Taking steps to simplify the holidays can bring back days that are filled with magic, wonder, and joy. This is the time of year kids can’t wait for. It’s a time for giving and for spending time with family and friends. Days filled with love, happiness, and laughter.
It also isn’t my favorite time of year. The holidays can also be so draining at times. Filled with stress and a feeling of overwhelm. Between the never-ending shopping and to-do lists, as well as calendars filled with parties and events, it can be very draining. And, unfortunately, living intentionally can also easily fall to the wayside and be forgotten. The meaning of the holiday season has been lost. As a kid I loved Christmas. As I got older and had to do the adulting part of the holidays, I started disliking it more and more.
Sadly, the holidays have become more of a spending spree buying gifts for everyone and checking off every item on the kids wish list. A time when a lot of people end up going into debt. And every spare moment is spent in packed stores and malls hoping they have that perfect gift in stock.
The holidays have lost the joy, magic, and love of the season. If you want to take the chaos out of the holidays and reduce your stress, keep reading! Bring the joy back to the season and say goodbye to the hustle and bustle. Less of an adult holiday season, more of a child’s holiday! Use these tips to simplify the holidays and make them more meaningful for you and your family. By living more intentionally during the holidays, you can bring the love and happiness back to the season.
Simplify the holidays by prioritizing.
The lengthy to-do lists, the shopping & overspending, all the parties & events, and all the cookie baking & the big extravagant holiday meal. Always being on the go can be very draining and cause you to miss out on the small, joyful moments with friends and family. Sit down and make a list of what your holiday schedule usually looks like, the parties, the traditions, your gift list, all of it. Take a close, heartfelt look at what items on that list actually make you happy. What gives you that warm, fuzzy, holiday feeling.
Don’t overwork yourself trying to achieve the Pinterest perfect holiday. Friends and family won’t care whether or not your home, your table and the food look like it should be in a magazine. Focus more of your time and energy making memories rather than missing out on them by always being busy. If it turns you into a cranky, over-exhausted mess will it really be worth it in the end? Think about your kids when they grow older, what kind of mom do you want them remembering you as? Do you really think their fondest memories will be how perfect the table looked?
Simplify Your Calendar
This is a big part of where being intentional with how you spend your time comes into play. This time of year is filled with parties and events. Choose only the ones that you genuinely enjoy and just politely decline the rest. You don’t want to spend your time feeling like you’re being stretched too thin. It will just suck the joy out of the holidays.
Simplify Your Traditions
Do you have a lot of traditions you do every year just out of habit or a feeling of obligation, even though you don’t really enjoy them? Take a look at all your traditions and figure out which ones you and your family really love, and which ones you can do without. This is one of the areas where it’s easy to simplify the holidays.
For example, the yearly picture with Santa for the kids to tell him what they want for Christmas. If you and your kids don’t enjoy standing in the long lines just for a quick minute with Santa and to snap a picture, then why do it? Especially if all they end up doing is whining about being bored while standing in line and crying when they finally get to Santa. There’s no rule saying you have to do it. Instead, why not set aside a special evening to write a letter to Santa to tell him what they want and follow that with popcorn and a Christmas movie. A much simpler holiday tradition. And a more enjoyable way of spending the time to tell Santa what they want for Christmas.
Does the thought of having an Elf On The Shelf make you cringe? Don’t do it. The world isn’t going to end if you don’t do every tradition you grew up with and all the new ones all over Pinterest too. Your family will have fonder memories of you smiling and happy with a few traditions, than cranky and overwhelmed trying to do it all. Don’t feel obligated to. If it isn’t a tradition that’s at the top of everyone’s list, then don’t do it. Make the ones you keep simple and meaningful.
Simplify The Cooking and Baking
For some, spending a whole day in the kitchen preparing a big dinner, brings them joy. If this is something you love, definitely keep doing it! Just scale it back if it ever starts feeling like more of a burden than happiness.
But it’s not for everyone. It isn’t for me. If you are someone who would prefer to not be tucked in the kitchen all day, why not make the meal simple. Simplify the holidays and give everyone a job to do in the kitchen so you can all be together. Or better yet, arrange it as a potluck dinner, and you might discover a new favorite side dish brought by someone else! If you have been reading up on Hygge and are loving the idea of it, this would be a great way to add some Hygge to your holiday!
Simplify Your Decorations
Let’s be honest, setting up and taking down decorations can take up a lot of time. Not to mention, if you have a lot of them, it can start making your home feel a little cluttered. Decide which decorations you absolutely love and which ones you can live without.
If you enjoy putting up outdoor lights and decorations but dread the time it takes to take them down, then maybe scale them back a bit. You don’t need a set up worthy of Clark Griswald’s approval to enjoy the holidays. Not a fan of caring for and cleaning up after a real Christmas tree? Get a fake one! They come pre-lit, so you don’t have to spend time untangling tree lights. Added bonus; it will save you money over the years, and if tree-shopping isn’t a must-have tradition, you can take it off your to-do list.
Simplify Giving & Receiving Gifts
This is an element of the holiday season that can cause a lot of stress. Buying for everyone can be expensive and stressful. It can make you feel burnt out from spending so much time in overly crowded stores trying to find those perfect gifts. You can simplify the holidays by simplifying your gifts and gift list.
First, take a look at your gift list. Do you REALLY have to buy something for everyone that you know? Talk with friends about doing a get-together or game night instead of gifts. Your friends may be struggling as well trying to figure out what to get you but don’t want to say anything. Or, they may be dreading adding more clutter to their homes if they are trying to keep a minimalist style.
If you still want to do a gift of some sort, why not host a potluck dinner and have a white elephant exchange! Set a reasonable dollar amount on the present and ask everyone to bring a dish for the meal. You won’t be in the kitchen all day cooking and doing dishes. No more stressing what to buy everyone and you can help lessen the holiday stress for your friends as well. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Those You Are Buying Gifts For
Look for consumables or experiences to avoid adding clutter. Stuff like tickets to a movie or museum, basket with bubble bath and bath bombs, candles, etc.
When buying for your kids, think along the same lines. Experiences and consumables rather than more toys that may not get played with very often over the next year. Reducing toy clutter in your home can lead to less stress not just for you, but also for your kids.
Make a list of things they enjoy and when people ask what to get them for Christmas, give them the list. Some experiences could be tickets to miniature golf, movies, an aquarium, a sporting event, or a trampoline park. Lessons for something they enjoy would be great also! Dance, a musical instrument, art, cooking, and martial arts classes have the benefit of fun and learning something new.
What are your favorites ways to simplify the holidays?