|Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash|
I know it's early, and I dislike rushing Christmas, but... if you want to simplify your holidays this year, now is the time to be thinking and planning for that! And just in time, I've created a fantastic resource for you. My newest book, Minimalism for the Holidays is available now on Amazon Kindle (which can be read on any device, even your computer, with their free app) and in a beautiful paperback edition! Look for the link in the sidebar.
Meanwhile, here's a sneak peak:
I don't want to do it this year. Just thinking about it is depressing.
I'm talking about the Christmas that starts now, before Halloween. I'm talking about the canned music, the packed parking lots, the over-heated stores, the ads, and the wish lists. The jam-packed schedules, plastic reindeer, and way too much food.
Some people thrive on the noise and the hype and the busyness. I too used to believe I loved all of that. But when I think about what really makes me happy, it doesn't look anything like the Modern American Christmas. In fact, almost everything about the MAC makes me think I'm missing something that should be wonderful.
Would you like to join me?
5 Ingredients of a Simple, Heartfelt Christmas
Everyone's version of a simpler holiday will look different. Here's how I picture it:
1. More time.
Christmas schedules can get crazy, with so many extra holiday activities, plus shopping, baking, wrapping, mailing, traveling, and hosting guests. Normal routines get lost. Clutter and chaos build because we don't take time to do maintenance. When my children were little, their needs took a backseat to my to-do list, and I'd shuttle them with me from place to place all day. (I'm sorry, kids.)
I'm aiming for no more than one holiday activity per day, even on the weekends. That might not seem like much, but I want to have more time to relax or to be spontaneous.
We don't have to fill every time slot. A little white space on the calendar is a good thing.
2. Less food.
There are so many special holiday recipes! It's not the same without them, right?
Wait a minute. Is your holiday about food?
Okay, maybe there are a couple of dishes I don't make at other times of the year that I would miss. But there is no law that says a holiday dinner must include multiple appetizers, a large stuffed bird, three vegetables prepared in some gourmet manner, three different kinds of pie, from-scratch whipped cream, eggnog, mulled wine, and more. Christmas dinner really doesn't need to be a huge four-course feast, especially if we've been snacking on cookies for two months.
Is it heresy to suggest a little moderation and ease? Can I be saved from exile in the kitchen without ruining the holiday?
A simpler meal will save everyone indigestion and regret.
3. Homemade fun.
Instead of tickets to the big-city Nutcracker extravaganza (complete with dressy outfits and expensive parking), choose the local community theatre's holiday play instead. Choose more family board games, ice skating, star gazing, caroling, and reading The Best Christmas Pageant Ever aloud to each other, and less time sitting in traffic and shopping at the mall.
We need to make more of our entertainment, rather than buying it.
4. Minimal decor.
In years past I spent a lot of money on Christmas decor. Displaying all of it was quite a production, and took an entire day both to put up and take down.
Then my mother went into assisted living, got rid of most of what she owned, and gave me a pair of choirboy angels she bought the year I was born.
I remembered those angels. I had loved them as a child. When my husband and I downsized to a small apartment, the angels came with us.
Now holiday decor consists of curly willow branches in an old pitcher, a bowl filled with pomegranates and gilded pine cones, and a lot of white candles. A fresh evergreen wreath with a red plaid bow. A small nativity scene, and the red-robed singing angels.
Cue Christmas music by Nat and Bing, because I'm done.
5. Creative giving.
There is one good thing about seeing Christmas items in stores three months before the big day: it gets you thinking about gifts in time to make something.
I'll slip some cash into my grown children's Christmas cards, but I might also be able to craft something small they'd enjoy, like a sugar body scrub or a personalized tee shirt. Co-workers might appreciate a jar of bean soup mix. My grandson might enjoy a thrifted dress-up kit collected into an old suitcase.
By starting early, I can take my time and enjoy the process, rather than turning my creative efforts into yet another frantic rush job. There are a lot of ways to give without buying, and that seems more personal, too.
If you're ready for a simpler Christmas, start that conversation now. You may find that your loved ones share many of your feelings. Even children may be excited about a holiday that includes more togetherness and less stress, with opportunities for them to participate rather than be shuttled around as you check tasks off your never-ending list.
P.S. If you happen to buy my newest book, Minimalism for the Holidays, would you be so kind as to leave a short review? I don't know about you, but I always read at least a few reviews when trying to decide if a book is one I'm interested in purchasing. It would mean so much to me if you would take the time to do that. Thanks!