How To Have A Simple Christmas Full Of Joy And Less Hustle

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Have you ever wished you could have a simple Christmas? Or maybe you haven’t thought of that specifically but maybe you have thought you wish it was a bit easier.

Maybe you have wished for a holiday season without the stress, without going all out on decorations, events, and gifts. Consider celebrating a much simpler Christmas this year.

Simplifying and prioritizing the spiritual aspect of the holiday season may lead to increased happiness. Streamlining your schedule allows for more opportunities to appreciate the unique aspects of this time of year.

how to have a simple christmas intro image

You have more time at home and you can do more of the “fun things” we think of at Christmas. Things like making homemade ornaments or sugar cookies.

It’s important to remember that the Christmases that stand out the most to you are the years when your family did the simple things together and the mood was light and happy. It had nothing to do with how much was spent on a pile of gifts.

Instead, if your family is anything like mine, the ones we remember are the years when we took the time for fun things that really didn’t cost all that much. I remember making garlands out of construction paper loops and making gingerbread houses out of gram crackers instead of fancy kits.

We spent the month of December looking at lights, playing board games, baking cookies, and watching Christmas movies.

It’s those simple Christmases that stand out in my mind.This year I’m making an effort to keep it simple, and meaningful, but still full of joy and I’d like to invite you to join along.

Observing What Makes Your Heart Smile

I noticed something on our vacation to Tennessee a few years ago when I made it my priority to take as little as possible. When it came to the kitchen I only packed my French press and teapot. Cause girls got to have her coffee…

Otherwise, I would make do with what was there. The kitchen was minimal and the dishes were just enough. It was GLORIOUS and very eye-opening. I had always tried to keep our home to a minimum but it helped me see even more how little you can make do with. (Or without in this case)

Now I am making the most of the decorations we have and giving away the décor that never seems to make it out of the storage tubs. It’s extremely important to me to only have what we use and if it doesn’t get used then it’s time to give it to someone who will.

a living room decorated for Christmas with a saint bernard dog laying in front of the house.

When you only keep what you use the house is less cluttered and the decorations that are up will stand out even more. As an added bonus it’s easier to clean and it will be much quicker to put away everything come the end of January.

While I can’t promise the calendar will be a lot lighter this year every activity will be chosen with intention. We’ve chosen a handful of activities and events that I know we’ll enjoy. The rest of the time will be spent as a family, baking a few allergy-legal treats and cookies, crafting, and watching our favorite holiday movies. Maybe even a few cheesy Hallmark ones.

Feeling stretched thin? Get this

70+ page Undated Christmas planner

If you want to do lots of fun Christmas things from cookies and Christmas cards to tracking gift purchases and even Christmas budgeting this is the planner for you!

3 Core Things That Can Steel Your Holiday Spirit

Everyone starts off with a vibrant holiday spirit. The mere idea of the holiday sparks joy. Knowing anything is possible during the season creates a sense of wonder and excitement… right about the time the first pumpkin spice latte hits the coffee shop. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always take long for one…or more…of these three things to kill your holiday spirit.

They are:

  • Finances
  • Time
  • Family

Any of these, or all of them for that matter, have a tendency to steal the joy you’ve mustered for the season IF you let it. Sadly, what’s supposed to be a happy time can easily turn stressful when your money, your time, or your family is out of whack.

christmas on top of a fireplace

How Finances Can Steel Your Holiday Spirit

Money is your sense of security. It’s what affords you your home, food, and warmth in the winter. When money is tight it can feel like those things are in jeopardy. And in a world of consumerism, you can be looked at as a stingy old grinch if you don’t buy someone the perfect gift they wanted.

When people are strapped for cash during the holidays it can feel like a burden. From failing to plan to facing an unexpected financial hit, money problems tend to steal the holiday spirit.

The expectations for spending during the holidays can cause a lot of stress. Décor costs, gifts, meals, and attending extra activities can make a dent in your budget. It’s important to understand that everyone feels the stress. You are not alone! There are things you can do to help the budget.

But here is the clincher. You have to be ok with the possibility that you might make some people unhappy or think some things about you that may not be true.

