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10 Steps to a Simple Christmas


Christmas should be simple right?  Family, cookies, fun, snow, and sitting around the fire?

Instead it seems like a mess of shopping, fighting traffic, work deadlines, crammed schedules and expectations.

So here is a list of 10 things that can make the holidays much simpler.

10 Steps to a Simple Christmas

1. Cash or equivalent

I think debt is one of the biggest stressors we can run into any time of year.  Don’t go into debt for Christmas… Christmas isn’t an emergency.  Set a budget, pay with cash, pay off your credit card balance before Christmas, or do whatever you need to do to make sure that you don’t end up in debt because of the holidays.

We finished our Christmas shopping last week and I just paid off the credit card tonight to get it all taken care of.  Christmas is paid for now and we can enjoy it :)

2. Ask for a list

Is there someone you want to buy a Christmas gift for because they are special to you but you don’t know what to get?  Avoid stress, hurt feelings, returns… and lots of shopping by asking them for some ideas.  There is nothing wrong with them saying what they want and there is nothing wrong with your relationship just because you can’t think of something.

3. Batch shop

Get a list of people you want to buy for and write down what you want to get each person (adding in anything from #2).  Not only does this help you budget your Christmas shopping but it lets you get your shopping done as efficiently as possible.  Plan a day and a route and get it all done at once.  Plan another evening and do all the wrapping.  Take the rest of the month to enjoy the season.

4. Buy online

To add on to #3 you can also do your shopping online.  Avoid the traffic, crowds and noise and sit in the comfort of your home for an evening and get your shopping done.  Batch shopping online also helps cut down on shipping costs.

Last year I did all my shopping online in just over an hour for almost everyone on my list.  It was great!

5. Buy if your not crafty

I keep having to remind myself of this, because I am not crafty, but I seem to forget it every few years.  This year I decided to tackle a few very simple projects to do with my daughter.  I hope she had fun but for me it was hours of stress, still pricey materials, a breaking down sewing machine, and a mess.  For some people crafting gifts and decorations is really fun… for me it is the opposite.  Handmade gifts are wonderful, but they aren’t necessarily cheaper or more loving.  If crafting is your thing, great.  If not, leave it for the people who enjoy it.

6. Buy for less people

Pretty simple right?  I am not sure when society decided we needed to get gifts for all our friends, kids teachers, co-workers, and mailman.  Not only does this get costly, it takes a lot of time and energy…. how can you know what some of these people want?  Stick to purchasing for close relationships and wish everyone else you meet in December a ‘Very Merry Christmas’ with a big smile.

7. Facebook Christmas letter

I have never done a Christmas letter. Before I have felt guilty about it but really what is a Christmas letter besides showing pictures of your family and highlighting what has happened in the last year?  Isn’t this exactly what Facebook is for?  Seems brilliant to me.  You are welcome to disagree but I am going to do up a short ‘Christmas Letter’ album on Facebook and everyone who is interested can take a look.  No fancy stationary, no hunting for addresses, no stamps, and no long lines at the post office.  Sounds way better to me.

8. Church

Take some time to go to a church Christmas program.  …being part of church Christmas programs is pretty crazy at this time of year, but attending one somehow helps all the rest of the craziness to slow down for a few hours.

9. Count blessings

It seems like there is so much stress created around lack during the holidays.  There doesn’t seem like enough money to buy all the presents you want to get, and not enough time to do all the things you want to do.  It can become depressing really fast because our expectations are bigger than our reality.

Instead of focusing on what you don’t have, take some time to realize what you do have.  Lots of people will be going through this holiday season without someone special and it is going to be really hard.  To have health and family, even if they aren’t all together for the season, is way more important than anything under the tree.

The goal of advertising is to make you think you are lacking, but in reality we have so much to be thankful for.  To have love and life we are truly blessed.

10. Buy happiness

I think I have shared this video before, but it seems to say what I have experienced so well.

I know that so much of December is already spent focusing on buying for other people but doing things for others during times when they are stressed and especially helping out with charities at this time of year always makes me happy.

Bonus – eat cookies

Christmas is a great time to find great cookies.  Life just seems simpler with a few in hand :)

Thanks so much for reading!  Feel free to add other simple tips in the comments.  I love Christmas.  It is so important to keep it simple so we can enjoy it for what it really is.  


  1. Ilo R. Ilo R.

    I used to be that person. Would buy tons of gifts and feel like the holiday season was more like work. But now I just enjoy myself. I only mail cards to those that I receive them from. I used to mail out 60+ a year and only get 20 from the usual people. I only get 1 gift for close family and 2 or 3 for my son. Hubby and I don’t exchange gifts because we don’t really need or want anything. This year I took my son to a pottery place for him to make his Christmas gifts. As far as for gifting with friends. A polish friend of mine told me many years ago that she does not exchange bought gifts in her country, they normally exchanged naked goods. I took that to heart. And now my friends get things that are make with love.

    • a pottery place sounds really cool! I am still looking for some fun activities for the kids, I will have to look that up and see if there is one by us.

  2. Beth Beth

    What’s your favorite cookie?

  3. alysha alysha

    I really enjoy your website! I totally agree that Christmas gets so out of hand. When people get caught up in the commercial, they miss the spiritual and the value of their families. I think the worst is when people worry about buying gifts for everyone, or buying too many gifts for a child.

    Fortuneately, this is not me, but I do appreciate reading ideas from someone who is like minded!

    Merry Christmas to you and your family.

    • Merry Christmas to you too! Great to meet you :)

  4. Great thoughts! I’ve been trying…I was skipping Christmas cards and letter this year, but now I am feeling guilty. Ugh!

    • the guilt is a terrible thing. I think it is so tough because we just grow up thinking we should do it and that not doing it means we are somehow lazy. We either do it all the ‘right’ way or we ‘just didn’t try hard enough’. Whether it really matters, or if we want to do it, or if people really want to get the cards (beyond the excitement of something besides a bill in the mail) is hard for our heads to process.

  5. Katy Katy

    Love #10. So clever how he put it!

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