We are all very much aware how much time and energy Christmas preparations can consume and how easily we can loose focus on the true meaning of it all. Every year I have to sit down and prayerfully evaluate what we should and should not do this season. We want to keep our hearts in tune and limit the clutter. Here are a few ways we are simplifying this year…
1. Photo cards – get them shipped for you!
For the last several years we have been intentional about sending out Christmas photo cards to our extended family and friends as a means of letting others know that they are loved and thought of during the holiday season. It is a simple way of staying connected and communicate Christ’s love across the miles. We don’t do any fancy letter but love to send out a simple greeting with our annual family photo. But I admit, it is certainly taxing to address and stamp all the cards and get them shipped in a timely fashion. This year, I am simplifying it further and paying a company to address and ship them for me! I found that Card Store will address and ship your cards for free with any purchase. They have some great sales running right now too – 50% off today! One less thing to fill my plate!
2. Limiting the Gifts – stockings only!
While our children young I wanted to establish the proper understanding of the reason and purpose of Christmas. I want our hearts to focus on the blessing of giving with the majority of our Christmas budget resources. We want to cultivate hearts of generosity in our children from a young age, thus we participate in Operation Christmas Child and we chose a family that we can adopt and bless with a Jesus Gift. So this year we are establishing a new tradition of only giving gifts that fit in our stockings with a specific gift budget of $25 per child and $50 for my husband and I. So I’ve purchased an assortment of fun learning things: Classical Kids CDs, art supplies, Brain Quest, garden gloves & kids garden tools. This has really helped simplify the gift giving process, as my size and cost are limited, thus my choices are limited.
3. Name Drawing – one gift per side of the family
For gift giving for extended family, we draw names. So we just have one person on each side of the family to buy for. This makes holiday celebrations simple and kept within a reasonable budget. Since we are a married couple, we put our name down together in the hat so if one of our unmarried siblings pick our name they buy a gift that would be appropriate for both of us. I am sure it would be easier to stop gifting to extended family all together, but there is certainly something special in sharing with one another even in a small way.
Beyond our own family, we like to choose just one other baked goodie that we can bless our neighbors and any one else we are trying to reach out to. This year, I am making small mini loaves of pumpkin bread.
4. Pre-plan and limit family outings
In early November, we plan out our outings for the Christmas season. We make a list of all the different activities, concerts, plays, etc. that we could participate in, and then we choose our top 3 activities that we would like to attend for the year, and then we often rotate in the coming years. This year, Aaron is taking Karis on a special Daddy/daughter date to a local adapted production of the Nutcracker, and we will attend our local Macy’s Day Parade, and a children’s version of Handel’s Messiah. We always prefer things that can be fun family outings rather than adults only events.
What steps are you taking to keep Christmas simple this year?