6 Tips to Help Army Families Enjoy the Holidays

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The holidays can be an enjoyable break, but they can also be a stressful time for everyone. For military families, they can be especially taxing for a variety of reasons. Spending the holidays at a new duty station- often away from family and friends- combined with the added financial strain associated with the season cann be enough to make anyone feel an added weight on their shoulders. Here are six tips to help ease the stress of the season and make the holidays more enjoyable, no matter where you are.

1. Enjoy making new friends; cherish your current friends. Making new friends as you travel from one duty location to another is not always easy, but it can be a rewarding experience. Depending on how long you’ve been a member of a military family, there is also a good chance that current friends will PCS this coming year. Make sure you spend time with them while you can--  visiting Santa with the kids, shopping, or touring the neighborhood to admire the holiday lights, are all fun activities to do with a group. 

2. Collect ornaments from each location.
Part of the fun of moving so often is being able to look back at all the places you’ve been. One fun way to do that is to collect ornaments from each place that you have visited and lived throughout your career. A unique ornament from a German Christmas market or the annual White House ornament from your time in Washington, D.C., are just two  examples of how frequent moves will help bring back positive memories for your family each year. 

3. Wrap a camouflage present.
Have you heard of the pickle ornament tradition? A decoration in the shape of a pickle is hidden on a Christmas tree, with the finder receiving either a reward or good fortune for the following year. You could start a similar tradition with a tiny camouflage wrapped present. 

4. Throw a virtual holiday party.
As military families, we know what a tremendous asset Skype can be in helping us stay in touch with our service member when they are deployed. But you can also use it to connect with family and old friends who are far away. Set up a date and time that everyone is available and if you have multiple people joining the fun, try a Google hangout

5. Throw a theme party.
The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy and fun. Invite your friends and neighbors over for a fun theme party, using the party as an opportunity to strengthen current friendships and build new ones. You could host an ugly sweater party, a cookie exchange, or a progressive dinner party so that everyone gets a chance to show off their holiday décor. 

6. Unpack old boxes. 
You know you have them- the dreaded boxes that haven’t been unpacked from your most recent PCS. Why not wrap them and put them under the tree? You may find something you’ve really been missing!