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How to Simplify Christmas: 40 Stress-Free Ideas to Enjoy the Holidays

Ready to celebrate the holidays without all the stress? We’ve got you covered with tons of ideas to simplify Christmas while maintaining the magic.

A white mug with a woven sweater pattern and a candy cane, surrounded by a knit scarf, with Christmas lights in the background.

How Do You Simplify Christmas?

Christmas is a magical time of year.

Take a moment to think back and remember Christmastime as a child:

  • Your entire world is transformed into a glowing winter wonderland.
  • There are delicious treats all around.
  • And to top it all off toys that you have wished for all year magically appear inside your house on Christmas morning.


Then, one day you become an adult and you realize you are now responsible for creating all of this magic for your own family.

The time, money and creativity that goes into a modern Christmas celebration can be completely overwhelming.

Our culture puts a tremendous amount of effort into making you think that the holidays are all about

  • Overspending
  • Overeating
  • And that everything must be perfect

But what if there was an easier, more balanced way to approach the holidays?

What if you could enjoy Christmas more by

  • Doing less
  • Spending less
  • Planning less

It’s possible and over the years I have collected a number of tips that help make sure we can focus on what’s truly important during the holidays.

Today I am sharing 40 stress-free tips to simplify Christmas so you can sit back and enjoy this holiday season.

Let’s get started!

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40 Ways to Simplify Christmas and Enjoy a Stress-Free Holiday

1) When it Comes to Decor, Less is More

Holiday decor is probably the easiest (and most tempting) area to go completely overboard. And while all the lights and trinkets and figurines are pretty, they are also expensive, difficult to store and can end up being a bit too much. Instead, just choose a few simple and meaningful decor items to add some holiday cheer to your home.

2) Invest in Decorations You Can Repurpose

Purchase a large chalkboard to hang in your home. For each holiday find a cute saying or drawing on Pinterest to re-create on your chalkboard. You never have to take it down and it’s easy to change with each holiday. A simple holiday bunting is also an easy-to-store solution to holiday decorating.

3) Only Decorate Indoors

Place lights inside windows instead of hanging them outdoors. They still look beautiful from the street and you won’t have to use a ladder or brave the cold weather. Hang your stockings on your mantle all month long and place a wreath on the inside of your door to enjoy.

4) Focus on the Christmas Tree

Allow your tree to be your main décor for the holidays. Create a family Christmas tradition as you decorate it together and enjoy it as the focal point of your holiday decorations.

5) Avoid Clutter

Display only one or two sentimental pieces if you have them. Too many décor items can be visually overwhelming. Being overstimulated by all the decor can cause stress even if you don’t realize it.

6) Simplify Gift Giving

A perfectly wrapped Christmas gift decorated with a pinecone gift tag, and a mug of warm hot chocolate with a snowman marshmallow.

Obviously, gift giving is part of what makes the holidays such a fun and special time of the year. Follow these rules to make shopping and gift giving simple and fun this year:

7) DIY Your Gifts

Make it a tradition to create handmade gifts as a family, instead of purchasing items for everyone on your list.

8) Shop Online

Avoid the stress of crowded malls and the horrible selection of tacky gift sets. Instead check out the new handmade section on Amazon when looking for unique gifts.

9) Plan Ahead

Purchase a variety of gift cards throughout the year to have on hand for holiday gift exchanges. Make a list and check it twice 😉 Write down the names of each person you are shopping for and exactly what you plan to purchase. Set limits for children’s gifts like:

  • Something Cool
  • Something for School
  • Something they’ll Wear
  • Something they’ll share.

10) Give Clutter-Free Gifts

Give experiences instead of gifts. Decide as a family if there is something you would like to do, or a place you would like to visit. The memories of an experience last forever, while most toys are forgotten within a few weeks.

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11) Simplify Holiday Spending

 The average American is expected to spend approximately $1,000 on Christmas this year. For many families this means spending money they don’t actually have. And the reality is that going deep into debt will cause stress and anxiety long after the holidays have come to an end. In order to avoid the financial stress of the holidays follow these tips:

12) Stick to Your Budget

Create a realistic Christmas budget and stick to it. Use your budget to determine who you will include on your Christmas list.

13) Avoid Holiday Debt

Promise yourself that you won’t go into debt to show someone that you care about them.

14) Plan Ahead

Purchase and store gifts throughout the year so that you aren’t forced to shop at the last minute when prices are the highest.

15) Save Money on Wrapping

Buy gift wrap and cards at The Dollar Store.

16) Shop your Closet

Wear clothes you already own instead of shopping for new holiday outfits you won’t wear again.

17) Learn to Say “No Thank You’

Opt-out of holiday gift exchanges – have you ever loved what you ended up taking home? Didn’t think so…

18) Respectfully Decline

Say no to any events or activities that you don’t want to attend.

19) Simplify Christmas Dinner

A table set for Christmas dinner, with plates and pans of food, glasses for drinks, and two eomty chairs.

