3 Ways to Simplify This Holiday Season

14 Comments 05 December 2011

How to deal with nosy relatives and other family dilemmas at the holiday dinner table with tips from Social Q's author Philip GalanesBy Crystal Paine
Author of The Money Saving Mom’s Budget

December can be a busy, frantic season full of hectic shopping, parties, baking, gift-wrapping, recitals, and get-togethers. Here are three ways to streamline so you can savor these moments instead of rushing through them at breakneck speed.

1. Pare Down Your Gift-Giving
Evaluate your gift list: Do you really need to give a gift to your uncle’s neighbor’s dog? I’m pretty sure Fido will survive just fine without another fancy chew toy, so save your money and use it to buy gifts for those you really care about or want to bless.

Creating limits for how many gifts you buy helps to simplify things. reader Ashley says, “We give each of our children three, and only three, Christmas gifts. One gift is always something useful like pajamas; one gift is money for their savings; and one gift is something they want or a fun gift. By limiting the number of fun gifts to just one per child, we are able to say no when we see something they would love, but not love enough to be their fun gift.”

2. Prioritize
If you want to have a stress-free and simple season, you aren’t going to be able to do everything. Take 15 minutes sometime in the next few days to sit down and write out what the important things are for you and your family this December.

Each person’s list is going to look different—and that’s perfectly okay. Maybe you love to make homemade gifts but you really couldn’t care less about sending out cards. Perhaps you want to give a lot of your time to bless those less fortunate but you really don’t have any desire to attend a lot of parties with people don’t know very well. Or, you really want to do fun and meaningful activities with your children but you really don’t enjoy baking at all.

Know what you want to invest your time and effort into this holiday season, then say no to opportunities and invitations that aren’t in line with your priorities.

3. Plan Ahead
After you’ve decided upon your priorities for this holiday season, it’s time to make a game plan. Look at your calendar and commitments for the next four weeks and think of everything you can do to prepare ahead of time so you’re not scrambling at the last minute.

Make sugar cookie dough ahead of time and freeze it so it’s ready for that cookie-decorating party. Buy or make hostess gifts to have on hand for last-minute party invitations. Check your closet to make sure you have outfits for the holiday parties you’ll be attending. Finish your shopping early and avoid the mad rush of crowds and traffic the final few days before Christmas.

The more you pare down, prioritize, and plan ahead, the more you’ll be able to relax and soak in all the memories and moments of the holidays. And truly, it’s those memories and moments that last long after the elaborate decorations, fancy parties, and expensive gifts are forgotten.


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  • Sonya Parga

    Great article my friend! Would love it if you put this post on our 25 Days of Christmas Linky on my site, Parga’s Junkyard! Or choose another one! A good fit for the season!!!

  • Victoria

    Item #2, second paragraph should be “couldn’t care less”. If you “could” care less, that means you still have room to care about it.

  • vanessa

    @Victoria – In the USA, the grammar that you pointed out varies regionally. And, both are correct within their dialectics.

  • Lindsey

    To Vanessa: they may be “Correct within their dialectics” but they are not grammatically correct. (P.S. Dialectics is a term in philosophy, not a reference to grammar. The word you should have used is dialects.)

  • Crystal @

    Victoria: Oops! Thanks so much for catching my grammar error! I thought I had changed that, but apparently I missed it before I submitted it.

  • kojala

    Hi everyone and thanks for reading! You are actually all correct. This from explains it most succinctly:
    The Oxford dictionary already recognizes “could care less” as an American colloquialism. Many people, however, regard it as incorrect since it makes no logical sense (if you “could care less” it means that you care at least a bit).

  • Julie

    Dear Crystal ~ Thanks for encouraging us to keep a proper focus on Christmas! Simplicity makes Christmas (and life, for that matter) all the more enjoyable. You’re the Best!

  • Audrey @ Mom Drop Box

    I have pared down my gift-giving & it makes Christmas so much easier. I think most friends & family appreciate it too- then they don’t feel obligated to get you a gift!

  • Elizabeth Best

    This is a great post! it’s so important to stay focussed at Christmas. We often get lost at this time of year in all the hype.

  • kojala

    It’s so true. Thanks everyone for your thoughtful comments! Together we can help spread simplicity all season long. Happy holidays!

  • Anna

    Lists and limits is the best advice to follow during the holidays. It’s easy to overindulge and put ourselves in a financial pit without even realizing how we got there. I try to stay as organized as possible, budget long beforehand and not get caught up in all the distractions! Thanks Crystal!

  • Mrs. Cat

    I have a friend who also only buys her children three gifts each for Christmas as well…because they always get so many things from relatives, etc. Her reasoning…”If three gifts were enough for Baby Jesus, they’re enough for my kids.”

  • Kerry

    Several years ago I asked my kids what their favorite holiday traditions were. Their answers surprised me and taught me a valuable lesson. It’s the little things that are so important – decorating cookies, having our christmas eve treasure hunt, carrying presents down from Grandma’s loft and having breakfast at Grandma’s house. Other than carrying the presents from the loft, gifts were not even mentioned!

    Since then I have focused on those traditions that my kids enjoy and keep my sanity by keeping things simple. We have enjoyed the holiday season so much more since then.

  • kojala

    Ha, that’s a great saying! Thanks for sharing.


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