Do you long for the days when you faced the "most wonderful time of
the year" with joyful anticipation rather than stress-filled dread?
You're not alone: nearly half of all Americans report an increase in
stress levels as the end-of-year holidays approach.
But it doesn't have to be that way. Experts agree keeping it simple
can help keep Christmas enjoyable. "One reason so many of us love the
idea of an 'old-fashioned Christmas' is because our lives seemed much
simpler then, and the joys of Christmas were simpler as well," says
Glenda Lehman Ervin of Lehman's old-time general store, and a self-
confessed Christmas connoisseur.
Evoking the simple joys of an old-fashioned Christmas doesn't have to
be a complicated affair, Lehman Ervin says. "Few of us have time for
all the old-fashioned traditions, but by choosing some pleasant, easy
traditions, you can create the Christmas atmosphere without the
holiday stress." Lehman Ervin recommends creating the Christmas
atmosphere with a few holiday home decorating touches that appeal to
* Sight - When you think of an old-fashioned Christmas, what images
come to mind? Candy canes, cookies, and popcorn strands adorning the
Christmas tree? The popcorn strand is easier than ever to make and
still a fun family project for the holidays. Decorating with cookies
may not be practical, but borrow their homey feel by decorating with
cookie cutters. Functional and beautiful, cookie cutters can be
unique napkin rings for your holiday table, and eye-catching
decorations for your Christmas tree.
"A good set of Christmas cookie cutters is never a bad investment,"
Lehman Ervin says. "You'll use them year after year to make your
family's favorite holiday treats and to dress up your home for the
* Sound - "Sleigh bells ring. Are you listening?" Sleigh bells create
the quintessential Christmas melody. If you're fresh out of reindeer
to adorn, try hanging a strap of sleigh bells on your front door.
Their warm sound will be a great greeting for holiday guests.
"The sound I most associate with Christmas is children's laughter,"
says Lehman Ervin. You can almost count on squeals of glee on
Christmas morning when the presents are opened, but decorating your
home with a few traditional toys prior to the holidays can help keep
them laughing right up to the big day. "Think of toys that are
simple - things that you might have played with as a child, like a
classic musical jack-in-the- box or an old-fashioned spinning circus
top," she says.
* Scent - Evergreen, spices, bayberry and baked goods are all scents
that evoke the holidays. Choose Christmas d?cor that appeals not only
to the eyes but to the nose as well. Drape fir branches, tied with a
red bow, above a doorway. Place bayberry scented candles in your
windows. "Another way your Christmas cookie cutters will pay off -
the aroma of freshly baked Christmas cookies," Lehman Ervin says.
"Anything you use to bring Christmas to your home can also bring the
spirit of the season to your friends, far-off family and business
associates," she notes. "Giving a gift that says 'old-fashioned
Christmas' also tells the recipient that you really put some thought
into their gift."
"They key is to find a few special things to do so that you don't add
to your holiday stress," Lehman Ervin says. "I do a lot at Christmas,
but I only do what I really want to do. These things really bring the
spirit of Christmas to my home without ruining the holidays for me."
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