Welcome to the holidays!

If you want tips and tricks on holiday planning and reducing your holiday stress—well, I’m not the person you’re looking for.

As I’ve posted before, I’m not a “Do It All” type of person. I don’t have to be reminded to slow down and reduce stress. I, and those of you like me, prefer to keep life uncluttered. We make sure there’s lots of “white space” on our calendars and in our lives.

So it’s not that White Space people don’t appreciate the holidays. It’s that we don’t over-accessorize them. Give me a Christmas tree, some gifts, and enough time to enjoy my family and ponder the gift of Jesus as God among us—I’m good.

The problem is, however, that just as Do It All people go overboard in their zeal, we White Spacers go the other direction. Why expend much effort at all? Do presents really have to be wrapped? Christmas dinner—I didn’t really think about it, just pick up some frozen lasagna at the grocery store on December 23. Our counterparts end the holidays burned out and exhausted; we get to New Year’s thinking the whole thing is a lot of trouble and kind of depressing.

But it doesn’t have to be like that. Here are some tips and tricks for White Spacers like me:

I’m not suggesting that we put Christmas vignettes made out of candles and glass jars on every surface. In the Jones home, we have a few glittery stars that we hang up, an Advent wreath and candles, and a wall where we display all the Christmas cards we receive. Outside, we have a wooden silhouette nativity scene, which we drape with lights. It’s not spectacular, but that’s not the point. The point is to mark off the season as special, without making it burdensome.

  • Make some plans. In our household, this is Darren’s territory. He needs to have an idea of what’s coming up and how to prepare. He likes using The Well-Planned Gal’s holiday organizer. (We also use The Well-Planned Gal’s weekly planner for school assignments.) Starting just after Thanksgiving, we decide what our Christmas dinner will be and what special activities we hope to do. Having these plans in place ensures that things do get done. [Note: The morning I’m writing this, my email notifications are piling up because Darren is brainstorming gift ideas and food suggestions.]
  • Clarify expectations. What exactly do we want to do this season? It wouldn’t hurt my feelings if we didn’t bake Christmas cookies, but I’d be disappointed if I didn’t make a batch of my grandmother’s Cheese Straws. Darren doesn’t care whether our house is hung with fresh greenery, but he’s looking forward to doing the Advent wreath as a family. The kids like driving around to look at Christmas lights. And the entire family tells me that Yes, presents need to be wrapped.
  • Simple really is better. We have this one down pat. We instinctively choose a few cherished traditions and have no problem letting the rest go. So my advice to White Spacers isn’t “Slow down! Don’t try to do it all! Reduce stress!” My advice, mostly to myself, is to put my whole heart into those few cherished traditions, and make this season really special. It truly is worth the effort.

Even though that apparently includes wrapping the gifts.


Photo Credit: Graphic design by Anna Soltis.