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Christmas can be so busy and overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. You can simplify Christmas and enjoy the holidays so much more. Check out these tips.
Let’s talk about gifts. Do you have to buy a gift for everyone you know? Do you have to give to everyone who gives to you? No, you don’t. And there’s nothing wrong with letting some of that go to simplify Christmas. A hug or a smile can be worth just as much to someone as a gift they may not even use.
You don’t have to attend every party and participate in every activity. You can choose a few that will make your holiday special and let the rest go. Some planning ahead will take a lot of the stress and frustration out of the Christmas season.
Christmas is not about keeping up with the Joneses or outgiving your sister. It’s about time spent together and love shared. And it’s about the birth of a Savior. It’s about helping those in need and reaching out to people who are hurting.
You don’t have to go to everything, show up everywhere, give to everyone, and win the mom of the year award. You can just love people and be gracious and kind. Focus on what matters most and do that.
I hate Christmas shopping
Sit down and make a list of what you really care about this holiday season and make sure you get those things done. The rest is optional. Do you hate all the hustle and bustle and shopping and wrapping? Swoop up the family and take them to Disney or Branson and forget gifts. Your kids get plenty of “stuff”, they don’t need more toys.
If you are going to give gifts, get it done in the summer or fall. Get everything bought and get all of your wrapping supplies in order. You can even wrap gifts and have all of that done by October and then focus on the food, friends, and family once Thanksgiving rolls around.
If you don’t wrap everything early, make sure to get your wrapping supplies bought before the crowds hit the store. I like to finish all in-store shopping before Thanksgiving when the “real shopping” begins for everyone else. Since I have social anxiety and it’s crippling in crowds. I would do just about anything to avoid the rush.
Enjoy the holidays
Is there a part of the holidays you hate? Do you hate decorating? Let that go. Or do you hate cooking? Order a catered meal. Don’t let the parts you dread make you dread the holiday. Let that part go and the perfect ideas of Christmas and have some fun.
There’s no such thing as a perfect Christmas. The best holidays are the ones where you have fun memories with people. Let go of that Martha Stewart image of everything in place and just enjoy those you love.
Decorating and caring for Christmas décor can be a real time suck and hassle. I HATE decorating. While I love my tree and the memories that go along with each ornament, but decorating the house and then dusting the decorations all month and keeping the kids out of the decorations, no thanks! I hate that part, so I don’t do much of it.
Usually, I might throw a Christmas blanket over the back of the couch and put up the tree and that’s about it. It’s what works for me to simplify Christmas. If you love that part, go ahead and go all out. But, if you hate putting up the tree, don’t. But a little one-foot pre-decorated tree or don’t have a tree. It’s all good.
Your family is perfectly capable of helping you make cookies or putting gifts in bags. You don’t have to do it all. I will mix up batches of cookies and my husband will crank them out into balls and bake them. He eats half the dough, so it’s a win for him and a win for me. He would happily scoop out cookie dough if he gets to lick the bowl.
Find out what your family can do to take some of the pressure off you. A happy mom makes everyone else happier too.
During the hustle and bustle, simplify Christmas by making sure to write in at least two evenings for doing nothing and getting some rest. You will really be glad you have a free night to recharge.
You’ll feel a ton better if you regulate the amount of sugar and carbs you take in. Be careful not to wear yourself out eating junk food. Making better choices at meals will have a huge return when you’re cleaning up that kitchen and house! (and make sure the family helps with this too, they helped make the mess!)
What about the food? Food is a huge part of celebration and family time. What can you do to cut back on the work?
Meal plan ahead
Get your recipes out and make a master list of everything you’ll need for company that will be there for an extended time and for the big meal. For goodness sake, don’t get your groceries on Christmas Eve when all the other crazies are out.
Get your list in order and shop a week or two ahead of the holiday to avoid the rush. It takes a turkey a full week to thaw anyway. If you need a few fresh fruits or veggies the day before, ask someone to stop by and pick them up while you are cooking. It doesn’t all have to fall on you. Simplify Christmas tasks for more fun for you.
If you have company staying for several days, in the weeks before the holiday, double up on your dinners and freeze half. If you make a lasagna for dinner, make two and you’ll have one to pop in the oven for your visitors.
