On Christmas morning, will your home be Pinterest, Facebook, and IG picture ready?
…Yeah, me neither. 

It’s easy to get wrapped up in social media posts, expecting a pinterest-worthy brunch, a tree that is deserving to grace the pages of a catalogue, and the perfect gifts wrapped and adorned with silk ribbons…oh, and don’t forget the homemade cut and decorated cookies!OMG! It gives me stress just thinking about the perfection of it all. Please note, Pinterest has a page titled “My Ideal Christmas,” proves my point. It’s easy to get wrapped up in providing the perfect Christmas, all at the expense of a HAPPY and HEALTHY Christmas.

You could see this coming,  but don’t despair!

You can still have a memorably blissful Christmas that keeps gratitude, reasonableness, and simplicity intact! Today I’m sharing 4 easy and free actions to create a memorably blissful Christmas, one that upholds the ideals portrayed in the perfect Christmas images of a joyful time together with family. Check imperfections at the door, please!

  1. TAKE A BREAK AND BREATHE! Let’s be honest, family gatherings can be tinderboxes that could implode at a moment’s notice. Take breaks, especially when you sense a volatile situation is brewing, and simply breathe!

Deep belly breaths:

      • provide space
      • slow down an emotionally charged situation
      • allow you to modulate cortisol, the stress hormone, by moving your central nervous system into a place of calm, rather than a place of fight, which also triggers fat storage!

2. FIND GRATITUDE. Take time to reflect on all the positives in your life can help you stay uplifted for a joyful holiday. With days full of laundry, work, kids, PTO meetings, working out, calls and texts, we are incredibly proficient at creating the stress hormone, cortisol. So, the mere sign of stress or danger, and your body instantly and easily goes into defense mode by triggering cortisol and negative, cyclical thoughts.

Create a positive mindset

      • heighten your awareness of negative self-talk
      • Use a Behavior Therapy technique called Opposite Emotion Action, in which you learn to identify the negative emotion, then identify the opposite emotion and finally act as if THAT is how you are feeling

3. GIVE IN SMALL WAYS. Think about the last time you volunteered and the perspective you gained. Studies show that volunteering lowers stress, calms anxiety, and allows you to see your life through a different lens. It’s one thing to stress about holiday cookies, gifts, cards, and decorating, while it’s an entirely different scenario to worry about putting food on your table.

Practice random acts of kindness

      • Give time to your local soup kitchen
      • Buy and donate a gift for a child in need
      • Open the door for a stranger
      • Smile at an overly stressed mom

4. BE REASONABLE! Most individuals have some vision of the perfect holiday, even if you aren’t on social media, letting go of the “Ideal Christmas” is critical to your having a joyful one. By being reasonable and taking actions around joy, family, and a grateful heart allows you to keep expectations in line.

      • Take a break from social media, especially during the Holidays
      • Look for shortcuts to provide the Holiday experience without going overboard ( see my Chocolate Peppermint Cake “recipe” below)…and then have NO GUILT!
      • Decide what’s a priority. You can’t do it all, so don’t work on that assumption, and only give your time to the work that is truly priority and that is rooted in joyful memory-making (build a snowman, read a Christmas book, make cookies with your children)

Now, let’s put this into practice with the Holiday dinner table!

There’s really nothing better than a grand finale that screams quintessential Christmas flavors, but with gift wrapping, family visiting, kids who need help to wrap gifts, and more, there’s no time to be making the Chocolate Peppermint Cake that requires 20 steps and 6 hours to craft fondant icing into an elaborate, winter, holiday scene.

Why not plan for a Chocolate Peppermint cake, but take a shortcut with an organic, boxed mix, such as Mrs. Jones Organic Cake mix? You’ll still get the same yummy happiness as the Pinterest-worthy cake, but a quality, organic box mix takes no time to prepare, and is beautiful with nothing but pure, organic ingredients, and contains nothing that would cause guilt on a festive day! What I’ve done here is simply to use the Mrs. Jones Chocolate Mix, added peppermint extract, frosted with Mrs. Jones Vanilla frosting, and sprinkled with pure, organic chocolate and organic peppermint candies. Simple, beautiful, incredible flavor, and points earned for more time with family and enjoying this delicious dessert…and nobody’s the wiser for cutting Organic corners!

I’m of the opinion that we cram in too much over the Holidays all in the name of “because we have ALWAYS done it that way.” It’s time to cut some corners and spend time with family with a grateful heart. Make this a joyful Holiday, and keep it reasonable!