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How to Have a Simpler Christmas: 9 Ways to Keep Christmas Simple

How to Have a Simpler Christmas: 9 Ways to Keep Christmas Simple

There’s no question that the holiday season can be a busy time of year. And sometimes all the extra stuff you feel you need to do, buy, show up for, etc. can make the holidays feel stressful, overwhelming or exhausting. But there are things you can do to have a simpler Christmas and make the holiday season less stressful and overwhelming.

In today’s post, I’m sharing 9 things you can do to have a simpler Christmas. The holiday season doesn’t mean you have to end up broke, exhausted, stressed and waiting for it all to be over.

Instead, making a few shifts and changes to how you approach the holiday season can help you enjoy the holidays a lot more.

Sometimes it’s simply a matter of assessing what is adding the most stress to the holidays for you. Then finding ways to reduce or eliminate some of that stress and cultivating a simpler Christmas instead.

Not sure where to start? Here are 9 ways to simplify, slow down and create a simpler Christmas!

9 tips for a simpler Christmas

1. Identify what causes the most stress for you during the holidays

The first step is taking some time to reflect on what isn’t working for you during the holiday season.

You can’t fix what you don’t know needs fixing!

Knowledge is power. The more you are able to pinpoint exactly what is stressing you out, the better you’ll be able to take steps to reduce or eliminate those sources of stress.

Take some time to think about past holiday seasons and what caused the most stress, overwhelm or unhappiness for you. It could be smaller things like stressing about getting holiday cards done. Or much larger issues like family dynamics or conflicts.

What causes you stress will be personal and unique to you. Maybe it’s the overspending, being too busy, overeating, too much socializing, feeling like you’re always missing out on the really important moments because you’re spending so much time and energy keeping up appearances, etc.

This step isn’t about changing things. It’s just about identifying the biggest causes of stress for you around the holidays.

2. Identify your priorities during the holidays

Now that you’ve taken some time to identify what isn’t working for you during the holidays, let’s focus on what you want your holiday season to look like.

This will also be personal and unique to you. But the idea is to identify what your priorities are during the holidays so that when you are working to create a simpler Christmas, you can keep your priorities first and foremost.

Knowing your priorities will become your “why” to guide your decisions about simplifying the holiday season and creating a simpler Christmas.

Being clear about your priorities for the holidays will make it easier to prioritize what is most important to you. Then you can plan your holiday season around those things.

3. Start planning early for a simpler Christmas

One of the best ways to create a simpler Christmas is by planning and preparing for it early.

The more you are able to avoid leaving the majority of the work and preparation until the last minute, the less rushed, stressful and overwhelming it will feel.

Not only that but the earlier you start and the less rushed you are, the more intentional and thoughtful you can be with your decisions and planning. Often when things are left until the last minute, it becomes hard to make thoughtful decisions because you’re feeling rushed, pressured and overwhelmed already.

Do things ahead of time so when the holidays get into full swing, you can enjoy them rather than just surviving as you’re busy trying to get everything done you wanted to do.

Decide how early you want to start planning and preparing for Christmas. Then give yourself a schedule or plan to follow for holiday preparation and planning to help you get things done early and reduce your stress.

4. Create a simpler Christmas by intentionally choosing to do less

Using your list of priorities for the holidays, find ways to limit your to-do list to what really matters to you.

Aim to do things that add value to the holidays for you and your family, and try to let go of things that just add stress or one more thing to do.

Try making a list of all the holiday-related things you usually do. Everything from shopping to baking to parties you host and attend, family traditions, etc. Then go through the list and see what is adding value to your family’s Christmas and what is adding more stress or busyness than value.

What can you take off the list to help create a simpler Christmas?

I like to think of this as going back to the basics. Start with the things, traditions and activities that you truly love and enjoy. After that, start eliminating things you don’t.

Remember it’s ok to set boundaries to protect your time and energy anytime, including during the holidays. You are not obligated to continue doing things that leave you stressed, drained or exhausted, without adding any value or importance to your holiday season in return.

Schedule your most important holiday tasks, events and priorities first. Then plan around those things, making sure to leave enough white space around them to suit you and your family.

5. Simplify and re-evaluate holiday traditions to create a simpler Christmas

And speaking of doing less during the holidays, another great way to create a simpler Christmas is by simplifying the traditions you decide to keep.

You’ve already looked for things you can eliminate completely from your holiday season. Next, look for traditions you can simplify to help ease some of the stress or busyness you feel over the holidays.

