Keep it simple this Chistmas with Project Me for Busy Mothers

Have Yourself A Simpler Little Christmas

Are you prone to over-complicating things? A perfectionist who thinks everything needs to be just so?

This Christmas give yourself the gift of keeping it simple – and remember the reason for season.  It’s not about crazy spending or making your home look like a decorating magazine photo shoot. Christmas is about spending time with people you love and celebrating another year passed.

Sure, food needs to go on the table and there’ll be a few long faces if you don’t cough up some decent presents, but over the years I’ve learned to Simplify Christmas – and you can too.

Simple Planning

Yes, the three wise men brought presents, but that doesn’t mean you have to go overboard.

Hone your list to those you really must buy for.

If you’re working to a budget, set a spending limit – and encourage your family to stick to one too.

Plan ahead and do as much online as possible – it’s convenient and cost effective. If you must head out to the shops, take a list and stick to it. You know what happens – you find one more cute thing for one kid and then you have to buy one more thing for the other(s). Before you know it, it’s out of hand!

Shop solo – you’ll get it done quicker and spend less.

Simple Gift Giving

A small thoughtful gift will be appreciated much more than an expensive thoughtless one bought in desperation. Likewise, it’s far better to invest in one great gift than a whole load of tat. And during the holiday season there’s a phenomenal amount of tat in the shops! Resist the urge to beef up your offering by adding on some cheap, good-for-a quick-laugh joke present which will only end up in a landfill.

Consider homemade vouchers for kids which they can redeem for things like breakfast in bed, a movie night with popcorn, bowling, an at home mani/pedi/spa evening, a disco night, hitting the golf driving range, a massage, a candlelit bubble bath, dessert or meal of their choice, one on one time with daddy (or you). Click here to see examples of my super cute homemade experience vouchers. You can also do an adult version for your partner – let your imagination run wild!

For younger kids it’s more about opening the present than what’s actually inside, so consider buying them stuff they need – crayons, art supplies, books, clothes, bubble bath, a calendar and wrapping them separately to make it more exciting.

Faraway relatives love to be kept in touch with what’s happening in your life. Make calendars/photo albums online and they’ll become treasured heirlooms.

One of the loveliest gifts I received one year was my friend Anna’s granola in a beautiful jar tied with tartan ribbon. Yummy!

And buy quality not quantity. I’d rather have a small bar of decent chocolate than my own body weight in Quality Street.

Simple Christmas Dinner

What can you cut back on? Do you really need five different vegetable dishes? Could you alternate and make a couple of different ones each Christmas to keep it interesting – and less work.

Don’t be afraid to use short-cuts if you want to. Store-bought tubs of gravy and cranberry sauce, for example.

And remember it’s just one day. Don’t spend loads on ‘special food’ – you’ll end up eating it for days (or throwing it away). Immediately after the big day you’ll want to eat lighter and all the cakes, chocolate etc will only fill you with guilt.

Simple Delegation

Don’t be afraid to delegate or ask for help. Who can take something off your plate? Your partner may not wrap gifts as pretty as you or might have a different idea of what to buy his mother, but if it frees you up to do other things – let go of perfection and take help in whatever form it comes.

If you’re hosting Christmas, don’t be afraid to delegate dishes to your guests. It saves time, money and stress. Remember – people come for people – it’s the conversations and the occasion (not the food) that make the memories.

Get everyone on board on Christmas Eve with peeling, prepping and chopping – to a backdrop of Christmas music (and with a few cocktails thrown into the mix – mocktails for the kids).

Simple Family traditions

If you don’t already have one, make one. My friend Suzie had the genius idea of a bad taste Christmas sweater competition which created a lot of laughs.


My kids always put on a Christmas day variety show with their cousins, complete with music, comedy, dancing and tickets for entry with a VIP section.

At the very least, get out and go for a walk around the hood to check out the Christmas lights.

Simple Sustainability

Rather than fancy wrapping paper, use Christmas stampers (holly leaves, Christmas tree and reindeer) and three ink pads in green, red and silver to decorate plain brown paper. Super stylish, eco, and you’re not stuck with all those irritating bits of leftover wrapping paper that never quite fit another present.

Small kids won’t know the difference between brand new and gently used. Check out eBay or school fairs for nearly new games, toys, clothes. For hard to please teenagers, re-gift something special that belonged to you or your parents – a vintage dress, watch or piece of jewellery. Challenge yourself to make just one of your gifts a second time around one.

How do you keep it simple? What are your top tips for a low stress festive season? We can all learn from each other – so please share in the comments below!

Every year I send out this My Dream December 2-page worksheet to my lovely newsletter subscribers and every year I get so many heart-felt thank you’s. This tool helps you to identify what really matters to you over the holiday season. It’s my free gift to you!

Christmas planning

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  1. Stacey on December 3, 2013 at 5:37 PM

    I love it! Some years I have over complicated my holidays and been miserable. I think the big thing I do is try to get as much shopping done early as I can. Then I have plenty of time to wrap presents.

    • Suzie Shpaizer on December 3, 2013 at 6:44 PM

      Thanks Stacey! Yes it’s easy to over-complicate and I totally agree that getting ahead is a great way to feel on top. Letting go of perfection has been the big one for me – this Christmas my mantra is ‘Good is good enough’!

  2. Sara on December 7, 2014 at 11:35 PM

    You’re right on the younger kids loving to open stuff. I do put glue sticks and markers and the like in with their gifts (stock up at back to school time!). And my kids do get a lot of gently used—I encourage my family to save some of their best hand-me-downs as gifts.
    One year my kids got “treasure” boxes for all their play jewelry and whatever they wanted to put in it. One was a fancy, fuzzy lavender gift box with bows on it. The other was a box from Harry and David with a lift up lid and a drawer that pulls out. My kids LOVED them—still do.
    One thing I do to try to keep the holiday season simpler is leave more space by cutting out other things—I postpone appointments to January where I can, turn down particularly fast-paced projects, etc.

    • Kelly Pietrangeli on December 8, 2014 at 4:33 PM

      Sara, what a lot of lovely suggestions! I also agree about leaving more space and postponing appointments until January. Saying that, I’m off the to vet now…. ho hum…. 🙂

  3. Have Yourself A Simpler Little Christmas on December 17, 2014 at 12:53 PM

    […] This post first appeared on Kelly’s site, Project Me! […]

  4. Suzie on November 30, 2015 at 2:10 PM

    I am LOVING seeing this blog again! Thank you for recycling it Kelly. It’s all too easy to get sucked into the mad materialistic whirl of festive shopping so I’m going to take my own advice and keep it simple (again!). xx

    • Kelly Pietrangeli on December 1, 2015 at 10:57 AM

      Suzie that picture of your family in their xmas jumpers never fails to crack me up! I did have to remove your link to your xmas playlist as the company that was hosting it no longer exists – waaah! If you upload it anywhere else please send me the link! It was becoming our annual playlist for putting up our tree. Here’s to keeping it simple. xx

      • Suzie on December 1, 2015 at 11:02 AM

        I love that photo – it cracks me up too! That’s too bad about the playlist, if I put one together on Spotify I’ll let you know! xx

  5. What To Do If You Don't Like Christmas - Project Me on December 18, 2017 at 2:00 PM

    […] permission to shut myself in my room to relax on my own without worrying I was being antisocial. I simplified things and let go of perfection. I stopped begrudging my in-laws for not playing games on Christmas and I instigated them myself. I […]

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