I made a promise.
I swore I wouldn’t do it again.
I was so done with the Christmas crazies . . . crazy busy, crazy stressed, and crazy broke.
By the time Christmas day made its arrival last year, I was so worn out I made myself sick. Sick enough that I spent most of the day in my pajamas, laying on the couch, unable to truly enjoy this Holy Holiday.
All of the preparation, the shopping, gift wrapping, decorating, and cookie baking, all done at the expense of my own physical health and mental sanity. The culmination of so many details building up to one day that I couldn’t even savor.
Never again I swore. Never again will I stress myself out to that point.
And as the Christmas season started to make it’s glorious appearance this year, a miracle happened . . . I remembered this promise. I remembered how miserable I was last year from being sick and stressing myself out, and I decided this was a very good promise to keep. I decided I would simplify Christmas.
Now this wasn’t a completely new concept to me. As a family we had done this before in different ways. But with our growing household (currently we have 10 members of our family at home over Christmas including college kids and exchange students) I felt an urgency to keep things simple once again.
The great part about simplifying Christmas is that you actually enjoy it more. And with the 25th quickly creeping up on us, I thought you might appreciate some tips on how to execute an abridged version of Christmas.
1. Limit Gifts – With 8 children to shop for this by far was my most time consuming activity, aside from the fact that it steals the focus from the greatest gift we have all received and celebrate at Christmas – Jesus! By limiting gifts so much time, resources, and sanity are saved! Here are two popular ways to limit:
- Give Three Gifts – Our choice for this year! We shared with all of our children ahead of time that this year they each were going to be treated like Jesus. He got three gifts, so they each were going to get three gifts.
- Give Four Gifts – A popular gift giving model this year is the Four Gifts Idea – You give them something that they want, something that they need, something they can wear, and something they can read. Love this idea! Nice and simple!
(I highly recommend if you are shifting to limiting gifts that you have an open conversation with your family about this first. Emphasize what the true gift of Christmas is, and how limiting earthly gifts will allow more time for celebration.)
2. Hide Gifts – Perhaps you are way ahead of the game and have already purchased all your family’s gifts. You can still save yourself time and skip the wrapping. A fun alternative to wrapping is hiding. Under the tree place a note or small treat with the child’s name and the location of their hidden gifts. Pick a different room for each child and hide their gifts in that room. Watch as they have a blast finding their christmas treasures, which will be a longer and more enjoyable experience since the average kid can open a present in 2.6 seconds. And it’s not just for kids! Adults love this game too!
3. Adopt a Family – One year our children seriously did not need a thing! So instead together we decided to adopt a family for Christmas, and buy all of their gifts. It was a great way for our children to exercise the gift of giving, and since we did it together it wasn’t a stressful event that all fell on my lap to accomplish. Another year we adopted a different family, and we made it real simple that year. We gave them money to purchase the gifts themselves. Either way the focus becomes more Christ like, and less consumer madness!
4. Order Your Meal – There are so many restaurants and grocery stores that offer fully prepared Christmas meals. Cut out all your cooking and food prep time, and relax and enjoy those newfound free moments with your loved ones. By the time you factor in all the trips to the store, and the total for all the ingredients purchased to prepare your meal, it really doesn’t cost more for a premade meal. Plus to me, food always tastes better when someone else cooks it!
5. Make Christmas an Experience – Skip the gifts and make the day an activity! Spend the day on the slopes and take the kids skiing, boarding or snow tubing. Get out of town and go on a trip, or plan a day at home. Have pajama day, movie and games day, or our kid’s favorite . . . family dance party! Go caroling around your neighborhood, or volunteer at the Salvation Army. Just pick something that you can do together as a family and have a lot of fun!
I truly hope these tips will be helpful for you, and I am praying that we all feel the beautiful simplicity of Christmas this year! After all . . .
Diane Swan is a Professional Christian Counselor, Speaker and Blogger who is passionate about using her God given gifts to assist ladies in living victorious lives in Christ. She enjoys sharing true life messages that relate to the complex lives of every day women and leaves them feeling equipped to be more than conquerors in all their battles. Diane and her husband Todd are the founders of Seven Swans Ministries, an organization devoted to living out the gifts of the Spirit by offering a unique array of services to encourage, edify and expand God’s kingdom. Connect with Diane anytime: Facebook – Pinterest – Twitter – Website