Yesterday we went to pick up a few things at a home improvement store and, wow, the store front was all decked out for Christmas. My five year old’s eyes lit up and he wanted to check out (and comment on) every tree, decoration and gigantic inflatable. Several customers who were there running an errand stopped to watch and listen to our son. All of them smiled.
I started thinking about how differently those people would most likely feel about Christmas in a few weeks when they are checking off what seems like an endless list of to-do’s. Does it really have to be that way? Let’s set our minds to taking in those sweet moments that make Christmas special, not stressful. Let’s simplify Christmas this year and every year!
10 ways to simplify Christmas this year
1- Keep decorations minimal
Pick an area in your home where decorations are most enjoyed, and skip the rest! For us, that’s the Christmas tree, the mantel and a wreath on the door. That’s all! I even keep a picture of the mantel in the storage container and set it up the same way each year.
Maybe in your home it’s the dining room and enjoying a set of Christmas dishes. Keeping decor to a certain set of items and one location will save time and keep things simple. It will also make things easier when it’s time to put everything back in storage.
2- Create a gift wrapping station
Set up a place in your home where you can keep all of your gift wrapping supplies. A guest bedroom is an ideal location, but you could also keep them in a storage tote to move around and use wherever you can.
This is when I use up all of the red and green bags from my gift wrap stockpile! Also, remember to ask for boxes when you are making purchases at stores that offer complimentary boxes.
3- Make one master planning list
It always happens around the holidays that there’s a list for the grocery store, another for gifts to buy, one for errands to run, and they end up lost or in the wrong place when you need them. One way to solve this problem is to keep a master planning list! Another tip is to keep your list and receipts in a special zipper pouch that you use for all things Christmas planning.
You can grab the same master list I use in the resource library (in the organization printables folder.) It is a one page template where you can write down everything from gift ideas to meal plans.
4- Buy online
If lines, traffic and large crowds are stressful, there’s a lot of advantages to doing your shopping online from the comforts of home. Did you know that some of your friends and family might have their Amazon wish lists set to public? If so, you can take a peek at their lists and get something they’ve had on their “someday” list or get some ideas of things they like.
This is easy to do- two two simple steps.
1- Go to Amazon’s find a wish list or registry-
2- Type in the person’s name or email-
I keep one of these for all of the books I want to read, so if you search and type in my email- firstname.lastname@example.org- you can test this out (and tell me what book(s) I need to add 😉 )
5- Cook the same meals each year
I love Pinterest. You probably do too. But friends- please don’t use the Christmas season to try out a new recipe that even Martha Stewart would find a challenge! Choose those recipes that you can make without looking at the recipe. Chances are, these are the ones your family and friends enjoy the most anyway.
Every year I make taco soup and mini ham & cheese sandwiches for our Christmas Eve gathering and hot wassail (sharing this recipe soon) & a cream cheese danish for our Christmas Day “breakfast for supper” gathering. I also make wassail and crockpot chocolate clusters to take to work. Year after year. These are recipes that I’m very comfortable with and everyone likes- keeps it simple!
6- Stick to a budget
Decide how much you are going to spend ahead of the Christmas season and stick to it. Don’t let Christmas follow you after it’s over by getting a Visa statement that sucks the joy out of gift giving. Christmas is a great time to take advantage of free fun experiences, such as looking at Christmas lights, reading special books and watching classic Christmas movies, drinking hot chocolate, baking cookies… and join me in our boring Elf on the Shelf activities!
7- Limit the activities
Speaking of activities, they come in abundance at Christmas time. It seems like there is always a program, a party or a special event going on. Don’t feel like you have to do it all and be at every event there is… pick and choose the ones that make the most sense for your family and your budget.
8- Don’t seek perfection
9- Set a stopping point
Give yourself a hard deadline to stop and say no to “just one more little thing” or “filler” gifts. Set that stopping point date and stick to it so you can be more present in the moment and enjoy the true special moments of the season.
Think about last year’s Christmas gifts. If you do remember them, do you remember who gave them to you? Chances are, you have long forgotten about those gifts and the same is true of your friends and family members. There’s this idea that we’re looking for this amazing gift, and that’s not realistic.
10- Make a tradition just for you
For the past 15 years, a good friend and I have set aside one day to use personal leave from work and, although there is much shopping involved, it’s mostly a day for us to just have fun. I can’t even begin to tell you the adventures and laughs we’ve had on this day of literal non-stop “shop til you drop!” I highly recommend doing something just for you!
What about you? Any advice for slowing down and simplifying during the Christmas season? We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!