This year, we’re taking a homebody approach to the holiday season, finding opportunities to slow down, disconnect, and spend time together and alone (at home!). We’re exploring what it means to take the scenic route with our holiday routines and rituals, trading the holiday party circuit for a cozier alternative. We hope you’ll join as we head Homebody for the Holidays. 🤗✨

By Tyler Calder

This time last week, I was at my parents’ house in Connecticut, contemplating turkey leftovers and developing a small set of hives at the thought of Black Friday shopping. (I bought a few items online. I’m human.) 

As the script goes, I was nursing the emotional hangover of Thanksgiving, a day of high highs (gratitude!), low lows (stress!), and naps (Tryptophan!), but that’s showbiz* baby. I was mostly just grateful to spend the day with loved ones. Fast forward 24 hours and visions of the mall on Black Friday danced across the local news in front of me. I dove into my Notes app, and ceremoniously shifted gears toward December holidays with a note header that read “HOLIDAY GIFT LIST.”

It was go-time. I jotted down a few gift ideas, simultaneously happy to begin celebrating those I love with tokens they’d love, and sad that we had to chase a day of gratitude with a day of… things. 

I got halfway through my list before opening a new note and scrawling “HOLIDAY TRADITIONS” across the top. I wrote down every one I could think of, from gifting my mom an annual ornament to the day-long process of making pasteles (a beloved Puerto Rican holiday dish) with my grandmother. This is what it’s all about, right?

For years, I’ve been lobbying for a minimalist holiday, asking — nay, begging — my family to reduce our wrapping rituals, simplify meal prep, and downsize decorations. But as I jotted down item after item in my note, I realized it wasn’t minimalism I was craving. What I really wanted was a slowed-down version of our festivities: handwritten recipe cards, printed (!!) photo memories, and the card-making ritual we grew up with. As the aha moment hit, it wasn’t lost on me that I was hurriedly thumb-typing this all out on my phone — the literal object that makes speed and hyper-efficiency seem not only possible, but necessary. What I realized through this exercise, though, was that my real holiday wish was a simple one: to spend this time of year not optimizing for once.

While the world around us asks that we work smarter and hustle harder every day, there has to be a limit right? If the limit doesn’t already exist, I’m self-imposing it — rejecting the pressure to list, spreadsheet, and project manage my way through the holidays. In an effort to slow down a bit this time of year, I’m unoptimizing my holidays a bit. Here’s my plan to get back to basics this go-round:

1. Print — yes, print, those memories.

I can’t put my finger on the exact moment when I stopped printing pictures, but I think it happened with the rise of Faceb**k. Smart phones that followed only helped seal the deal. Recently I’ve been thinking about the digitized nature of our memories and mementos, and it made me sad to think how few tangible pictures I have from the past decade. So yes, I’m making it a goal to print more pictures and share them with family this year, so they too can enjoy the pictures my iCloud has been hogging all these years.

2. Write it down. No, really do it.

Where do your family recipes live? If the answer is in somebody’s head, this is your holiday to change that. If it takes assigning one cousin the job of following grandma around with a pen and a recipe card, so be it. (Plus, a box of handwritten family recipes makes a pretty sweet gift for the next generation of foodies in your family.)

3. Embrace a season of making.

Making gifts takes time, but nobody says you have to labor over a project for tens of hours for it to be meaningful. (Though if you can and want to, I’m right there with you. Should we start a crochet circle?) If you’re looking for some simple ways to add a personal touch to your holiday season, you could:

4. Use your hands — together.

One of the most rewarding (and maybe sometimes a little frustrating!) parts of the holiday season is spending time with the people you love and don’t get to see very often. It can be a real bummer when you’re finally all together and everybody’s simply existing in the same place, scrolling Instagram memes together (unless it’s Baby Yoda. In that case, keep scrolling. 😂).

That’s where a fun activity comes in. Some ideas: Puzzles! A board game! Cookie-decorating!

It’s a rare occasion that you’ll get everybody in the fam off their phones at the same time, but the first step is usually getting something else in their hands (and modeling the behavior yourself!).

How are you prioritizing enjoyment over efficiency this holiday season? Do you have tips for taking it slowly and getting back to basics? Let us know in the comments below. 👇

Image by Becca Tapert on Unsplash.