The Christmas season really is the most wonderful time of the year... until it isn't. Without some concerted effort, it's really easy to let Christmas spin out of control quickly. We often end up spending too much money and overcommitting our schedules to keep up with every fun holiday activity. The goal is to make Christmas fun and magical, but sometimes what really happens is that it creates stress and frustration.
If simplifying the season is something on your to-do list, then you've come to the right place. Christmas can still be fun... and relatively stress-free!
I love the idea of an advent calendar filled with thoughtful little gifts and fun activities for every day. I really do. I did it last year and it was great... until it wasn't. We started off the month with such gusto baking cookies and seeing Christmas lights and playing with fun gifted tchotchkes, but somewhere around day 12, the excitement started to fizzle for all of us. It felt more like things we "had" to do than things we really wanted to do and we seriously didn't need any more tiny toys in our house.
This year I'm hoping to modify the advent calendar to include a few fun activities instead of something every day and NO gifts, because it really is just more stuff we don't need. I also like the idea of those easy punch out advent calendars with the chocolate inside. That's something I can get behind. Or maybe even consider trying a new tradition that requires everyone to think more about giving than receiving - like this Giving Manger idea. Bonus: your kids might be nicer to each other and your house might be a little bit cleaner.
2. Let the kids decorate
Once your kids are big enough to do their own decorating, let them! Of course there are beautiful decorations to be found in stores, but will they be truly appreciated by your family? I suppose that depends, but red and green paper chains to countdown the days to Christmas and paper snowflakes hung in windows that were made by your kids own hands will surely make them smile. One less thing on your plate!
Christmas in and of itself is such a magical time of year that there's no need to dress it up with a bunch of extra pomp and circumstance.
3. Don't play up the Santa stuff
Listen, I enjoyed the Santa magic as much as the next kid when I was growing up, but in my family now we've never made Santa a big thing and Christmas is so much simpler for it. My kids know who Santa is, but we don't write him letters. We never told them that the presents come from Santa. They just know that some presents show up and that Santa is a jolly guy who we read stories about. Because the gifts aren't coming from some magical guy from a workshop in the North Pole, the expectations aren't as high. All you parents who have to live up to the Santa hype have a pretty tricky job ahead of you.
4. Do all your shopping online
Because Amazon Prime and no crazy crowds or parking lots. It's like a no-brainer
5. Consider a fake tree... or no tree
OK, I know this is sort of blasphemy, but I mean, trees really are a hassle when you think about it. You have to water them and vacuum up after them and basically they're just like a pet that you can't actually pet. This isn't something I'm able to let go of myself, because I love the pine-y scent and the tradition of chopping down our tree, but I will say that I've definitely envied my friends with the fake trees. A one-time investment and no clean up. Just pull it out of the garage/attic/shed and you're done. They even make these little scent stick things that you can add to the tree so it smells good!
Pinterest is great and wonderful and there are some really lovely things to be inspired by there, but if you are looking to keep Christmas simple? Well, steer clear. Inevitably you will start to feel the pressure of the crafty Christmas and fall into the trap of believing that your children need you to manufacture magical Christmas memories for them, when everything will be just fun without it. You do you and don't let Pinterest boss you around!
7. Don't ruin Christmas magic by trying to make Christmas magic
Christmas in and of itself is such a magical time of year that there's no need to dress it up with a bunch of extra pomp and circumstance. Choose a few fun traditions and do those with your kids, but don't feel like you need to do ALL THE CHRISTMAS THINGS. All the pressure to create Christmas magic for our kids often creates stress, which results in the very opposite of Christmas magic and can actually make it a pretty miserable time of year for everyone. Do as much or as little as you want and then relax and enjoy the season!
How does your family keep Christmas fun and simple?