Ten Keys to Actually Enjoying the Holidays


Photo Caption: Cheerful friends having fun with sparklers during Christmas party at home.

It’s that time of year when we’re gathering with loved ones, giving thanks for the blessings in our lives, over eating, exchanging gifts, and making memories. It can also be a time of year when financial stress, family drama, and the chaos of travel can steal your joy and make you wish you could hop into a time machine and skip the holiday madness altogether.

I don’t know what life looks like around your Thanksgiving table and Christmas tree, but I want this to be a wonderful season for you and your family. After all, it should be “The most wonderful time of the year!”

Here’s a checklist to help you keep your marriage and family strong all season long:

1. Keep a “no drama” policy.

The holidays can throw you around some relatives who might love “drama,” and they’ll try to pull you into it. Choose to rise above. Diffuse it with laughter and joy. A healthy family should always have more comedy than drama! A lot of family drama seems to center around political arguments, so here’s a recent podcast episode that can give you some tools for avoiding political views with your family this year.


2. Be a peacemaker. 

Christmas, after all, is celebrating the birth of “The Prince of Peace.” In Jesus’ example, work to promote peace in your home and extended family. Offer love and respect to people even when they don’t deserve it. Please don’t treat your family the way they treat you. Treat them the way God treats you.


3. Stick to a budget FOR gifts.

Don’t add unnecessary financial stress by overdoing it on gifts. Your kids and relatives don’t need more gadgets and clothes as much as they need you to be at your best. Give thoughtful gifts instead of expensive gifts. If you need a fun and inexpensive assistance for your husband or wife, check our past articles on the skills your husband will love and the advantages your wife will love.


4. Be present.

You can try to get into your smartphone instead of engaging in conversation. It’s possible to be in the same room but in a different world from your loved ones. Be fully present and actively participate in the moments. Sure, a little phone time is fine, but also try to engage in meaningful conversations. Make memories, not regrets.


5. Be motivated by love, not guilt.

You can’t be everywhere at once, so there will always be people who are disappointed that you couldn’t spend more time with them. Don’t make your schedule based on trying to make everybody happy (which is impossible). Schedule based on maximizing the moments with your loved ones. If your family and/or in-law dynamic is complicated around the holidays, please take a few minutes and watch this short video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdbcehY20Vg

6. DON’T neglect your spouse.

Don’t put your marriage on the back burner through the season. Share the moments together and make time alone together a priority. As a tool to help you grow in your communication and sexual intimacy with your spouse, try to keep regular date nights through the holiday season. Instead of just binging Netflix, binge some really helpful (and entertaining) marriage content at www.xonow.com.


7. DON’T neglect your body.

I love to eat, but I pay the price when I gorge myself on ice cream and turkey legs for a month! A lack of exercise and a ton of calories ends up making me grumpy and sleepy. Enjoy the excellent food, but don’t go crazy. Also, find time to get some exercise. Be sure to start moving your body in January! Move now, and you’ll feel better. Our book, Naked and Healthy, could be a fun and helpful resource for you and your spouse to read together (or listen to the audiobook together) as a way to stay healthy through the holidays and beyond.

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8. Have fun!

Refuse to allow stress to steal your joy. Allow yourself to push away from the stress and enjoy the beautiful moments. Laugh a lot! Have fun and make beautiful memories.


9. Make some big plans for the New Year.

Start planning now to make this coming year your best year of marriage yet! Start putting some exciting events on your marriage calendar. To help you start thinking some new thoughts on this, check out our article on The 5 Places Every Couple Should Experience Together.

10. DON’T forget the reason for the season.

The presents and food are awesome but don’t forget to honor God, who makes it all possible. Celebrate Jesus. Make sure you’re taking your family to some Christ-focused church services and celebrations as part of your holiday traditions. Keeping your focus on Him can bring everything else into its proper place.

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