Written by monthly contributing writer, Trina Holden
Are you feeling overwhelmed at the thought that Christmas is just around the corner? Are you passionate about maintaining family traditions and creating memorable moments but are stressed at the mere thought of all the the work that entails?
Perhaps you have just welcomed a new baby into the home, recently moved, or are traveling during the holidays. This year my days are full to the brim with three little ones, plus our family is going out of town for 10 days in December. This is requiring me to sift through the list of traditional ‘to-do’s’ around our house, choosing the best and letting go of the rest to ensure a peaceful Christmas season. Here’s a list of ways you can simplify this year…
In the Kitchen…
- Choose your favorite recipes and ditch the rest. I’m making just two kinds of cookies this year (gasp!) and one sweet bread. I’m also not obligating myself to any cookie swaps. If we miss some treat terribly, I’ll do up a batch on Valentine’s Day.
- Plan simple and wholesome breakfasts to allow more time for the holiday baking and to balance out the extra sweets you’ll be consuming. Soaked Oatmeal and Smoothies are quick and easy!
Around the House…
- Let some routine tasks go for the month to give you more cushion time. Skip the weekly library run, or use the dryer instead of the clothesline to get the laundry out of the way faster – just for a few weeks!
- De-clutter rooms in preparation for holiday decorations. Box up knick-knacks and put away excess toys and books for the month. It will be easier and more enjoyable to decorate if you start with a clean space.
- Choose one or two ‘go-to’ outfits for each member of the family at the beginning of the season. Keep them washed, ironed, and set aside so you know exactly what you’re all wearing in advance of parties and outings.
And the Gifts…
- Go digital with your family photo and update. I only print and mail to those who don’t have internet, like grandparents. Or, let yourself skip the letter every other year (I do this, too!)
- Postpone some gifting ’till after the season. I don’t know about you, but around here the kids get deliciously overwhelmed by the generosity of friends and extended family on Christmas Day. I’m actually saving a few ideas of things I’d like to make for them till I have the time for crafting in January. I’m sure they’ll appreciate a random, mid-winter surprise!
- Choose ‘One-Size-Fits-All’ gifts for extended family and friends. That list of people you’d like to give ‘just a little something’ to seems to grow each year! Simplify by choosing a single item that will delight many. Last year, inspired by Lindsay, I made little jars of homemade vanilla extract by the dozens. Every woman on my list got one and they all loved it! A one-size-fits-all gift for guys could be new gloves. For kids this year, I’m thinking homemade play-dough packaged in jam jars, which my children can help me make and wrap.
My goal for this holiday season is to put extra emphasis on our family values and together time. Taking a moment to step back and choosing only the traditions that work for us in this season in our lives ensures I won’t be too rushed and burnt out to enjoy the little moments of twinkle lights reflecting in my daughter’s eyes, or my one-year-old’s wonder at erecting a tree in the corner of the living room. May you, too, be inspired to simplify so that you can enjoy the season well.
What can you let go of this year? What traditions are dearest to you or your kids, that you will be sure to make happen? And why?