Military families often have a timeline for each duty station. Orders are for one to three years, and that number of seasons is planned for. That timeline is used to plan big vacations, large furniture purchases and even moving preparations. When you are moving in off-peak season during the holidays, it is a whole different ball of wax. There are two elements of chaos -- both the holidays and the PCS.
How do you tackle moving during the holidays? If your family is at a school, or a promotion occurs, then "the needs of <insert service branch here>" could mean a move during those off season months during the holiday season. The wrinkling of packing paper and the pull of packing tape are not the typical sounds of the season. With some simple, cheap touches, you can bring a little holiday spirit with you during the move.
The cheap, easily removed and moved around window clings are a must-have when moving during the holidays. These are especially fun for small kids to keep them occupied and playing in the car -- you can put them on the window in the car, or onto a whiteboard and they can cling and remove as many times as they like. They are mobile and easily move from car window to hotel window to house window when you arrive at your new home. Even better, these are relatively cheap at $1-$2 per page of clings. They come in gel clings and regular clings too. Some are even in color-you-own, adding an extra element of fun for kids and kids-at-heart to enjoy on the road or in the hotel room.
Battery Operated Lights
One of the signals of the season in our home is the change in lights. Purple lights go up for fall, a flickering candle on the patio signals the change in seasons and of course those brightly colored holiday lights or icicle lights for the winter holidays. This is the perfect time for battery-operated lights! Michael's has a selection (don't forget to use your Michael's military discount!) of battery-operated string lights year-round. Wrap them around a lamp at a hotel, around a stroller handle or around furniture in the RV. This simple step adds sparkle to the holiday season without electricity, and their lightweight pliability is perfect for on-the-go PCSers.
Pick One Holiday Item
Celebrating the season in a hotel room or RV isn't the same as in your own home with your own things. But if temporary housing or hotel living is on your list this year, choose one thing to help you celebrate the season in a "normal" way. Consider getting one light-weight object symbolizing the holiday. Consider a small tabletop Christmas Tree or an ornament that you can hang representing the holiday you are celebrating on the road. This small token represents your typical holiday celebration, and allows you to continue to celebrate no matter where you are.
"Stained Glass" Craft
If crafting is one of the things you typically do during the holidays, but cannot do easily because of a move, consider a stained glass craft. MilMomAdventures shared this one for Valentine's day, and it can be easily changed up for the holiday décor of your choice. Think about reindeer, trees, elves, dreidel, menorah. Enjoy time together with a craft with minimal items, while also adding a holiday decoration that is PCS friendly. All you need is contact paper that can be found at stores like Walmart or Target in addition to craft stores like Michaels. Pick up a roll of multi-color tissue paper and you are set. Bonus that the tissue paper doubles as wrapping paper if you are looking to wrap some small gifts during the move.
Music sets the mood and tone. According to Psychology Today, music is also key in relieving stress. Stress relief is necessary when PCSing. Am I right? Plus, certain holiday songs have memories attached to it, and singing them outloud for all to hear can be therapeutic. If Buddy the Elf recommended it, it must be valuable.
Celebrating the holidays in a hotel, RV or car, while moving may not be the theme of this years holiday Hallmark movie. But it is the reality of some military families worldwide. Make the goal of the holidays as another opportunity to make memories. We all know that the moving process will provide many opportunities for memory-making.
Is a deployment on your schedule this year. These ideas are great for deployed service members to bring a little holiday to wherever they are deployed. While deployed for the holidays, my husband put up a holiday card Christmas tree on the wall and strung Christmas lights up in his room.
--This article originally appeared on the Millie Journal.
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