8 Ways I Plan on Simplifying the Holidays

I truly, honestly can’t believe it is November already. I. Can. Not. But, I’m glad the Halloween madness is over.

And in the spirit of simplification, I’ve been thinking about all of the ways we can simplify our holiday season this year. Because, really, I don’t want to be running around like a crazy person. I want to actually enjoy the season with my family.

So, here are my goals:

Practice Gratitude. Instead of just saying the words on Thanksgiving Day, I’m going to really try to practice gratitude.. Every day. Even when my kids are making that very difficult.

Thanksgiving Decorating. I am not “decorating” for Thanksgiving. We’ll be at my parents’ house and at Stephen’s parents’ house for Thanksgiving. No need to get a million pumpkins that will just rot. And, no, I didn’t get any pumpkins for Halloween either.

Christmas Decorating. I will decorate for Christmas but on a much, much smaller scale. Last year our 8 foot pre-lit Christmas tree died. (Stephen is allergic to the real ones.) Instead of replacing it with an enormous tree, I’m going to get a smaller one that can rest on our dining room table.

We will pull out our favorite ornaments and decorations and donate the rest somewhere. Any thoughts as to where?

Christmas Cards. I seriously, in years past, have sent out nearly 500 Christmas cards in December. Last year I got it down to 200. Not this year. I’ll do actual cards for very close family and friends. Otherwise, I’m opting out and just posting the card on Facebook.

Say No to Endless Holiday Activities. I’m going to throw us all a bone and learn how to politely decline activities that will serve only to make us crazy. Five events in one weekend? No thanks.

I’m going to practice: “I’d love to, but we’re not in a position to participate this year.”

Christmas Gifts. This one will be difficult. Christmas has always been this crazy vortex into which I get sucked every year. This year I’m going to make a reasonable Christmas budget and stick to it. I’m also going to try to get as many items online (so long as there is free shipping) that I can in an effort to stay out of the stores. In Christmases past, it would not be unusual for our kids to receive 15-20 gifts each. Which is really psycho. This year? That number will be much, much less.

Focus on Others Instead of Ourselves. This year I’d love to involve the kids in a project that benefits someone outside of our family. We always adopt two angels from the Salvation Army, which we will continue to do. But I’m thinking of baking cookies and delivering them to the fire station down the street or something similar.

Do you all have any suggestions for these kinds of activities?

Let Go of the Guilt. I’m not going to feel guilty for not doing whatever I’ve decided not to do this year. I’m giving myself a free pass.

Whadya think? What are you planning on doing (or not doing) this holiday season?

21 Responses to 8 Ways I Plan on Simplifying the Holidays

  1. Works for me! We didn’t get any pumpkins either (why people just steal them) and I don’t decorate for Thanksgiving either we aren’t home so why bother. I wasn’t going to do Christmas this year decorating but my sister in law asked if I would do it since she is doing thanksgiving and I said yes so I’ll put up the tree but not going all out like I used to. I plan to get rid of a lot of it cause I don’t want to move it with us when we move.

    As for gifts we aren’t buying anything major dh got a gun for his anniversary/Christmas and I’m getting a kitchenaid mixer. We aren’t buying a lot of gifts for Christmas for others either cause I went downstairs at my husbands sisters and it looked like Toy’s r us threw up down there so no toys for them they will get gift cards to the movies and bookstore. I just don’t plan to spend a lot no point in it really.

    Enjoy your holiday!! I don’t send cards out anymore I don’t get many so no biggie I send a few to some friends out of state but otherwise don’t.

  2. I noticed you had a Bible in one of your pictures, so I’m going to throw out a suggestion for you for focusing on others. Samaritan’s Purse International Relief has a gift catalog every year where you can donate money to specific mission projects, such as building a school, supplying medical equipment to mission hospitals around the world, and teaching kids to read. This morning I had my kids (ages 3 and 5) look through the catalog and choose a few things we would give to. My daughter chose to give baby chicks to a family in a developing country, and my son chose sports gear for kids. We’re also donating to help feed a baby since we also have a baby at our house. I’m also going to make prayer cards with reminders for our family to pray for the people on the receiving end of these gifts. You can see Samaritan’s Purse gift catalog here: http://www.samaritanspurse.org/our-ministry/gift-catalog/
    Another thing we’re doing is finding different missionary families that rely 100% on donations for their living costs and sending them a small monetary gift, since many missionary families also have kids who’ll be looking forward to Christmas. We’re doing this through New Tribes Mission for personal reasons, but there are a lot of mission organizations you might identify with. With some close relatives (husband, parents), I’m requesting they donate to these organizations instead of giving me a gift.

