Ways To Keep The Holiday Season Simple

As we near the holiday season, I can’t help but mentally prepare myself to simplify as much as I can.  You see, there’s so much that is pushing it’s way inside my home, schedule, and head this time of year.  Before you know it, you can be literally drowning in obligations, to-do’s, and chores.  And that’s not even the good stuff!  This time of year brings a ton of relationships, opportunities to give, and great memories.  So, I’m trying to find ways to simplify life so that I can savor more of the good stuff and stress less about all that other stuff that seems to creep in.  

So… Here are a few tips to help simplify the holidays.  Trust me, my friends, I’m talking to myself as I’m writing these out.  

  1. Plan Ahead – Keep a mental list of all of the family and friends you shop for and as you find things they might like, purchase them then and there, or keep a list on your Notes section of your phone so that when shopping time comes, you don’t have to think about it.  
  2. Shop Online – I’m a big fan of local businesses, but I’m also a big fan of online shopping.  Hello, Prime Shipping!  Remember, that list you created all year long?  Just pull that bad boy up on your phone and add to cart.  
  3. Plan For Party Group Gifts – I discovered last year that there are a few parties and events we go to year after year that have similar types of gifts.  For example, I go to an ornament exchange every year.  At the end of the holiday season, I found a cute ornament on clearance and added it to my box of holiday decorations to use for this upcoming year.  I do this with a few small (2-3) white elephant types of gifts.  Please hear me:  I am NOT telling you to hoard a ton of junk in your home all year long, but if it saves you a few gray hairs, it might be worth it to you.
  4. Go with Gift Cards – I’m not so good at shopping for myself, so I actually still love it when I get gifted gift cards.  This way, in my mind, there’s something there about the fact that this money shall not be used for groceries or gas or other stuff I ‘need.’  So, if I feel this way, odds are others out there do as well.  I just don’t think you can really go wrong with a gift card!  Near us we have Kroger brand grocery stores that do a few times a year a promotion where you can get 4x’s fuel points on gift card purchases.  This is a great time to stock up because then I save money at the pump AND get a good chunk of my holiday shopping out of the way.  
  5. Go fake.  Fake tree, that is.  I love my little fake tree because it’s cheap, reusable, requires no extra errands, no watering, no mess – ultimately no fuss.  Now, I know some folks make a lot of memories with going and picking out a tree and if that’s a tradition for you, I think that falls under the category of the things you are trying to make more room for by simplifying.  But if you find the real tree thing a hassle, you might enjoy a fake tree like me.  Bonus – look for Christmas decorations at garage sales in the summer.  I bought my tree for $5!
  6. Minimal Decor – I know to some folks this sounds sacrilegious, but we have about three boxes of holiday decorations and that includes the box for my tree.  My holiday decorating takes less than an hour and for me, that makes it simple.  My home has a little bit of holiday flair without taking up an entire day, weekend, or even week!  Again, if you LOVE decorating, go for it!  For me, I’m going to go spend my days other ways.  
  7. Schedule a Massage – I know that for me, I need a few things in life.  One of those is a regular massage.  So, before the holidays get too nutty, go put one or two or three massages on the calendar for you in December.  Preserve that time and fight for it.  Now, if a massage is not quite right for you, you fill in the blank.  Whether that’s a mani/pedi, afternoon run, happy hour with your bestie, bubble bath – whatever floats your boat to relax, go schedule it in.  And don’t let anything push it away.  
  8. Say No – Gosh, this one is so hard, but learning to say no to things is one of the best things you can do.  You simply can’t go to every holiday party.  You can’t do every volunteer activity.  You can’t be part of every nativity program.  Pick what you want to focus on and do that.  
  9. One Party Per Weekend – One thing we try to do is limit our holiday event commitments to one per weekend.  I know it sounds fun, but having parties on Friday AND Saturday nights and then possibly stuff during the day, can truly be exhausting.  
  10. Give back.  Make giving the center focus of your holiday season and all the hustle and bustle just won’t nearly be as important.  Give your time (during the holidays and all year).  And give your money.  Teach your kids and family to give to those in need just as much, if not more, than what you put underneath a tree.