Imagine this: it’s December 24th and you still have not finished all of your Christmas shopping. You still need presents for your mom, best friend and your cousin Jamie. You also need to pick up a few more items for Christmas dinner.
Oh, and some Christmas crackers.
So you head to the mall, only to realize that you are not the only one who is doing some last minute shopping. The mall is packed and you are eventually so overwhelmed with the madness, that you just decide to pick up some gift cards and call it a day.
And then you vow to shop earlier next year (but you never do).
Christmas is a busy, stress-filled holiday for many people. The good news? It doesn’t have to be. Here are 10 ways to simplify Christmas:
1. Stay at home
Make it a goal to stay home on Christmas day. Don’t visit with family, friends, neighbours – or anywhere else for that matter. Do this before or after Christmas. Instead, stay at home and enjoy the company of your immediate family.
This is the first year that we are not travelling on Christmas day and I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am to not only avoid traffic and the stress of taking 2 young kids to multiple homes, but to create some Christmas memories with my own family.
2. Limit gift giving
Instead of blowing the budget on Christmas gifts (again), consider limiting the number of gifts you hand out this year. Instead of buying a gift for every person you have ever met, maybe you could stick with your immediate family and friends (or even just family!).
Another idea is to stop giving gifts to your spouse. Save those for Valentine’s Day or your anniversary. When it comes to Christmas gifts, focus on your kids instead.
3. Have a pot luck dinner
If you are having people over to your home for Christmas dinner, ask each guest to bring at least one dish with them. You handle the turkey, and everyone else is responsible for vegetables, side dishes, bread, drinks and dessert.
This is not only a great way to simplify your Christmas, but also a great way to save money on Christmas dinner. Hey, if you’re providing the house, and a big ol’ bird, you deserve to have some help!
4. Avoid the mall and shop online
Many retailers have online shopping available on their websites, and during the holidays, they often have a ton of great coupon codes for discounts and even free shipping.
If you can, stay away from malls and try to do as much shopping online as possible. Avoid those crowds.
5. Stop buying Christmas decorations
Go through your collection of decorations and get rid of everything that you haven’t displayed in the last 2 years. There’s no sense holding on to things if they aren’t being used.
Then, promise yourself that you will not buy another Christmas decoration again, unless you give up something that’s already in your collection. One in, one out.
6. Do your baking once
If you’re planning to do any Christmas baking (for gifts or for yourself), try to get it all done in one day and then freeze your baked goods until you need them.
Everything has a shelf life, even in the freezer, so don’t leave food in there too long. I suggest doing your baking & freezing no earlier than 1 month before you need the items.
7. Stop sending Christmas cards and send e-cards instead
Someone once told me that every Christmas, their parents would mail a Christmas card to over 50 people. This included people they didn’t even talk to anymore. They just sent them as part of a ritual.
The cost of a stamp is currently $0.61, so that’s over $30 per year to send out cards to 50 people. Not to mention the amount of work it would be to write in each of those cards and address the envelopes.
To save yourself time and and money, stick to e-cards this year. There are many free Christmas e-cards available online.
8. Focus on activities, not gifts
Why not go cold turkey and eliminate gift giving altogether? Instead of giving physical gifts, make memories instead.
Watch Christmas movies, drink hot chocolate, read Christmas stories, do Christmas crafts, play in the snow, make a big Christmas dinner. Save the gift giving for birthdays.
9. Give gift cards
Cut yourself some slack this year and give out gift cards for Christmas, instead of worrying about finding “perfect” gifts for everyone on your list.
We all want gift cards for Christmas anyway, right? (Don’t lie and say no!)
10. Stay organized
Create a Christmas binder. Make gift idea lists. Schedule family activities. Make a Christmas to-do list.
Do whatever you need to do to get organized for Christmas. The most important part? Do it before Christmas!
If you want to avoid that overwhelmed, stressed-out feeling that the Christmas season often brings, try out a few of the tips above.
Not only will you simplify Christmas, but you’ll save money, make memories and [hopefully] enjoy the holidays so much more than you usually do.