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How to Simplify the Holidays

I practice radical simplicity when it comes the holidays. One of the reasons I do this is because the holidays got very stressful at a certain time in my life.  But since I have simplified, I really do enjoy the holidays more. Simplifying for the holidays is a very individual process. But I did want to let you know that it is possible to basically ignore a lot of it IF that is what you need to do.  One option then is to just opt out.

There are other ways to simplify. The basic premise for simplification is to recognize that you have limitations and that you really can’t do everything you would like to do, or that someone else would like you to do. So, you have to make choices, basically. And you have to keep your perfectionism under control. Consider the following suggestions and see if any of them would work for you.

  • Choose three things to do for the holidays and then that’s it. No more. For example, you might choose to bake cookies (not seven different kinds, please!), go to church on Christmas Eve, and decorate your house. Or you might choose to drive at night and look at Christmas lights, go to The Nutcracker Suite, and go to the office Christmas party. When you get to three, stop.
  • Set up a gift buying budget ahead of time and stick to it. If your budget is $400 for everyone, and you have 20 people to buy for, that’s about $20 a gift. Or if you need to spend more on certain people, then that’s $50 for two people, and $16 for the 18 people left. Work within those limits. Give up trying to choose the perfect gift 20 times.
  • Choose an acceptable level of housekeeping. You probably won’t get all your furniture and silver polished, your windows sparkling, your house decorated, your cookies baked, your cards written and mailed, and replace the couch you can’t stand. Remember, you are probably going to be busier than you usually are. If your dishes and laundry are done, you have food in the house, and your tree is up, that is enough.
  • Do not take on the task of trying to make Christmas “perfect” or “memorable” – either for yourself or for anyone else. It is what it is. Practice being grateful for the little things – like coffee, for example.