Christmas always makes me giddy and excites me. I love the hustle and bustle. I love how twinkly lights create an instant atmosphere. I love carefully unwrapping the ornaments that we have collected over the years. I love how it gives a reason and motivation to have parties and get together with the ones we love. I love having an excuse to eat lots of sugar. Last but not least, I love focusing in and celebrating the birth of God in flesh. Emmanuel.
Each year, I have tried to simplify Christmas, chiseling it down a bit each year. There are many different reasons why one should simplify Christmas. Even a simple Christmas looks different for different people, depending on what season of life you are in and how you are wired. This year I find myself cutting even more of “should do’s” and “to-do’s.” It is freeing. I am finding the more I remove, the more meaningful Christmas is & the more I can focus on all that really matters.
1. Make lists, but just a few.
I used to have an entire binder that I would use for Christmas. It was helpful, especially when I was a rookie at being a homemaker and planning holidays. I have found though, that most of it is not necessary.
I have written 3 lists for the holiday:
~People I need to buy gifts for
~Celebrations/Parties and their dates & times & whether I need to bring a dish or a gift to exchange.
~Food I want to make–including what type of Christmas cookies!
2. Keep decor simple
I used to put up two Christmas trees–one pretty tree and one traditional tree. The stand of one tree broke last year, freeing me from one tree. I decided to mix the ‘pretty’ tree with our traditional ornaments, & it ended up being one of my most favorite Christmas trees.
I also got rid of a ton of Christmas decorations the last couple of years, purging while packing them up after the holiday was over. I used to have a little something in each room to make it festive. Now I keep the decor to the main rooms, and maybe a festive candle in the bathroom. It is just as beautiful & now decorating takes 1/2 the time.
3. Let decorating be a process, & enjoy it.
I used to rush through the decorating process, getting it all done at once. When I was going through cancer treatments, I learned to do things slowly and in steps. It’s ok for it to take a few days. It’s ok to wait a while after Thanksgiving to get it done. Christmas is not an emergency. Enjoy the process.
4. Have a cookie exchange.
I would rather bake a bunch of one type of cookie instead of a bunch of different types of cookies. A cookie exchange is a great way to have a variety of cookies while saving money on a bunch of different ingredients. Invite 6 friends, have them each bring 7 dozen of one type of cookie, then exchange cookies, with everyone goes home with 6 dozen different types of cookies! The 7th dozen is to eat during the exchange. All you have to do is have some little plates, napkins & something warm to drink. Use social media to invite your guests…no need to buy invites, stamps or take a trip to the post office.
5. Use Pinterest
I have some amazing Christmas boards on Pinterest. One is for Christmas food, one for Christmas decor, and one for Christmas Cookies. I use the decor board for inspiration. I might pin elaborate, beautiful pins, but most of the time it is for the inspiration or to take one element of the photo to copy & make my own.
I recently went through my Christmas decor board and made a secret board from it, pinning only things that I think would be fun to implement this year. They are all simple, fun things…many of them my 11-year-old daughter could do.
I use my Christmas boards for food inspiration, making a food list from those fun boards. No need to go search all over the internet when there is Pinterest!
6. Have a stash of simple, homemade gifts to give away to those you care about.
I have another board on Pinterest called Homemade Gifts where there is a ton of inspiration! Some would take a lot of work, and some are simple. I plan on looking for something simple and easy to do, a small little something to have on hand for people like my mailman, hairstylist, therapist, and even my close girlfriends who I don’t usually exchange with, but want them to know I love them. It could be as easy as buying 12 small mason jars, some jute or ribbon & ingredients to make homemade hot chocolate. Mix up a double batch, print out some fun jar toppers, write instructions with a Sharpie, and set aside for when needed.
7. Skip the Christmas cards.
I used to write a family newsletter and send out over 100 cards. It was such a process! Now with social media, I am in touch with more people and can see pictures of their families and know with a click how they are doing. I use this to my advantage and no longer send out Christmas cards. I know my friends and family are ok without a card from me, especially if they know it keeps me from being stressed out. Eyy! Just the thought of trying to find everyone’s address makes me sweat a little!
If you still want people to know you love them, send an online greeting.
8. Buy store-bought instead of homemade.
Now that stores like Trader Joes are starting to use ingredients I would use at home- without added chemicals & preservatives-I take advantage of what they could make for me instead of killing myself in the kitchen. This is especially true for sweet & fun food that gets eaten during the holidays. Their biscotti can make Christmas morning coffee extra special, their popcorn tins add fun to family -decorate-the- tree -night, and their cranberry sauce tastes just like homemade & uses the exact same ingredients as my favorite recipe.
9. Shop online.
Skip the crowds & shop from your cozy home in your cozy pjs. I plan on taking 2 evenings this week to go through my list and figure out what can be bought online. Target has free shipping during the holidays. I do lots of shopping on Amazon with free shipping on most items thanks to Amazon Prime. If you do shop on Amazon, kindly Click Here and I will receive a small percentage of your purchase for referring you, with no cost to you!
Amazon is a great. I have a niece and nephews who make Amazon wish lists so all I have to do is log on and see what their little hearts’ desire. It makes shopping so easy!
10. Read the Christmas Story.
We have a Christmas tradition of buying a new Christmas book every year. My girls still love to read through these books, and I love how it keeps our mind on the true meaning of Christmas. We have also worked through the Jesse Tree book a few different years, which was my absolute favorite way to focus in on the Christ at Christmas. This simplifies my brain in reminding me what truly matters.
So there are some ideas I have for you.
What are ways you simplify Christmas?
Katrina FosterDecember 5, 2014 at 8:26 pm
Cutting back on decorations and re-thinking the expectations I put on myself. Easier said than done.
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EarleneDecember 4, 2014 at 6:55 pm
I basically agree with you, but I still send out cards. Some elderly aren’t on the internet and enjoy savoring the card for a while. Email or online cards are so impersonal for me. Merry Christmas to you and your family!
AmyTDecember 4, 2014 at 3:10 am
I am working on slowing down and cutting out the extras as well. I removed the notes to each person in my cards and kept them simple and economical. I still enjoy receiving cards so still mail them.
I have up my tree and lights but ornaments will go on wth care. The many extras for each room are being chopped down here too since I was starting to feel like it was looking unorganized and like Xmas decor was barfed around my house. Lol. I like to bake but being married to a diabetic who still eats cookies, I choose only about two or three types and time them when friends are around so we don’t overdo.
My meals are much simpler and I like to use Pinterest too to organize my creativity.
AmyNewNostalgiaDecember 4, 2014 at 11:18 am
“Christmas decor was barfed around my house.” I laughed so hard!