{ a simple Christmas }

On average, it takes 6 months for families to pay off holiday bills...ouch. The mode of our culture is to consume and shop throughout the year. During the holiday season people feel they have to shop even MORE than normal. But it doesn't have to be that way. This year can be different. You don't have to spend a lot to have a meaningful celebration. Instead of shopping like crazy, here are some ways to simplify your holidays. { Here is my original post on this topic and here is a great article from the Seattle Times about moms taking back the holidays by taking on consumerism. }

1) Establish or honor family traditions.

2) Sit down with a calendar and make a list of things everyone in the family would like to do over the holidays. I like to build these things into our advent activity calendar.

3) Schedule in some "helping other" activities...donating food at the food bank, donating blankets to the homeless shelter, adopting a family for Christmas, etc. Involve your kids in choosing and taking part in these acts of giving. For example, I have Sam decorate paper bags that we then fill with food for the food bank, go grocery shopping and deliver them together.

4) Celebrate the Winter Solstice on December 21st. We always do a fancy dinner at home with sitting outside looking at the starts & drinking hot chocolate.

5) Light a special candle each night during the month of December and take turns reading stories, poems or saying things you are each grateful for. We generally try to incorporate this into our evening dinners together.

6) Make Christmas Day about spending time with family & friends and not about the gifts. We do this by having a simple bunch- Swedish coffee cake (my Gram's recipe), bagels & cream cheese, egg casseroll (make ahead of time)...And then we all don our snowshoes and go snowshoeing together.

Last year we pared down the gifts for the kids into 6 gift giving categories...But this year we are doing advent calendar activities and only 3 gifts. Note: Sam thinks Santa leaves ONE gift for each child (lots of kids to give things to...only one per child reasoning). We have again asked all of the grandparents to go easy on the gift giving (1-2 gifts per child) or donations to the kids college funds. So for Samme this translates into:

1 Want from Santa: A piano. I found a great (and super cheap) piano at the thrift store a few weeks ago. Score! Sam has wanted a piano forever....

1 Need: Winter gear - she outgrew last years snow boots.

1 Read: A new book.

Henry gets...

1 Want from Santa: An Ikea Trainset

1 Need: New PJ's

1 Read: A new book.

I've also created a year in review photo book from Shutterfly for all of the grandparents and birthparents. This is all our parents/grandparents are getting {oh and some custom (painted by Samme) artwork}.

Teachers are getting homemade bread and LobotoME notepads. Neighbors are getting bread or cookies. Hostess gifts will be wine & LobotoME notepads.

We are putting up our lovely reusable tree after Thanksgiving (I prefer the term reusable to fake...as much fun it would be to tromp into the woods and cut down a tree I can't bring myself to do it)...the peace on the front door, a live tree with white lights on the front porch (that we'll plant in the spring) and our stockings hung by the chimney. That's it. The rest of the holiday decor went to the thrift store last year.

The holidays are about spending time together. Peacefully. Not rushing around like chickens with our heads cut off.

What are you doing to keep it simple this year?


Anonymous said...

all of the above. I've been giving much thought to our gifts this year. I am keeping them so simple. Money is tight but I keep telling myself that is not what Christmas is about. This post just confirms it : )


Emily said...

we're on the same wavelength today. i posted about my hopes for a simple christmas too!

Pittsy said...

I feel so liberated this year and have less money but more time and room for heartfelt gifts. This is where I am this year. Cheers! (posting a link back to you)

heather said...

Thanks to your list from last year, I am hoping to keep things semi-simple again this year. Santa is creating a reading nook for the kids in my office. Siblings are either handmaking gifts or giving creative supplies and we are doing one "want" gift and one handmade by me gift (well if I get moving with my plans!). :-)

Kotori said...

We do an advent activity calendar too - I'll have to check your link out. I love having some kind of family activity each day. It puts the focus on the point of the season I think.

What a great list!

paula said...

we simplified Christmas too. no need to go in debt and add stress to our favorite holiday. we do 3 gifts too. A need, want, and surprise. Oh and I do an ornament and matching pj's but that more for me so they don't count:)

LobotoME said...

hi Paula - Love the "surprise" title to one of them! May have to use that myself! J :)

Betsy Talbot said...

We are going out for dim sum and a movie with friends on Christmas Day, along with many parties (and my birthday!) in December.

I learned a long time ago that the holidays were more meaningful to me by spending time with the people I love, not from buying or receiving gifts. I've happily avoided malls and shops from Thanksgiving through New Year's for several years now. The money that I would have spent on gifts is now spent on experiences.

Of course I don't have kids so that makes it easier (and I love your want/need/read system for gifts!).