But if you don’t set up boundaries you will start to resent the holidays and even those people. But what you have to understand is guilt is better than resentment and the more you practice it the less emotionally painful it will get.

christmas candle with pinecones and cinnamon sticks around it

Tips To Control Your Holiday Finances

  • Buy gifts and holiday decorations early or at the end of the last season when they are on sale. (Hobby Lobby is great about putting on sales about a week before Christmas starts)
  • Spread your holiday spending out over 6-8 months instead of 2, November and December.
  • Create a reasonable budget at the beginning of the year and not one that isn’t based on real numbers and what you can afford.
  • Find fun homemade gifts like Mason Jar gifts that can be made cheaply but have great value. Homemade gifts don’t have to be tacky.
  • Create a gift list and check off the people on the list when their dollar amount has been met. Don’t take any gift ideas thrown your way or slight shoulder shrugs personally.
  • Don’t forget to add tax to the price of the gift.
  • Create a decore theme so you can spend just a little each year and continue to add to your Christmas home decor collection.
napkin on a dinner plate with rosemary

How Time Or The Lack There Of Can Steel The Joy From The Holiday Season

There are only so many hours in the day and time is the only non-renewable resource.

Though you could sleep less, that’s not the best way to try to get everything done. The holidays come with a lot of time commitments. Extra shopping, holiday parties and activities, and time with family and friends have to be mixed with your typical everyday commitments.

Having too much pulling for your time can cause a lack of mindfulness and cause you to completely miss the present moment.

And that is what the holiday season is all about. Enjoying a family tradition, backing cookies at a slow pace because you enjoy it not because you have to, and so much more.

But if your brain is running like a Rolodex in a tornado because of the things you “have to” do next you will not see the joy that is right in front of you in the moment.

It can zap your energy and rob you of your spirit which is the one thing we all crave during the holiday season.

Taking control of your time during the holidays might be easier than you think. What’s more, there are things you can do in the months leading up to the holidays that can help you have more time when you need it most.

small pieces of pine tree

Time Hacks For A Simple Christmas

  1. Buy gift cards
  2. Wrap gifts early
  3. Let your holiday meal be simple. – One type of dessert is just as enjoyable as 3.
  4. Start holiday decorating when you are excited about it and ignore what the calendar says or what the people say is the right time to decorate.
  5. Write holiday cards early (as early as you want, even as early as February when you are stuck inside for the winter and the holiday season seems over) and simply drop them in the mail on the first of November
  6. Create shopping lists for everything you need ahead of time and when your mind is CALM not right when you are rushing out the door and can only go one day the week before Christmas.
  7. Check with your immediate family and ask what types of holiday activities are important to them. So often we put pressure on ourselves to do things that with think are important but our family doesn’t really care if it gets done or not.
cup of hot coco

Extended Family Can Steel Your Joy

Family is one of the main reasons to get excited about the holidays, yet family can also be a chief thief of your holiday spirit.

Sadly, dysfunction doesn’t take a break from October through January. Sometimes the people you want to spend time with cause problems that make it really hard to enjoy them and sometimes you’re forced into family time with people you’d really rather avoid.

It’s possible to set limits and set boundaries that help you and your family have the best holiday possible.

Feeling stretched thin? Get this

70+ page Undated Christmas planner

If you want to do lots of fun Christmas things from cookies and Christmas cards to tracking gift purchases and even Christmas budgeting this is the planner for you!

You Have To Not Give Them Emotional Power Over You

I would dare to say that 99% of the struggle with family is the feeling that they put on us emotionally. The thing about that is WE are the ones giving it to them. Here are some things I want you to think about.

  • First, we have to realize that some people are bad with words and may not even mean things the way thay sound. YOU chose to take it that way.GF
  • If the intention is clear and you did your best to show up somewhere or you bought what you could afford you can have peace in knowing you did what you could. Its no one else’s business what you spend on your holiday budget except you and your spouce.
  • People can say things but you are an adult you don’t have to listen. This is easier said than done but it becomes less painful with practice.
  • YOU have to take ownership of how you feel about something that is being said or done. Its not up to anyone else. to fix those things.

It might feel scary, or uncomfortable at first. But sticking to your own boundaries during the holidays will help you have great holiday memories.

Christmas stocking

Boundaries Help Create A Simple Christmas

There you are, minding your holiday business when someone’s dysfunction crashes into your spirit. There’s a lot of Grinches and Scrooges out there and they have the potential to rub off on you if you can’t set healthy boundaries.

