A big part of simplifying your holidays involves prioritizing the traditions, values and events that mean the most to you. When you prioritize the activities and events that are most important to you and your family, you can then organize your schedule around them. If family tradition dictates a big tree decorating party on the weekend before Christmas, schedule it in and skip some lesser events. Choose activities that are meaningful and memorable for the whole family and let other things slide. Don’t feel obligated to go to every party, dinner, parade or show you’re invited to. Choose the ones that mean the most to you and enjoy them fully.
The picture above is an example of one of our traditions. The stuffed animal is named Christmas Monkey (yes, I know it’s a gorilla), and it was given to my son by his great grandfather on his very first Christmas. Since he was a baby, we take a photo of him (and now him with his brother) in Christmas pjs in front of the tree with Christmas Monkey. We have a collection of these pictures stemming from infant-hood when Christmas Monkey was bigger than they were!
Prioritizing your values and traditions can also help you figure out how your Christmas budget will be spent. If gift giving is a big part of your traditions, then you know a lot of your budget is going toward gifts, and you can plan accordingly. If your family values quality time over store-bought gifts, then you know you can cut back on the gift budget and dedicate more of your budget to entertaining or family outings. It’s important to discuss these priorities as a family so everyone is on the same page.
If you’re planning to cut back, let your friends and family know in advance so they have time to adjust their expectations. Discuss what your plans are and why you’re making changes. Most people are on automatic pilot when it comes to holiday planning — some are even in automatic crisis mode. They do what they do because it’s what they’ve always done, or because it’s what they think everyone expects them to do. If you bring up the topic with honesty and sincerity, you may be surprised by the responses. Once the questions have been asked, you’re opening up the possibilities of doing things differently.
Try not to compare yourself, your celebration, your gifts or your traditions against some “ideal holiday,” real or imagined. Be true to yourself and your family. Don’t be pressured by other people — friends, family or society in general — to keep up with the Joneses’ holiday. When you’re selecting a gift, throwing a party or RSVP’ing for those events, decide what you want to spend in both money and time, and stick to it.
For more ideas for an easygoing holiday, check out my Kindle ebook Simply Christmas, with 101 ways to simplify the holidays. Don’t have a Kindle? No worries! Amazon has an app for almost every desktop, laptop, smartphone or tablet. Grab one here.
I’m also curating a special Pinterest board, Simply Christmas, so be sure to follow!