It’s the most wonderful time of the year. That’s true for most people – we just love Christmas – and we have a tendency to Go All Out. That can lead to a lot of overwhelm, though. But, this year just might be the right time to simplify Christmas.
Talking with my friend at Christmas last year we were both complaining about how much there was to do. We were trying to go to every activity, make our special treats, get all the gifts for our kids, husbands, aunts, cousins, and grandparents and remember the reason for the season.
That’s when I realized 2 things; I was feeling anything but peaceful and it was up to me to stop the crazy.
As moms, we run ourselves ragged. We pile up all these expectations for the month of December, but our other responsibilities don’t go away … we’re still doing all the laundry and dishes. We’re cooking meals and driving the kids all the places they need to be.
Now we need to start adding about 15,000 tasks on top of our already full to-do lists?
No Thank You!
Here’s the deal: it all seems so important, but it’s time to stop. We just can’t do this to ourselves and our families anymore.
You can simplify Christmas, and continue to make it a wonderful, blessed, fantastic season.
It’s a matter of deciding what to cut out, pare down, simplify and just eliminate altogether. I know we get really warm and fuzzy about all our family traditions, but consider …. are they serving you, or are you serving them?
Sometimes we continue doing things just because we always have. That may not be the best idea for the stage your family is at right now.
Download and fill out the Christmas Reflections Worksheet to help you think through your traditions.
Evaluate your family's Christmas Traditions with this FREE Christmas Reflections worksheet.
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We’re Cutting These Things to Simplify Christmas
1. Decorating the Whole House
Decorating is a huge part of getting in the spirit, but it’s easy to go too crazy. We like to put up our tree, decorate the mantel with stockings and pull out our nativity sets. That’s about it and this saves so much time.
Not only will it save time decorating, but also when it’s time to put everything away. Do yourself a favor and decide to get rid of all the Christmas decorations that are taking up storage space. Just donate them.
2. Wrapping All the Presents
I now put the majority of our gifts in gift boxes and bags. This also saves us a ton of money because we’re able to reuse the same boxes and bags year after year.
Can you imagine how much time you’ll save if you’re not wrapping every single present?
3. Christmas Cards
While I do enjoy getting Christmas cards, I know how long it takes to get one hand-written to everyone on my list. I used to stress over it and it would dominate so much time. Now, there are a few people who live across the country that get a card and that’s it.
If it’s important to you to have that yearly card, consider sending New Year’s cards or even Valentine’s Day cards. It will be a nice surprise for the recipient and will take it off your plate during the busiest season of the year.
4. A Big Christmas Dinner
Not only do I hate the idea of messing up the kitchen on Christmas Day, but Christmas Dinner ingredients are expensive. Plus, a fancy dinner means getting out of my pajamas.
I make Chili the day before and we just have that in the crockpot all day. We also have crackers, cheeses, Chex Mix, rolls, veggies, and dip that everyone gets to snack on all day.
If you want to simplify Christmas dinner, consider purchasing items that are already prepared or that you can make-ahead. And, if you’re having guests, ask them to bring something. That way, you won’t spend your entire day in the kitchen. You can order pre-cooked ham or turkey, plus all the side dishes and just warm them up.
5. 15 Different Cookies and Candies
Ok, as a sugar-lover, all the Christmas goodies are dangerous for me to have around. And, nobody needs all that sugar.
I’m going to have each person pick one favorite goodie that we will make this year. There are 6 of us, so that’s plenty to be preparing. Any more than that and I’ll be pulling midnight baking sessions – Again, No Thanks!
This way, each person in the family will be able to have the treats that are the most special to them.
6. Gifts for Extended Family Members
Getting an individual gift for every single person in our extended family is just not necessary. There are plenty of other ways to let them know what they mean to you. We’re going to do it a different way.
Consider buying a family gift for each extended family instead of an individual gift for each person. There are lots of games that are great for families. A fruit basket is a great idea, too. Something consumable is not just one more thing that will sit on a shelf or in a closet. Grandma doesn’t need one more pair of slippers or some smelly bath salts.
Or, consider playing a white elephant game with everyone.
7. Attending All The Parties
At the beginning of December, I put all the events on our calendar as they come up. Then I strategically evaluate how much we can actually participate in without getting overwhelmed. This will be different for every family, but be careful to guard your family’s time. It’s more important to spend the season with each other, than with everyone else in your community.
Prioritize which things are the most important, or which days you want to be home. Schedule in your tree decorating, craft-making, baking and tree hunting first. All those things that are Must-Do’s. Then see what other things there is time for. Don’t think that you can be out 4 evenings a week and still enjoy the season.
8. Travel to Parents, Grandparents, and Inlaws
We always spend Christmas at home. It is so nice for the kids to get to wake up and enjoy the morning around their own tree, with our family. It has always been our policy to do it this way. We invite people over for the afternoon and sometimes travel the next day, but we’re always home on Christmas.
Consider traveling for New Years instead. The gifts can wait to be delivered for a few more days. And, this spreads out the season and gives you a little more time for rest and relaxation.
9. Shopping every weekend
I get better and better at this each year. One of these years, I’ll be able to finish my shopping without even stepping in a store, but not quite yet. We will do as much shopping online as is possible.
Amazon Prime is my absolute favorite way to shop for Christmas. Nearly everything I want to buy is available there and everything is a great price. And … if you’re a procrastinator (like me), the 2-day shipping really saves my butt. I even send gifts directly to any family that lives out of town. Be sure you’re signed up and if you’re not, click the link right HERE and get a free 30-day trial.
And, since I use Ebates, I’ll be able to get cash rebates and find out about all kinds of coupon codes and free shipping at the stores I shop at the most. Sign up here and you’ll get a $10 bonus after making your first qualifying purchase.
You can even choose Meaningful Gifts of Time instead of purchasing physical gifts to help keep you out of the mall.
10.Searching for Perfection
It’s so easy to think that if we just do everything right then Christmas will be perfect. We have these ideas in our head that make Christmas look like scenes from a magazine photo shoot. Images of the kids all in their matching pajamas, with a spotless house, a beautifully decorated home showing the kids all sitting by the fire playing with their new toys, with big smiles on their faces.
It just doesn’t happen that way – no matter how hard we try. The reality is … there is wrapping paper everywhere, the PJs don’t fit, someone spilled their cocoa, and we’re tired from a late night trying to pull off a gift-wrapping marathon.
Things just aren’t going to be perfect. We can’t do everything.
But, let’s try our best to do the important things.
Your kids will have better memories if they have a happy, relaxed mom. They’ll be happier when there’s time to just BE together. They really don’t want to be dressed up and dragged around from party to activity to performance to shopping malls. They want simple holidays, too.
Work in some downtime and find ways to relax together. Drink cocoa and take a late walk through the neighborhood. Talk about Christmases of the past and sing carols. Snuggle up on the couch and read some Outstanding Christmas Picture Books together.
Now, that’s a better picture of PERFECT.
What will you do to simplify Christmas this year? I’d love to hear what you’re going to cut out and what are the most important things for you to keep.
Don’t forget to download your Christmas Tradition Reflections worksheet below.
Evaluate your family's Christmas Traditions with this FREE Christmas Reflections worksheet.