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12 Ways to Have a Simpler, Happier Christmas

Christmas cat | Happy Simple Living blog


Dear friends,

What if this year, our holidays were a little easier?

What if we did fewer things, and enjoyed the season more?

What if we spent less, and didn’t take on even one dollar of debt?

What if we felt rested and content, instead of tired and stressed?

These are some thoughts and ideas to enjoy a more mellow Christmas. See what you think:

1. Practice the art of less

One of the most popular posts on this blog is “One Family’s Real Simple Christmas,” about my friends who decided to try a radically simple holiday. You might discover, like the McDonalds did, that letting go and simplifying will actually make your Christmas a whole lot better.


Peaceful church


2. Focus on what you truly love.

Grab a pen and paper, and spend a few minutes thinking about the traditions that are truly important to you and your family. Focus on those, and modify or let go of the rest.

I used to festoon every inch of this house for the holidays. My move toward minimizing began one year when I didn’t feel like putting out the special red Christmas towels. Guess what? Nobody cared or noticed. After that I started giving away decorations, and today we treasure our edited-down collection.

Would anyone really care if you left some things in the garage or basement this Christmas? One of my friends decided not to put out her 78-piece Snow Village last year, and she was downright giddy from all the time and effort she saved.

You might enjoy “Simplify the Holidays by Managing Expectations.”

3. Do small daily tasks.

For the next two weeks I’ll try to tackle a few holiday tasks each day, so that most of the decorating and shopping is done by the first of December.

Every little thing you do in November is a Christmas gift to yourself, so you have more time to enjoy the holiday season next month. Perhaps you’d like to address a few Christmas cards each day, or hang the outdoor lights now, or make and freeze a batch of Cinnamon Crispies for your Christmas morning brunch.


Beautiful deer in snowy field | Happy Simple Living


4. Freeze your credit cards.

I mean this literally. Take your credit cards, put them in a plastic container, fill almost to the top, and freeze solid. Put the block of ice in the furthest depths of your freezer. Then, explore ways to save and simplify without spending a lot of money.

You might enjoy “7 Debt Free Holiday Gifts to Give This Year.”

5. Cut back on gift giving.

Most people already have plenty of stuff. If you’re part of a group that traditionally exchanges gifts, why not suggest doing something fun instead? You may find that others share your desire to cut back.

Don’t get caught in the last-minute rush to buy stocking stuffers. You’ll find some good ideas in this article, “15 Inexpensive, Last Minute Stocking Stuffers.”


Christmas dogs at Happy Simple Living blog


6. Schedule fewer events.

Don’t over-commit and try to make every party. Put some fun family nights into your calendar, and block out some unstructured relaxing time, too.

7. Plan make-ahead foods.

Prepare foods in advance for things like Christmas morning brunch, dinner, parties, and gifts. You’ll find lots of ideas in this article, “Make a Holiday Food Plan.”



8. Give something away.

As we all know, it’s the giving that makes Christmas truly joyful. Even as we’re trying to be mindful about money during the holidays, we can look for opportunities to give to others… our time, our caring, our listening, and even a smile.

9. Explore sustainable choices.

Christmas tends to generate a lot of trash. For some frugal, green wrapping ideas you might enjoy the Happy Simple Holidays Pinterest board.

10. Reconnect and reflect.

During this Advent season, perhaps you might like to set aside a little extra time for prayer and meditation. Last year my mom and I both read a book called The Greatest Gift during December, and it helped me focus on the spiritual side of the Christmas season.

You might enjoy reading “7 Ways to Slow Down and Savor These Precious Days.


Snow and weeds


11. Embrace nature.

Take a walk on a frosty morning. Breathe the cold air. Collect pine cones. Put out bird seed. Look for ways to enjoy and appreciate winter’s quiet season of rest.

12. Practice Dolce Far Niente – the “sweet act of doing nothing.”

Make time to do nothing. Sit in front of the fire and watch the flames dance. Enjoy the sparkling lights of the Christmas tree. During the busy days of the holidays, make a special effort to give your soul and spirit a rest.


Dolce far niente

How About You?

How have you simplified the holidays? What are your hopes for this Christmas season? Have you cut back on gift-giving in favor of experiences? What are some of your favorite traditions? I always love to hear your thoughts and ideas.


The signature for Eliza Cross

Grateful thanks to Michael Cote, Forest Wander, TRF Mr. Hyde, Lottie, Alosh Bennett, and Phil Roeder for the use of photos.

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is the author of 17 books, including Small Bites, 101 Things To Do With Bacon, and BERRIES. She enjoys sharing ideas to simplify cooking, gardening, and home projects. She is also the owner of Cross Media, Inc. and founder of the BENSA Bacon Lovers Society.

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1 thought on “12 Ways to Have a Simpler, Happier Christmas”

  1. Dear Husband and I try not to overcook and overeat during Christmas. We used to, and then we’d feel lethargic and have that uncomfortable stuffed feeling in our midsections. Nowadays, with no pressure to fix a big, spectacular meal (or two), it makes the whole grocery shopping, cooking, and cleanup simpler and less stressful. We can enjoy friends and family more.:-)

    (Besides, by the time you get to dessert, it tastes better if you’re not already full to the brim!)


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