14 Ways for a Fresh & Festive Holiday Season

The holiday season is almost upon us. Or, according to certain neighbors, as of November 1st, it's the holiday season (sorry, but your outdoor Christmas lights should *never* go on the day after Halloween, it's wrong in so many ways). However, since it is now the week before Thanksgiving, we're up to decorating a wee bit.

1. We travel for Christmas. A lot. The best fresh Christmas tip I have is don't buy real trees or greenery. Yes, they are pretty, yes, they smell nice, and yes, they require work. I'm a huge fan of my gorgeous fluffy fake tree that doesn't need to be watered or cared for, other than plugging in the lights.

2. The holidays are a great time to do a big toy cleanout. I know F&B are going to come up with a lot of awesome new toys. I don't need all the awesome new toys plus all the old toys. I know what they play with. We do a big purge pre-Christmas (this is festive for *mom*).

3. Baking time!!! Nothing smells better than freshly baked cookies, unless it's freshly baked cookies from my grandma's recipe that have anise in them. I absolutely love the smell of anise and the house isn't ready for Christmas without that smell.

4. On a kind of silly note, I also change out our little plug-ins and bathroom candles with Christmas smelling ones. Vanilla smells Christmas-y to me too, or pumpkin for Thanksgiving (I also love pumpkin).

5. Organize! I am much more festive when I'm not overwhelmed. And I like lists, lots of lists. I have spreadsheets for cards, shopping, food, etc. It keeps me sane, sane is good.

6. Plan your shopping! We love Black Friday but overall, I hate shopping leading up to Christmas. Online is a great option. So is shopping in advance. I have all of Ben's Christmas gifts around my house. I'm missing one piece of Faith's. And I can go enjoy Black Friday without having to find this year's Tickle Me Elmo.

7. Take time to relax. We do fires, Christmas movies, and hanging out at home for a chance to relax. F&B love watching all the Christmas movies on tv and it's so cozy in our family room with the fireplace going.

8. Enjoy the smells and tastes. Yes, I've already had my first pumpkin latte, and I'm probably going to have a gingerbread one soon too. And I'll likely enjoy a peppermint mocha. Some things just taste better at Christmastime!

9. Read with your kids! We read a Christmas book a night and I absolutely love it. Over the years (F&B are 5 and 8 now), we've built up a fantastic collection of Christmas books. We cuddle up in bed and read a story or two to get in the holiday spirit.

10. Teach the true meaning of the season. Even with all the fun, we want F&B to learn the real meaning of Christmas. We purchased kid safe nativities when they were babies and those are on display at their level to play with, organize, show off as much as they want (so they also will leave my gorgeous one that I schlepped back from Europe on our honeymoon alone). We read the Christmas story in varying forms and they love to show off their manger collection to friends.

11. In that same vein, we adopt an angel from our church and shop for a child who needs someone to brighten their day. We try to choose a child/children close in age to F&B so they can help us choose gifts that would be meaningful. They relate so much better when they can help out.

12. Check out the sights! We love going to look at lights, see the trees decorated in the parks, etc. Thankfully, living in Dallas makes the temperatures a little better to do this, but I kind of miss bundling up in parkas and mittens to enjoy the cold winter nights.

13. Embrace the craziness. It's going to get crazy, you might as well enjoy it along the way. We spend most of December running around, and for as tiring as it gets, there are so many fun things to do! We love trying to catch up with all our Dallas friends before we head to Canada.

14. Remember what's important! In the long run, does it really matter if you had 6 kind of cookies instead of 5? Or if you set up the decorations in the upstairs hall? Probably not, but the kids are going to remember decorating the tree with you and helping make those cookies. In the long run, that's all that matters.

Tell me, what would you add? Any amazing holiday traditions that you want to share?

I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Snuggle blogging program, making me eligible to get a $50 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.