Happy Holidays! Err… at least that’s the goal right? Unfortunately, the stress of the holiday season seems to take over even before we string our first strand of lights. The overwhelm of all that we are “supposed” to do can quickly wipe out all of the holly jolly we spend all year looking forward to, if you let it. Today I am sharing how you can enjoy the magic of the season by doing less with tips and tricks to simplify Christmas.
Is a Stress-Free Christmas Possible?
Christmas is a magical time of year.
As children we were completely unaware of all the effort that goes into making everything seem merry and bright. It’s as though the entire world is transformed into a winter wonderland while we sleep.
- You wake up to an entire world magically covered in lights and decorations; stores, neighborhoods and your own home.
- You eat loads of delicious meals and treats that appeared before you on the table.
- You went sledding, built snowmen and sang carols without a care in the world (except for wondering if Santa really knew if you were bad or good)
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
- 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.
How to Simplify Christmas Decorating
Holiday decorations can be quite tempting. They can also be expensive and difficult to store all year long.
As I began to explore minimalism and declutter my home, holiday decorations were one area that I simplified straight away. All of my holiday decorations for the year actually fit in one storage bin.
Here are my best tips to take the stress out of holiday decorating:
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- 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.
- 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.
- Instead of the outdoor lights, place a wreath on your door.
- Allow your tree to be your main décor for the holidays. Spend time as a family decorating it together and enjoy it as the focal point of your holiday decorations.
- We hang our stockings as decorations instead of only hanging them on Christmas Eve.
- Avoid clutter. Display only one or two sentimental pieces if you have them. Too many décor items can be visually overwhelming.
- A holiday bunting is an easy to store solution to holiday decorating.
Using these tips to decorate your home for the holidays will save you a ton of time and money. It will also be very easy to clean up when the holidays are over.
How to Simplify Gift Giving
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.
- Make it a tradition to create handmade gifts as a family, instead of purchasing items for everyone on your list.
- Shop online to avoid the stress of crowded malls and the horrible selection of tacky gift sets. I love the new handmade section on Amazon when looking for unique gifts.
- 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 from Kara Carrero
- 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.
- Search Pinterest for Gift Guides for whomever you are shopping for, like this one for active kids.
Read this next:
- The Best Clutter Free Stocking Stuffers Your Kids will actually Want
- 30 Delightful Clutter-Free Minimalist Gifts for Kids
How to Simplify Christmas 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:
- Create a realistic Christmas budget and stick to it.
- Use your budget to determine who you will include on your Christmas list. If someone is offended that they gave you a gift and didn’t receive one in return, they don’t really understand the true meaning of Christmas.
- Promise yourself that you won’t go into debt to show someone that you care about them.
- Wear clothes you already own instead of shopping for new holiday outfits you won’t wear again.
- Opt-out of holiday gift exchanges – have you ever loved what you ended up taking home? Didn’t think so…
- Say no to any events or activities that you don’t want to attend.
- Purchase and store gifts throughout the year so that you aren’t forced to shop at the last minute when prices are the highest.
- Buy gift wrap and cards at The Dollar Store.
How to Simplify Christmas Dinner
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.
Here are some tips to keep holiday meals simple and stress free.
- Go potluck style and 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.
- Serve an alternative to a traditional main dish. We decided that 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. Now we make a delicious lasagna for Christmas dinner that is perfect for feeding a crowd and is much easier to make.
- Avoid cooking a new recipe for the first time. If it doesn’t turn out you will be frustrated and people will be hungry.
- 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?
- Simplify the menu. There are always a ton of leftovers anyway, so why not cut back on the number of items. A main dish, a roll, a vegetable, and some sort of salad or casserole tends to be plenty.
- 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.
- Use crockpots to keep food warm.
- Use high quality compostable plates, cups and utensils to make clean up a breeze.
How to Simplify Holiday Traditions
Traditions are a huge part of what make the holidays such a magical time of year.
As a new mom I remember how stressed out I became trying to plan elaborate activities and holiday events in my attempt to create memories.
Then, one year after the holidays I asked my toddler what her favorite part of Christmas was.
That we always had the same breakfasts on Christmas morning (that I don’t make during the rest of the year).
Mind blown! Was it really that simple? Yes! Christmas traditions do not have to be complicated, expensive or over-the-top to become a special part of your family’s holiday.
Here is an entire post full of simple and fun holiday traditions to start with your family.
How to Simplify Holiday Travel
Until recently, my husband’s family lived in another state. When we were dating we would travel to spend the holidays with his family since we saw my family almost every day.
Once we had kids, holiday travel became much more difficult and added to the holiday stress.
Luckily, they recently moved to where we live and we all get to spend the holidays together.
If you aren’t so lucky, here are some holiday travel hacks to make life easier:
- Use video conferencing like FaceTime or Skype to connect with family members far away.
- 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.
- Decide which holiday events are important to you and worth traveling for. If they don’t make the cut, kindly decline the invitation.
- If you must travel with kids be sure to have a variety of games and activities to keep them busy.
- Consider taking the train if your destination allows. 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.
Happy Holidays Made Easy
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!
We would love to hear from you! Please comment below and let me know how you plan to simplify Christmas this year.