Does preparing for the holidays fill you with stress? Are you dreading finding something for everyone on your list? Are you fearing for the barrage of STUFF that will soon descend upon your household? Wouldn’t it be nice to replace these feelings of stress and dread with feelings of calm and joy?
Here are five tips to cut down on holiday stress.
1. Reduce extended family gift giving. Do a “Secret Santa” gift exchange. My husband is one of five kids, all now married with kids of their own. Trying to have everyone buy gifts for each other would be a consumerist nightmare. Instead, we have two Secret Santa name draws. Each adult draws the name of another adult and each kid draws the name of another kid. Everyone gives one gift and everyone receives one gift. It’s fun opening gifts and seeing who drew whose name this year. It also allows for more personalized and thoughtful gift giving when you only have to buy for one person, not twenty.
2. Reduce gift giving among friends, acquaintances, and coworkers. Do you have friends who never fail to show up with a thoughtful and beautifully wrapped gift for your family or children sometime during the holidays? Don’t feel pressured to give a gift in return. Accept that giving gifts is their love language. They are showing you that they care about you and appreciate your friendship. Accept the gesture with a warm thank you. It’s ok if you speak a different love language. Maybe you cooked them a meal when their new baby was born. Maybe you were there to be a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on during a crisis. Maybe they know you are always willing to watch their kids if a crisis arises. There are lots of ways to be a good friend. Gift giving is not required, even if you receive one.
3. Embrace minimalist decorating. Do you love to deck the halls and have every corner of your home glowing with light and sparkling with cheer? If so, great! A part of me would love to create a magical wonderland at our house, but I am realistic enough to know that it isn’t who I am. We buy a Christmas tree every year and decorate it. Some years we put up lights outside. That’s plenty for us.
4. Stay away from malls and stores. I spent a few years joining other shoppers in perusing store after store in search of just the right gift for a family member or friend. Now that I have kids in tow during most of my free time, I want to show them that the holidays are about slowing down, enjoying time with loved ones, eating good food, and exchanging wishes of good cheer, not about battling rush hour traffic while hurrying from store to store in a consumerist frenzy. I buy a few carefully selected presents online and stay out of physical stores until January (or beyond).
5. Replace quantity with quality. We all want our kids to feel that sense of holiday magic. How do we do that without going overboard on STUFF? A few families I know have implemented the 4 gift plan: something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read. That’s one great way to cut down on holiday excess. Four gifts is still very exciting. How often do you get four gifts in one day? If you feel the need to do more, consider higher quality gifts instead of higher quantity gifts. That reduces clutter while maintaining the wow factor.
What tips do you have for simplifying the holidays?