Monday, November 14, 2011

Simplify the Holidays

I love Christmas time.  I love listening to holiday music, eating indulgent food, gathering with friends and family, finding the perfect gift.  Since becoming a parent however, I've noticed that all that merry-making can be quite stressful.  If you love the holiday season but dread the hustle and bustle and feel a full out migraine coming on when you think about budgeting, shopping, planning, traveling, cooking, wrapping, cleaning - well then I have something I think might help you.

What if your holidays were simplified?  What if there was a little less stuff but more meaning and happiness?  Take the 2011 Simplify the Holidays Challenge.  Pledge 5 or more actions that you will adopt this holiday season to simplify your holidays and help others and the planet.

Here are the actions I pledged this holiday season:

1. Create a handmade gift.  I usually knit or sew something for each of the kids and we bake sweets or make candies for friends and family members.

2. Consider less gimmicky, less commercial gifts for children, such as arts/crafts supplies, books, a magnifying glass, or building blocks.  Lets be honest - this may be the toughest one.  With all those toy commercials on TV right now and shelves overloaded with toys, even in the grocery store, this time of year it's hard for little ones not to want the newest, coolest thing (whatever that may be this year).  As a parent, I decided that it is quality over quantity that counts with toys.  I don't need to go out door busting on Black Friday because the toys I want my kids to have aren't at Walmart or Best Buy and they rarely go on sale.  But those "educational" toys are the ones my kids play with over and over again.  They are engaged, they are being creative, they're thinking, and yes they're having fun too.

3. Shop for used items.  This too can be a little difficult with older children.  But we are bargain hunters and used items shoppers on a regular basis.  Christmas shopping should be no different.

4. Give back to your community.  No matter how little we think we may have, there are always those with less.  Get out and do something.  We are collecting canned goods and helping to prepare holiday food baskets and our homeschool group is adopting a family for Christmas.

5. Save paper by wrapping gifts in newspaper comics, junk mail, paper bags decorated with markers, old maps, phone books, or other reused paper.  This one sounds a little funny but we've done it before.  My husband was a little skeptical the year I told him I was going to save money on our Christmas budget by wrapping all the gifts in old newspaper.  He was thinking along the lines of wrapped up fish.  It was a little more elegant, here is how it turned out.

I wrapped each gift in newspaper then a small piece of wrapping paper to make a colorful stripe.  Then added a ribbon or bow.  It came out great, saved us a bunch on our budget, and we reused then recycled all that newspaper. 

So what will you choose to simplify your Holidays?


Ashley Hughson said...

LOVE these ideas! We have also made a choice this year to try as much as possible to shop locally and support local (or personally local to the heart, like friends no matter how far away) artisans. If Christmas truly is about the spirit of season then support the artistic spirit that our souls need a bit more of in this world. I'll even pay an extra $5 on a toy at a local toy shop that I could have gotten on Amazon for cheaper. The holidays for us are also a season of baking! Cookies, pies, breads, we do it all! Not only does this make great gifts but it's a great activity that the kids can get involved in and teach them some life skills and math at the same time! Plus, my 4yo can now crack an egg without getting shells in the batter better than I can!

Jess said...


I totally agree about local shopping. It's so important to support our own local entrepreneurs and artisans. I would much rather spend my money supporting the family run businesses in my community than fattening the wallets of big business.

And I'm so glad to hear about your budding baker! Some of our best family memories involve cooking together in the kitchen.

Heidi said...

We are big into shopping/buying used. Our children have never known things to be any other way so when they get a gift from us, and know it is used, they don't mind. We can't afford all the latest and greatest if we buy it brand new, that is just the reality. Thanks for sharing your ideas on Simplifying the Holidays with us at NOBH!