Help! I’m feeling overloaded and overwhelmed! Ever feel that way? Like you just can’t keep up with all the activities, school concerts, neighbor gifts, parties, shopping, and craziness that comes with this time of year! I am really feeling it this year and have made an extra effort to simplify things! It has really made a difference to help us feel closer as a family and not so crazy and frazzled at the end of the day!
One thing that makes a big difference is to take the emphasis off of getting things and to try to spend less this Christmas. It seems that Christmas gifts are getting bigger, fancier, and more expensive! You don’t have to have the best and newest electronics and gadgets. Your kids will indeed survive if their Christmas is different than others’. You can buy nice gifts on a budget. I remember visiting a lady one year who had lost her car and was losing her house but she was still going to spend $600+ on each of her grandkids for Christmas that year. And her grandkids were so unappreciative of her sacrifice and all the “stuff” they already had.
One Valentine’s Day when funds were really tight, my husband and I decided to only spend $20 on each other. We had a lot of fun trying to be creative and come up with some fun, unique gift ideas. It is one of my favorite Valentine’s memories. I’ve also heard of families who aren’t doing Christmas presents at all. Instead, they are using the Christmas money to help the needy. If you want to simplify Christmas, the amount you spend might be a great place to start.
Look for ways to simplify your activities. Does it seem like there are too many activities, concerts, plays, family gatherings, and fun things to do that it feels up your entire calendar? How do you know what to get rid of and simplify when they are all fun and exciting? I feel like there are some things that shouldn’t be missed. If it is a school activity that is required (like choir concerts) we will be attending those. Or if there is an annual family party, that also should be attended if possible.
If the activity is optional, think about what the experience is and how it will bring your family closer to the Savior. Look at your calendar and plan out the rest of your month. If your calendar is already filling up with multiple activities outside of your home, perhaps your activities of choice should be something at home like watching a Christmas movie together and doing a puzzle, playing games, decorating Christmas cookies and taking them to a neighbor, or decorating gingerbread houses. These are some of our favorite things to do together!
There are so many other outside activities that you can do. Drive around the neighborhoods or to find Christmas lights. There are amazing Christmas plays and concerts. Live nativities are another fun (and usually free) activity to do. This year has been so crazy busy that we decided to do less. We have a pass that is expiring which includes lots of free activities that we could do, but we are choosing not to do them. Do you know how hard that is for me? I always think we need to get our money’s worth and go out and have all of the experiences. But I am noticing as we stay home and do simple activities together, that we are happier and enjoying each other so much more. What will your focus be this Christmas season?
Related article: Christmas family traditions
It’s okay to say no to things that others are doing! Don’t let this be the reason you load your plate with more and more! Not only were we getting tons of goodies and Christmas cards, but I was going crazy making them as well. I was making chocolate caramel dipped pretzels, chocolate covered pretzels, toffee, lemon bread, caramel corn puffs, and more. It was a lot of work! We scaled way back on who gets them and I actually bought some candy at Costco to give out. So much easier and stress-free. I hope that my neighbors and family know that I still love them even if they don’t get my yummy pretzels! It was just too much for me!
Don’t forget the reason for the season. Our focus is not on Santa and his elves but rather the Savior and His birth. There is nothing better than that! As you make Him the focus of your family, you will feel greater happiness and peace in your home. I have seen that in our home. When planning what activities are most important to your family, think does it bring you closer to the Prince of Peace AND closer as a family? That is where your focus should be!