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10 ways to simplify Christmas

Simplify Christmas

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).

Sound familiar?

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, neighbors – 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 traveling 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 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 idealists. 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.

How do you simplify Christmas?


  1. Heather

    Another way to simplify Christmas in the baking area is to have or attend a cookie exchange. I am hosting one again this year and it is a great way to maximize baked goods with minimal effort. Basically, all guests come with say 4 dozen of the same kind of cookie (ideally something that freezes well), then all the different kids of cookies that everyone brought are divided up so everyone leaves with 4 dozen of a variety of cookies. The party itself is very low-key, I put out a punch and a few snacks, but nothing over-the-top and it is the first weekend of December before most of the Christmas events take place. It is much easier to double or triple a recipe than to bake lots of different stuff so we share the work and treats, and we have a nice ladies afternoon in the process.

  2. Virginia

    I have a Christmas list app on my iphone. I leave it on all year and jot down gift ideas through out the year. As I pick stuff up I just put a check beside the item and or person. its much easier then carrying a list around (since I always forget my lists) and its nicely organized. It also tracks my overall budget and individual person budget.

    • Heather

      That sounds really handy. What app is that?

      • Virginia

        Gifts Free 🙂

      • shirley m.

        i use “gift guru” app and i love it. works great since i can put ideas, when i buy i can put amount i paid to keep a budget. when i buy online put that i got the gift tick the truck icon showing me that its in the mail.

  3. Lina

    To each their own, but to me, a simple christmas just isn’t christmas. It’s a time for sumptuousness, celebration, and excess: entering into the bleak winter season seems so much easier after a such a celebration. More decorations, more lights, more glitter!

  4. Jessica

    Everyone always thinks I am nuts, I decorate the week after Remembrance Day. I love the decorating process and I like to take my time, plus I start my massive Christmas cleaning earlier to get the decorations up and I am not feeling crazy rushed by the time December rolls around. I love my house decorated. I have no problem doing it earlier so I can enjoy it.

    I once got major attitude from my nine year old niece. Hand on hip “Ugh, you can’t decorate until the week before Christmas.” She has the bratty teenage tone down pat. “Says Who?” I asked. I know, I can be super mature when I want to be 😉

    • Gena

      LOL – Love it!

      I often start decorating before Hallowe’en! Christmas music and movies are on starting Nov 1st! It takes so long to put everything up so may as well enjoy it as long as possible!!

  5. Jen

    I don’t put up my tree till the end of November/beg. of December… whatever one lands on a wkend.

    I do my baking a couple weeks before & freeze it like you said. Also, instead of baking a million things, I pick a few faves & a new one to try & I exchange half of my baking with a friend of mine, and vise versa. That way you get double the treats & just separate it into a couple trays if you taking goodies elsewhere as well… We always do gifts for my boyfriends son first, then see what we have to work with after, and go from there.

    I make personalized candy wrappers for various items, so I make up my own gift tins with their fave treats & either a gift card or bottle of wine etc. It’s a lot cheaper for me to do up, than buy & I can put what I know they like in them. It takes a bit of prep work, but I start them early…

  6. lori

    I am not a believer in gift cards. (That’s why they now have card swap…!)
    but I would much rather give or receive cash. My daughter (a teenager) will help me make a cute “gift card holder” just like a real sleeve for a gift card, then I just insert cash. I don’t care if the person buys a book or gets a tank of gas! I think gift cards are a big nuisance and I won’t buy them (except for fundraiser Sobey’s cards–since I shop there all the time) because I think cash is better, it never expires, has no activation fees, can be used anyplace and can also be saved in a bank account… 4 things that a gift card cannot do!! Those Visa gift cards are the hugest ripoff–every month they take off $1.50 totally eroding the cash value. I guess you can see I don’t like gift cards!

  7. stacey

    I love christmas ,it’s a time that i look forward to celebrating with my husband and three teenagers.We encourage the kids to chose a gift thoughtfully.Spend no more than $20-$25 on each other(they have part-time jobs).Our immediate family live far away and we usually call each other at some time on Christmas day.My husband and I no longer buy for each other.(what do we really need anyway)A friend and I swap sweets for the family,which we all enjoy.We spend our days off being lazy ,playing games,watching movies and do a little visiting.Very low key.Love it.

  8. Grant

    I will never send ecards. What do you do with an ecard? How do you display one of those? There is something special about receiving cards in the mail and I will encourage my three boys to send proper cards and thank you cards. My cards are already written and ready to be hand delivered or mailed. Somethings are worth paying for.

    • Kris

      I totally agree Grant! I am one of those people who sends out about 50 cards every year, normally with a little Christmas letter with all our family’s big news for the last year, the kids’ school photos, etc. I think as a society, social media, texting, etc. has taken away from communication overall and human contact in general. So for me, sending out a physical Christmas card is a way of reconnecting with people on a concrete level. And I love receiving real cards and putting friends and families’ photos on my little card “clothesline.” But sadly, that number is certainly declining as the years go by and people are turning to e-cards or a quick “Merry Christmas” note on Facebook.
      Maybe I’m just showing my age. 😛

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