My Holiday Musts

When it comes to the holidays, some things I try to do every year no matter what. Whether I’m looking forward to the festivities, dreading them due to depression/anxiety, or not able to do much due to a chronic illness flare, this doesn’t change. These are my holiday musts.

Songs

I’m not the type that likes to play Christmas music much. I hate how it is everywhere once Halloween is over, and I don’t listen to it on the radio. There are a few songs that tend to get in my head though and just scream “holidays” to me. Let it Snow and It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas are two of those songs.

Movies

There are a ton of holiday movies out there, but there are three that are my faves and I make a point of watching every year. Even when I feel like crap, it’s comforting to curl up on the couch with my kids and watch a movie.

White Christmas is an oldie but a goodie. Great music, beautiful costumes, and dancing, what more can you ask?

The Santa Clause and The Santa Clause 2 have been favorites of my family ever since they came out. I’m not a fan of the third movie, but I never get tired of the first two in the trilogy, and that’s why they are holiday musts.

Activities

Songs and movies don’t take any energy, so they are easy whether I have any oomph or not. What about other activities? What are the baseline things I like to squeeze in each year? Well, to start with, we have a tree every year. Some years it is a tiny 2′ tall fiber optic tree, other years we get our 4′ tree put up with lights, ornaments, and skirt. My mom always gets another full sized tree set up down in her living area where there is more room.

I also get my lighted garland up on the banister every December. We don’t do outside lights, or really any other lights, but the garland is easy enough it goes up year after year.

multicolored lights on an evergreen garland wrapped around a banister with a wooden shelf with knick knacks, a pink and black painting, and part of a tv in the background

Speaking of lights, I try to drive the kids around to see at least a few blocks of lit houses. Ideally we like to check out a few different neighborhoods, but I’m not always up to that.

We buy candy canes every year, even if they aren’t going to fit on the tree. I love eating them, and the kids love them too. This year we bought a few different flavors and also a box of miniature peppermint canes to add to hot cocoa and coffee.

There are a few things I make sure happen because they are important to the kids.

Just for the kids

First, is the tree present. I can’t remember when we started this tradition, but I bet it was around 15 years ago. What I do remember is that I was looking for traditions to start with my family and ran across the story of The Christmas Pickle. The idea was to hang up a pickle ornament and the first child to find it got an extra present. We didn’t want either of our two (at the time) left out, so we just hid a small present for each. I did that for a couple years. Then I didn’t think it was any big deal, so I didn’t one year. They missed it so much, I’ve been very careful to never miss out again. All four of our kids enjoy this tradition, and it’s the first thing they do each Winter Solstice or Christmas morning (depending on when we celebrate that year).

Another of our holiday musts is an electric toothbrush in the stocking. This one seems boring, maybe, but my kids really get a kick out of a new electric toothbrush each year. When they were little, we got really fun ones, but they get the more “boring” adult versions now. That didn’t stop my 12 year old from repeatedly asking if they were for sure getting the toothbrushes again.

So, those are my holiday musts that we make sure get done every year. Do you have any holiday musts? What kind of traditions do you make sure happen every year?

The author's name, Leigh, in red script, to the left with a coffee cup to the right.

Finding My Holiday Spirit With Hygge

Depression and anxiety can take the fun out of the holidays. The fatigue, low moods, poor stress tolerance and apathy makes holiday stuff feel overwhelming or pointless. It’s really hard to be excited about decorations, gifts, and songs when it all feels futile.

I haven’t enjoyed the holidays for quite awhile. It’s probably been close to 7 years since I looked forward to this time of year, so it’s a fading memory for me. I really miss that excitement and fun though, and I’m in a better mental place now, so I’m determined to rediscover my holiday spirit.

When I started thinking about it, I tried to place what the base feeling was that I was looking for. “Cozy” seemed to fit best. So much of the holidays centers around that concept. It seemed to me that if I could embrace keeping things cozy around the house it would really encourage me to get into the holiday spirit, and that’s when I started exploring the idea of hygge.

