Is it me, or has Christmas gone a little out of control this year? A quick flick through social media this afternoon and in five minutes I have seen several “Christmas Tree of the Year” contests, “rare” The Elf on the Shelf sets worth over £300 (seriously? I don’t even spend that on my family, let alone a doll!), personalised dogs’ Christmas stockings, and people going crazy trying to find this year’s “must have” toy – the Hatchable.
Experiences, not things
Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas. I can’t wait to get on that plane this weekend and head home to my parents, our extended family of cousins and their littles, and friends I haven’t seen since the summer. We’ll sip hot chocolate in our favourite cafe in the high street whilst listening to carollers, crunch along icy paths to the greengrocer’s on Christmas Eve morning to nab the best veggies, and delve into a real tin of Quality Street that has more than the six flavours you get here in Dubai.
When I think of Christmas, I think of my favourite people, my favourite places and my favourite food. I think of old family traditions, and the new ones that we are making together. I think of the precious people we have lost this year, and how we’ll be honouring them under the Christmas tree in church on Christmas Eve. I think of the cheesy Christmas tunes – the words to which I am teaching Mr 5 so that he can sing them as we do silly dances in Nana’s kitchen.
None of this costs money. None of this merits desperate shopping trips,
queues and debt come January.
So this year, I’m keeping it simple. 2016 has been good to me – it’s taught me to live with less, to make the most of what we have, and to make room for what really matters. We’ve been decluttering, down-sizing, planning… and that includes Christmas.
How to simplify your Christmas: My 10 tips
So here are a few of my tips to simplify your festive season, so that you have more time to enjoy the things that really matter.
- Budget: Agree a budget for gifts with your family and stick to it. Think thoughtful gifts, not expensive.
- Shopping: Shop online as much as possible to avoid the queues and stress of busy malls.
- Giving: Choose to gift experiences instead of things – less to wrap and less clutter for the recipient. You could consider meals out, gift vouchers, memberships and tickets to events – or homemade vouchers for a service that you can offer such as babysitting, or sharing a talent.
- Focus: Write a list of everything you need to do and buy. Then review it to cross off anything that isn’t absolutely necessary.
- Traditions: New traditions such as The Elf on the Shelf and Christmas Eve boxes can be expensive and give you more to do. Pick one and concentrate on that – don’t feel pressured to try everything that everyone else is doing.
- Crafts: Christmas crafting is fun, but don’t feel you have to recreate everything you see on Pinterest! Choose one or two crafts – especially things that you could give as gifts or use to decorate.
- Decorations: Re-use last year’s decorations. New colour schemes are lovely, but decorations collected over the years mean more. Let go of your perfectionism and let the children decorate the tree. One less thing for you to worry about, and something to keep the children occupied.
- Consumerism: Christmas is the marketer’s dream. Don’t let them in – unsubscribe from email marketing lists, keep focused on your list, and remember: most of the pretty Christmas decor that you see in the magazines was actually styled and photographed months ago. They’ve moved on already – so can you!
- Me Time: Schedule some “Me Time” – this is your Christmas too. Delegate tasks to family and friends and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- “Done is better than perfect”: We all want the perfect Christmas, but it’s not worth the overwhelm and stress. Learn to let go and focus on the real reasons for the festive season, whatever that means to you. Family and friends want to spend time with you – not your stunning table setting or your co-ordinating decor.
I’d love to hear how you are celebrating the festive season this year! Happy Christmas!