What If You Curated Your Holidays So They Truly Bring You Joy?

See How I Kept What Works (and Dropped What Doesn’t).

Around this time of year, I start to reminisce about holidays from my childhood and from when my kids were little.

And I start looking at how the holidays look so different in my life today, and yet the parts that I always valued have remained.

Below are the things I have always loved and how they have transformed at this stage in our lives.

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I love getting out the decorations that have been packed away.

Whether it’s a general fall theme that I take from September through November or the Christmas decorations, it brings me joy to bring them out.

When I was little, we made a lot of the decorations for our home out of the simple fact that there was very little money for store-bought decorations.

This meant stringing popcorn, piercing oranges with a gazillion cloves, making paper chains, and my mother using her superior sewing skills to make all kinds of creations.

When my kiddos were young, money was still pretty tight so we often had decorations we had inherited, a few handmade decorations, and of course the creations they had worked so hard to make in school.

For sure at that stage, we were in the ‘more is better’ look as Christmas decor overflowed in every space of our home.

Fast forward to recent years and I’ve found myself loving a minimalist approach to decorating.

Almost every year I take time to look through decorations and decide if they are still amazing or just so-so and in that case, they can go.

Occasionally of course I find new ones that must be added to the collection but overall, it is simple. I literally have just one large Rubbermaid tote that holds the Christmas decorations.

Yes, I said one box.

For those of you who have all the boxes of decorations, I say more power to you, this works really well for us.

It may not surprise you to hear that I get joy out of purging stuff from our home as an ongoing practice year-round.

Going through closets and cupboards to get rid of that which no longer serves us energizes me and brings me such joy!


One thing that has not changed over the years with holiday food is the joy we get in cooking from scratch, and recipes that we love year after year.

Some of my earliest memories of holiday food and treats were the homemade gingerbread houses my mother and I made and her amazing homemade pies.

As my children were growing up, my mother still brought her highly requested pies to the celebrations every year.

I inherited my then mother-in-law's sweet potato recipe (a lot of brown sugar and pecans), and of course, as many rolls as we could manage.

Because we all know that rolls are always an easy solution if a child just won’t eat much else at the fancy celebrations.

Over the last several years we have ditched the usual turkey dinner as we realized it’s not really anyone’s favorite.

Instead, we now go for salmon or other seafood, a vegetarian quiche option for my daughter, and any veggies that seem appealing at the time.

For Christmas dinner every year we are fortunate to enjoy a brisket straight from Texas as a gift from my in-laws that we cannot get enough of!

We love that brisket so much that we ordered one for our wedding weekend in September. You can check out the company we get them from here >> New Braunfels Smokehouse

Although I used to make Irish Brown Bread only during the month of March, a few years ago I decided since I’m ½ Irish and my family loves this bread, it was time to start making it more often, so it now makes the holiday menu as well.

What if you dug into old family recipes to see if there’s something you might love at this time of year? For some of us, we don’t have that resource but it could also be fun to look into your heritage and use that as a cue to see what traditional dishes might be fun now.

That’s absolutely what I did with the Irish Brown bread recipe. I never knew my father’s family but being half Irish I simply took it upon myself to dig into some traditional recipes to adopt for us.

Whether they are handed down to you directly or you go hunting for them yourselves, this can be a great way to deepen the connection to the food that you serve, eat, and hopefully enjoy.

Time With Family And Friends

Okay, depending on who you gather with for the holidays this can be a source of joy, a source of stress, or maybe a combination of the two.

When I was a child, our celebrations were small as I had no living grandparents, my aunt and cousin were in another state and we had very little contact with any other extended family that lived in the midwest.

There were a few years when my half-sisters would join us but on the whole, it was still a pretty small group.

Fast forward to when my kids were young and we were part of very big celebrations.

We are talking about a dinner guest list that would run between 25-30 people.

Cooking for that dinner would start a few days before, and we dressed up in fancy clothes for the big event.

I truly loved many of these celebrations and appreciated that the work involved was a serious undertaking.

No surprise now that along with minimal decor and simple menus, we now have a small gathering for holiday dinners and enjoy opportunities to connect one-to-one with other friends and family throughout the season.

One new tradition we’ve started in the last several years is a group family photo taken with my phone, a tripod, and a remote. We start out by attempting to get a decent photo and then we quickly dissolve into complete silliness that keeps us laughing the rest of the day. See last year's shenanigans above.

We start out aiming for a nice photo and quickly dissolve into getting silly. It never fails to produce a lot of laughter and memories to treasure.

When I think about how our holidays have transformed over the years, I don’t find myself longing for any changes but I would love to travel away for the holidays at least once.

Something like a cabin in the woods where we can all unplug and enjoy time together would definitely be magical.

What holiday traditions have you kept over the years? Are you looking to start any new ones?

Until we connect again, I wish you peace + wellness.


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