December is often a very busy month for folks.  There are extra events, things to do, shopping, decorating, and all the other things that make the month feel overwhelmed and stressful.  Don’t fall victim to this hub-a-bubble.  Here are a few ways I have found to simplify December by focusing on what matters to our family during the Christmas season!

Focus on what brings you joy.  Think hard about your favorite Christmas memories.  Do you love baking cookies with your sister?  Does addressing 50 Christmas cards bring you happiness?  Are you a big fan of decorating a tree in each room of your house?  Some of these ideas may make you want to lock yourself in a closet while others may truly bring joy.  The good news is you can focus on what makes you happy.  So what that you put up three decorated Christmas trees last year but hated every second of the set up (and take down!).  Just because you’ve done it in the past doesn’t mean you have to do it every year.  Figure out what makes you happy and focus on that.  Let that be “your thing” instead of being mediocre at everything and overstressed because you aren’t enjoying it anyway.

Don’t let your commitments exhaust you.  It’s hard to believe this, but you are the one that controls your calendar- even at Christmas time.  There are a gazillion events each December- parties, cookie swaps, open houses, concerts, train rides with Santa, light shows, and the list goes on and on.  Prioritize what you attend by who you want to spend your time with and how you want to spend your money.  Don’t fall victim to being exhausted all season because you say yes to everything and are completely worn out.  Instead, be selective to what you want to do with your time and don’t forget to schedule in down time for relaxing, recharging, and spending time focusing on what matters during this season.  Also, be mindful of what all is included in an accepted invitation.  Buying formal wear, baking cookies, travel time, and buying/wrapping white elephant gifts also take up precious time.  Even though the party is only 2 hours, if it requires two hours of prep, then it’s not really two hours- its four!

Buy experiences and not stuff.  The majority of parents I know don’t really want their kids to have more stuff- toys, games, dolls, legos, etc.  Instead, they’d love for their child to have more experiences and future memories.  Memberships to local attractions are a good gift idea.  Tickets to a show or concert are also great.  For smaller children, passes to indoor bouncy house places or tickets to a puppet show may work well.  Want to spend more money?  Consider purchasing a weekly class of some sort (ballet, gymnastics, tennis, etc) might be a good choice.  If you are truly trying to simplify Christmas, then that means honoring others wishes to help them simplify their lives by not buying stuff for their kids and cluttering their home.

Spend less but spread more cheer.  I am a big believer in “it’s the thought that counts”.  Instead of buying something “small” for your kind neighbor, mailperson, or favorite waitress, consider writing them a short note.  Let them know how much you appreciate their wonderful service, kind smile, or whatever else you like about them.  I promise your kind words will mean more to them than another cheap coffee mug.

I’d love to hear how you have found ways to simplify your Christmas season!

love, brooke

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