I adore the holidays. I am one of those people who begin listening to Christmas carols in October.
But I find that it is so easy to get whisked away in the holiday commotion and forget to pause and enjoy. With parties, presents, Christmas cards, and community obligations all vying for a piece of your time, it can be challenging to find peace during this busy season.
Some people thrive amidst the hustle and bustle and are energized by the liveliness of the holidays. I am not one of those people. In order for me to enjoy the Christmas season, I must find the space to relish the parts of the holiday that I love without becoming overwhelmed.
Over the years, I have developed some practices that help me to keep it simple and calm during the holidays. If you are hoping to slow down a little bit during this season, here is a list of 10 tips for a Simplified Christmas.
- Carefully Select and Protect Christmas Traditions. These are the 2 or 3 things that your family does every year without fail. Whether it’s reading the story of Christ as a family, donating food to a homeless shelter, or trimming the tree the day after Thanksgiving, make plenty of room for the things that are important for your family. They shouldn’t feel squeezed in as an afterthought. For me, these beautiful traditions create the essence of the season.
- Shop Early. Gift-giving can be fun if you give yourself plenty of time to really think about the people for whom you are buying gifts. See a little something in September that your mother-in-law would love? Go ahead and get it and hold onto it if you can. Or keep a list of gift ideas on your phone throughout the year. It will make gift-giving feel like less of a chore if you spread it out a little. (In case you’re still looking for ideas, I’ve put together a list of awesome gifts for 2 to 3 year olds.)
- Limit gifts. In our families, we give gifts to our nieces and nephews and our parents. For our own children, we follow the old adage, “Something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.” Four gifts each.
- Say no. This is probably the most important and most difficult rule of the holiday season. It is the season of giving, but you don’t want to give so much of yourself that you have nothing left. As a personal rule, I don’t participate in gift exchanges with people who are not my family. I feel like a Grinch saying no sometimes, but I don’t find joy shopping for those gifts and I am usually not excited about bringing an armload of stuff into my home that I didn’t really need. Especially after reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and implementing the KonMari method in our house.
- Just stop it. If you’re in the middle of something holiday related and you’re absolutely miserable, stop to think about why you’re doing it. Is it to make someone you love very happy? Then try to focus on that. Is it to impress someone you barely know? Stop it. Not worth it.
- Substitute. At times, this can save you a lot of work or money. Can you buy cookies for the bake sale instead of making them? If you hate wrapping, place the item in a bag with tissue paper or a pretty box. If what you’re doing doesn’t bring you joy and you feel like it needs to be done this holiday season, think about ways that you can do it differently to either make if fun or remove the burden.
- Skip it. Last year, when the triplets were only 18 months old, we made the decision to skip the Christmas tree altogether. We didn’t want to put a baby gate around the tree, and the idea of putting the tree up and fighting with three toddlers about staying away from it was stressful, so we skipped it. This year, we put up the tree, but we just went with lights and a tree-topper. The kids can touch it as much as they want, and we don’t worry a bit about them messing with the ornaments. Pre-kids, my husband and I purchased a lot of ornaments that were fragile and beautiful. Rather than buy all new kid-friendly ornaments, we are just waiting until we are certain they can handle it before we bring them out. (They may be away at college that year.)
- Manage your expectations. Sometimes, we build things up in our heads and are disappointed that they don’t go the way that we envisioned. This year, do your best to appreciate the season of life that you are in without too many expectations. Last year, I made the mistake of expecting too much out of our family Christmas photos and it was a complete failure. Now, I look back at the photos of the kids screaming their heads off and I smile. Because that’s what our family was like then.
- Automate it if you can. I love receiving Christmas cards. Especially if they have pictures. So I try to make sure I send Christmas photos with pictures every year. This used to create a lot of work and a little bit of stress. Now I use TinyPrints every year. I simply update our address list for anyone who has moved, upload a couple of pictures and am done in less than an hour. Here’s the card that we sent out this year:
- Don’t put on a performance. Your holiday is not a show for anyone else. It’s for you and your family to enjoy and to build on your relationships. Even though you are not perfect, if you put thought and effort into cultivating the deeper meaning of Christmas, I am betting you will experience a few perfect moments along the way. I challenge you not to pull out your camera when this happens. Instead, soak in the magic.
If you liked this post, you may enjoy these as well:
Living Peacefully with Toddlers: Cultivating a Peaceful Environment: Using the principles of the KonMari method and Simplicity Parenting to create a peaceful home even with toddlers.
Awesome Gifts for 2 to 3 Year Olds: A list of original gift ideas for the little one in your life.
Skipping the Christmas Tree: Our decision to forego the Christmas tree while triplet toddlers were running about the house.
Family Christmas Photo FAIL: The story of our family Christmas photo debacle. Just when you think you’ve got this parenting thing figured out, you are reminded that you will never again be totally in control.
Hello there! I’m Krysta. If you’re new to The Thoughtful Mom, welcome! And thank you for stopping by.
If you like what you read, you can link to me on Faceboook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram. You can also sign up to receive email updates when new posts are written by entering your email below. Thanks again, and I look forward to learning from you.