Simplify cooking and baking

For example, maybe you love hosting friends and family for a big holiday meal but don’t like how stressful it is to prepare for it. You could simplify this tradition you love by simplifying the food you make, not making as many different dishes or even making it a pot-luck meal.

Another example of simplifying traditions to create a simpler Christmas is by simplifying the Christmas baking you do. Perhaps you could bake fewer treats or just make easier, less complicated treats.

Simplify holiday gifts and cards

If holiday cards are stressful for you, try sending fewer cards, writing less inside each card, or even forgoing sending cards altogether this year.

For some great ways to simplify gift-giving, check out this post.

Simplify holiday decorations

Another example is simplifying holiday decorating by choosing to put up fewer decorations or only decorating certain rooms or spaces in your home.

As a bonus, not only will fewer decorations mean less visual clutter added to the space. But it will also mean less time and energy to put it all up and take it all down. As well as fewer decorations to keep in storage after the holidays.

Simplify traditions for a simpler Christmas

For each holiday tradition or activity you’re choosing to continue, see if there is a way to simplify it to keep the tradition but minimize any unnecessary stress or busyness it adds to your life.

6. Make the holidays less about “stuff”

Another way to move towards a simpler Christmas is by shifting your mindset about the holidays. Keep your focus on your priorities, on spending time with the people you love and doing things you love, rather than on gifts and holiday “stuff”.

Sometimes simply shifting your own mindset and how you view the holidays can make a world of difference.

You can encourage your family to do the same, focusing on what they want to do to celebrate Christmas, rather than what they want to buy or get for the holidays.

7. Buy less to create a simpler Christmas

As you’re shifting your mindset to make the holidays less about “stuff”, a great way to do this is by making a plan to buy less “stuff” altogether during the holidays.

This doesn’t mean you can’t joyfully give and receive gifts. Instead, it just means giving intentional gifts focused less on “stuff” and more on ways to show your love for the people you care about.

Check out this post for more about how to simplify gift-giving during the holidays by buying less “stuff”. As well as these clutter-free gift guides for adults and kids.

Spend less to create a simpler Christmas

If overspending causes you stress during the holidays, look for ways to spend less to help ease some of the financial stress you feel.

Look for expenses you can eliminate or reduce first, by finding things to cut out of your holiday spending. It could be choosing not to buy the more expensive holiday cards, choosing to buy gifts for fewer people or even reducing your budget for the people you’re buying for.

You don’t need to overspend and put yourself into a stressful financial situation to show the people you love that you care about them. Or to create “perfect” holiday memories for your family.

Instead, take the pressure off yourself, set a budget for your holiday spending and stick to it. Just remember, sometimes a plate of homemade cookies and a heartfelt note can mean more than anything you buy at a store anyway.

8. Keep an attitude of gratitude during the holidays

As you’re focusing on doing less, buying less, spending less, etc. to create a simpler Christmas, keeping an attitude of gratitude will make it a lot easier.

When you take the time to notice, be mindful of and appreciate all the wonderful things that already fill your life, it’s a great way to bring yourself back to a place of “enough” in your life, especially during the holidays.

Instead of feeling like you don’t have enough, aren’t doing enough or aren’t good enough, gratitude can help you see that you do and you are.

Anytime you notice yourself thinking about what you don’t have, whether it be in your budget, in your décor, in your holiday meals, etc. take a moment to shift your mindset to gratitude. Notice all the things you do have and let yourself feel grateful for those things.

9. Slow down to create a simpler Christmas

When life feels busy, overwhelming or hectic, especially during the holidays, making an intentional effort to slow down, is a great way to help you simplify and reset.

As you’re planning and scheduling holiday activities, acknowledge and accept your own limits in terms of how much time and energy you are willing and able to spend. Then plan your schedule accordingly to give yourself enough downtime between activities to rest and recharge.

This could mean scheduling rest days into your calendar, saying no to things when you need or want to, or simply including more downtime or family time in your schedule over the holidays.

When you make an effort to plan downtime in your schedule, it will help you avoid overscheduling your time, so you don’t end up feeling exhausted, burnt out and overwhelmed during the holidays.

9 ways to simplify the holidays and create a simpler Christmas

I hope these suggestions help you find ways to simplify the holidays and create a simpler Christmas.

