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What the heck is a holiday hack?

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Listen to The Refreshed Life Show HOLIDAY HACKS special for your free download.. coming October 31, 2018!

I grew up in the ’80s. My memories of childhood, both mental and physically captured in photos, are sepia-tinted, filled with unfortunate jeans, bangs growing higher, and holidays that I loved.

I lived near both sides of the family. There were always grandparents, aunts and uncles, and best of all, cousins to go around. Honestly, the older we got, them more the family grew, the more fun it became.

And then we moved away.

Holidays around these parts…coastal South Carolina… are totally different than holidays “up north,” for more reasons than simply our lack of blood relatives. The milder weather (& we’ve had a few Christmases that were downright warm) leads to a different lifestyle year round, and this lends itself to different kinds of inspiration. We’ve had a full Christmas tree on the front porch. We’ve grilled steaks on the beach for Christmas dinner. Every Christmas Day has included a trip to the beach, and our kids just asked tonight if we will take a golf cart ride on Christmas Eve, so apparently, that’s a thing, too.

Along with our move to the coast and our lack of traditional relatives, life circumstances have made our holidays quite varied as well. One year, our son got married a few days before Christmas, which was amazing; it lent itself to more relatives, more family time, more celebrations. Another year, we had a brand new grand baby and I was really, really pregnant. We’ve had years that included a flurry of rehearsals for various shows. We’ve had visitors in town, strangers over, and one Christmas Eve, just the 6 of us, no guests. Last year on Christmas Eve, I performed a quick wedding ceremony before hosting a potluck.

Basically, our only tradition has been Thanksgiving, which we host, and it’s a huge hodge-podge of people and food every year.

This year, we’re getting on a cruise ship – 14 of us in total – and sailing away for the whole weekend.

So, we don’t have traditions. We just have big love for the holidays, a pretty big family, a rotating door for people who need a place to crash, and some aspects that we also love, like:

Decorating Snacks & The Soundtrack 
This started on our first Christmas as a family. I had fairly major surgery the week before Thanksgiving and couldn’t drive. Rod took me to the store for something (probably extension cords…?) before we started the tree. When we got there, our son Josh, then 12, had “put out snacks” for us – cashews, Little Debbie cakes, and I am pretty sure some crackers and squeezey cheese. This same year, I introduced my kids to my favorite Christmas tunes – on CDs by Bing Crosby, Celine Dion, and Oak Ridge Boys. Though pieces of this come and go every year, the basic premise has stayed the same (it also seems to happen earlier in November every year…)

Disney Specials & Parades
The fact that these are usually filled with cheesiness and fake/lip-synced performances does not squelch our vibe. By the way, we also dig anything Pentatonix, the CMA Christmas special, and anything variety-show like.

OUR Christmas Movies
I have vowed to myself that I will enjoy more happily-ever-Hallmark movies this year, but a short list of our family’s favorite holiday movies includes:

  • It’s a Wonderful Life
  • White Christmas
  • The Family Stone
  • Four Christmases
  • Christmas with the Kranks
  • The Santa Clause
  • Polar Express
  • A Christmas Story
  • Nothing Like the Holidays (filmed in Chicago!)
  • When Harry Met Sally (I dare you to say something. It has as much Christmas in it as Wonderful Life…)
  • The Holiday
  • Miracle on 34th Street (only the original!)

And, the hacks!
Honestly, a hack sounds like a barking cough to me, but holiday SHORTCUTS give me life! This sort of thing is very, very personal. For years after everyone else seemed to have stopped, I kept handwriting Christmas cards (including 2017), while others thought that a huge waste of time. Some people bake everything from scratch, some make huge Christmas Day dinners, some attend a midnight church service on Christmas Eve, while some spend the whole holiday in their jammies. Some give elaborate and personalized gifts (I used to be a master at this), and some say, “Let’s just spend that time and effort and money… together… doing something!” (that is what I am trying to master)

I think what might be universal for a lot of women, though, is the idea of simplifying the holidays just enough so that they are full of our favorite customs, activities, and people – and somewhat devoid of stress, overspending, and fruitless obligations.

Our free download from The Refreshed Life Show this week will recap some of the things on our show – shortcuts sent in by our listeners and tried and true by Deanna and me. These tips cover shopping, gift-giving, decorating, baking/cooking, celebrating, and even self-care.

Listen to the show tomorrow on Kelly of a Story {live at 9:30am ET – or anytime after} how to claim your free “Favorite Holiday Hacks” download. We hope you find some tips that will keep the magic in and the stress out of your holiday season!

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