As the song goes, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”
However, for many of us, it also can be the most stressful time of the year. Besides all of our normal day to day activities and work, there is a multitude of other responsibilities to handle. Shopping for gifts, holiday parties, school parties, baking cookies, decorating, attending church events, keeping up with the Advent calendar, sending out Christmas cards, and more. It all can be extremely overwhelming and stressful.
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way. There are ways to slow the season down, so we can really enjoy it instead of feeling stressed all the time. For me, I would rather spend my time enjoying my family and celebrating the birth of Jesus with a calm, happy spirit than an anxious one.
Here are some ways to help you simplify your Christmas this season.
Where Will Christmas Be
Even if you feel that you aren’t normally an organized person, planning ahead for Christmas will help you tremendously. I can’t tell you how much easier it makes the season for me to have a plan of attack. You can figure out ahead of time if you are hosting, traveling, or just having a small family Christmas at home. Knowing which of these you’ll have will help you know what preparations need to be made, and you can start getting ready early.
A Simple Meal
If you’re hosting or just staying home with your spouse and children, why not plan a simple dinner meal? Dinner doesn’t have to be turkey, ham, lasagna, PLUS five sides and dessert. It can easily be one main course, one or two sides, and one dessert. Easy!
Make a List
Another way to plan ahead is to make a list of gifts you need to purchase. By writing them all down ahead of time, it will save you from that last minute gift shopping because you forgot someone. Planning ahead here also can help you financially. If you make your list early, you can start shopping early and won’t have such a huge expense all at once. Why buy Christmas presents all at one time if you don’t have to?
Simplify Your Gift Giving
Christmas doesn’t have to mean you buy the most expensive gifts and/or the largest amount of gifts. So often we spend entirely too much money purchasing gifts at Christmastime. We buy for spouses and children, grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles, cousins, friends, teachers, etc. That’s a lot of people and can add up to a lot of money. Here are a few ways to help you simplify this process and save some money.
Only Buy Your Children Four Gifts
I can hear some of you audibly gasping at that. What? Only four presents? YES! Think about it. Your children get presents from grandparents, aunts and uncles, and family friends. Do they really need a ton of gifts at home as well? Especially if they are young. If you have children five and under, they won’t even know the difference. So why spend a lot of money on gifts they don’t really need? Instead, use the rule of four gifts: Buy one thing they WANT, one thing they NEED, one thing to WEAR, and one to READ. That’s it!
Budget for gift shopping
Decide ahead of time how much you want to spend on each person you shop for. Then, stick to it! Your wallet will thank you.
Scale Back on What You Do
Part of the reason the holidays can be so stressful is because we do too much. Think about your holiday traditions and all you do. Does making that gingerbread house every year bring you joy or do you only do it because you feel you have to? Is it necessary to attend all the holiday parties you get invited to or can you just pick one? If you don’t feel there isn’t enough time to bake six dozen Christmas cookies, just bake one dozen. Or don’t bake at all! Go to the store and buy them. Make things easier on yourself and don’t feel guilty about it.
Find Ways to Add to the Peace of the Season Instead of Taking Away From It
One way to really slow down and simplify the Christmas season is to find a great Christmas devotional to read. Aside from the fact that sitting down and reading is relaxing in and of itself, a Christmas (or Advent) devotional can give you perspective on the true meaning of Christmas; it will shift your focus away from the hustle and bustle to what really matters. I really like the book Experience Christmas by Christine Trevino. This devotional helps prepare your heart for Christmas and brings a fresh, new look at the Christmas story.
Give Back to Others
Focusing on other people instead of ourselves is another great way to add to the peace of the season. When you take the time to meet the needs of those around you, it not only blesses them, but it will bless you in return. Why not participate in Operation Christmas Child and fill a shoebox for children in need? You could also take part in the Angel Tree project to help children whose parents are in prison. Another great option is to donate food to your local food bank or volunteer at a soup kitchen/homeless shelter. And, lastly, as military families, we all know Toys for Tots is another wonderful organization that helps those in need. When you participate and donate to programs such as these, you can do so as a family. This is a great opportunity to teach your children how important it is to put others before ourselves and that it’s “more important to give than to receive.”
Whether you use these ideas or your own, I hope you take the time to simplify your Christmas and enjoy the season!
How do you simplify Christmas? Share in the comments!