Things You Can Do Now for a
Simpler Christmas in December
by Nancy Twigg
After Christmas was over last year, did you vow to yourself that next year
you’d find a way to make the holidays simpler? If so, have you done
anything about that promise? Or did you forget about it soon after the
words left your lips?
I believe that many people truly intend to simplify their holidays each
year, but because they wait until the last minute to take action, they
inevitably fall into the same old habits. Because there is so much to do
and so little time to do it all, these holiday-harried people end up going
into "autopilot" and doing everything in the same old familiar way. There
simply isn’t time to try anything new or different. Although their
intentions are good, without follow-through, these poor souls are destined
to experience the same hectic holidays year after year.
Rather than just wishing your holidays would somehow simplify themselves,
a better approach is what I call "proactive simplification." If you truly
want to simplify, it is best to take charge of your holidays way before
December ever gets here. There are many things you can do right now in the
months prior to Christmas that will make for a much more pleasant holiday
season in December.
If you dream each year of holidays that you can actually relax and enjoy,
make your dream a reality this year by taking action. Consider these
positive steps you can take in October and November to set the stage for a
less hectic, more enjoyable celebration in December.
* Christmas shop before the Christmas rush. Of all the things you can do
to make Christmas easier for yourself, this is probably the biggest. Don’t
wait until the stores are crowded with thousands of holiday shoppers. Ask
family members for their Christmas wish lists and get busy now.
* Complete Christmas crafts. If your plan for Christmas gifting includes
giving handmade gifts, plan to have them finished by Thanksgiving. Work at
it in the evenings and each weekend until you’re done.
* Take care of time-consuming tasks. Writing Christmas cards, wrapping
gifts, boxing up presents to mail—why wait until December to attend to
these time-consuming details? Knock them out now.
* Fill your freezer. Each time you cook, double, or even quadruple the
recipe and freeze the extra portions. During the hectic weeks before
Christmas, having heat-and-eat meals in the freezer will be a lifesaver.
* Plan volunteer activities now. Does your intention of doing some kind of
community service always get lost in the holiday shuffle each year? Use
the months prior to the holidays to investigate various opportunities for
service and decide which ones you want to include in your Christmas
* Plan holiday meals. Write out menus and shopping lists for dinners and
get-togethers so you won’t have to think about it later. Use this time to
experiment with any new recipes you plan to use. If you usually cook the
entire holiday meal yourself, simplifying for you this year may mean
asking for help. Decide what components of the meal you’d like to delegate
and begin recruiting helpers.
* Decide what to delete. Which obligations add to your stress level each
year? What activities would you rather forgo? Decide in advance how to
diplomatically decline these engagements.
If your life constantly runs at high speed, you may feel overwhelmed when
you read this list of ways to proactively simplify Christmas. Maybe you
barely have time to complete the things you have to do each day, much less
perform tasks for a holiday months away. If you are in that predicament,
let me encourage you to take things one step at a time. Many of the tasks
above can be done while you’re doing something you would normally do
Your family has to eat every day, right? While cooking those meals, why
not double your recipes while you’re at it? It really doesn’t take that
much extra effort. Do you usually spend time in front of the TV each
evening? If so, why not wrap gifts, address Christmas cards or work on
crafts while watch your favorite shows? And don’t forget to include a
little Christmas shopping as you run your normal errands each week.
Proactive simplification is manageable when you do a little at a time and
combine Christmas preparations with tasks you must do anyway.
Nancy Twigg is the author of Celebrate Simply: Your Guide to Simpler,
More Meaningful Holidays and Special Occasions -