Top Secrets to Simplify Christmas This Year

As we come upon the Christmas season once again, what thoughts are running through your head? It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but often it’s also the most stressful time of year. You want it to be the perfect Christmas for your kids, so you run yourself ragged doing all the things. At the end of the day, you wonder if it truly was a meaningful Christmas.

For the last couple of years, I’ve been trying to keep things as simple as possible but still keep it special and meaningful for my family. Are you ready to start a new tradition? Are you ready to simplify Christmas this year? It’s time for less stress this holiday season while focusing on the season’s true meaning. Let me tell you how!

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How do you Simplify Christmas?

I’m sure you’re wondering how to simplify Christmas. Christmas is such a big holiday with gifts to buy for family members and friends, parties and performances to go to, decorating to do, food to prepare, family gatherings to attend, and somehow in the midst of all of that, we’re supposed to teach our children the true meaning of Christmas. How are we supposed to do it all and still keep our sanity? How are we supposed to enjoy the peace and joy that comes with celebrating Jesus when we’re focused on all the other stuff? Seriously, how do we simplify our Christmas?

A simpler Christmas

I can’t tell you exactly what to do for your family, but the important this is that I can give you some tips on evaluating Christmas this year so you can figure out how to have a simpler Christmas. Christmas can still be amazing and meaningful because sometimes the best things are the simple things. In other words, you don’t have to do all the things or buy all the gifts in order to make Christmas memorable for your family.


Take the time to narrow down the focus of what’s most important to your family this Christmas. Don’t worry about the expectations of others. This is for you and your husband to decide. If you are a Christian, then the focus should be bringing Christ to the center of your Christmas and finding ways to do that. If you are not there yet, maybe you want to focus on celebrating family or serving others. Perhaps focusing on gratitude would be a great idea this year. Whatever you choose, keep it in mind as you work through the next sections.

Simplify Christmas image of Christmas gifts

Ask yourself hard questions

Now with your focus in mind, it’s time to ask yourself some hard questions. Make sure you have some answers before you go on. These questions are meant to help you figure out what needs to stay and what needs to go.

  • What stresses me out about Christmas?
  • What can I say no to this year?
  • Will this add or take away from the meaning of Christmas or away from my focus?
  • Will this create meaningful memories?

Christmas traditions

Christmas traditions abound, but you certainly can’t do everything. What Christmas traditions are non-negotiables this year? What are you able to let go of? Maybe you’re looking for some simple Christmas traditions or you just want to do one or two bigger things with your family. Write them down and definitely ask your husband and kids for input.

To give you an example, I love to make several different kinds of Christmas cookies and give cookie plates to neighbors and friends. However, there have been some years when I just had to let that go. It was too much. I also don’t do cookies and a gingerbread house. Again, it’s too much.

Plan ahead to simplify Christmas

It’s time to start planning! If you want to be able to enjoy a simplified Christmas season, you need to plan early. Remember, keep the questions above in mind as you plan. Start by making some lists. You may want to start a Christmas “to-do” list followed by gift lists, stocking stuffer lists, traditions you’re doing list, food list, etc. Once you have your lists ready, you will want to schedule the essential items into your calendar. Part of planning ahead could also be getting some cleaning and decluttering done ahead of time. Your kids will hopefully be persuaded to let go of some things in order to make room for new arrivals! You will also want to do your gift shopping early if possible.

5 Tips to Reduce Holiday Stress

It’s time to start planning! If you want to be able to enjoy a simplified Christmas season, you need to plan early. Remember, keep the questions above in mind as you plan. Start by making some lists or just use a Christmas planner. You may want to start a Christmas “to-do” list followed by gift ideas, stocking stuffer lists, traditions you’re doing lists, food lists, etc. Once you have your lists ready, you will want to schedule the essential items into your calendar. 

Part of planning ahead could also be getting some cleaning and decluttering done ahead of time. Your kids will hopefully be persuaded to let go of some things in order to make room for what’s on their Christmas gift lists! You will also want to do your gift shopping early if possible. Be sure to stick to your Christmas budget though. 

1. Decorate less

You don’t have to go over the top with decorating, gift-giving, and memory-making. Simplify Christmas this year by doing less. By doing less, you will have more time to enjoy the true meaning of Christmas and the festive season. You will be less stressed and more present in the special moments. Let’s look at several ways you can reduce holiday stress.

1. Decorate less

You don’t have to go all out on the holiday decor in order to have a meaningful Christmas. Put out your favorite Christmas decorations and displays and then donate the rest. Your whole house doesn’t need to be decked out, I promise! Several little touches here and there are enough to make it special but don’t take too long to set up either. 

Personally, I love my nativity and real Christmas tree with just a few other things here and there. I have some really cute snowmen, too! It doesn’t take long at all for me to decorate, but it’s still special.

2. Shop less

We’ll talk more about gift-giving for your immediate family in a bit, but take a few minutes to evaluate your gift-giving. Who do you usually give to? Why? Consider cutting back on who and what you give. 

