While decorating my home over the weekend, I came across a book titled Simplify Your Christmas: 100 Ideas to Reduce the Stress and Recapture the Joy of the Holidays. This must have been a long ago gift or purchase because the stains from small dead critters had to be wiped away. But I thought to myself, if I wanted to simplify Christmas, number one on my list would be not to read a book. A good book should be read after Christmas.

So I wondered, out of these 100 ideas, what would really make a difference and decided it might be worth my while to read the titles of these 100 ideas and present you with the top 12 in the spirit of the 12 days of Christmas. So without further adieu and in no particular order:

The 12 Days of a Simplified Christmas

  • Stop trying to get organized – This is a great one because it’s the chupacabra of Christmas. It doesn’t exist. If you must accomplish this goal because it’s in your DNA to attempt organization, then at least put it off until Jan 1.
  • Simplify your traditions – I like this because they aren’t saying to get rid of all of them. It’s important to carry on traditions, but just pick the top two or three.
  • Stay home Black-Friday – This will be hard for some because it can intersect with tradition. The problem is this sets up the frenzy and takes away from family time. If you must shop, do it online.
  • Rethink Christmas cards – And the reason is, if this activity doesn’t bring joy, but misery, get rid of it. Some people love this and wouldn’t dream of giving it up, some are more sporadic. It’s okay to find other ways to connect with friends and family that don’t have a deadline.
  • Say no to the office party – I’d like to reword this, have an exit strategy to the office party. Go for a set time, have 2 drinks, and leave. I’m not saying don’t keep the party going, just do it with other people at another location.
  • Close down the Inn – Tis the season for relatives to expect a free place to stay. And it may seem like no big deal if you have extra space, but this is a quiet soul-sucker. Guests disrupt your routine and relaxation. (Though we still love them.)
  • Cut back on the number of gifts – No one is saying cut back on value, just on the stuff. Let’s say you plan to spend $250 on your child. Instead of getting 10 gifts at $25 each, purchase 5 gifts or less at varying prices totaling the same amount. Save the dollar store stuff for the stockings.
  • Stop being a perfectionist – This is not something I have to worry about too often, but it’s a big deal for others. For example, forget big bows and beautiful ribbons on gifts that are for kids. They don’t care. And make slice and bake cookies instead of scratch. Things like that.
  • Learn to say no to some volunteering – I don’t mean to be a Scrooge, but come on. There will be other opportunities to help. Don’t save the world when it’s time that could be spent with family. But if it’s something the entire family can participate in, that’s a winner!
  • Slay the Secret Santa – Sure it’s fun if you have a $5 budget and this is done during work hours, but otherwise, let this go. Most of the time the gift you receive is immediately tagged for re-gifting.
  • Rethink getting a tree and cut back on decorations – This is mostly for people who have 2 year-olds, puppies, or will be out of town for the holidays. You can certainly put some out, but feel good about the time and energy you’ve saved by not decorating.
  • Cut back on your holiday spending – If you can easily get the numbers on how much you spent last year, challenge yourself to spend less this year. Even if it’s only by $20, this kind of discipline is good for everyone. At least this way you won’t spend more.

So tell me what you think. If you have other ideas that help simplify Christmas leave them in the comments section. Thanks and happy holidays!

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