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.
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.
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.
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!
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