Find Your Joy This Year with a Simple Christmas
These strategies for a simple Christmas will help you avoid the seasonal stress madness this year.
Scrolling through Facebook the other day, I noticed a picture of a Christmas Tree in my friend’s feed. Looks like the local retailers are already at it.
And even though, technically, Christmas is right around the corner, it still feels too soon.
It seems we start preparing for the holidays earlier and earlier each year. Yet despite our attempts to “get a jump start” on all the festivity obligations, it always seems to fly by in a blur.
By the time our last gift is open and it’s time to take down the tree, I find myself perplexed, wondering, “where did the time go this year?”
And quite frankly, it makes me sad.
On December 26th of each year, I feel a bit cheated.
Cheated about what? Well, that’s the funny thing. It doesn’t feel like I’m missing out on things to do.
It feels like I’m missing out on time. Precious time.
Want the cliff notes? Skip right to the good stuff and grab the one page “Simple Christmas” cheat sheet of tips to keep you focused on matters this holiday.
Whatever happened to having a Simple Christmas?
Do you feel like the holidays fly by faster and faster each year? Do you find yourself stressed and overwhelmed with each passing December day?
I’ve been there.
But last year, I shifted some behaviors.
I stopped rushing. I set boundaries.
And I began a new Christmas Tradition: Simplicity.
Interested in my strategies for a Simple Christmas? Read on!
Prioritize for a Simple Christmas
If you want to really enjoy Christmas, start by prioritizing.
That means prioritizing how you spend your money, how you spend your time and where you put your focus.
If you don’t want to get sucked into the hustle and frenzy, you must prioritize.
Now, prioritizing is not the same as a to-do list. To-do lists are great. I love lists!
But they can become overwhelming if you aren’t intentional and focused. There’s always one more thing to add.
Listing priorities provides focus and eliminates overwhelm. Simply list of three to five things that you need (or want) to focus on. Choose the things that matter.
These are the things that will get done first.
You don’t have to toss your to-do list. But make sure you have your top priorities lined out so you can tackle them first.
I’m keeping Christmas simple this year by keeping my priorities short and my to-do’s to a minimum.
I will simply do the things that move me forward and make the biggest impact.
I know there will always be “more to do. But I’m not playing that game this year.
Create Simple Christmas Traditions
Traditions are great. We all have special holiday traditions from childhood traditions we’ve started since we began adulting.
But if you’re going to have a simple Christmas, consider only doing the Christmas traditions that mean the most to you and your loved ones.
If it causes too much stress, don’t do it.
If it’s too much money for your budget, don’t do it.
Trying to fit in all of the amazing activities you’ve pinned on Pinterest? Don’t. Do. It.
Keep it simple and focus on the few you like best. We love looking at Christmas Lights. We make a big event out of decorating the tree and listening to Christmas music.
Personally, I also love baking, shopping, watching Christmas movies and just getting together with friends and family.
But I only take on what I can handle. I bake a few things. I shop before the crowds get crazy. And I limit social commitments.
The key is to choose the ones that mean the most to you and do them your way. Don’t worry about making them perfect. Instead, focus on making them meaningful.
Simplify Christmas Spending
It’s easy to let spending get out of control during Christmas. (Ask me how I know.)
So try to keep Christmas spending simple buy planning ahead. Create a gift list that includes each person on your list and what you are buying for them.
Keep your gift list simple and don’t overspend on the gifts – as tempting as it may be.
Set a Simple Christmas budget and stick to it. Don’t feel obligated to spend more than you can afford.
I always fall into this trap of “but did we spend enough?” And that’s kind of crazy when you think about it.
We should be spending within our means and according to our budget, plain and simple.
The season isn’t about giving or getting the most expensive gifts. It’s not about “matching” the spend of someone else. Just do what you can with a full heart. That, my friend, is enough.
Plan ahead by looking for sales and discounts. Set a deadline to get shopping done by a certain date. And by all means, shop online if you hate the hustle and bustle of (and horrible mall parking) of holiday crowds.
Another idea for a simple and meaningful Christmas is to give experiences instead of things.
For example, gift cards to restaurants or movies are great. Think of things your people would enjoy doing or something like a membership to a museum or fun park. Or even something like pre-paying for a family photo session for all of your family would be great.
Let Go of Perfection
The struggle is real when it comes to perfection issues.
For my first few years as a parent, I envisioned these perfect holidays with my little family. I agonized over gifts, lamented about which Christmas Tradition to implement.
