Your Best Holidays Ever: All Done by December One

Simplify the holidays at Happy Simple Living .com

Photo by Loyal O.A.K.

September is upon us, and the Halloween decorations are out in full force at the stores – reminding us that October 31 will be here before we know it. It’s still 16 weeks until Christmas, though. That’s a long, long way off…or is it?

Each year, I aim to get organized a little earlier for Christmas so our family can actually spend time together enjoying the holiday season. We’ve simplified some traditions, stopped buying more Christmas decorations, and made the transition with a number of friends from less gift-giving to more experience-sharing. Still, December always gets hectic – a far cry from the fun and relaxation I want our family to experience during this season of joy.

Unplug the Christmas Machine at Happy Simple Living .comSeveral years ago I read a most inspiring book, Unplug the Christmas Machine, by Jo Robinson and Jean Coppock Staeheli. The authors conduct workshops to help people explore what might be missing from their holiday celebrations, and guide them to make some thoughtful adjustments to put the love and joy back in the season.

What the authors discovered is that most of us long for a simpler, more joyful expression of the holidays — with fewer presents, less shopping and debt, less pressure and stress, more relaxed time with our families, and a deeper sense of the spiritual meaning of the season. Can you relate? I know I can.

And what about our kids? The authors have determined that these are the four things children really want for Christmas:

  • A relaxed and loving time with the family.
  • Realistic expectations about gifts.
  • An evenly paced holiday season.
  • Reliable family traditions.

What creates stress, from my point of view, is that we try to do too much in too short of a time frame. Too often the four weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are filled with decorating, driving, shopping, wrapping, shipping, cooking, cleaning and rushing. Being in a rush makes for hurried decisions, often resulting in too much spending and the remorse of too much debt in January.

But what if this year could be different?

I invite you to join me in an experiment that I’ve entitled “All Done by December 1:”

Simplify Your Holidays at Happy Simple Living blog

What if all of your holiday tasks could be done by the end of the day on Saturday, December first this year? What if you had three glorious weeks in December to do special things with your family and friends, without once setting foot in the post office or shopping mall?

The concept is simple. Each Monday starting October 1, I’ll send you a post with ideas and your Holiday Homework (“Ho Ho”) assignment, for five weeks. Together we’ll make a written plan of holiday tasks we want to accomplish by December 1. We’ll make a budget. We’ll share gift ideas and make gift lists. We’ll make a plan for the coming 60 days to gather gifts and stocking stuffers, bake and freeze cookies, take family portraits, make dinner reservations (my personal favorite), and accomplish whatever’s on your own personal list of important tasks.

Along the way, we’ll share our ideas and thoughts about simplifying the holidays, making eco-friendly choices, spending less, having more fun, and creating breathing room to experience Christmas on a deeper level.

If you’re “in,” share a comment below and make sure you’re signed up to receive Happy Simple Living’s posts by e-mail. Both of these tasks will get you entered to win your own copy of Unplug the Christmas Machine, which I’ll give away September 30. To spread the holiday love far and wide, if you share a link to this post on Facebook or Twitter, or post the above “All Done By December 1” banner on your blog or website, you’ll get additional entries. Here’s a quick tweet you can copy:

Dreaming of less hectic holidays? Join @HappySimpleLivn in Oct., be done with holiday tasks Dec. 1. Free sign up now:

Thanks for joining me on this journey, and here’s to your best holiday season ever.


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About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of a dozen books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

Your Best Holidays Ever: All Done by December One

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