As we approach the holiday season, my anxiety level is already going up by the day.
The thought of hosting Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, shopping, wrapping, cooking, baking, school activities, celebrating birthdays, cleaning AND preparing to baby #5 to arrive at the end of the year, including twice weekly non-stress tests, is making my head spin!
I normally enjoy all of the preparation, but this year I just want to skip it all, hunker down and wait for my new baby to arrive.
I can’t do that, of course. So instead, I’m going to simplify things as much as I can. I’m also going pray a lot that everything goes smoothly and that I don’t go into labor early.
Here are my 6 Ways I’m Simplifying Christmas:
Heat & Eat Dinners: We usually host all of the holidays and I make a big sit down dinner for each one. This year, I’m taking a local butcher shop up on their offer to purchase heat & eat holiday dinners. They are offering a full Thanksgiving dinner for 10 people at a fairly reasonable price. I’m hoping they do the same thing for Christmas! It will cost a little more than if I cooked everything from scratch, but the time (and stress) I save on shopping and prepping will be well worth the extra money!
Combining Christmas Celebrations: Not long after our oldest son was born, we realized that it was far easier for us to host all holiday celebrations rather than travel to a relative’s house with all of the necessary baby/child gear. We have the only grandchildren on both sides of the family, so this has worked well for everyone. For most holidays we alternate which side of the family we celebrate with, but we settled on Christmas Eve with my family and Christmas Day with my husband’s family several years ago. This year, however, with Christmas being one week away from my scheduled c-section, we’ve decided to celebrate with both sides of the family on Christmas Day. This gives my husband and I Christmas Eve to celebrate with just our children and only one day that my house needs to presentable for guests, one meal to worry about and one gathering to clean up after! (This sounds so wonderful, it might be the start of a new tradition! 🙂 )
Paper/Plastic Products: I try to be “green” whenever I can, which means using our regular dishes and flat wear when we have company. However, I only have table settings for eight people and with both sides of our family visiting on Christmas Day I don’t have enough dishes or flat wear. I could borrow dishes. etc. from my parents, but the ease of cleanup with paper and plastic is too big of a benefit to for me to want to consider anything else. So, I’m bucking the “green” trend and going disposable!
Making Candies Instead of Cookies: Every year for as long as I can remember, I’ve made dozens and dozens and dozens of Christmas cookies to give to family, friends, co-workers and neighbors. Some recipes, such as ginger snaps and sugar cookies, I make year in and year out and each year I try a few new recipes as well. I also make one or two candies, such as fudge.
But let’s face it, cookies can be time consuming. The time spent measuring, mixing, rolling or shaping, decorating, baking and cleaning adds up quickly! I really want to continue this tradition, so I’m going to simplify it this year only making two types of cookies (gingersnaps – my husband’s and my father-in-law’s favorite and another that I haven’t decided on yet) and several types of candies which generally only require measuring, mixing and cleaning up afterwards. I’m thinking a few types of fudge, chocolate peppermint bark and these addicting candies that I made last year.
No Elf on the Shelf: When we bought our Elf on the Shelf, life was much easier. We only had two children and they couldn’t read or write. Now life is busy and exhausting and my older two can read and write. If you’re not familiar with the Elf on the Shelf, he is one of Santa’s helpers and he reports to Santa each night on how well the children have been behaving. When he returns from the North Pole, he finds a new place to observe the children from. Well, last year I forgot to move him more nights that I remembered. And you are probably wondering what children that can read and write have to do with this Elf. Well, my children like to give him notes and they expect him to write back!
This may sound selfish, but this year I simply don’t have the energy for the Elf and he is going to have to stay packed away in the attic. Sorry Greenie!
Scaling Back on Helping With Classroom Parties: In the past I would always volunteer to assist with my children’s classroom parties. I would try to make a festive recipe that I found on Pinterest, such as these Santas that I made a few years ago, in addition to going into the classroom to help set up, clean up and do whatever the teacher needed help with.
This year I still want to assist, but on a smaller scale, so I’m offering to send in paper products or juice boxes. Next year, I’ll resume making my festive goodies and going into the class to help out.
Please note: If you are already feeling stressed out about the holidays, it’s okay for you to simplify things too! Sometimes we need to put our needs and the needs of our immediate family first. That may cause you to have some guilty feelings, but it’s okay. You need to do what feels right for you! I support you 100%!
Are you simplifying Christmas this year? I’d love to hear how you are doing it!by