Minimalist Holidays: Do Less, Enjoy More

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care ...

Every year I become more and more adamant about simplifying the holidays. Don’t get me wrong – I love the Christmas season, and for that reason I have a hard time having realistic expectations about how much one can really pack into the season and have it still remain enjoyable for myself and my family. I want to do it all!

But it took a Christmas two years ago to realize my zeal for cramming every minute of the season with something to do was making us all miserable. We were decorating cookies on Christmas eve, the kitchen was wrecked with my last-minute baking and cooking dishes. Add to that two young children and too many options for decorating the cookies and what we really had was a recipe for disaster. Oh, and did I mention we had less than an hour before we had to leave for Christmas Eve services and none of us were showered? You can imagine the scene, more tears and harsh voices than happy holiday memory. I swore then that I wouldn’t let this happen again.

In years since, I’ve slowly pared our commitments down and worked hard to spread the work of the holidays out over November and December, instead of trying to cram it all in the 3 weeks before Christmas. We buy less, do less, and as a result? We enjoy the holidays more. It can be hard to cut back, to let certain traditions go that we feel are an essential part of the holiday experience. In hindsight, though, I realize this: you can plan 10 things to do and just go through the motions, or you can agree on 5 things that are most important to everyone in your family and enjoy every minute of those moments.

What did we give up? Breakfast for Santa. No one really enjoyed getting up early and getting dressed up on a Saturday morning. I love having cut-out sugar and gingerbread cookies beautifully decorated, but trying to involve the kids in the process made all of us upset. Now I make and freeze the dough in late November. I cut them out and bake them on my own. A few days before Christmas, we have a decorating session, but not before I get everything ready ahead of time (and portioning out a few decorations in muffin tins is genius).

I could go on, but what I’m really excited about is the new series that starts today over at Minimalist Parent. Beginning today, those who sign up for their free email series will get tips through New Years to bring back the joy to the holidays and lessen the stress and craziness we’re all too familiar with. Consider it a free, early holiday gift just for you and your family.

While I feel so much better about our holiday mindset than I did a few years ago, I’m always looking for ways to make the season even more meaningful without adding undue stress or busyness. I hope you’ll join me for Minimalist Holidays this year so we can all have the happiest of holidays.