I know you’re already feeling it. No matter when in the calendar year you’re reading this … Christmas has its way of always keeping you on your toes! Learning how to have a simple Christmas is not as easy as a blog post or podcast episode. It’s truly about your frame of mind. Let me say that again, it’s your frame of mind. And this year, with COVID, it’s easy to start over, to wipe the slate clean and create a new normal. Let’s dive into what that could look like.
I want you to know right off the bat that this podcast episode with Kelly Anthony is full of nudges. It’s packed with ideas and inspiration to make your Christmas more meaningful, more simple and help cut out the extra. This episode is going to open your eyes to a slow Christmas that doesn’t just fly by or leave you more stressed. And at this point in your life, I think it’s safe to say you’ve had your fair share of stressful holidays!
Let me just lay some stats out for you. Americans spend around $1 Trillion on Christmas. The average American spends around $942 on gifts alone each Christmas (and that number goes about about $47 each year). Now let’s break that down. If you’re out spending close to a grand on gifts this year, how many trips to target is that? How much time scrolling your phone (ignoring those you’re buying the gifts for) are you spending? If we were to evaluate the hustle around gifts alone we would be overwhelmed. Then throw in there parties, travel, relatives, cooking, cookies, and all the things!
I don’t think I need to go on. You know. You feel it.
All this stress is the reason I loved sitting down with Kelly Anthony today and talking with her about how to have a simple Christmas this year. If you didn’t know Kelly already, you’re welcome! She’s amazing, a true cupcake! Kelly runs an amazing food blog and business called The Anthony Kitchen and she shares her story of how Christmas was “taken” away from her when she let holiday cookies dominate the season. In this episode she shares how she made adjustments to never let Christmas be lost again.
Simple Christmas Ideas
I’ll be honest, the idea of a simple Christmas seems like just that. An idea. The reality of it seems a bit far fetched which is why hearing Kelly talk about her traditions made me get so excited for this year’s Christmas.
Think this through when it comes to entertaining for Christmas. You want to discover how to have your guests feel at home in your home. Create an atmosphere that is for them, not Instagram or to impress. Keep in mind why your guests are coming to you in the first place and consider instead of “going all out” to just light some candles, turn on some fun music, build a fire and call it a day! The feelings of having to do it all and having to do it perfect revolves around YOU not your guests Kelly says.
Here are a few things you can do to keep your Christmas simple:
- Clearing out the “have to’s”
- Being there for others instead of trying to get them there for you
- Creating a new tradition (during a different part of the year)
- Appreciating simple activities
- Serving others
Kelly talks about doing a Friendsgiving before actual thanksgiving as a new tradition during a different part of the year. In our house we do a holiday hindsight in January. Get creative with traditions and plan them for other times of the year!
Some simple activities could be child lead. Letting your kids pick out some activities to do and call the shots will give you a great idea about what matters to them!
An example of serving that Kelly gave in the podcast was that she loved having a Christmas party but loved enjoying the season even more. Now she has cancelled her own party and instead, she helps her friends set up her party. This is a time to go enjoy being with someone and a time to serve, and that’s what it’s about, serving!
Before we dive into what a minimalist Christmas looks like I want to give you permission. Permission to stop doing what may have become too much. If something has become a burden or a stress when it comes to the holidays (or anytime) it’s ok to take a break from it for a while. You can simply stop doing it! See how it feels this year to take a step back and reevaluate for next year. Just in case you needed permission, there you go!
Make this time more about actions and feelings rather than things and doings.
Instead of a huge party, just have a small gathering of your close friends for a fun dinner.
Do a Friendsgiving before Thanksgiving.
Minimalist Christmas Decor Ideas
Living things and white paper.
Ok but really. It’s kinda that simple. Use more decorations that are living, that you can reuse and that have a function for after the holidays. Our tree is live every year, you may have allergies and I totally get it. My heart goes out to you, really!
In the interview on the podcast I joke with Kelly that I have 1 shoebox full of Christmas decorations and it’s kinda true. Wondering what’s in my shoebox? Stocking holders, stockings … then we have a box of lights. I decorate the door with a live wreath. Inside with tons of white, pink, and red poinsettias. My kids love it, we love it, it’s easy and it’s part of our Christmas budget to get these live things each year. We keep them in the house for as long as possible. Then if you really want to, you can move the poinsettias to a pot outside, trim the stem down, and see if they will bloom next year! My dad usually snags all of ours and does this at his house, he has much more of a green thumb than I do!
Minimalist Christmas Gifts
Trying to keep it simple this Christmas means you may need to get a few others around the house (or in the family) on board. The best way to do this is approaching it with a neutral outlook. Using those “I” statements and not looking back! This is your life friend, you don’t need to feel guilty or apologize for changing things up and doing stuff differently than expected (or then your mom wants you to!)