There are a lot of reasons why people aren’t at their best during the holidays, but their bad mood doesn’t have to affect you when you are ready, willing, and able to set boundaries and protect yourself from their negativity.

Here are the steps you need to set healthy boundaries for a joyful season

Step 1. Be aware- Some people are going to be negative. Be aware. Be on the alert for people who have bad attitudes or are looking to gossip. Keep your radar up and recognize them quickly. Recognizing someone is negative or draining can help you set up your boundaries quickly.

Step 2. Have a plan- Prevention is worth more than the cure. That means it’s easier to prevent a problem than it is to overcome it once you’re in it. Having a plan for dealing with difficult people ahead of time helps.

If you encounter a mean person during check out in the store, resolve not to take it personally or match their mood. You will likely never see them again and the time you do have to tolerate them will be short. Have the plan to be kind no matter what. You may even help make their day better with your bright attitude. Or have some Christmas music ready to go on Spotify and play it while you are shopping.

Step 3. Work the plan- It’s one thing to have a plan and another to work it. When people test your boundaries it’s sometimes hard to stay calm and use your plan. Practice makes perfect. The more intentional you are about setting healthy boundaries, the easier it will be. People will push up against your limits, but it’s worth it to stick to your plan. Don’t allow negative people to affect or infect your holiday spirit.

tray of desserts

Boundary Ideas

  • No gossip. Keep your holiday gatherings positive by refusing to gossip about other people or negative situations.
  • Always talk kindly of others – I totally understand sometimes we need to vent about those that frustrate us. But Christmas is not the season for that.

These Two Are For You Not Others

  • No guilt. Keep your joy this holiday by refusing to feel guilty when you need to decline an invitation or choose not to participate in an activity.
  • No reactions. It’s unrealistic to think someone won’t be confrontational or challenge your boundaries. Keep calm and remember you are not responsible for how someone else reacts to you. You are responsible for your own behavior. Staying calm and rational is always the best way.

If you are not good at thinking on your feet or coming up with good responses you can talk slowly before you answer or my favorite, stop talking. People can’t argue or fight back about something if you don’t give them any material.

  • One Get-together A Day – This can be hard to decide what to do but you are responsible for your own family not everyone else. You can decide to go to one family get-together in a day. If one side does not want to have things on a different day then you can choose to alternate years that you go to the extended family’s house. You do not owe it to anyone to show up when they are having a get-together.

Sometimes finding the joy in the season has to be intentional action. There are a lot of people who are void of holiday spirit and that can cause problems. Hold and keep strong boundaries to protect yourself and help keep your holiday spirit intact.

Christmas display of hot cocolate

Here Are Some Fun Ways To Simplify Christmas

Start Planning Early

This might seem counterintuitive but the earlier you start planning the sooner you can get a clear picture of what is going on. The reason Christmas feels so busy and stressful is because we don’t know what is going on and what is expected of us.

This will help you know when you need to say no to things so you don’t end up over-committed and in over your head.

The Four Present Rule (The Same Dollar Value)

Each person will receive a total of four presents.

  1. One will gift will be something you really want.
  2. The second one will be something you need.
  3. The third is something to wear.
  4. The fourth is something to read.

If you prefer, you can combine two of the gifts (something they need and something to wear), and make it a three-gift rule to represent the three gifts the wise men brought to Jesus.

Create A Bucket List

Here is the beauty of a list. It is one thing at a time.

You start with the most important and work your way down the list doing one thing or activity a week. If you get to everything great. If not it’s no sweat.

One Activity Per Person Rule

If you have kids that want to feel a part of the activity list creation let everyone choose ONE thing they want to do in the coming months. But start as early as October. Don’t wait until the day After Thanksgiving to start planning them. That kicks simple right out the window. Starting earlier will spread out the holiday cheer and not make you feel as rushed.

Christmas garland

When choosing what makes the cut or what doesn’t it can be easy to cut the things you enjoy and do everything to make others happy. While that is important that is going to cause resentment and cause you to not enjoy any of it.

Make sure a few of the things that are most important to you get done then schedule in the pieces that other people want you or your extended family to do.

Consider trying a less extravagant Christmas this year to potentially experience a more peaceful and significant holiday season. Wishing you a Merry Christmas.