Enjoy a simple Christmas without being a Scrooge
I know Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, but it can also be the most stressful time of the year. Extra commitments, tricky relationships and unrealistic expectations coupled with years of family traditions and memories can create a melting-pot of emotions and pressures. Add to that the additional financial pressure of purchasing gifts, expensive food and impressive decorations and the ‘wonderful’ can start to melt away.
But there is a better way. You can’t take all the stress and complexity out of Christmas, but you can follow these tips to simplify and make room for the most important things.
The first and most important step to simplify Christmas is to have a serious think about what you value most about the holiday. Is it the music, the decorations, the gifts or the people you spend it with? Do you love a big beautiful tree or a table loaded with special holiday food? Is there are a special family tradition that you really look forward to and value?
As you read through the ideas to simplify Christmas below, don’t simplify everything. Choose the thing that you value most and go to town, then give yourself the grace to simplify some of the other things around the periphery.
Now, let’s get down to some practical tips to simplify Christmas, without being a Scrooge.
· Most adults don’t actually need anything for Christmas; we just give and receive gifts out of habit. Give the adults a break and only buy gifts for the children in the family.
· Adults want in on the gift-giving action? Do a Secret Santa or exchange names, so everyone just gives and receives one gift. Think quality over quantity.
· Give everyone the same thing. Make a big batch of rocky road or chocolate fudge and give everyone a portion. Get gift certificates or movie vouchers for everyone.
· My mum gives my kids pyjamas for Christmas and has done every year since I can remember. They are all adults now, and they all still look forward to pyjamas from Grandma every year.
· Stockings only. Just for fun, set a low budget limit and only buy things that can fit into a stocking. Get creative and see what bargains you can find.
· Don’t need anything? Participate in a charity gift program. Buy a goat for someone in need you will never meet in person and spread the love around the globe this Christmas.
Need some more ideas? Here’s a post I wrote about what to buy a minimalist for Christmas.
· Ask everyone to contribute their favourite food to the Christmas table. You might end up with an eclectic mix of flavours, and everyone gets to eat something they love on Christmas Day.
· Look for shortcuts. Buy foods that are pre-prepared, vegetables pre-cut, store bought desserts, pre-roasted chicken and boneless ham.
· Have a Plan A, and a Plan B. Have the ‘if everything goes swimmingly and my life is under control' menu plan, and the ‘if things get crazy and I feel like I'm losing my mind' menu plan. Don't feel sorry about going easy on yourself and getting that pre-made pavlova instead of making everything from scratch.
· The ultimate simplified Christmas menu – go out. Many local restaurants offer a Christmas buffet, and when you actually look at the cost of putting together your own Christmas lunch, you could be looking at pretty good value. Let someone else do the cooking and enjoy spending time with the people you love. And just think – no washing up!
· Consider using disposable crockery and cutlery. You can get some that are easy on the environment and look pretty special too. Again, no washing up!
· Ditch all the bits and pieces everywhere and just have a wreath on the door and a beautifully decorated tree.
· Some of the prettiest trees are the simplest! Consider just using a few special decorations, or just use one colour.
· Get a tree that has the LED lights built into it – no untangling lights and replacing blown bulbs!
· Set the table with some live greenery. It looks and smells amazing, and you don’t have to store it at the end of the season.
· Let the kids decorate the tree and then don’t touch it – I dare you!
· Having family traditions that you love and look forward to takes the pressure off planning a unique Christmas every year. Find a special holiday movie you all enjoy, a game you love to play, a church you love to visit. You may have to gradually change it as the children get older and seasons change, but simple things can hold precious memories when they are filled with love.
Plan for a simple Christmas
Christmas is one of those times of year that default into chaos and mayhem. To keep it simple you need to be intentional. Sit down with a pen and paper and a cup of tea. Start by writing down some special memories or traditions that you value, then plan out your Christmas holiday.
What is the budget going to be? Who is going to be sitting around your table? What is on the menu and what are you looking forward to doing? Write it all down and then plan out the details from there.
Write out the shopping list in detail. What can be bought and prepared in advance and what needs to be purchased fresh close to the day? What can you cheat on and what do you want to make from scratch yourself?
What can you delegate? Make sure everyone gets to be a part of your celebration.
Who are you buying gifts for, what is the budget and what will you get?
What gives Christmas meaning for you? What do you look forward to the most? Make sure that you give yourself the time and energy to enjoy that thing! You can have a meaningful Christmas without being totally stressed and run off your
Christmas feeling like the same old tired story you've heard over and over again? I'm afraid this was true for me going into this year, so I spent some time being amazed again at the life-transforming message of Christmas and let myself be moved once again. Sign up to get your FREE copy of my Christmas Devotional.