Ideas to Simplify Christmas
Sometimes Christmas season feels like a runaway train. You’re on it. It’s going somewhere. Maybe you love trains. But this out-of-control ride can leave you exhausted and feeling like there is no escape. You have to make the chocolates, the hand-made Christmas cards won’t make themselves, and your presence is required at five Christmas parties this Saturday. There’s no choice, right?
The good news is, even at this advanced stage of the Christmas season, you can still scale back. It may be a runaway train, but you have access to the emergency brake. Here are a few ways to use it over the next two weeks. Do what it takes to make Christmas a time of peace and love for your family.
For each of these areas below, make a list of all the things you plan to do between now and December 25th. Light a jolly candle, sip some hot cocoa, and start crossing off anything that stresses you out or makes you wish you could Grinchishly stop Christmas from coming.
1. Decorations – I’ve heard several people lament recently, “I haven’t decorated for Christmas yet,” or, “Our tree isn’t even up!” Well, this year for Christmas I decided to decorate – ‘Drops of Awesome’ style. Rather than pulling out all the decorations and turning my house into ground zero of a green and red tornado, I stacked the boxes of decorations in my garage and pulled out one candle, one plastic elf, and one fabric wreath at a time. My thought was, If I only get two things up this year, that’s okay.
Buy a wreath at the grocery store and slap it on your door instead of hanging Christmas lights.
Decorate your tree with a couple of strings of lights and leave the ornaments in their boxes until next year. Or let your kids decorate it themselves and every time you see unsightly clumps of ornaments, let it remind you of how much time you didn’t spend dressing the tree meticulously.
2. Concerts, Parties, and Events – “No” is a word. You can use it. I think I’m invited to more parties, concerts, recitals, and events in the month of December than the rest of the year combined. And I want to go to almost all of them. I like fun. I like friends. I really like chocolate. However, sometimes you get enough great things stacked together and they lose their charm, like a house full of 2-year-olds. One or two are adorable. A flock of toddlers is insanity.
So it is with Christmas events. Choose a few that will bring you the most joy, express your regrets to the hosts of the others, and stay home some nights wearing a smoking jacket and listening to Bing Crosby albums.
3. Traditions – “But we have to do it. We do it every year!” Well, not this year. You can start a new tradition any time. But did you know you can also stop one or decide it should only be done every five years when the wind is from the east and the stars are aligned perfectly? “We did it last year,” is a terrible reason to do something.
Be thoughtful with your celebrations. Are you “supposed” to make a gingerbread house tomorrow? Would you be happier or less stressed if you weren’t scouring every grocery store in town looking for the cutest candy ever? Pull the plug.
4. Christmas Cards – If you don’t get around to sending Christmas cards this year, it’s okay. I know this will hurt to hear, but – most people probably won’t notice. Maybe send a note to your Grandma or your dad if you know it will mean a lot to them. Then consider sending a cute note or family update to a few more people for Valentine’s Day or Easter when your head is no longer exploding.
5. Gifts and Treats – It’s the middle of December. Do you still have big plans for making homemade gifts? Ideally you would have finished these weeks ago so you could spend this month drinking nog and singing carols. Do not stay up all night sewing or hot gluing and growling because you are doing something you chose to do. Do not swear at your kids for stealing your fabric scissors. Do pack up all the supplies and put a reminder on your calendar to start making them next July.
I have fabric and notions and a pattern ready to make these really cute sewing bags for my mother and mother-in-law for Christmas last year, no, Mother’s Day, no, Christmas this year, no, Mother’s Day 2016. Whenever they get those bags, they will love them. They might even love them more if they knew I wasn’t bashing my head against the sewing machine while I slaved over them. Good news – the fabric never expires!
6. Gift Wrap – Do you love spending hours wrapping gifts, matching plaids and pressing perfect corners? Cool. Will you come over and wrap mine too? If not, roll the sweater up and tie a bow around it. Stop by the dollar store and pick up a bunch of Christmas gift bags and tissue paper and drop your gifts into them. Order your gifts pre-wrapped from Amazon. They won’t look amazing but they will look easy and that’s almost as good.
7. Elf on the Shelf – Did you start elfing this year only to wake up last night at 1 am with the terrible realization that you forgot to spill chocolate chips all over your floor or unroll an entire roll of toilet paper in the name of the elf so you need to get out of your warm bed and play dolls in the name of Christmas joy?
If you’re d.o.n.e. with the elf for the year, send him on vacation, leaving a note to the kids about his whereabouts. Maybe tell them that Santa called all the elves home to help with reindeer training. Consider injuring him and leaving a note that says he’s on Santa-ordered bedrest for the next two weeks as suggested by one mom on Facebook this week.
8. Lists – As you simplify, you may find that there are several things you’re sad about missing out on this year. Soften the blow by making a list of gifts, activities, and treats you want to do or make next year. Then enter it on your calendar to look over in early fall.
Don’t spend the next two weeks complaining about being the victim of your own scheduling choices.