My kids are not quite at this stage yet but I met a woman years ago that had teenagers. I’ll never forget their family’s Christmas tradition. They had 4 children and years ago when the youngest was “old enough to know about you know who” they started taking a family trip during Christmas instead of gifts. Don’t you just love this idea.
Think about it. You could ask your kids today what they got last year for Christmas and chances are they wouldn’t remember and if they did I bet they wouldn’t remember from a few years back. Think about your own childhood. I remember 1 gift from all my childhood. It was the American Girl Doll Kirsten! That’s it.
Consider an experience this year for your minimalist Christmas gift ideas!
Creating consumable gifts! (my all time fave)
I’m pretty big on baking, I come from a long line of baker’s. You may not come for a family that bakes and you may even believe the lie that “I can’t bake”. But guess what, if you can read you can bake. Does practice help? Yes, yes it does. But you can also use this time to hop on Kelly Anthony’s blog and find some of her tried and true recipes that she’s made an amazing video for. Her foods are comfort foods and definitely more on the simple side!
Bundles of herbs for friends with a card I design and print out. I love using Canva for projects like this and it makes me feel very Joanna Gains to use pretty ribbons.
When you give live gifts and pair it with a card try adding an idea for the gift. With the herbs add a recipe or with a house plant add care instructions!
I just had to. I love me some oils! I’m pretty big into making rollers and room sprays plus I’m always diffusing in my house. Giving oils as gifts is a great way to share something that can be used over and over and is practical. I can make a roller bottle for about $3 and friends LOVE them!
4 Tips for Keeping Christmas Simple
Before I get into these tips I want you to take a breath. Remember who is in charge. It’s not your mom and it’s not “how it was always done”. This is you. This is your family and this is your life. Sweet friend. Yes you can say, “but” with a lot of this post and this podcast episode but come back to me here. Now is the time when you are creating YOUR life. You will be held accountable for your choices. The way you spend your time and the example you set for your family is your responsibility!
I hope this strikes a nerve with you. I really do. I hope you read this and get a fire in you to do it a little different this year and let me encourage you. The first year you do tradition differently is the hardest. Next year it’s a little easier. So here we go!
Tip 1: Schedule Time to Enjoy this Christmas
We all know it, you know it! This season will get busy. Stuff will come up last minute, relatives with “pop in” and someone will ask you, less than 12 hours before, to bring something you hadn’t planned on to dinner. This is a season with a lot so work out your schedule to get ahead so you can enjoy.
Now, more than ever I’d like introduce you to (or reintroduce you to) my Sunday Planning Days. Every Sunday my husband and I sit down and go through our week. I make a grocery order to pick up the next day we talk about late nights, meetings, work and everything else. Since you know this season get’s full, plan as much as you can.. but make sure when you sit down to do your Planning Days you actually plan in times to decompress or it’s not going to happen!
Some ideas to decompress this holiday season are:
- sitting on the porch without your phone
- asking the hubby watch the kids so you go for an evening walk to look at lights by yourself
- after kids are in bed, bake some cookies just because (not for gifts or because you have to)
- build a fire and watch it until it goes totally out
- stay in your jammies all. day. long!
- eat cookie dough for breakfast and you’re not allowed to feel guilty
This is a list to get you started but I bet you can think of some other great ways to enjoy this Christmas in a slower way. But the key is to put this on your calendar NOW before it gets filled up. A few times a week, schedule in time to enjoy the season, get a babysitter, or coordinate with family to help with the kids. Yes, it’s hard to slow down and be alone right now. You probably have little people all around you but if you make the effort and schedule it, it’s much more likely to happen!
FREE RESOURCE: Simplify Motherhood: 5 Game Changers Podcast Episode 35
Tip 2: Ideas for simple Christmas gifts
Remember, up there at the top of this post when I talked about the money we spend during Christmas on gifts? Let’s get creative with ideas for simple Christmas gifts.
If you want more ideas on giving “non gifts” check out this post by Miss Minimalist!
Tip 3: Planning your Time This Holiday Season
Know ahead of time what is going to go on the calendar and ask yourself if YOU are ok with that amount of happenings?
Tip 4: Keeping Christmas Expectations Realistic
If I could leave you with one real nugget it would be to control your expectations.
I know this is easier said than done but if you can keep your Christmas expectations realistic (or totally wipe them all together) you’ll be setting yourself up for so much more joy. I love when Kelly talks about her new expectations for the season in this episode. Since we’ve all had expectations torn from us (can someone say COVID – 19) it may not be as hard as you think to start clean this year.
Lastly, a way to keep Christmas simple this year is contentment with who you are. That may seem a little deep but I believe that the more content you are with yourself and what you have, the more content you are with Christmas being simple. You can enjoy the moments for what they are and not try to make something more out of them.
I hope you’ll take a few quiet moments and join me on the Unhurried Life Podcast for this week’s episode. It’s so full of gentle nudges and ideas to start forming and creating a life you truly love.
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