cozy living room decorated for Christmas

Home for the Holidays

For military families, December doesn’t necessarily signal a rest, a break, or a pause from the demands of duty. For service members and their spouses and children, deployments and TDYs continue, Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders and moves are still happening, not to mention all of the other day-to-day operations that can fill the cold winter days. 

There are duty stations that are conveniently located, making it easy to travel back to see family members for the holidays and there are others (particularly those overseas), that can make it nearly impossible to get back to gather with the ones you love. Schedules, finances, strained relationships, and now pandemic-related stresses can add to the complications of being home for the holidays.

Whether or you are traveling for part of the month, moving into a new home, hosting guests, or sticking close to your own space, what can you do to establish that home-for-the-holidays feeling? 

Below are eight suggestions to help create that magical vibe according to the wisdom of some popular Christmas carol titles. 

Deck the Halls

The first step to feeling festive is to make sure your space reflects your holiday esthetic. Colored lights or white? Candles? Greenery? Outdoor wreaths? Whatever decorations that make your house feel like the perfect holiday to you, embrace those items and don’t worry about overdoing it. If you are traveling, consider which non-negotiables you will need to bring along to have on hand in someone else’s home? Kids’ stockings? That favorite, mischievous elf? 

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

An often overlooked way to make yourself and those inside your home enjoy the holidays is to make sure the temperature inside is cozy but comfortable. With temperatures dropping outside, have an agreed-upon temperature to set the thermostat. If you have additional heat sources like fireplaces or space heaters, take into consideration that these can heat a space quickly. When you have a house full of people, you might drop the thermostat a few degrees to keep the space from getting too stuffy.

The Christmas Shoes

Speaking of comfort, the holidays are a perfect time to lounge around the house and have multiple, sometimes ongoing, pajama days with your family. Don’t forget about the slippers! Even those “no shoes inside the house” folks usually approve of an indoor house shoe. Not only will these shoes keep everyone’s feet warm, but also, it will make stepping outside for some fresh air or taking trips to your recycle bin much easier when the boxes and gift wrap begin to pile up. 

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

It’s really easy to want to stay holed up indoors during the holidays. Whether you are avoiding busy crowds who are last-minute shopping or just simply enjoy a long stretch of indoor baking, movie watching, and merry-making, don’t forget that it will do you a lot of good to get outside periodically and take a brisk walk around the block. If it’s chilly, bundle up in a coat, scarf, hat, and gloves. This is especially crucial if you have guests staying for several days. Take a break from your people and pull double duty with a short burst of exercise. You will all be better for it. 

Silent Night

In the continued spirit of self-care, be sure to understand your bandwidth during the holidays. Consider keeping a close eye on your calendar and block off a night here and there where you have no scheduled plans. Between holiday balls, parties, dining-in events, open houses, school concerts, and religious celebrations, it’s easy to feel like you don’t know whether you are coming or going. Most people need a bit of a reprieve, even if only briefly, from this frenetic holiday pace. Don’t forget to exercise the power of no and enjoy some peace, quiet, and silence at home if it will recharge and reinvigorate you to better enjoy the holidays. 

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

Is your partner home this holiday season? If so, make sure reconnecting together is part of your holiday plan. Let’s face it, the holidays can be fun but they can also be incredibly stressful. Don’t let the strain your in-laws, your house guests, the overblown budget, or all of the demands of the season put a wedge between you and your spouse. Whether it’s a dedicated date night or just a quick, private huddle in the laundry room, look each other in the eyes, and remind yourselves that you are on the same team! 

Children, Go Where I Send Thee

Speaking of family members, remember that it is incredibly easy for children to get very overstimulated during the holidays. Between school functions, all of the extra sweets and treats their diets may not usually include, plus their excitement for Santa, reindeer, and presents they may be overwhelmed and incapable of managing their emotions and feelings. Don’t let this rain on your Christmas parade! Send your little angels safely outside to play, to their bedrooms for a quiet time, or if possible let the grandparents host them for a cookie or craft-making afternoon. It’s okay to raise the white flag and admit you might need to create breaks for them and yourself. 

Jingle Bell Rock

Finally, be reminded that most of us are still living in ways that are beyond our normal; we are rounding out year two of pandemic living. Therefore, enjoy the holiday season to the fullest. Don’t take your plans or preparations too seriously. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself or your family, both immediate or extended. Don’t get wound up too tightly about what this holiday season is supposed to look or feel like. Instead, consider cranking up that Spotify Christmas playlist and get to Jingle-Bell-Rocking all of your cares away.