Learn From My Mistakes This Holiday Season

Poinsettias | Happy Simple Living blog

Since you’re reading a happy simple living blog, perhaps you hope to simplify your holiday celebrations and have more fun this year. Me, too! Let’s join hands and vow to have an easier, more joyful, peaceful holiday this year. We can do it.

Be Vigilant in the Coming Days

The decisions we make in the next week or two could greatly affect our collective holiday happiness. Pay special attention to the holiday invitations that start to roll in. We have three December weekends before Christmas – how do you want to spend those precious days and evenings?

I love making lists, so I wrote out a list of people I want to see for holiday celebrations. Just jotting down the names of special friends and family took me all of two minutes, and really helped clarify my thoughts.  As a result, I decided to skip a couple of my organization-sponsored holiday parties so I can spend more time with those I love.

Christmas cat | Happy Simple Living blog

I’m also working on a gift list, and a ‘Holiday To Do’ list. Both of these lists are short and sweet. Yippee!

Guess what? I also made a list for you because I want your holidays to be merry and bright. Let me save you a whole bunch of trouble and spare you from these holiday blunders I’ve made in years past:

Eliza’s List of Things Not To Do This Holiday Season

* Don’t commit to consecutive parties on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights with no down time. Leave some space in your schedule to relax.

* Don’t go to several parties in one night and “make an appearance” at each.

* Don’t run out and spend $50 on more stocking stuffers two days before Christmas.

* Don’t go to the shopping mall during the week before Christmas. In fact, try to avoid the mall completely during December if you can. (Have you noticed that, like the Hotel California, the roads lead freely into the mall — but you can never exit the parking lot when you want to leave?)


* Don’t feel like you need to give a reciprocal gift to everyone who gives you a gift. If you receive a present and are empty-handed, let go and express your grateful, gracious joy in receiving a surprise.

* Don’t stress if your gift is less expensive than a gift given to you (even if someone surprises you with, say, a diamond and aquamarine necklace, and you present them with, say, a wooden dreidel).

Barbie-Shower* Don’t dash into Toys ‘R’ Us at 5:55 p.m. on Christmas Eve for something you had firmly decided against, like, say, the plastic Barbie Shower your daughter wanted but you knew would lose its appeal within 10 minutes. (Little-known fact:  The Barbie Shower was the lamest toy ever manufactured.)

* Don’t buy last-minute gifts because you worry that you didn’t do quite enough. Remember that big, sickening pile of Christmas morning wrapping paper? Stick to your budget.

* Don’t go into debt buying holiday presents. Ever, ever, ever.

* Don’t drink one too many eggnogs at a holiday party, and waste the next day feeling tired and crappy.

* Finally, my dear ones, don’t wear yourself out with so much shopping and cooking and wrapping and running around that you wake up sick on Christmas morning.


Winter sunset | Happy Simple Living blog

How About You?

What do you plan to do this year to have a happier, simpler holiday? Are you cutting back on the shopping and craziness, and spending more time with your loved ones having fun? I’d love to hear your thoughts and strategies for celebrating this season of peace and joy.

Ho ho ho!

The signature for Eliza Cross

Grateful thanks to Jamie McCaffrey for the lovely winter sunset photo, Michael Cote for the wonderful kitty photo, Shimelle Lainel for the pretty present photo,  and H. Matthew Howarth for the festive poinsettia 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.

7 thoughts on “Learn From My Mistakes This Holiday Season”

  1. Great list. I need to post it by the front door so every time I start to run out to do/buy/get something I forgot, I’ll remember I didn’t really forget it.

  2. Eliza, I hope you have the simple and joyful Christmas you wish (and plan)for.

    I don’t do parties nor do I do mall shopping, and I love your Eagles reference. 🙂

    As gifts go I try to keep it simple. I keep a list on my phone of things through the year that come to me for each person based on their interests or things they said to me. Then as November arrives I select the gift idea I think would be perfect for this year. For instance for my son and his son I gave a joint gift of tickets to a Globetrotter game in January rather than two separate gifts and toys to clutter up.

  3. Luv your holiday pictures, especially the kitty. Thanks for the reminders for a simply holiday season. I am the one that does the panic xmas eve shopping for more stocking stuffers. I plan to mend my ways lol. Wishing you a happy holiday.

  4. Gosh… these posts always make me grateful for my boring little life. I don’t really do holiday parties these days – not working anymore means you have fewer opportunities to be invited to those sorts of things.

    And I only buy 3 presents – one for CatMan, one for my brother and one for my parents. My brother & parents will get food and CatMan will probably get a gift card since he won’t tell me what he wants!

    I don’t decorate, and generally speaking the most stressful part of the holidays for me is worrying whether the Broncos will make the playoffs! 🙂

    Anyhow, wishing everybody a simple, boring, and HAPPY holiday season!

  5. Great list Eliza. Like so many others I’ve moved away from Christmas parties and Christmas shopping in general. Instead, I share homemade stuffs (this year with be apple chutney or cranberry chutney). I’ve learned that I would rather spend time talking with my friends then gifts that may or may not fit a need/want.

    Wishing everyone a most wonderful holiday season!

  6. This list is great. Love your touches of humor, including the fun list of decorations not to buy. My gift list changed a bunch this year. I did not strike any people off. Actually it keeps getting a bit longer as more grandchildren are born. The major change happened because at long last I made the decision and announcement that there would only be one gift per adult and two per child. (There were also some stocking stuffers.) Each of the five grandkids received a wooden toy made by my husband and another toy ordered online by me. I made my daughters quilts and my mother in law placemats. My husband made one son in law a bag toss game and ordered the other one a remote control copter. We did not go shopping FOR ANY OF THIS! Wow. This is a tradition that I plan to continue in the future. Happy New Year.


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