Mmmm, this season. So much beauty and joy— but there can also be a lot of stress and chaos. One of the questions that keeps coming up in my DMs and question box on insta is how to approach the holiday season with more intention. I did a full podcast episode on this, this past week, if you haven’t heard it yet, listen in here.
Because what we all truly want, at the end of the day: to be living our days with more presence, and less feeling “swept away” or overwhelmed this season— by old habits or traditions or eating routines that no longer feel joyful, things that aren’t really what you want.
Something I like to do every season— especially through the holidays— is build a little bucket list that embraces what I really, truly want out of the season ahead. In the winter, of course there are so many nostalgic, joyful things we often turn to in celebration of the holidays, but I also like to look at my traditions and celebrations through the lens of:
Is this really something that brings me joy or elevates my life in some way?
When you look at your activities, food, traditions and seasonal rhythms in this way, you might find there are certain things you actually wouldn’t mind letting go of, and others that you’d like to incorporate instead. It puts you in the driver’s seat to notice what you genuinely love and want to invite more of into your life, rather than letting what’s always been done happen on autopilot.
What I do before making my winter bucket list:
When I look at this year’s holiday season ahead, I wanted to share a few things that I do this time of every year to embrace the magic of the holidays that also help me align with how I want to feel inside— healthy, present, peaceful, cozy & balanced. When building my winter bucket list, I first like to consider how I want the season to feel. It can be a gamechanging way to look at things.
Here’s what I do to be more intentional with this as we walk into the holiday season:
- Pick a word to encompass my holiday season: I would really encourage you to pause and think through how *you* want this season to feel, too. I always pick a word (or a few words) that broadly describe how I want to feel through the next few weeks. For me, it’s balanced, cozy and peaceful. Consider what that word might be and how you can bring it into every daily rhythm and tradition the holidays bring.
- Think about how I want to feel AFTER the holidays: I like doing this to stay grounded and feel my best through this season and into the new year. When we think ahead, we live more proactively and make decisions that protect our peace rather than operating from a place of reactivity.
- Determine which holiday foods, activities, traditions, drinks, etc. excite me and genuinely fill me with joy: there is such a surplus of STUFF this season. Events, treats, drinks, parties, etc etc. And it can be easy to just partake and go, go, go without a second thought. So I really focus on determining which holiday activities and things I LOVE and want to participate in before saying yes to 10 parties or eating a plate of cookies just because they’re there.
- Write down a couple ways to feel my best even in the busy holiday season: things like drinking enough water, eating veggies, getting outside daily, getting enough sleep, moving your body. When you prioritize 1 or 2 actions that you know make YOU feel your very best, it’s easier to show up in everything else.
- Think about anything I’d like NOT to do: okay, okay, I know this might sound funny for the season of giving, but you guys, it is SO FREEING to let things go that you don’t really care to do (yes, even if it’s a “tradition”). Think of the things that feel more stressful or energy sucking than giving— how can you simplify or eliminate some of these things? So much of this season is fun and exciting, but there are also a lot of “obligatory” things that can be draining, and it’s okay to let some of those go. It’s okay if you don’t want to do matching holiday jammies, or pictures with Santa, or gifts for every single person in the family. If those things excite you, then great! But if it feels like a weight, then please please let it go.
My family’s intentional holiday and winter bucket list:
These are the tiny, daily joys we can infuse all season long to create memorable moments in simple ways. I like to build my bucket list around our values (service/giving, family time, cooking together) and keep them as simple, low maintenance and low cost as possible. Feel free to steal, edit or use any of these as inspiration for your own holiday celebrations this season!
- Reading books by the fireplace
- Making homemade hot chocolate (my recipe is in my 2nd cookbook, the Simply Real Eating Cookbook )
- Having friends over for a cousin movie night (holiday jammies and popcorn, so fun)
- Baking healthier holiday cookies together
- Family game night
- Doing a holiday puzzle
- Decorate the house together
- Make a new recipe
- Drive to see the Christmas lights around the neighborhood
- Making a holiday playlist with my kids’ favorite songs and our favorite childhood songs
- Making a blanket fort
- Doing 3 random acts of kindness
- Donating some toys to other families
- Making paper snowflakes
- Making a firepit outside
- Breakfast for dinner
- Eat a normal weeknight dinner by candlelight
- Do an outdoor fire
- Spending the night under the tree
- Watch a Christmas movie together (and popcorn for dinner).
I hope these give you a some simple, but memorable ways to be intentional with your time this season. It’s not all about gifts and stuff and doing more— sometimes it’s actually about doing less and finding what truly fills your heart with joy and memories in a very busy time of year.
Want to simplify your meals this season (and beyond)??
Join the Cooking Club— now on MAJOR sale for another week— to get access to a database of thousands of real-food recipes at your fingertips, plus an easy way to sort, plan, build your shopping list and organize your meals for the week. Eating healthy really doesn’t need to be so complicated, and the Cooking Club is here to save you money and time while eating real food each week. Learn more and join here!
Photo by Kate Price Photography