How to Make the Most of Staying Home for the Holidays

8:30:00 AM

Brett and I have been married for five years now, and for every one of those holiday seasons we have spent them with our families. When we were tied to our college schedules for so long we loved having those big events too look forward to when we had those breaks. Last year we weren’t in school anymore but the holiday trip was no different and at 8 months pregnant we spent a couple weeks at my in-laws. And it was wonderful. And it was terrible at the same time. There is nothing like being 8 months pregnant and a couple states away from your doctor and hospital to get you into a panic over every little thing. I even had to go by more maternity clothes because the ones I brought with me got too small during those two weeks. 

So here we are a year later and we have found ourselves in nearly the same position, just add an infant! My parents live even farther away, and I will be 8 months pregnant again. The biggest change is that this year we are making the decision to stay home. The anxiety we had last year wasn’t worth repeating. Plus, after five years we are actually a little excited to do the holidays as our own little family and in our home. Most of my memories from Christmas and Thanksgiving aren’t actually at Grandma’s house, but at home with my parents and siblings and sometimes another local family who wasn’t traveling.

With the decision to stay home this year we really wanted to make this year unique and special, taking the chance to make some family traditions of our own. So far, these are some of the ideas we have come up with to make this a holiday season to remember.

Decorating: This is something we have never spent any time or money on. We were always living in little apartments and traveling during the holidays. But now that we are living in a house and going to be here to enjoy it, I’m really excited to start building up our holiday decorations.

Blending Traditions: Now is the time that we can really sit down and figure out what traditions from when we grew up we want to keep or adapt. For example, my birthday is Christmas Day so my family always did the traditional Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve so that I could still have some time for a birthday. Brett’s family comes from Arizona and always eats Mexican food on Christmas Eve.

New Traditions: I love the idea of the classic “Christmas Jammies” gift, maybe even with a new book. Brett loves the idea of finding a reason to get out of the house (there is no reason that we all have to stay inside to enjoy family time). We have started brainstorming some ideas and I’m excited to implement some of them.

Enjoy a Staycation: We aren’t going to be spending money or time on travel and while we are excited to save a chunk of that money, we also plan on using some of it to enjoy some of the local sites and activities. On the list so far are visiting the San Diego Zoo and taking our first trip up to LA to see Santa Monica and downtown. We live almost exactly halfway between the two big cities so our options are open. We might even take in an NBA game!

Spread out Time Off: While I love those days covering the holidays, there isn’t as much pressure this year to save up every vacation day to get as long of a trip as possible and accommodate the days taken by travel. Brett already gets the days immediately surrounding the holidays off, so we are going to try spacing out some of his other vacation days so we can enjoy the entire holiday season rather than trying to pack everything into one week.

There it is, the five things we are going to focus on in order to make this holiday season special without traveling to family. This is our first year doing it, so I welcome any other ideas or experiences, especially if you have any tips about events or places to see in the Orange County area. 

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