Throw Back Thursday: Tracy’s plans to simplify the holidays

Ah, November — in the U.S., Thanksgiving is right around the corner … and that means Christmas is, too. I really liked this post of Tracy’s when it first appeared in Nov. 2015 because we’ve all been there, knowing we need to simplify and trying to translate that into real life. Original post HERE. — Trisha

I love the holidays. I should approach every aspect of my life the way I approach the holidays, because it’s the one time of year when I run my life like a well-oiled machine. I plan and list and think very carefully about everything. Because I love it, and it’s fun, and I wish other aspects of my life generated this much enthusiasm.

On Sunday I made my first lists for the holidays. Topic, Thanksgiving. I wrote down everything I need and then split the list into non-perishable items and fresh items. This is the first time in my life I’m making an official Thanksgiving dinner. It’ll be low-key, just for the three of us. And while I’d love to have people over, I’m content with our plans. Because our families are out of town, we always travel, but we’re celebrating Christmas early with Bob’s family and then spending the actual day with my family, so we elected to stay home. I’ll be doing a lot of cooking that day- in addition to our meal, Emma and I will also be making a side dish and dessert for a local restaurant that serves a free dinner. She and I are really excited to do something that will help our community- I’ve wanted to help out with this dinner for years, but we’re never here. And it might be overly ambitious but I’d like to hit one of the nearby trails for a short morning hike. Emma is less enthused about this idea. I put Bob in charge of dessert and wine, and only need to get the fresh items.


Made from two pieces of scrapbook paper.

Because I’m in full-blown crazy list making mode, I made this little folder to contain all my holiday lists.  It’s small enough so I can stash it between books on a shelf. Emma learning to read a couple years ago was a holiday game-changer because I had to be more careful about leaving my lists lying about.

I really, really want to simplify the holidays, and focus on traditions over things. It’s been a while since I went through Emma’s toys, and I really need to do it again soon. My list making gets really crazy- I probably end up with 9-10 different lists, but I don’t consider them to be the issue. Writing everything down helps me feel more in control, especially when I categorize the lists- gifts for Emma, gifts for Bob, gifts for the nieces and nephews and teachers and other friends and relatives. Cards to send. Cookies and ingredients.  And since we always go away, packing lists.

Scaling back on Emma’s gifts is my main goal. But I also need to cut way back on the amount of time I devote to some of these tasks. For example, I spend so much time choosing holiday card photos, then choosing the cards themselves. I briefly thought about only sending cards to close family, but that’s not the answer, though I do plan to trim my list. And I’m don’t need to look at 200 different cards before choosing one. I do the same with cookies- Christmas is really the only time of year I bake so I want it all to be perfect. Usually I make 3-4 different kinds of cookies, and do something different every year, except peanut blossoms. I have made these every year for almost 20 years, and I love them. My initial thought was to make just one other kind, but I decided to make smaller batches of two more kinds. Now that Emma’s older, I think this will be something she’ll want to help with, I hope.

In the past I also focused way too much on choosing Emma’s outfits, but now she has an opinion and she’s not into getting dressed up anymore, which is fine. She wanted a plaid skirt, and I found one on, which is a great place to find secondhand, good condition clothes. We found something new with tags for a great price. Done and done. She has a cute sweater and leggings outfit she wants to wear on Christmas and Thanksgiving, so I don’t even need a list for her outfits this year.

I’ve let myself get distracted from decluttering again, but I’m hoping to get back to it tomorrow.

One Response to Throw Back Thursday: Tracy’s plans to simplify the holidays

  1. When my kids were little I began decorating sugar cookies with paintbrushes. We use thin — but not too thin — icing, and it ends up looking like they want it to, no tears. If you make cookies together, this might help.

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