    • Thanks for sharing his information. I don’t have kids, but I think it is a really good lesson you are teaching them at a young age. Jesus is the reason for the season – not Toys R Us πŸ™‚

  3. Years ago, someone told me that their friend gave their children 3 gifts for Christmas because Jesus got 3 gifts. While our family is not particularly religious, we’ve adapted this policy, for us as well as the grandparents. Books count, clothes count, etc. Santa fills the stockings and may leave something for my boys to share under the tree. The 3 gift idea also helps my kids decide what they really want, rather than an endless list. It helps with our budgeting, and hopefully will serve us well in the future when their requests get more expensive (mine are 7 and 5 right now). There’s also the rhyme for gift lists: something you want, something you need, something you wear, something you read.

  4. In response to the “any ideas on where to donate” the decorations, I would suggest checking with your local nursing homes. This could potentially combine into a “giving” thing too where you go to the home, decorate, maybe “adopt a senior” and spend time with them during the holidays and throughout the year (depending on your availability). I think many seniors are lonely around this time of year and would love to have company. The thing with volunteering at soup kitchens, at least what I have found, is that they usually have too much help and have to turn people away because so many people want to do something around the holidays. The nursing home idea is something you could maintain year long and would help with the gratitude living you mention as well. Just a thought :).

    • This is a great idea, especially since it is a seasonless “gift”! One that I will pass on to family members as they have also expressed a desire to volunteer in a meaningful way.

  5. Our family does a cookie party to share the baking and have treats for everyone’s workplace. We also send packages of cookies to family members who don’t live here. And we draw names for gifts, with a spending limit. We do this for people and for everyone’s dogs. A $3-5 gift for each of 10 dogs is a lot more than a $10 for one dog – even if you have two dogs. Within our household, we have done just stockings and a larger gift for the whole family. All of these things help reduce the craziness and increase the fun!

  6. For a few years now we have just bought gifts/toys for the grandchildren and given our adult children ‘gifts of our time’ I made ‘Babysitting vouchers’ they could cash in with me. we helped one son with painting his lounge and laying new flooring.
    Made meals , did laundry when they were pushed for time etc etc.
    For friends I give simple handmade gifts,like cakes, cookies , jams, handmade aprons , totebags small sewn items…
    Its put the fun back in and taken the pressure off everyone
    It works for us and has taken the pressure off everyone and brought the fun back in …

  7. One year we put every ornament we own on the tree (a bushy 9+ foot one). The next year it was the glass and fancy ones (and a smaller tree). Then all of them again. I like the idea of donating some of them. There are some I wouldn’t mind not seeing again and I’m wondering if a woman’s shelter would like them.

    • My husband was a full-time student/part-time worker when the kids were little and I was a stay-at-home Mom. We told the kids that we had to pay Santa back so they wouldn’t feel bad when their friends got so much more than they did. We also said that Mattel wouldn’t let Santa make Barbies. He got a really good deal on them but when they were gone, they were gone so we usually got a well thought out list early, just in case.

      My in-laws all draw names and have a limit and that seems to be working for us.

  8. I cut back Christmas cards a few years ago, and no longer send cards to people I see regularly. I wish them Merry Christmas during the season, and only sned cards topeople I want to keep in touch with, but don’t see regularly.

    One year, I recieved a “Memorial Day Card” from a friend who just didn’t get around to sending out her Christmas cards and letters during the Christmas season, and decided to go ahead and send them out later, when she had time!

  9. I’ve seen other people pre-empt grumbling in their families by asking each family member which three things or events are the most important for them to feel like they had a great Christmas. For example, my list would include: 1. driving around the neighborhood for 15 minutes seeing all the lights 2. Orange cinnamon rolls for breakfast Christmas morning 3. Chinese or Tex-Mex dinner on the 24th

    If you ask each of your kids and your husband what’s important to them, you may lighten your load further! (And no one will grumble about the simplifying!)

  10. A lot of my friends simplify Christmas (and birthdays!) by using this simple formula: Want, Need, Wear, Read. Each of their children get one item they want, one they need, one to wear, and something to read. I think it’s a great idea and plan to use it when my baby gets older. πŸ™‚

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  12. I just published a blog post titles “Simplify the Holidays Your Way” that you and your readers might like.
    There are many suggestions to help you simplify gifts, food, decorations, and parties! Most people I know have way more than they need, so I’ve included several “gifts that give back” suggestions. My suggestions on parties and decorations are similar to mine. Cheers! The link to my post: http://www.ahhthesimplelife.com/simplify-the-holidays-your-way/

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