In America, billions of dollars are spent on unwanted Christmas gifts each year, so don’t give just to give. Maybe you want to give one consumable gift, but I’m definitely in the camp of not getting someone something just because you think it’s expected. I want to spend money on things people actually need, or perhaps consider donating to your favorite charity or ministry in honor of that person. Compassion is a great organization, and you can even print out a card telling the person you gave a gift in honor of them. Toys for Tots or a local toy drive is another great option.

3. Travel less

This holiday, consider traveling less. This could definitely look like going to fewer parties or activities. Also, it can be sticking with events involving your closest family and friends only. Make sure the activities you’re traveling to fit in with your focus and goals for this Christmas.

Want to learn more about living a simple life? Maybe you want to live more intentionally or find easier ways to do things. Be sure to learn how you can get started today!

4. Learn to say no

If you say yes to everything that comes up, you will be just as stressed this Christmas as any other. Go back to the hard questions listed above and ask yourself if the activity is something that you really want to take part in.

Also, be sure to have some phrases ready to go when someone invites you to something or asks you to help with this or that. For example, let me check my calendar and I’ll get back to you, or my schedule is already filled for this holiday season.

​While you’re saying no, you may also need to say no to things you’ve always done in the past. Have you sent out Christmas cards every year? Maybe it’s time to cut that out if it’s not a high priority. Maybe you usually cook an amazing Christmas dinner with all the sides. Instead, you could try only serving everyone’s favorite sides and cutting out some others.

5. Schedule downtime

Be sure to schedule some downtime on your calendar this Christmas season. On those days you can take a deep breath and just relax with your family, catch up on what you’re behind on, gift wrapping, etc. You’ll also want to play some great Christmas music to help your home feel like Christmas.

Related: The Ultimate Christmas Planner (digital version)

The Ultimate Christmas Planner (paperback)

How to Simplify Gift-giving

I feel like gift-giving can easily become excessive if we’re not careful. Before you know it, there’s the party with the Secret Santa gift exchange, family gifts, relative gifts, friend gifts, neighbor gifts, teacher gifts, and co-worker gifts!  As mentioned above, many Christmas presents are unwanted and we’re just wasting our time and resources. It’s time to really cut that Christmas gift list.

Our children don’t need the latest and greatest things either. We’re not fostering a spirit of contentment and gratitude when we buy them so many gifts but a spirit of discontent and materialism instead. Let’s check out some options on how to simplify gift-giving. You may choose to just pick a dollar amount that you will spend on each child, especially if you’re on a tight budget, or do something fun with one of the “rules” listed below.

3 gift Christmas rule

I only just heard of the 3 gift Christmas rule last year and love the idea! Basically, because the wise men gave Jesus three gifts, why should we really get any more? It’s a great number of gifts to give our children. Besides, they will probably get more gifts from extended family. 

If you are cutting way back from previous years, it would be a good idea to let your children know what to expect though! If you’re looking to add less clutter to your home, try making some gifts experiences instead of physical gifts . . . or ask for that from grandparents. What do you think of the 3 gift Christmas rule? This rule would definitely simplify gift-giving.

4 gift rule for Christmas

The 4 gift rule for Christmas is a bit different than the one above. This one comes with a fun little rhyme: “Something they want, something they need; something they wear, something they read.” You can certainly get creative with this one in order to fill the categories while still keeping it simple. It doesn’t have to be something boring, but something they wouldn’t normally get. 

For example, something they need could be new bedding, more art supplies, or a piece of sports equipment. Not all kids love reading but may enjoy an activity magazine or world record book. The 4 gift rule is a great way to simplify your gift-giving this year.

5 gift rule for Christmas

The 5 gift rule for Christmas is another new one for me. However, it’s very similar to the 4 gift rule. You will just add a fifth gift, which is an experience. This could be a family outing, season passes to somewhere, or an experience that is just for one parent at that child. What you choose will depend on the age of your child and what is important to your family. I love the idea of adding an experience. Spending time with our children is so important, and less clutter is a bonus for our sanity!

Quality over Quantity when Simplifying

Just a little reminder as you work through your plans and gift-giving ideas this Christmas, even though you are working to simplify your Christmas, it’s best to choose quality over quantity. Choose a couple of memorable traditions to do versus filling your time with many traditions that aren’t very meaningful. Choose fewer gifts but make sure they are of good quality so they can be enjoyed for much longer. Spend more time with the people who are most important to you rather than spending less time with them in order to spend time with people you don’t really even know.

At the end of the season, you want to be able to look back and feel good about how you spent your time and resources. You will want to know it was the kind of Christmas that truly mattered. Knowing you spend much time with your family and less time being stressed is an important thing. You won’t regret it!

Are there tips and tricks that you have used in the past in order to simplify Christmas? Christmas time no longer needs to be stressful. What do you plan to incorporate this year? I would love for you to let me know below. Also, be sure to check out the other Christmas resources available next.

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