My One Word for the Holiday Season - Update 2018


Thanksgiving and Christmas are quickly approaching. Most people I know either look forward to season or dread it. Guess what? I dread it.

My problem is that I have high expectations for the season. I want to decorate my home in a way that’s Pinterest worthy, cook my favorite holiday meals, get all my shopping done early, plus make DIY Christmas gifts. I envision my family snuggling by the fire with hot chocolate, entertaining friends each weekend, and heading to NYC when possible.

Instead of the holidays being a joyful time, they become stressed. Then, when my family doesn’t feel like decorating or complains about Advent devotions, I get discouraged. Apathy sets it; I lose momentum and then wallow in the disappointment that we didn’t do everything I imagined. This awful cycle has shaped our family’s culture, and I am ready to break it!

I have discovered significance can be simple! I don’t have to overspend or overcommit to make lasting memories with my family.  Instead, I can leave behind unrealistic expectations, set boundaries, and be intentional with my time.

Thanks to a suggestion from my good friend Noelle, I decided to choose One Word that would narrow our family’s focus for the next six weeks. Instead of “going with the flow” this season we’ll embrace the activities that produce the holiday experience that’s right for us.

My husband and I have chosen JOLLY to be our One Word. Ours happens to be Christmas specific, but yours doesn’t have to be. It was a fit for us based on the kind of year we’ve had and what we know is around the corner for us in 2018.

JOLLY will decide what we do, where we ‘ll go, what we’ll eat, and even what music we'll play. It will help us answer questions such as:

Will we…

  • Host an intimate gathering or a party?

  • Buy or make gifts?

  • Stay close to home or take the train to New York City on the weekends?

  • Visit family or invite them to our house?

  • Cook favorite holiday recipes or experiment with new flavors?

  • Listen to upbeat Christmas music or play traditional hymns?


Need some help deciding your One Word?

Download this free worksheet that will walk you through the process. In it, you’ll find a word bank, questions that will help you choose your One Word, and a calendar for planning your time well.

I am no longer dreading the next six weeks, but instead, I’m excited about coming up with creative ways to live out the word JOLLY. It will still be a busy time of year, but if I use my One Word as a filter, I can have confidence in what I say “Yes” to and what I say “No” to. I won’t have to worry that I am not doing enough or missing out. 

Our One Word for the holiday season will equip us to navigate the rest of November and December with success.  It will also help us to maintain the family culture we’ve established in our home.

Follow me on Instagram as we discover what it means for our family to have a JOLLY season!

Update 2018:

One Word for the Holiday Season was featured on The Family Culture Project podcast.

Prefer the ease of listening to reading? No problem! Just click to play to hear this episode of The Family Culture Project.