It’s the most wonderful time of the year…or is it?
For some of us, the holiday season can be a stressful time. There’s the pressure to find the perfect gifts, to travel to see family, to cook an extravagant meal, to say yes to social gatherings…the list goes on and on.
Is keeping Christmas simple even possible? Yes!
Busyness doesn’t have to be a part of the season. Christmas is about spending time with the people we love, and that doesn’t have to be complicated.
This year, don’t let the holiday hustle get you down. Keeping Christmas simple can be easier than you think, and these tips will help you enjoy the festive season while keeping it stress-free and low-key.
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- A story about my most memorable (simple) Christmas
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- 12 tips for keeping Christmas simple
- Creating a simpler Christmas this year
A story about my most memorable (simple) Christmas
It was Christmas Eve and my mum and I had driven to the train station (about 30 minutes away) to pick up my two brothers. My two sisters and dad were left at home to cook the ham and make the Christmas Eve dinner.
It was terrible stormy weather (welcome to Ireland!) and when we returned home, the whole house was in darkness. As were our neighbours. It turns out, we, along with 6 of our neighbours, had lost power, heating and water.
Our neighbours across the road still had theirs, and Kathleen popped over with bottles of water and a notebook to say she had our neighbours next door penciled in for 9am to cook their turkey and we could throw ours in for 11am the next morning!
More friends arrived with gas heaters, buckets of hot water and hot water bottles to keep us warm. How sweet!
Luckily Santa had brought some board games that year and for the next 5 days while we had no electricity, heating or water, we sat in front of the fire playing games and singing with my brother’s guitar for background music.
Spending time with family, no tv, no phones, no other distractions – it was the best Christmas I’ve ever had.
If that’s not the true meaning of Christmas, I’m not sure what is. And almost 30 years later, it’s still my most memorable Christmas.
Why it’s important to aim for a simpler Christmas
When the holidays come rushing in, we start to feel the pressures of gift-giving, party-planning, and general merriment-making.
But what if this year, we took a step back and aimed for a simple Christmas? Here are a few reasons why it might just be the best thing for all of us:
First, let’s be honest: the busy holiday season can be pretty stressful. between all the shopping, wrapping, baking, and general hustle and bustle, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. But if we scaled back our plans and expectations, we could eliminate a lot of that stress. Just think about it: fewer gifts to buy, fewer parties to attend, fewer things to worry about. Sounds pretty good to me!
Second, a simpler Christmas would be better for our wallets. With all the sales and temptation around this time of year, it’s easy to overspend on gifts that we may not even need. If we focused on quality over quantity, we could save ourselves some money and avoid ending up with a bunch of stuff we don’t really want or need.
Finally, a simpler Christmas would allow us to focus on what’s really important: spending time with our loved ones. In the end, that’s what the holidays are all about anyway, so why not make it our priority? Let’s put down our phones, turn off the TV, and really connect with the people who matter most to us. That’s a Christmas worth having.
12 tips for keeping Christmas simple
1. Slow Down
Slow down. Take a breath. Everything doesn’t have to happen overnight.
The holidays are supposed to be a time to relax, rejuvenate and enjoy the company of loved ones.
Slow down this Christmas by taking time to get out in nature, go for a walk, or just take some time alone to be with your thoughts.
Enjoy the little things that come with this time of year, like sipping hot chocolate in front of the fire or curling up on the couch with a festive book.
Remember: you will never regret slowing down but you will likely regret overexerting yourself.
2. Plan ahead
Christmas can be a hectic time of year, so plan ahead to avoid the last minute rush.
Organise your shopping list and start early. Take an afternoon or two to wrap all your presents right away so you don’t have to worry about it in the days leading up to Christmas day.
Planning meals also helps take away the stress of having to figure out what to make. Look up simple recipes that you’d like to try and create a list of all the ingredients you will need so you can go shopping in one go and save yourself time.
You can also plan your social calendar. If you know who you want to see and when, then you can plan your schedule accordingly. That way you’ll also be able to plan ‘me time’.
3. Make a budget
You know the drill. Make a budget and stick to it!
You don’t need to spend a fortune on Christmas. There’s always pressure to buy more gifts, more food, more decorations. But realistically, how memorable are these things?
Think back 7 years ago. Do you remember everything you got for Christmas that year? Chances are, you remember more what you did and who you spent time with than the food you ate and the gifts you received. Even more likely is that you probably don’t still have many of the gifts you received that year!
So, this year, set a budget for everything – from meal ingredients to gifts to decorations – and make sure to stick to it! You’ll thank yourself when January rolls around.
4. Talk gifts with the family
In order to make Christmas more simple, have a conversation with your family about gift giving.
Some ideas you and your family can adopt this year are:
- Give experience gifts – these are the things you’ll remember. That time to you went to a certain concert or ski trip together – that’s the kind of thing that will create long-lasting memories.
