For those of you who have just joined us, you may want to go back to yesterday’s post so you can read tips 1-6! But if you don’t want all that extra work, I think these following points would be a great place to start!

7. Make those useless White Elephants into useful items. ‘Tis the season for office, club, and group parties. And that means a lot of gift exchanges. When you hear of one, try suggesting to the organizer to theme the gifts. This year, I am spending Christmas with my husband’s family and we decided to do a gift exchange, but we narrowed it down so that nobody went home with something they didn’t need. We said, “Hey, how about this year we do board games!” I know of other people who have done kitchen items, movies, books, and many other things. If you can hone in to the specifics, those white elephants don’t become a large money pit of disposable gifts.

8. Carve out some family time. This is one of the most important things to me, probably because I love my family a lot. Whether I am talking about my immediate little family of my husband and dog, or I am talking about my large extended family, setting time aside from the busy season to intentionally be with them with no distractions is so important. The most fun I have is with my family. They provide a lot of laughter and fun, and always help distract me from my stress. In this time of holiday warmth, make sure your family knows you love them, even if your “family” is one built through friendship.

9. Organize a Church group. Have some free time? A great way to build community and gain a thriving holiday atmosphere is to gather up some people and do something that matters. Whether you guys want to offer your services as gift wrappers, or you take a youth group out to volunteer, maybe you put on a Christmas program or you decorate the sanctuary, when many are gathered, personalities and interests mix and the possibilities of impact abound.

10. Embrace your inner child. This one is about focusing on you and your sanity through this crazy time. It’s okay to sit back and enjoy all the silly things. Laugh. Smile. It’s okay.

11. Ask someone for their honest needs. This kind of relates to #2 from Part 1, but when you sit down and let a person know you are there for them for whatever they need, it helps them feel valued and it helps you humble yourself and be a helping hand. You may not have the resources to pay their electric bill for them, but even telling them, “Hey, you’ve told me about everything you are going through right now, and I can offer to be your sounding board if you need to talk or vent.” Be vulnerable with people, as this leads to stronger relationships and a greater ability to love.

12. Remember who it is all about. Probably the most important thing of all is to not get caught up in the peppermint visions of sparkling splendor and to remember why we are all here, celebrating and giving together. Now, I know Jesus was probably more likely born in the spring, but this is the date in which we have chosen to celebrate it. Therefore, remember the little babe who was born in a barn in a time of tribulation who would grow up to sacrifice absolutely everything for you. Remember the angels who were so excited, and the shepherds who joined the bandwagon. Remember the kings who were some impressed they brought gifts of riches. Be thankful for the blessings you have received from this tiny little baby. Remember what Christmas is all about.