Holiday to Don't List

Christmas is less than a month away people! If you haven’t already, it’s time to kick it into high gear! To make it easier on you, here is a list of five things you should be doing to make the holiday season perfect! If you’re not doing all of them, Christmas 2019 will have been a complete failure! So let’s take a look together and make sure you’re getting it right. 



Now is not the time to worry about financials. You need to buy A TON of stuff that A TON of people will never use, because THAT’S how we say I love you. In fact, this is exactly how we make up for our year long lack of affection and appreciation of the people we care about most. Haven’t spoken to grandma in months? No problem! Christmas is coming! Get her a handheld smoothie blender! And for the people who you don’t need to say I love you to but you need to give a gift just so they know that they are an important acquaintance in your life? Perfect! They’ll get that message when they open the handcrafted back scratcher in the actual shape of a hand, or the inflatable massaging neck pillow. Those are gifts that say you really care. Your second cousin’s wife who’s name you always forget? Personalized hand towels! Do a little research to find out her name, and now if you forget it, just read the towel! Two birds one stone! Remember, buying gifts are the only way to tell people that you’re thinking of them. So make a list and check it twice, because if you leave anyone out accidentally, you might as well just unfriend them on all social media platforms. It’s the same thing.


2. Decorate EARLY and decorate A LOT!

In fact, buy all new Christmas decorations immediately because it’s far more important to have the latest and greatest holiday trends on display rather than the dusty, old family heirlooms, time honored traditional pieces and your children’s handmade knick knacks laying around. Cover all surfaces! Even your toilet paper should have holly or poinsettias on it. And don’t forget the outside of your house! There is where your Christmas spirit will truly shine! First, you need enough lights that your house can be seen from space. Because aliens like Christmas too. And don’t forget to buy flashing lights. Everyone loves flashing lights! In fact, if you can synchronize your flashing lights to music….you just won Christmas! If you haven’t jumped on the decoration train yet, hurry up! Otherwise just put a sign in your yard that says you hate Christmas because that’s what you’re telling everyone anyway with your complete lack of enthusiasm. 



You can’t say no to an invitation! That’s rude! How can you possibly keep up the charade of how much you love Christmas, and people, by not attending everything? Aim to be out at least five evenings a week during the holidays. You need to be there! Your reputation depends on it. The school bake sale? Jump on Pinterest immediately and make a nice, long list of all the treats you’re going to bring. You can do it! You CAN bake Janice under the table this year! Show ’em what you got! Because if you don’t show up with gingerbread cookies that look like they’ve been made by the Cake Boss, no one will ever take you seriously as a human being. The local tree lighting ceremony? Your whole community will be there. See what you can do about being the one who officially plugs the tree in this year. Show them all how much your community means to you by taking the reins on this one. Also, you’re extended family and entire neighbourhood should be present when you decorate your tree, as you tell the story of every ornament that’s placed on it. 12 hours of decorating and storytelling that are meaningful to only you and your own family unit. Priceless! You should also invite these same people over for a five course meal at some point over the holidays. Don’t forget the special touches such as limited edition holiday fine china and salt and pepper shakers that were more expensive than your car. I mean, if your Christmas crackers don’t have Swarovski crystals in them, did you even try? 



If your house isn’t full of the smell of freshly baked cookies every day, if stepping into your house isn’t just like stepping into a winter wonderland, if you haven’t put that damn elf in the most creative and elaborate of positions each day, you have completely failed as a parent and Christmas has been ruined. Also, they need a lot of presents. So many! We’re talking like a massive chunk of the amazon rainforest sacrificed just to make the wrapping paper for every piece of useless crap they’ll play with for five minutes then throw in the closet to be buried amongst the years of other useless crap they’ve collected from Christmases past. They’ll appreciate you more by every present with their name on it under the tree. It’s your obligation as a parent to do this. 



Feeling a high level of stress and anxiety during the holidays is normal. After all, YOU are the reason that anyone is having a Christmas at all! YOU are Santa! YOU are the elves! YOU are the mystical, magical being who with your every step is sprinkling Christmas cheer and glitter in your festive wake! Of course your blood pressure is up and you have insomnia! No one else can do what you do! So, allow the stress to snuggle around you like a comforting blanket, telling you that your perfectionism IS making a difference in everyone’s lives. It’s an essential part of the holidays. Just make another hot toddy and calmly, lovingly, keep telling yourself that there’s so much more to do. 


Alright, all kidding aside, this is obviously a Christmas What NOT To Do List. But the harsh reality is that so many of us have actually felt this way to some degree during the holidays. We have bought gifts for people when we couldn’t afford to because we felt it was sending an important message. We have pushed ourselves to the limit trying to attend holiday functions when balancing work and family is already a tough business. We have felt stressed and overwhelmed in our pursuit to create long lasting memories of the perfect Christmas. 


I’m not an expert on keeping the holidays stress free. I have also been guilty of trying to create the perfect Christmas for my kids. I have also tried to impress people who weren’t significant in my life without even realizing that’s what I was doing. I have allowed myself to be totally overwhelmed and stressed out by taking on more than I could handle. Nowadays, I still strive for a pretty perfect Christmas for my family, but that picture of perfection is changing over the years into something that’s far more manageable and authentic to us. It also helps that here in Greece,  Christmas isn’t about buying a ton of gifts for people or over doing anything in any way. There’s a very relaxed approach to Christmas here. It isn’t even the most important holiday of the year. Imagine that! But it’s still warm, cozy, festive, sweet. 


The holidays aren’t about being picture perfect. They’re about being with the people you love and care about most and doing the things that bring you joy. We know that. But sometimes we get a little swept up in the chaos that Christmas tends to be. As we’re nearing December, now is a great time to take a look at the things that we’d like to change about how we approach the holiday season, to avoid getting pulled into that out of control bobsled race yet again. Maybe you want to slow down. Maybe you want to spend less. Maybe you want to give more of your time and presence instead of gifts. Reflect on what truly brings you happiness over the holidays. Delicious food that just from the scent can cause a sudden flood of warm memories. Snuggled up by the fire with hot chocolate and cookies after an afternoon of tobogganing and snowball fights. Decorating the tree and waiting for Dad to make his traditional “it’s crooked” comment once you’ve finally put the star on top. It could be that you really enjoy doing some of the things from the list above and if so, by all means, keep doing them! As long as it genuinely brings you joy. Whatever they are, do the things that make the holidays perfect for YOU. 


The timer on my oven just went off, I better go check on those gingerbreads but from the smell of them….that Janice isn’t going to know what hit her this year!

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Tara McClure

Tara McClure

I'm Canadian and I've been living in Greece for 11 years. I'm from a beautiful little village called Cumberland on Vancouver Island. If you haven't been there, you really should! Now home is another beautiful little village on an island, Molyvos in Lesvos Greece. Add this to your list as well. In fact, put it at the top of your list! You'll see why when you get here.

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