Hygge

For awhile now I’ve seen hygge mentioned around the internet, but never had any interest in finding out more. I had the general idea that it had to do with being “cozy”, but that’s about it. Hygge – pronounced [hoo-ga] is the Danish concept of coziness created when enjoying good food, drinks, and fireside times with friends and family. I’ve decided to focus on four aspects for myself.

Holiday Lighting

We don’t have a fireplace, so I’m needing to make do with creative lighting. Our Christmas tree was the first place we started.

My xmas tree with red and white lights, candy canes, and a red and silver robot ornament

I’m loving the lights C put on the year. It reminds me of a candy cane!

Another set of lights we do each year is our banister. We use some lighted garland here.

multicolored lights on an evergreen garland wrapped around a banister with a wooden shelf with knick knacks, a pink and black painting, and part of a tv in the background

This is something we have consistently done even when I couldn’t be bothered to do any other decorating.

New this year is my living room window idea. We’ve been leaving this ivy/holly garland up year round but I’ve wanted to make it a bit more pulled together looking. So, searching for “hygge” decorating, I saw some pics that gave me this idea.

white lights and ivy garland wrapped around a curtain rod above my window with cream horizontal blinds covering the window

So, I bought this string of white LED lights and wound it around the curtain rod with the garland. This will stay up year round, and I’m loving it!

Holiday Scents

Yummy cooking/baking smells really add to a cozy atmosphere. In fact, when trying to sell a house it is a common tip to bake cookies before an open house.

I like to use wax melts to add fragrance to our home. I own two warmers (in my bedroom and living/dining room) and often have two different scents going at once.

Owl wax warmer with a evergreen and red/black plaid background and an infant picture of my son.stained glass wax warmer with pastel flower shapes on a wooden table. background is blue and white tissue paper

Some of my favorite scents for fall and winter are vanilla, caramel, praline, and spices like cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon. I prefer the melts from Tuscany Candle and Oak & Rye out of others at the stores local to me. There are different brands you can order online or at home parties, but I don’t like that method of buying them. I like to be able to smell them in person, and grab one or two while I’m already out shopping.

Candles are not used nearly so often in my home, but we do have a few Pet Odor Exterminator Candles we light now and again to help with the pet smell (three dogs and a cat will do that). I recently bought a Pumpkin & Spice scented one from our vet for the holiday season.

Winter Comfort

One of my favorite parts of colder weather is being able to feel snuggly in sweaters and fleece. I have sensitive skin, so I need very soft sweaters. Nothing itchy for me! Leggings are my go-to pant option since they are so gentle for my fibro body. We found some wonderful soft and perfectly warm (not too hot) fleece lined leggings at Wal-Mart this year.

Cuddling up under soft blankets is wonderful also, so we keep our heaters turned just a few degrees lower to make evening snuggles possible. We have an assortment of fleece blankets and also crochet blankets that my grandma and mom made for us. They keep us warm and inspire wonderful memories.

Honeycat curled up on bed
Cooler temps inside encourage pet cuddles too.

Soft, warm socks are another way to feel snuggly, cozy. I love soft wool socks, but they can be hard to find in my size, so I have some fuzzy fleece ones too. Cold feet are never fun, so why not make sure your feet are warm and comfy?

pink fleece socks with white stripes and designs on them

Food and the Holidays

I think most people would agree that cold weather calls for soup, roasts, and other crock pot friendly meals. We eat these year round, but definitely more so during fall and winter.

Crock pot meals are especially nice because they make your house smell yummy much of the day. I love getting the work done early in the day so we don’t need to worry about it later when we are worn out.

Baking is great for making the house smell good too. Also, since the oven usually heats the house up, winter is a lovely time to bake more rather than summer. You could even take this a bit further and bake gifts for friends, family, and neighbors!

With any decision to make a change it is important to not take on too much at once. That’s why I’ve chosen these four hygge concepts to start with. They are easy to add into what we are already doing, and are, in some cases, simply ways to up my self-care game. No pressure, just enjoyment.

What do you like to use to feel cozy?

The author's name, Leigh, in red script, to the left with a coffee cup to the right.