Making My Holidays Merry & Bright

The holiday hype is in full force at my house. We have Christmas parties, holiday concerts, and volunteer events filling up the calendar, and my holiday to-do list seems to grow longer every day. I love Christmas and the whole holiday season…the baking, decorating, shopping, planning, Christmas cards, and all the joy on my little angels’ faces really does make me merry, but it’s because I’ve learned the art of prioritizing and managing expectations. Believe me; I learned the hard way…lots of holiday burnout and a few tears. But these two gems have changed the way I do the holiday season and have made celebrating with my hubby and kids truly magical.


Prioritize. We can’t do it all. There’s not enough time, money or mommy for EVERYTHING to get done, bought, cleaned, decorated, baked, and celebrated. It’s time to pick and choose the memories and moments, the traditions and holiday dishes that really mean something to you and your family.

My holiday non-negotiables are:

  1. Setting up the Christmas tree as a family with spiced apple cider and Christmas music

  2. Hitting Starbucks for peppermint mochas and driving around to look at Christmas lights

  3. Gingerbread building with my little men

  4. Baking Rachel’s Secret Sugar Cookies and making Mama’s Marshmallow Fudge

  5. Christmas PJs and a special nutcracker for all the boys

  6. The Princess Tree Lighting with my friend who is family, Lisa

  7. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation Movie Night

  8. Birthday Cake for Baby Jesus

  9. Midnight Mass

These are my priorities. These are the events and traditions I want to focus my time and attention on because I know they fill me and my family with joy.

My other priorities during this season are me and my marriage.

I know I want to look and feel my best going into the holidays. I’ve learned to make taking care of myself a priority during this busy time. Book that hair appointment, Botox, or a facial now so you feel beautiful during the festivities this year. Keep hitting the gym and eating healthy, and then allow yourself to really celebrate guilt free. Enjoy your holiday dinners and an extra treat here or there. Eat it mindfully and get right back to balanced, healthy eating so you feel your best. Don’t stress about holiday weight gain. Remember, a few meals and treats aren’t going to make you fat. Enjoy! The secret is to balance the joy of fudge with the joy of slipping into your sexy, sparkly dress for New Year’s Eve with your man. Treat yourself kindly and use food to nourish your body.

The holidays seem to be all about the kids and family, which is great, but don’t forget your marriage and hubby. Sexy surprises keep the sizzle alive. I can’t wait to get tangled up in the tinsel with my hubby. 😊 Mistletoe hung above the bed and a sexy elf hat make my Mr. Harte jolly. Since our nights are always so busy, we’ve talked about sneaking away for a few special day dates. Hiking Camelback, brunch at The Four Seasons, pedicures, and wine tasting are all on our holiday date list.

Managing Expectations…

This was so hard for me. At first, I felt stingy and kind of like the Grinch, but then all the pressure of meeting everybody’s expectations evaporated, and now, it’s the best thing I have ever done for myself. I have clearly communicated what we are giving to my extended family and kiddos. They know what to expect, and I have zero guilt. My holiday shopping is EASY.

I do gift cards for teachers. OMG, these people deserve a holiday bonus. I grab them all at Costco, and I’m done during my regular grocery shopping. I do gift cards for my sister and I’ll get my cutie pie niece something sparkly and magical. That’s it. I have stopped exchanging gifts with everybody else. We all have enough.

We always need hostess gifts and small presents for holiday gift exchanges. I hit Trader Joe’s once and buy two dozen bottles of champagne and wine with festive bags, and I stock up on a dozen boxes of their holiday chocolates. It all goes onto my gift shelf, and we never have to stress about a last minute rush to the store.

If it’s not on the list or on the gift shelf, we don’t need it, and I don’t stress about it.

My hubby and I have decided we want to give our kiddos the gifts of memories and time. Our kids have enough stuff, and we want them wrapped up in the love of their family and grandparents. Our gift to our sons and our parents is a vacation. We all leave right after Christmas. This year, it’s a week in Mexico.

I’m not a complete Scrooge. Santa will bring the exact same gifts to all four boys Christmas morning, and my hubby and I will each do one special gift for each other.

Managing expectations and prioritizing my family’s holiday season really allows me to celebrate and enjoy with the people I love most. That’s what it’s all about.

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