1. Take a moment to remember what Christmas is all about – faith, family and friends. Now, base every action in December on whether you are honoring the true spirit of Christmas by that action.
2. Set up a budget for all extra expenditures in December and stick to it! It’s OK to gracefully decline participation in some things if they do not fit your budget.
3. Take time today to write down every Christmas event you plan to attend. Make sure you have time for each event and decline those that will add to your stress level rather than upping the faith, family and friends quotient.
4. Once you have a list of events you plan to attend, think about each one and determine what you will need to take. If you bring food and/or hostess gifts to several places, consider purchasing the same type of gift and bringing the same dish to each event. That way you can shop once, prep once (freeze for future events) and use the same wrapping materials for each location.
5. Simplify baking this year. Find a good cookie base that you like, and use different add-ins to change the flavor (I like making a double batch of my favorite chocolate chip cookie base, then dividing the dough and substituting nuts, coconut, toffee chips, etc. instead of chocolate chips for a good variety). Or, buy already prepared sugar cookie dough, use your own cut-outs and sprinkles to make them your creation. You still get the great smell s, without some of the fuss!
6. Spend one day cleaning your home and packing up any knick-knacks or other decorations that you won’t be using during Christmas. When you are ready to decorate, you will be starting with a clean slate.
7. If you are entertaining this year, think about leaving the Christmas tree bare and letting your guests hang the decorations for you. It’s a good ice breaker and a fun activity.
8. As you decorate, purge old Christmas decorations as you go. Throw away (or recycle if possible) anything that is broken or non-functional. Have you changed your style of decorating over the years and find that some items no longer fit your scheme? Pass them along to a favorite charity (check to make sure they will accept Christmas decorations first). Let someone else enjoy them now. If you particularly like how you have displayed something this year, take pictures so you can recreate the same affect next year.
9. Overwhelmed thinking about decorating the whole house? Pick out the one area where you relax most often and the one thing that brings a smile to your face (for me it’s the manger scene on the mantle and twinkle lights). Do that one area and that one thing really well and forget the rest. Give yourself permission that it’s OK if you don’t decorate every square inch.
10. Purchase reusable shopping bags for around $1 from most stores and use them as gift bags. An easy way to wrap gifts, plus, you’ll be helping to eliminate some of the 4 million tons of paper waste Americans generate each year.
11. Rethink sending Christmas cards. Absolutely everything in our lives must be maintained. Are you still sending a Christmas card to your child’s first-grade teacher – and your child is out of college? Pare down your overgrown card list. Or, think about sending Easter cards instead. Cards are meant to keep in touch and remind important people that we care. That sentiment is appreciated any day of the year.
Simplify and enjoy. Less really can be more at this time of year. Merry Christmas!