Christmas is by all means the most celebrated time of the year. Even for people of different faith other than Christianity, Christmas has been culturally rooted as an important event of celebration. It is the time where we re-unite with our dear ones to spend a lovely time together and celebrate. For most it is a time for warmth, love, family, friendship and sharing.
For those who like me have started walking the path of simple living – Christmas poses quite a dilemma. On the one hand it is all those things mentioned above yet quite at the same time it is a time for shopping sprees and madness and an over-consumption of food and alcohol. It can also be about who has the brightest decorations, gives out the most gifts, or the most expensive ones. It is a time for indulgence – receiving loads of gifts and eating an incredible amount of food and drinks over a few days. In short, it has absolutely nothing to do with simplicity or simple living.
So this Christmas I have been pondering on how to live a more authentic, perhaps spiritual Christmas without all the bells and whistles or over-indulgences that almost infallibly accompany the festive season.
Most of us have probably started to think about Christmas already. Every year I feel like I should wait until after Thanksgiving to start thinking and planning for Christmas, but then it’s almost too late and I don’t have the time to plan or do some of the things I’d really like to do.
Especially with Thanksgiving falling so late in November this year, the countdown to Christmas is literally right around the corner.
And while I really believe in the importance of planning ahead to make holidays less stressful, you might still end up stressed out if you try to pack too much into your calendar between today and December 25.
I want to encourage you though, that you can still have a very meaningful, fun and joyful holiday even if you plan as much this year as you normally would. Over the past few years, our family has been embracing the idea that less is really more during the holidays, and I wanted to share some of the things that have worked for us to simplify our Christmas celebrations.
Choose Crafts Wisely
With sparkly, shiny, beautiful Christmas crafts on just about every blog and filling up your Pinterest feed, it can be easy to feel like you need to be the queen of crafty in order to have a meaningful Christmas season.
For some of you, that might really be just what you need, and I say go for it! But for some of us uncrafty mamas, myself included, doing lots of holiday themed crafts does not cultivate Christmas joy and peace.
Instead of feeling guilty about what you don’t do, choose a few easy crafts that will be fun for you and your kids and enjoy the experience making memories together. If you need some inspiration, be sure to check out the 101 Day of Christmas series!
The Christmas Countdown
There is something about Advent – the waiting and anticipation for Christmas that is just magical, especially for kids. There are lots of great options for Advent out there that are simple and fun for families.
Truth in the Tinsel is one of our family’s favorites with a ornament craft to go along with a Bible reading for each day of Advent. They even have printable ornaments now for busy days or those of us that aren’t so good at getting a craft done every day.
This year I’m excited to read the Advent story Charlie and Noel to my kids. I love that it’s a story that read a little bit of each day leading up to Christmas. Simple, yet meaningful and something I know my kids will really enjoy and look forward to each day.
Last year I shared a Simplify the Season series on my blog. I was so surprised when I asked my readers what they struggled with simplifying the most during the holidays and almost every single person said buying and giving gifts!
Whether it was spending too much, buying too many presents, being worried their gifts weren’t good enough, or the stress of not being able to afford good enough presents, gift giving definitely tops the list as an area that many of us probably need to simplify!
I’ve come across a few different ideas for simplifying gift giving over the past few years and they have really worked well for our family.
- Four gifts: something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read. Giving four gifts that fall under each of these categories.
- The three gifts of the wise men: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Gold is a highly valued item, frankincense is to encourage spiritual growth, and myrrh is something for the body, which could include clothing or shoes.
- Extended family gift exchanges. Suggest drawing names so that each person or family buys for just one person, instead of everyone buying gifts for everyone.
- Give experience gifts rather than physical gifts. Tickets to go to a game or show together, a season pass to the zoo or museum, dance or art class, sports camp, or something else that they have always wanted to do but either couldn’t afford, or they hadn’t made the effort to do. Giving it as a gift is great motivation!
- Giving to charity. Or instead of giving to each other – when we all already have so much – what if you gave to someone who was truly in need? There are so many amazing charities that you can donate too this time of year and actually make a real difference in someone’s life. Some of our family’s favorite charities to give to during the holidays are Compassion, World Vision, Heifer International, and Charity Water.
I also appreciate that giving fewer gifts is less stressful too!
Simplify this season by taking the time to slow down and make memories, rather than being slave to your to-do list and rushing from event, to party, to get-together over the next few weeks. Memories are made in the simple things, in the pauses between activities, in the moments where we stop and just enjoy each other and the beauty of this season.
What if you strove to live out “Peace on Earth” in your family during this holiday season instead of trying to fit everything you can onto your calendars and under your Christmas trees in the next four weeks? How would your Christmas season look different this year?