- Agree to limit gift giving – maybe each person in your family can give one meaningful gift instead of a pile of presents.
- Discuss secret Santa – everyone draws a name out of a hat and then they have to buy just one gift for that gift recipient. This is a great way to cut down on Christmas expenses and still make it fun.
- Adopt the 4 gift rule for the kids – something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read. Don’t forget, the kids will get gifts from other family members too so there’s no need to overload.
- Make homemade gifts – this is a great way to be creative and make something meaningful. Plus, it’s often cheaper than buying gifts.
- Gift the gift of time – this is one of my favourite gifts to give. Whether it’s offering to babysit for a friend so they can go out for the evening, or taking the time to teach someone how to bake, the gift of time is a very special one.
5. Don’t overcommit yourself
Christmas is a time for spending quality time with family and friends, but don’t overcommit yourself.
With office Christmas parties, end of year school activities and family gatherings, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the things you have to attend.
So take the time to sit down and make a list of what is absolutely necessary for you to attend and then stick to that list. Don’t feel like you have to push yourself too hard just because it’s Christmas – your health and wellbeing come first.
If your friends and family have a hard time understanding this, explain to them that you’re opting for a simpler Christmas this year and that means cutting down on social events.
6. Simplify your menu
Do we rally have to have a big turkey, ham, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, etc for the holiday meal?
Think about what dishes you actually need to prepare for Christmas dinner. Ask your family if there are any traditional dishes that absolutely must be included on the menu – then cut down on the rest.
If possible, also consider making a few dishes ahead of time so you don’t have to spend the entire day in the kitchen on Christmas Day.
Opt for simple recipes that can be whipped up in minutes rather than things that need hours in the oven.
For example, my favourite desert to make at Christmas is a holiday meringue wreath (and yes, sometimes I buy the meringues!). All you need is 6/8 small meringues, whipped cream and fruit. With a little mint on top for decoration, when you put all of these together (in less than 10 minutes), this is the result…
7. Don’t try to do everything yourself
Christmas is not your sole responsibility. Your family and friends are there to help.
Delegate tasks whenever possible – so if you have a friend who loves decorating the house, make sure they’re involved in that part of the planning.
Enlist your kids to help with some of the Christmas crafts or wrapping presents. It’ll be fun for them and it’s a great way for them to get involved.
And if you’re feeling really overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to ask a family member or friend to help out with some of the preparation or cooking.
Remember, Christmas is meant to be spent enjoying yourself and those around you – not stressing out over all the things that need to be done.
8. Take a day off for yourself
Make sure you schedule some time off for yourself this Christmas. I always try to take 26th December as a day where I don’t have to do anything!
Usually it’s just a day on the couch eating leftovers and watching Christmas movies, but whatever it is, make sure it’s something that brings you joy and helps you to relax.
9. Re-wear clothes
Contrary to what the fashion magazines may tell you, there’s no need to buy a new outfit for every Christmas party every single year.
We all have some clothes that we only wear once a year at Christmastime, what a waste!
This year, there’s no need to hit to shops for a new wardrobe – re-style some of your old favourites and you’ll have enough outfits for the whole season.
If you really don’t want to re-wear something, swap some items with a friend so the clothes will be ‘new’ to you.
10. Decide what family traditions to keep
Holiday traditions are sometimes what makes Christmas. But as traditions are passed down from year to year, they can get a little overwhelming.
Think about which traditions are important to you and your family and make sure they are included in the celebrations this year.
For everything else, don’t be afraid to cut them out or simplify them – if it’s too much pressure, it won’t be enjoyable anymore! And that defeats the whole point of traditions.
Some favourite holiday traditions are getting a family picture dressed in matching pyjamas around the Christmas tree, baking a batch of cookies on Christmas eve or counting down the days till Christmas with an advent calendar.
Choose one or two and make incredible holiday memories this year.
11. Prioritise family
There really is nothing more important. Focus on spending quality time with your family and make sure that’s the focus of your celebrations, and not the gifts or what society tells us to do at Christmas.
Christmas is all about being together and enjoying each other’s company – so make sure you get plenty of time to sit around the tree, have some hot chocolate and open presents.
12. Practice gratitude
If you have a roof over your head and your family surrounding you during the holidays, then that’s something to be truly thankful for.
This year, try and practice a little gratitude each day – it’ll really help you put things into perspective and make the season even more special.
Perhaps start a new family tradition where each person has to share one thing they are most grateful for from the past year.
This will help you all realise what a special time this is and how much we have to be thankful for.
Creating a simpler Christmas this year
I hope you’re inspired to slow down and keep things simple this holiday season.
Christmas doesn’t have to be a stressful time of year – it can actually be incredibly special and meaningful if you make sure to keep the focus on the people rather than all the things.
By following these 12 tips, you’ll be able to create an enjoyable Christmas for everyone without getting overwhelmed in the process
So take a deep breath, relax and enjoy the holidays with your loved ones!
Happy holidays everyone!