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Simplified Christmas Time

Nov 17, 2007
Christmas Time doesn't have to be harried and stressful. You can choose a few low-key traditions and enjoy the holiday even better than before. Christmas should be a happy time for you, your family and good friends.

An excellent idea is to plan events around the things you feel you want or need to do for the holidays. Most people choose to shop, decorate, make a meal, and some also bake. All these things can be simplified in a way that enhances your enjoyment. You might, for example, choose a day to do holiday baking with your best friend. Put on Christmas music while you bake and talk. Sharing work with others can make it fun. If it's only you doing it, and it feels like work to you, don't feel you need to do it. The world will not come tumbling down if you don't make rum balls that everyone eats but no one will help you bake. If they want them, pull out the recipe for them and let them make it.

You can, if you like, make it a tradition that your whole family goes shopping on a certain day. Many people shop the day after Thanksgiving, then have a nice dinner and perhaps go to the movies. Mixing fun with work makes holiday chores feel better. All holiday tasks are made easier by making them the enjoyable part of your holiday celebrations, so rethink how you can do these things so that they are fun.

Choose a date for your holiday decorating. If it can't be done in a day, it may be too much. Don't do it alone; make it a family event or invite friends. For many, the day to decorate is the day after Thanksgiving.

Ask yourself, if you were to choose only three ways to decorate, what would they be? I would suggest one of those things be something you find welcoming as you come home. This may be holiday lights. How might you use one or two strings of lights or one item to make you feel really good coming home? This is how you simplify your decorating. Find the things you notice most, a focus in on those.

If you decide to have a tree, why not make it a family or friend event to decorate it? Choose well in advance an afternoon when you and others can get a tree, put it up, and decorate it. Perhaps you would like a tree with lights only, or a pre-lighted artificial tree, as this would simplify your decorating. Nowhere is it written that you have to decorate or do anything your neighbors do or your family has done. Do only those things you will enjoy.

Don't forget holiday tradition need not be about shopping or decorating at all. You may like to have a tradition of going for a winter hike, skating, or visiting a museum. Some people love to volunteer around the holidays.

One of the best ways to deal with holiday meals is to put everyone in charge of one dish or setting the table, and everyone can participate in clean up. Even non-cooks can be responsible for one item, and you can be specific about when they should have it done. Decide your menu on December first and clue everyone in to their part. You might even decide to plan the meal together. It may be you will find people all too willing to make their favorite dish. As an option you can choose simple recipes that use only five ingredients or less. Choose the day for the grocery shopping and allow everyone to make their own list of ingredients. Gathering and copying your favorite dozen holiday recipes in one folder can make this task easier.

A simplified Christmas is much about shifting your attitudes. The principles of a simplified Christmas are: do things earlier, choose only to do the essential, enjoy it as you go along, and share the work. Follow these principles and you will have an enjoyable and simplified Christmas.
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