Does the holiday season make you break out in cold sweats and have you wishing you smoked? There’s no reason to let the Christmas season and expectations ruin your holiday. Let’s get back to basics, reanalyze why we do everything we do and learn how to once again have a simpler Christmas.
How to Have a Simpler Christmas
Harder Than It Seems
This simple two-letter word is a complete sentence that needs no further explanation or analyzing. Practice using this word now so that come the week before Christmas you are an old pro at turning down holiday festivities that will only add more stress to your life.
I know this will be hard. I know you will have disappointed children at the sound of this word. But in the end, if the less busyness makes you a happier wife and mother, they will eventually understand.
Easier Than It Seems
Now that you are practiced in using the word ‘no,’ feel how the weight has lifted off your shoulders.
Set your priorities before-hand. Know what are non-negotiable activities for your family. Keep the calendar open for the whole family to be part of your simpler Christmas planning.
For more ideas, read my article 18 Ways a Homemaker Can Relieve Holiday Stress.
6 Ways to Have a Simpler Christmas
1. Trash Traditions
Okay, so don’t throw all traditions out the window. But if you are trying to hold onto every little tradition that means something to you and your husband….or maybe it only means something to your grandma – reanalyze.
Write down all your traditions that you do around the holidays. Use this list to decide if it’s really something you and your husband love to do.
Next, take the list to your kids. Do the traditions mean anything to them? What would they like to do at Christmas time?
Maybe some of your traditions are bringing you more stress than joy. This is your sign to throw out that tradition and enjoy the others.
Or begin your own. Ask your kids what they want to do during the holiday season. Check out this free printable for random acts of kindness to do together as a family.
2. The People Won’t Starve
Sometime, somehow, somewhere this crazy expectation was set on us to make 14 times the food around the holidays. As if we are working that much harder and need that much more nourishment.
Paring down your food choices and expectations is an easy way to have a simpler Christmas.
Ask each member of your household for their favorite main dish and their favorite treat. Give yourself the whole month of December to fulfill these requests. Serve a favorite for supper one night. Make a batch of favorite cookies for another night.
Don’t try and make everyone’s favorite dish all at once for one ginormous meal. Everyone will probably be too stuffed to truly enjoy each aspect of the meal anyways.
Spacing favorite foods out over the span of the month gives each family member their own moment to shine and enjoy their favorite.
3. Freeze, Freeze, Freeze
Do you always get stressed out with how much needs to be prepared and baked the day before your big family gathering?
Start making and baking now so that you can have a simpler Christmas! Dinner rolls freeze wonderfully. Fruit pies freeze well. Freeze pie crusts, cookies and cookie dough.
4. Keep Food Simple
Want to have the family together without the kitchen stress? Just keep the menu simple. Have a chili or baked potato bar. Serve frozen pizzas.
Having everyone together is more important than the food anyways. And, who knows, maybe you can start a new tradition of egg salad sandwiches on Christmas Eve.
5. One Gift for a Simpler Christmas
The latest gifting fad is the three gift rule patterned after the three Wise Men.
That’s great and all. Do what works for your family. But my kid wasn’t born in a stable miles away from his home. My son has everything he needs and then some. So three gifts still seems like a lot to me! One is plenty.[P.S. The three gift idea would be great if each child got three gifts total like baby Jesus!]
The past two Christmases we didn’t get our son anything (age 3 months and 1).[Gasp!]
Everyone else’s gifts were more than enough to overwhelm him. This year we haven’t decided yet if we’ll give him a gift just because he’ll get so much from family.
For cousins and extended family, we only give one, simple gift. This makes it so much less stressful on the brain and the wallet.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, gift giving is not my strong love language! This may be more challenging for those who’s love language it is.
6. Meaningful Decorations
The Griswold Household doesn’t have to be your standard of decorating. To have a simpler Christmas, keep decorations minimal and meaningful.
Our tree is the focus of our decorating so I don’t worry about the rest of the house. But we do have a relatively small house, so that is an advantage to having a simpler Christmas.
If I have time, I’ll put a few evergreen boughs outside in my milk cans in front of the garage.
Each of us approach Christmas from our own worldview and experiences. My experiences as a child were decorating with a special candle, gifts set on the coffee table, cookies and a special meal.
We were very conservative so a tree and decorations were out of the question. Gifts were mostly homemade. [Yes, we got underwear and mittens for Christmas. Yes, we were thrilled with them. Yes, my mother had made them.]
Read More: A Christmas Caroling to Remember
Being a parent and establishing my own expectations of a simpler Christmas is hard. We have a tree. A nativity. And I don’t make our family’s underwear. So already we are far more elaborate than my childhood Christmases.
Together, my husband and I have to define what we want Christmas to be like in our home. We are the ones who decide how simple our celebration will be. We are the ones who have to keep it from going over the top.
You are the one who has to keep it from going over the top. Limiting your children’s activities, passing on parties, giving thoughtful gifts and basic meals will all help you have a simpler Christmas.