The holidays don’t have to mean feeling exhausted, stressed, overwhelmed or completely burnt out. It’s ok to make an intentional effort to simplify the holidays, and I encourage you to do so!

Create a simpler Christmas that you can enjoy and look forward to, instead of just making it through and surviving!

What is something you can simplify in your life to create a simpler Christmas and holiday season? Leave a comment below and let me know!

How to Have a Simpler Christmas: 9 Ways to Keep Christmas Simple
Photo by Sven Brandsma on Unsplash

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Wednesday 4th of December 2019

I think a big thing with Christmas is the expectations, feeling like you "have" to do this or that and that everything has to be perfect. That definitely creates stress! Something I did this year is think about the most important things I want to do and let other things go. It also helps to plan ahead so I'm not having to rush to get Christmas cards out or things like that ;)

Simple Lionheart Life

Saturday 7th of December 2019

Yes! I totally agree with you!! The pressure we put on ourselves and the expectations we set can add a lot of stress for sure. I love how you have decided to focus on your priorities and let the rest go. That's a great idea! Thanks for reading and sharing your insights :)


Sunday 17th of November 2019

I appreciate your message. Due to retirement I needed to simply buy less. Before I would buy a $5 box of candy now I look for Hershey’s sweet Santa one dollar kiss. I buy multiples of gifts and stress less.

Simple Lionheart Life

Sunday 17th of November 2019

I'm glad it resonated with you, Nancy! And I love how you have been able to find what works best for you during the holidays. Thanks for reading and sharing your experience :)


Sunday 17th of November 2019

This is wonderful advice! I’m going to start planning right now for the holiday season to reduce my stress load, and create a more grateful attitude to enjoy it all day-by-day!

Simple Lionheart Life

Sunday 17th of November 2019

That's great, Barb! I'm so glad it was helpful for you and I hope it will help keep your holiday season simpler and stress-free! Thanks for reading :)

Doreen Elkington

Sunday 17th of November 2019

Reflecting on Christmas's past I planned 2 months in advance around October and started planning the cards and gift buying. I bought multiple gifts for each person and I don't know how I did it. I had to do everything myself, as husband was working long and hard. I just got used to it over the years and it became normal life each year. Planning ahead helped. Cards organised and written out early. Shopping lists made about what to buy and what to cook made life easier. The priority was and always is FAMILY. Preparing the food they love and cooking it to each taste. Christmas's always were special and perfect. Traditions and values held intact and some traditions broken as merging in to a new family. Now I have 14 people less to buy for. People who have moved away and some died and so life is easier and less hectic now as the days seem shorter and the pace of life is fast for many. I am not caught up in this hectic life now. planning ahead I have never found the season anytime stressful. Our family has reduced now to three and so we make the best of the new changes in time and people being served. New adventures and a New Year to look forward to. Then the seasons change and we move with them looking forward to new challenges. Decluttering has definately helped to get here to Peace and Harmony. I decorated the house with lights and soft Nordic toys that always reflect Christmas to me and how times have changed in decor. All I have to do is wrap presents and relax for the next stage of Christmas when the days will hasten the shopping and cooking for the people I love and who are special to me. But I do spare a thought for those who don't have it so good and who are facing floods and disasters which will affect their Christmas and I offer up prayers for those who are less fortunate. Giving is what Christmas is all about and how we give is important and must be ongoing to reflect who we are as a people and community. However we do this which will be different to each person. MERRY XMAS!!! EVERYONE. A HAPPY NEW YEAR 2020!!!! Melissa Thank You for your blog and all the support and love you have given. You and Family are wished a very HAPPY XMAS! A HAPPY NEW YEAR 2020!!! Good health, Happiness, Peace, & Prosperity!!!

Simple Lionheart Life

Sunday 17th of November 2019

Your holiday traditions sound lovely. I'm glad you've found what works best for you and your family so you can all enjoy the holidays. I love that your focus is on family and what you can do together to create memories. That's lovely. Thank you for your kind wishes, I wish the same for you! Thank you for reading and sharing with us all :)


Sunday 17th of November 2019

My family chooses not to put up a Christmas tree. We have 2 senior-aged rescue dogs; one has mobility issues and is nearly blind. We put out an Advent wreath instead. No kids at home. We don't exchange gifts with our relatives. Do make charitable donations in our community as we can.

Simple Lionheart Life

Sunday 17th of November 2019

That's great! I'm glad you've found a way to make the holidays work best for you. Thanks for reading and sharing your experience!

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