and want to stay close to home, have everyone plan something that can happen there.) I love starting with this because, even if you don’t plan one other thing for the whole month, you can rest easy knowing everyone already has something on the calendar that they’re looking forward to, including you!  

5 // Fill in the gaps.

Now you can put everything else on the calendar. Favorite traditions, shopping, family and class parties, work, church, and community events, travel, lessons, school schedules, people coming into town, and anything else that you know will be happening.

A few insider tips:

+ List the people you really want to see (+ maybe a few you don’t 😬). + Don’t plan more than one big activity each weekend. + Plan consistent quiet times in your day for you and baby. Quiet winter evenings are my favorite with my little ones. Let me know which tips are working for you & if you have found any other helpful ways to navigate the Holidays in the comments below! Stay tuned for parts two and three of my Holiday Survival Guide! Xx, Elle