I vividly remember the first Christmas dinner I planned as a newlywed in our own home. I didn’t think it would be very difficult since I had watched tons of holiday cooking shows on The Food Network over the years. After spending hundreds of dollars on food and realizing on Christmas day that I did not have the kitchen or oven space to cook all of the items I had planned on.

20) Go Potluck Style

Invite each guest to bring a side dish, beverage or dessert. This way you can focus on one delicious main dish and getting your home ready for guests.

21) Skip Traditional Turkey

A Christmas turkey or ham isn’t worth the stress of wondering if it will be done it time, cooked all the way through, too dry or all the other potential things that could go wrong. Instead make a delicious lasagna for Christmas dinner that is perfect for feeding a crowd and is much easier to make.

22) Don’t Get Too Creative

Avoid cooking a new recipe for the first time. If it doesn’t turn out you will be frustrated and people will be hungry.

23) Look for Store Bought Solutions

Choose a few items that you can buy at the grocery store instead of making from scratch that are just as good – pie, rolls, maybe a salad from the deli?

24) Simplify the Menu

There are always a ton of leftovers anyway, so why not cut back on the number of items you serve? A main dish, a roll, a vegetable, and some sort of salad or casserole tends to be plenty.

25) Prep Food Ahead of Time

Prep anything that you can, ahead of time. Get the washing, chopping and mashing out of the way so you can focus on other aspects of the meal.

26) Use Crockpots to Keep Food Warm

27) Simplify Clean Up

Use high-quality compostable plates, cups and utensils to make clean up a breeze.

28) Simplify Holiday Traditions

Traditions are a huge part of what make the holidays such a magical time of year. Christmas traditions do not have to be complicated, expensive or over-the-top to become a special part of your family’s holiday. Here are our family’s favority simple and fun holiday traditions.

29) Simplify Holiday Travel

Holiday travel can add a ton of stress, to an already busy time of year. Check out these ideas to streamline and simplify family visits during the holidays.

30) Use Video Conferencing

Zoom, FaceTime or Skype are the perfect way to connect with family over long distances.

31) Visit During a Less Stressful Time of Year

Decide if the holidays are the best time to visit family anyway. Perhaps travel in the summer instead and celebrate Christmas in July when the weather is clear and the kids have more time off from school.

32) Pick and Choose

Decide which holiday events are important to you and worth traveling for. If they don’t make the cut, kindly decline the invitation.

33) Keep the Kids Busy

If you must travel with kids be sure to have a variety of games and activities to keep them busy. Or create these fun road trip busy bags.

34) Take the Train

Tell the kids you’re going on the Polar Express. Once, I had to travel alone with my children and the train was wonderful. We had tons of room to spread out, the kids loved not being in car seats, eating in the dining car was fun, and I could just sit back and relax instead of stressing out over being stuck in traffic.

35) Declutter Before Christmas

Since you know you will be bringing more items into your home, take some time before the holidays to declutter. You can even use the elf on the shelf to help you declutter the kids toys.

36) Skip the Tree

This is a new trend that seems to be catching on. Many families are skipping the traditional tree for a more minimalist idea which might be a good choice if a tree is too expensive or won’t fit in your space.

37) Draw Names

Large family? Lots of co-workers? Instead of buying for everyone create a gift exchange where you draw names and just purchase for one other person.

38) Track Your Spending

Even if you create a list it’s easy to go over budget if you aren’t keeping track. You can use a spreadsheet or an app to track your holiday spending and keep yourself in line.

39) Use Photos as Virtual Thank You Cards

Take a picture as your children open gifts from friends and family and then send them the picture on your phone with a quick thank you message. They will love seeing the child with the gift.

40) Stay Focused

As you go through the holidays keep reflecting on what is most important to you. Keep that at the heart of your Christmas celebration and so no to anything that doesn’t bring joy to the holidays.

There you have it mama! Tons of great ideas to take the pressure and stress out of the holidays and replace it with peace and joy!

Read this next:

How to Simplify Christmas: 40 ideas for a stress-free Christmas to remember.
How to Simplify Christmas This Year: Tips from a Busy Mom on How to Enjoy the Holidays More.


  1. A lot of my wrapping items have come from the Dollar Store as you suggest! I also stock up on cards, tags, bags, etc. at the post-Christmas sales. There’s always tons of stuff left (especially at places like Wal-Mart and Target) and you get it for at least half price!

  2. Ask friends and family how they would feel about forgoing Christmas gifts from now on. Explain, gently and from the heart, that personalized gift-giving at this season causes a lot of stress for you (and possibly for them), and you’d rather just enjoy spending time with them or hearing from them. (Then be sure to send them a kind Christmas card, text, or email at the holidays.) All of my friends agreed readily to this, and my parents have at least cut down their huge production of gift-giving. As you mentioned, many times we don’t even really need or appreciate whatever gifts someone felt they were obligated to buy for you. Doing this has totally turned around my holiday season for the better.

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