A little holiday confession: I don't love Christmas. I love Jesus and the story of Jesus' birth. I also love twinkling lights, peppy holiday tunes, peppermint drinks, and mistletoe.
All of the expectations, though? It's a little much for this simple-
Okay, now I'm just going into an all-out rant. Which isn't the point.
The point is that it takes a little extra intention to simplify it all and make it meaningful. And not meaningful by saying yes to all of the good ideas that everyone else is doing.
Christmas isn't about doing All The Things. Instead, I'm learning to choose the one, two, or three that are meaningful to me and my family and make space to do those. Which can be hard, because what I want/need this season is a little different than what my family wants/needs. On the plus side, they're getting older and can help take over some of the added responsibilities. (See "decorations" below. The kids decorate the tree all by themselves now!)
Then, I'm giving myself permission to let go of the rest acknowledging that they may be good ideas, even great ideas, for someone else, but not for me. The end result will be a focused, even relaxed (can you imagine?!), Christmas season.
I was thinking of how I might encourage you in a simple and intentional holiday season, then realized I've already shared my holiday posts over the years. So instead of adding more, for now, I'm simply gathering all that I have on the topic in one spot (this post), along with short descriptions of how we approach the Christmas festivities and ideas we use to keep it simple and meaningful in our own way.
Holiday CardsWe've done our holiday cards a variety of ways over the last few years. Most often we take a quick family snapshot, I edit it (for free) in PicMonkey, then post it online after mailing (or emailing) it to family and friends. I keep a pretty short list of who we send to, focusing on parents, grandparents, and siblings (every now and then a few friends make the list). And instead of a long holiday letter (since most people keep in touch with us online), I write a note about how we're thankful they're in our lives.
More on holiday cards:
Simplifying Holiday Cards + 4 Free Overlays
DIY Christmas Cards
PresentsI am not a great gift-giver, so this tradition stresses me out. However, I love people that this is their love language, so I've learned to not totally do away with it. Tight finances for all of our Christmases has made it somewhat easy to say we are simply doing presents within our own family. For the times that we are together with siblings and cousins, it's been fun to do a game gift exchange, a favorite-things gift exchange, or an experiences gift exchange which was my favorite.
For our kids, we give 3 gifts each: something to read, something to wear, and something fun/to play with. We also give them each new pajamas that they open and can wear Christmas Eve night while they sleep by the lit Christmas tree. We fill their stockings with a small simple toy and snacks that they get to open and eat/play with when they wake up Christmas morning which buys my husband and I a little extra rest-time.
More on gift-giving:
Giving When You Have Nothing to Give
DecorationsWe have an artifical tree we put up every year, along with stockings, the Willow Creek Nativity, a wreath on the front door, a simple mistletoe ball, stockings, and some years our Advent envelopes. The decorations, including the tree and nativity, all fits in 3 tubs which helps us keep a limit on it all. Last year and this year we let the kids decorate the tree all by themselves (we helped set it up and string the lights). I love its imperfect charm. And that I didn't have to do as much :)
More on decorating:
Homemade Mini Christmas Tree
Small Space Tree Ideas
AdventWe simply countdown the 25 days to Christmas. There are some great devotional readings, activity ideas, and so much more revolving around Advent. We keep it simple with reading texts and stories related to Jesus' birth from books we already have. We also made a simple envelope countdown that included activities our first year, but we haven't done the daily activities since.
More on Advent:
49 Advent Calendar Ideas
Our Envelope Advent Calendar
Joy to the World, He is Coming Again!
ActivitiesSome of our favorite holiday activities are those that take the least planning and preparation. We drive through neighborhoods anytime after dark to look at lights, watch our favorite Christmas movies on the weekends, enjoy peppermint cookies or cocoa, light peppermint candles or diffuse peppermint essential oil, and listen to Pandora holiday stations like Pentatonix or Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree or Michael Buble.
I mentioned in "presents" above that we've done an experience gift-exchange with siblings, cousins, parents, which is fun. We played a fun new game, did 4-minute exercise as a group, drank wassail, and more. Last year, per my daughter's request, we all (adults included) had a snowflake making contest which was lots of fun.
More on Activities:
Simple Holiday Date Night
100 Acts of Kindness
Rather than adding to your already overflowing pool of ideas, I hope you feel empowered to keep your Christmas simple and meaningful your way.
Wishing you a simply merry Christmas!
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