I really didn’t feel like making a bunch of pies. My kids were young and they consumed most of my energy. So, the thought of mixing up several batches of pastry, making applesauce for pie and more pumpkin pie made me want to cry. I asked if I could just buy some pies from the bakery. The response annoyed and frustrated me. And it brought on a wave of feeling like a failure because I couldn’t do it all. “It was tradition”, I was told firmly. “The aroma of baked pies is just part of the holiday,” she tried to justify. “But no one even eats them!” I tried to explain. It didn’t matter. I had to make them. I didn’t have a choice…or a voice (Huh, the story of my life!). Things are different now. I don’t have to make those pies. I decided several years ago that I just wasn’t going to do that to myself anymore – or let anyone else do that to me. That’s not what Christmas is about. Here are 4 Fantastic Ways I Simplified My Christmas.
Go Simple With Food
My hubby makes the turkey for our family. And, really, it is the Pièce De Résistance of our meal. This turkey is AH-MAZING! He cooks it with so much TLC. Because he takes more time with the turkey and gravy, some other food has to be simplified. For example, instead of making the stuffing from scratch, we get a couple of boxes of StoveTop Stuffing. As much as possible, we also make as much food the day before. I can make the cranberry sauce days ahead of time.
Last year, on Christmas Eve, I bought some yummy pastries and loaves of bread from Cobs for our family to enjoy Christmas morning. I intend to do this again this year, it was so easy and tasty.
Go Simple With Family
When the kids were small, we’d open gifts in the morning and then rush off to the home of family members. It was hard pulling the kids away from their new toys to go somewhere else and be ignored. This happened every Christmas and it was starting to ‘get old’. So, one year we decided to just stay home the entire day. And it was glorious!
If you are feeling that the pressure to go here and there and everywhere else, then feel free to just stop. You can just have a quiet Christmas day at home. If you enjoy being with your family (not everyone does, sadly), then see if you can gather on Christmas Eve or Boxing Day (the 26th in Canada). A good friend of mine has her Christmas with some extended family a couple of weeks before Christmas. This is a great idea. And it makes the Christmas season last a bit longer.
Go Simple With Gifts
My husband and I do stockings for Christmas now and that is about it. If we do give larger gifts to each other, they are relatively simple. For example, last year, my husband gave me a large diffuser for essential oils. We had also planned on purchasing a new coffee table for our living room. I was expecting to wait until the new year to make this purchase, but he surprised me by buying it early and he had it delivered on Boxing Day.
We have also simplified gifts for our children. No more gifts that will break in a month or that they will be bored of after a week. We usually stick with items such as Lego and Playmobil – our youngest still enjoys playing Playmobil.
Recently, I asked the kids what one of their favorite family Christmas traditions was. They all said baking Christmas cookies. Sure, they enjoy gifts. But that’s not what they said. They love the variety of cookies I bake during this time of year (blog post coming!). My kids enjoy checking out the Christmas lights around town. They love going to see the live nativity that our former church puts on every year. Our kids don’t need a bunch of gifts under the tree.
Go Simple With Gift Wrapping
Wrapping gifts take up a lot of time! Cleaning up the mess afterward takes up time as well. Several years ago, I did two things to change this. I decided to take all toys out of the packaging before wrapping them – less clean-up on Christmas Day and less time spent on taking toys out of the packaging on that special day!
I also made several cloth drawstring bags to use as ‘gift wrap’. Yes, they took a bit extra time to make that first year, but now I am spending less on paper gift wrap (I use paper gift wrap for extended family and friend gifts), less time wrapping and less time cleaning up on Christmas Day! I use these bags year after year and not only do I save time with wrapping, I save money, too.
Prayerfully consider what areas of Christmas you can simplify this year. Seek His face and ask for His wisdom in what things you can either eliminate from your schedule or just pare down on.
When I think about the Christ child in the manger, I see just Him and his parents. Some lowly shepherds stopped by and the animals quietly lay nearby and watch this little family. There wasn’t a huge commotion. There was no hustle and bustle. Frantic searches for the ‘perfect gift’ were not on Mary’s mind – or Joseph’s. Instead, there was a sense of marvel and wonder. Let’s make sure that we haven’t lost this awe and amazement for our Savior by getting caught up in the busyness of Christmas.
Because that isn’t what Christmas is about.
How have you simplified Christmas? What would you love to stop doing in order to keep the awe and wonder of Christmas?
To help you take some soul rest this Christmas season, I have my Christmas study/devotional on sale until November 17th. This devo focuses on Mary’s song and includes an 8×10 poster as well as prayer cards.