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How to Suck the Fun Out of the Holidays in 8 Easy Steps

How to Suck the Fun Out of the Holidays in 8 Easy Steps

Don't put the ho-ho-hum in the holiday season!

From taking the perfect family photo for your holiday cards to decorating your house so it’s picture-perfect and scurrying around finding the must-haves on your children’s gift wish lists, it’s easy to suck the joy right out of the holiday season. If, by some chance, you’d rather have a holiday season full of cheer where everyone is happy, we have recommendations for you! 

Here are eight ways to put the bah-humbug in the holidays—or not:

1. Insist on getting the perfect photo for your annual holiday card. Dress up everyone in their finest clothes and keep stage-directing them (“a little to the left…a little to the right”) until their smiles are as frozen as a snowman’s.

Instead: Go for a shot that’s casual or silly—it’s what life is really like with kids.

2. Knock yourself out trying to find this season’s hottest overpriced toy, even if your child didn’t ask for it. After all, isn’t that what caring parents do?

Instead: Have your child help you pick out a toy for Toys for Tots or another organization that brings joy to children in need. Show her that it’s what caring families do.

3. Write a glowing holiday letter to your family and friends, then spend the rest of the season wishing your life were half as awesome as you made it sound.

Instead: Be honest about some of the struggles you’ve faced, like losing your battle with the scale or struggling to make your kids understand that “no means no.” People will appreciate your honesty

4. Scurry around so much getting ready for the holidays that you spend less time with your kids than you want to.

Instead: Remember to slow down and enjoy the season together. Take an evening to drive around and admire the holiday lights, or go ice-skating one afternoon. Your child may remember those moments more than all the fancy presents that come his way.

5. Decorate your home with lots of “don’t-touch” holiday objects, then get upset when your child breaks one (or worse, get scared when he ends up hurting himself).

Instead: Learn how to keep your home festive, but hazard free.

6. Drag your children to a nighttime holiday religious service, then feel embarrassed when they can’t keep it together.

Instead: Look for a “family” service, where kids are welcome and a certain amount of squirminess is permitted.

7. Pressure your kids to give hugs and kisses to family friends and relatives they barely know.

Instead: Remember that kids, like adults, have the right to decide whom they want to be cozy with. If your child doesn’t feel like it, ask him to give a simple wave or say a friendly hello. Really young kids may not even be able to manage that much, but it’s okay; the adults around them will almost certainly understand.

8. Go into debt making this “the best holiday ever.”

Instead: Create a reasonable budget and stick to it. You’ll start the new year feeling refreshed—not impoverished.


holiday expectations vs reality with kids   

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Deborah Skolnik

Author: Deborah Skolnik, a graduate of Cornell University, lives in Westchester with her husband and two daughters, and enjoys writing, cooking, and gardening. See More

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