Are we supposed to be wearing matching pajamas on Christmas Eve? Did we go look at the best Christmas lights? But wait. My Christmas Cookies for Santa aren’t homemade and they aren’t (gasp) perfectly decorated candy canes and reindeer.
During those first few years, my daughter didn’t even really get what the whole thing was all about. Once all the presents were opened, she spent the rest of the day playing in a pile of wrapping paper and boxes.
Additionally, her Beauty and the Beast DVD melted in her stocking from the heat of the fireplace.
Nobody ate the perfect breakfast casserole I made. And the night I planned for the family tree trimming? Well, it was decorated in 10 minutes flat, because my husband was racing to get his childhood ornaments placed in the best places.
Did you know there is such a thing as Christmas Tree Real Estate? Well, there is.
The point is, my perfect expectations kept getting in the way of my truly enjoying my family.
So now, instead of trying to create the perfect experience for my family, I focus on being present with my family.
Instead of curating Instagram worthy events and excursions, I focus on how my family wants to celebrate and what brings us joy together.
That’s what’s perfect for me.
Give Back and Volunteer
If there is ever a time to go do good in this world, it’s during the holidays.
Donating your time, money or services can bring a sense of purpose and help to simplify Christmas because you’re focusing on helping others.
It’s easy to get caught up in our own lives during the season, but if possible, try to go do something positive for someone.
There are lots of opportunities to volunteer during the holidays. Check out local food pantries or soup kitchens, which will likely need help with donations or service.
The program is typically facilitated through local churches, so you may want to inquire about your church getting involved.
The Salvation Army is another option, offering assistance through their Angel Tree Program, Grocery and Food Assistance, Bill-Pay Assistance and Holiday Events.
Visit a nursing home, where residents are often overlooked and could use some company. While small inexpensive gifts are nice, often these residents are happy to see a smiling visitor.
Or check out Volunteer Match for opportunities in your local area. Volunteer to serve meals. Adopt a family for Christmas and buy their gifts.
If you’re short on time, make a financial contribution. The options or giving back and helping others during the holiday seasons are endless.
Here’s a great guide from creditcards.com if you’re looking to help others this season. It includes ways to families in need through adopt-a-family programs, toy drives, and even unused credit card rewards.
Express Gratitude All Season Long
We all have things to be grateful for, and acknowledging those things improves both physical and psychological health.
I like to make gratitude lists. But you can also write letters of gratitude.
Write your family, friends, former teachers or employers; people who made a difference in your life. The holidays are a great time to let people know you are grateful for them.
It’s a great way to lift both your spirits – and theirs!
Make Self-Care a Priority
The holidays keep us running, but not necessarily in a good way. We are so busy that we sometimes put self-care on the back burner. Yes, it’s time to care for others. But it’s also a time when we tend to neglect our own needs.
Combine that with the tendency to eat all the things, and before you know it, you’re starting the new year with an extra 10 – 15 pounds.
Now, it’s perfectly FINE to indulge in some holiday treats. So don’t feel guilty about eating a few pieces of the Saltine Bark your boss made. Just don’t eat ALL of it.
And while keeping up your exercise routine is a bit more challenging during the holidays, try to stay after it.
Sure, give yourself grace when you have to miss a workout. But when you can, hit the gym, dance, do yoga, whatever you need to do, but do something.
Get some mall walking in during your shopping trips! Just move.
Plan mindful activities that will keep you grounded during the crazy Christmas season.
Meditate, get a massage or take a bubble bath. Go for quiet walks or schedule some time to read.
Go get yourself a Gingerbread Latte and do some window shopping.
Create a Schedule for All the Things
Schedule time with people you don’t see often. Yes, we keep up on social media, but we don’t make enough time to actually see each other.
Work schedules often slow down this time of year and people take time off during the holiday season. Take advantage of it and make it one of your priorities.
Have lunch, coffee, take a walk or go on a shopping trip with a friend you haven’t seen in a while.
Plan ahead. Make a plan for your meals, baking endeavors, school activities, parties, and commitments.
Put it all on a calendar. Just the process of getting it down can help lessen the stress of feeling overwhelmed.
From there, you can look at what you want to keep, and what you can cut out.
Stop Comparing Your Christmas to Everyone Else’s
If you don’t anything else on this list, do this one.
Your social media feed will certainly be full of perfect pics of perfect holidays from your friends.
Trips, gifts, excursions, traditions….you will see it all.
But remember, we all do life differently. So don’t compare your holidays to anyone else. You do the holidays your way.
What will do you do to slow down and make the most out of Christmas this year?
Share in the comments!