I love making more than one thing when I cook, you have to make the same amount of mess for 1 chicken pot pie as 10, make more than one every time you cook. It’s a huge time saver!
Can you use the deli to find things already made that could cut down on your stress level? Maybe they don’t have the best of everything, but picking up a pre-made bowl of coleslaw to go with the 20 dishes you’re making from scratch isn’t going to hurt anything.
You can also simplify Christmas by choosing dishes for your main meal that are make-ahead friendly. Remember the deli coleslaw idea? Why not choose sides for your turkey (or whatever) that you can make the week before and freeze or that you can make the day before and just pop in the oven.
What can you make the day before?
Stuffing or dressing-assemble the day before and bake when the turkey comes out
- Sweet potato casserole-mix it up and refrigerate until time to cook
- Roasted vegetables like brussel sprouts, potatoes, squash, whatever-you can cut and season them the day before.
- Gratin or broccoli cheese casseroles-assemble the day before and bake fresh the day of.
- Salads can definitely be made ahead, green salads or marinated ones.
- Desserts-pies, cakes, and cookies can all be made ahead. Most freeze great.
- Rolls can be made ahead. You can either freeze the dough and thaw, rise and bake, or bake them and freeze them baked. Just warm in the oven.
Do ahead Christmas ideas
Appetizers can be made ahead to save time on the big day. Think cut up veggies or chips and dip, cheese logs or balls, cheese trays, and things like that. Just unwrap, add chips or crackers, and go on with your meal prep.
I even dress my turkey the night before right before I go to bed. I prep the turkey, get out the goodie bag and neck, rinse it inside and out, put a cup up onion in the cavity with some salt pepper, and sage, rub down the outside with butter, salt, pepper, and sage.
Next, I put it in a bag, tie it shut and put it in the roasting pan. First thing in the morning I take it out for at least an hour to come to room temperature and then pop it in the oven. It works great for me.
On the day of the big dinner, I’m usually roasting the turkey, cutting up potatoes for mashed potatoes, maybe heating up a couple of bags of corn, and then just taking the other sides in and out of the oven that I’ve prepped in the days before. This gives me a lot more time to spend with my family. I love it.
Another great time saver for the holidays is cookies!
I love to whip up several giant batches of cookies and package them up in packages of 6, 12, 24, and on trays with 36. I can put multiple packages of these in my freezer and if I need a small gift, I grab a 6 pack. If I need a medium-sized gift, a dozen.
For a special friend, a bigger package of cookies. If I need a dish for a party, I can grab a nice tray with three dozen. I can set this on the counter for an hour or two and the gift or dish is ready to go. It’s such a sanity saver for me.
Christmas jar gifts
The 6 cookie stacks look really cute in a mason jar. You can also layer the dry ingredients for the cookies in a jar.
Once you have your freezer full of prepped Christmas cookies, you already have one dessert ready for your main meal. Winner!
I’ll give you the secret recipe for my world-famous cookies with some red and green m and ms added for festive fun. You’ll wow everyone with these soft Christmas cookies. What makes a really good cookie? BUTTER, not margarine. Don’t fake out with this because your cookies won’t be as good. Also, make sure your chocolate chips are good. We use Ghirardelli only around here. Nothing else compares.
Soft Christmas Cookies
World’s Best Soft Christmas Cookies
- 3 c raw sugar (use 1/2 white and 1/2 brown if you don’t have raw)
- 4 sticks room temp butter
- 4 eggs
- 3 tsp vanilla
- 4 c flour
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 pkgs semi sweet ghirardelli chocolate chips
- 1 10 oz pkg m and m candies (red and green)
- Cream sugar and butter together until light and fluffy.
- Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Add vanilla and mix well.
- In a separate bowl mix flour, soda, and salt.
- Add dry mixture to wet mixture all at once and mix well.
- Stir in chocolate chips and candies
- Mix well.
- Drop by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart on cookie sheet.
- Bake 9-11 minutes until lightly browned.
- Allow to cool 5 minutes and remove from pan.
Remember to have fun! The holidays are for you too! Don’t let the perfection or busy bug steal your Christmas joy. Simplify Christmas for more peace for everyone.
Want ideas for a more sustainable Christmas? Check this out.