Chances are that you’ve stepped outside recently to brisk morning air and dew on the lawn. Soon the leaves will change colors, and the holiday season will be upon us! Pumpkin spice products are popping up like mad, and while Christmas decorations at Costco may seem a bit early, they are a gentle reminder to us parents to get ahead of the game. The holidays can be overwhelming, but these tips are intended to boost your confidence and encourage happier, smoother holidays. 

There Goes the Sun
With the coming fall, we Oregonians can feel sadness creep into our hearts as the clouds loom. Summers here have become increasingly warm and dry, giving many residents a serious boost in activity and motivation. Try not to waste all that energy on the paddleboard this weekend! As the sun begins slipping away into chilly, overcast days, treasure the last of those rays by taking care of some of your holiday shopping right now! The end of a season often coincides with huge clearance sales to make room for new products, and many stores are currently in back-to-school savings mode with plenty of price drops. Do not fall prey to the last-minute holiday shopping that wreaks havoc on your mind and your wallet! Keeping an eye out for gifts now will spread some sunshine into those darker months. Enjoy the last of the summer sun while you select a unique painting for Grandma at the farmer’s market or a bottle of local wine for the upcoming work exchange!

Efficient Social Planning
Parents can have a difficult time balancing all the social requirements of the holidays, especially in making sure that all family and friends feel included. This can, unfortunately, lead to burn-out and give a sour note to the festivities! When planning to see loved ones this season, consider combining social visits with tasks that need to be completed. Celebrate the last of summer with some friends at the u-pick field, grabbing some reasonably priced end-of-season berries right now to make a batch of jam for gift exchanges later. Instead of having three different Thanksgiving dinners this year–because we all know that entails a miserable amount of cooking, cleaning, and extra calories–throw a present-wrapping party post-Black Friday instead. Take the grandparents to the u-cut tree farm this year and snap a quick family photo for the Christmas card while you’re at it! Take advantage of the early dark hours and meet up with friends for dinner at one of the many Oregon Light Displays. Do a little bit of research with the Oregon Festivals webpage to check dates and coordinate times with others. Check off some holiday needs while also having fun! The upcoming season typically demands a lot of extra activity from families that are already busy, so it is wise to work on smaller celebrations on a more flexible basis.

Treasure Local Business
With COVID and the booming online shopping industry, small businesses have had it too rough recently! Before you assume that Amazon has everything you need at the best prices with the most convenient delivery, consider how much more your dollar can do in the hands of local business owners. Oregon is absolutely bursting with creatives, and they are making products you just cannot find from the big-box stores. If you are interested in learning more about local businesses and current state news, The Oregon Small Business Association website can keep you up to date. There are thousands of workers dedicating their time and effort each day to fuel Oregon’s commerce, and they need any support we can offer. By shopping locally this holiday season, you build the local tax base and pay more salaries. Only a small portion of the money earned by large chain companies stays in the community! Before you take your next trip to Target, read this article for more insight into just how powerful and beneficial shopping locally within our state can be.  

Keeping Kind
One of the easiest things to do amid the hectic holidays is to become overwhelmed and lose sight of what truly matters. Quickly and without realizing it, holiday stress can take a significant toll on your overall health. Back-to-back plans, endless decorating, and frequent socializing can be exhausting or hard to enjoy. If you find that the coming season is more of a heartache than a thrill for you, Oregon Health News shares some helpful advice for celebrating while also supporting mental health. Setting boundaries during this busy season can be of utmost importance. Do not be afraid to say “no” to family and friends who may be pushing you into doing more than is comfortable. Each family needs to know and enforce their own unique limits while practicing gratitude and respect for those around them. It is also wise to remember that not everyone has a good support system in their lives, and the holidays can, unfortunately, isolate them. Keep an eye out for those who may not have a safe place to celebrate, and consider extending your welcome to them. Practice kindness to yourself, as well, because parents are often far too hard on themselves to make miracles happen during the holidays. Being there to share time with your family without being burdened by external worries is often the very best gift you can offer as a parent.

Season of Giving
When you have young ones, this time of year can kick their “gimmes” into overdrive. Instead of encouraging selfish attitudes by asking the kids what they want for Christmas, flip the question around a bit and ask them what they would like to give to others this year. This one difference is a gentle shift in attitude to remind them what this season is about at its core. Going through old toys and filling a box of donations can be good for decluttering and reiterating the importance of sharing. The holidays naturally can correlate with piles of presents and goodies, but it is unhealthy to perpetuate this as the only purpose of the holidays. Taking time out of the schedule to volunteer as a family can be a great way to gain some new perspective. Chances are your family has more blessings than it appreciates, as mine often does. Take ample time this holiday to practice giving rather than receiving, also considering that the gifts your family chooses to give out can send messages themselves. To encourage bonding time and reduce costs, purchase family-wide presents for your loved ones (such as annual memberships to museums, theaters, or zoos). While you are at it, here is a reminder to give yourself some grace. Parents too easily sacrifice their budgets or their sanity to give their children the world. The more love you foster for yourself, the more you will have to share with your friends and family this season! 

Keep it Safe and Simple
Hectic holidays can muddle the brain and create frustration. Do not buy into the lie that the more decorations the house has, the happier the holiday! Purchasing decor is hard enough to justify, but spending hours upon hours putting them all up takes lots of energy that can be hard to come by. Plan ahead as much as possible during this busy season, but make it a priority to schedule downtime. Less sunshine and colder temperatures typically mean an increase in lethargy, and failing to account for that can have dire effects on all members of your family. Take into account that the wide range of seasonal experiences, such as meeting lots of new people, visiting strange places, trying different foods, and messing with daily routines, are all trouble-brewing factors for children. Stay vigilant that the holidays can naturally introduce new environmental dangers as well (such as trick-or-treating, outdoor lighting, and sledding), so read up on Doernbecher’s seasonal safety tips. Most children will not remember the picture-perfect moment their parents strive for, so relax, simplify, and enjoy the holiday ride!