17 December 2009

To Simplify the Holidays

Simplify. That word can sometimes be a bit of a holy grail, but I do like it. Every year when Christmas season rolls around, Pops and I seem to look for more ways we can simplify.

So, how to revel in all of the festive glory and be the picture of calm and relaxation? Hmmm. I actually have no idea. But. Here are some practices we've found to be really helpful for us, at this stage in our lives.

• Say "yes" to down time! Just because you have a day free doesn't mean you should fill it up with holiday plans. Be willing to let fun opportunities pass by so you can fully appreciate those that you purposefully choose. Added bonus? You're making room for spontaneous jigsaw puzzle sessions or Christmas stories by the fire.

• Do it if it is fun. Only if it is fun. Christmas cards? Only if you enjoy the process and won't groan at the postage. Of course we all love to receive them, but nobody will think less of you if you don't send them. Baking cookies? Bring me a plate if you spent a glorious day making them. But if you dread the making, the chilling, the rolling, the cutting, the frosting ... just make some hot chocolate and everyone is still happy.

• Find simple, sustainable traditions that bring Christ into your home. We all have our favorites, but our family is learning to slow the daily pace down enough so we can truly set the focus where we want it to be and simply enjoy the season.

• Let go of the expectations and just enjoy. This is a biggie for me. I'm prone to over-planning which can really be a drag for everyone else. Appreciating the days for how they offer themselves up is a skill I'd really love to make habit.

Care to share ways you simplify your holidays?


  1. Cute vintage ornaments! I did most of my shopping online this year which simplified some things. Our tree is artificial but came with holly, pinecones, and twigs already decorated on it so I just put up a string of artificial cranberries and that's it to decorating the tree.

  2. I completely agree...while we are doing cards ('cause I love to), we'll be buying any sugar cookies consumed here...unless the husband wants to...great pics!

  3. We either made our Christmas presents (jellies, jams, salsa, vanilla extract, enchilada sauce, candles, beef jerky, chapstick, stationary...) or we bought from the farmers market or from Etsy. It's home spun, from the heart. It didn't break our wallets and it allowed me to think about the people, rather than being required to shop. The word REQUIRED shouldn't be a part of the holiday festivities, it all should be fun!

  4. What wonderful tips. I too often forget and end up doing things I feel I should be doing (baking cookies, making all our presents, etc) without joy, and then I realize I've missed the point.

  5. I love those pictures- where did you find those?
    Good post- must enjoy the process, not just race to the end.

  6. Sage words. I especially appreciate you pointing out that just because we happen to have an empty window of time doesn't mean we have to fill it up!

    I've found that my methods for simplifying change from year to year depending on where we are. This year there will be no cards {maybe for New Year's, we'll see} but there will be lots of baked goods.

  7. First, THANK YOU for your attitude about cards. We're sending an e-card this year to most and printing out our own to send to the half dozen people we know who don't have email. When I asked people's opinion of this via Facebook, I got suggestions like "make your own!" (I have done this and it does NOT simplfy the process or make it cheaper).

    I simplify by buying or making all Christmas presents before Thanksgiving. Then I have all of December to just enjoy life. One thing I should do more (and say I will do every year) is say "no" to things like singing in the cantata at church, making pies for the Christmas baskets (this is happening tonight and tomorrow--nearly 30 pumpkin and apple pies--ugh)... But I guess if I had my way I'd end up doing nothing for others, which is hardly the spirit of the season! It just always feels like one task after another I'm waiting to check off my list.

  8. i love this list and find every year i get a little closer to that. my biggest frustration is trying to do multiple celebrations with mike's family and mine (both of whom are a couple hours away from us in opposite directions) but even that we are managing. less is definitely more Christmas is SO many ways!

    merry christmas to you guys!

  9. Hi Anna,
    Sounds like you are enjoying the holidays! I've enjoyed making some of my own presents this year. Photo and metal stamped necklaces. Also, some great 12x12 photo mosaics for family members. Fun, from the heart and inexpensive!
    Happy Holidays,

  10. Love your list! I am linking to your post on my blog! Great Ideas!

  11. wonderful tips, I really loved it and read it through.
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  12. You have some wonderful ideas and thoughts here ...I'll be coming back often!