10 Ways to Enjoy a Happier, Simpler Holiday Season This Year

Beautiful deer in snowy field | Happy Simple Living

Some years ago, a friend’s mother-in-law traveled from her native Norway to spend Christmas with the family. She was to arrive December 1 and stay for 3 1/2 weeks, so my friend spent November in a frenzy of preparations so that everything would be ready for her mother-in-law’s visit.

But then something extraordinary happened. With the decorations up and packages shipped and shopping done, my friend discovered that — for the first time in a long time — she was able to really enjoy the holiday season without last-minute trips to the mall, overspending, or stress. The family later agreed it was their best December ever.

This story resonated with me, and caused me to re-think my own holiday habits and try some new tactics. My goal is to be “All Done By December One” so we can have fun during the holiday season.

What do you think about these ideas?

1.  Simplify. Do less. Commit to fewer holiday events and obligations.

2.  Let go of traditions that aren’t working, especially those that involve a lot of work.

3.  Make a list of holiday tasks, and save it on your computer for future reference. Get as many holiday tasks and errands done as possible in November.

4.  Agree with friends and families to give fewer gifts. Have fun together instead.

5.  Don’t put out every decoration. Honor a few special pieces in simple arrangements instead. Declutter the holiday bins and give some stuff away.

6.  Make room for the spiritual side of the holiday season. Read a special scripture or story together as a family, or set aside a little extra time to pray and meditate.

7.  Allow for down time. Watch a family holiday movie in your jammies and drink hot chocolate. Play a game. Go for a walk.

8.  Spend more time outside. Enjoy the beauty of winter’s quiet rest.

9.  Don’t incur any holiday debt. Make a budget, and don’t overspend.

10.  Look for opportunities to give to those less fortunate.

If you need ideas, I have a “Happy Simple Holidays” Pinterest board with easy recipes, homemade gifts, and simple, natural decorations. I welcome your suggestions for this board.

If you’re a Type A like me, you might enjoy the process of breaking down holiday tasks into a daily routine. The Coach.me app is free, and if you search for my profile (Eliza Cross) you can join a group of people working on the daily goal of “10 minutes doing holiday-related tasks.”

For a real-life perspective, “One Real Family’s Real Simple Christmas” is a story about my friends the McDonalds, who tried a drastically simplified Christmas with great results.

How about you? Will you be simplifying your holiday celebrations this year? I’d love to hear your thoughts and plans.


The signature for Eliza Cross

Grateful thanks to Jan Tik for the use of her beautiful photo.


About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of 15 books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

3 thoughts on “10 Ways to Enjoy a Happier, Simpler Holiday Season This Year”

  1. I think you were in my head this weekend as I just made a very similar list! This year we are eliminating a traditional family get together that has become complicated and full of negative feelings. It is very difficult to do this, but has been years coming and will hopefully eliminate a lot of our holiday stress.

  2. These are all great ideas! One of the biggest “tricks” I use is to get my Christmas shopping done *early*. I like to try and get pretty much the whole lot done before December even rolls around. I also get gifts posted off by this time too.

    I have found that having this pressure removed makes my Christmas a lot simpler and more enjoyable. I’m able to enjoy the run-up to Christmas without worry, and I also don’t need to try and brave the stores at their busiest time of year or wait in a huge queue at the post office.

    Priceless 🙂

  3. Such a helpful list! I want to get an early start on Christmas cards this year (or, if that doesn’t work out, do what I did last year: send New Years Letters) and make a pact with everyone to give fewer gifts. And I’m starting volunteer work next week!


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