Monday 12 December 2022

Ways that I keep Christmas simple

Christmas can be a really stressful time of year, but I try to make things as easy for myself as I can, and over the years I've found a few strategies and routines that work well for me when it comes to keeping Christmas simple. 

I do enjoy decorating the house for Christmas, but I don't go overboard. We only have decorations in the living room and hallway, and after Christmas I pack away most of the odd bits and pieces. A few days later I take down my two garlands and then the tree comes down a few days after that. Spreading it all out helps to makes the packing away feel less of a mission.

We have a lovely artificial tree that I received to review a few years ago. It's a few years old now but still looks great. We are often away around Christmas so I don't like to have a real tree, and also I'm not sure that I could cope with the needles everywhere. Last year I watched a video of one of my favourite YouTubers taking down her real tree, and it made such a mess!

Christmas tree branch close up
Photo credit Tj Holowaychuk via Unsplash

When it comes to buying presents, I try hard not get carried away with presents for the children. They usually get one large present from us, then a main present from Father Christmas alongside a few smaller gifts. These are things like books and toys as well as practical things like socks, hairclips or stationery along with some chocolate. I don't worry too much about spending exactly the same amount on each child at the moment, but that might change if they get older and develop more expensive tastes!

Luckily my wider family is very easy to buy for. We all have Amazon wish lists, and if we may not have chance to meet before Christmas we have them delivered straight to the recipient for wrapping. We all keep to a similar budget with just one or two gifts per person. 

Normally most of our shopping is done on Black Friday, just in case anything pops up on offer. It seems early, but the rest of my family are usually ahead of me! I try to buy as much as I can online, although there are always a few click and collect things that need to be picked up. 

Pile of neat Christmas gifts and presents
Photo credit freestocks via Unsplash

Christmas is a time of year when it feels necessary to be very sociable. But we don't stress about seeing lots of family members on Christmas day itself, and we usually spend it just the four of us. Instead we spread out our family visits out over the weeks before and after. 

This means that I don't have to prepare a huge Christmas dinner, which I'm very grateful for! We keep things very simple with the food too. I buy everything prepared - last year we bought a huge box of veggies from Tesco which was brilliant. As well as being ready to cook they had different seasonings, like honey roasted parsnips, and they were very easy to cook as well as keeping us fed for three meals. It helps that we are vegetarian so I don't need to worry about the meat side of things. 

For the rest of the Christmas period I take some time off from the kitchen and we eat party food - cheese and biscuits, veggie sticks, fruit and chocolate alongside food that is easy to pop in the oven like garlic bread, home cook rolls, pizza and nachos. 

Row of model wooden houses in front of Christmas trees
Photo credit Elena Mozhvilo via Unsplash

One thing that is difficult to simplify is all the school activities and things that need to be remembered, like donations for the school fair. I remember a terrible week pre-Covid where we had several things on each day and evening and it was far too stressful for all of us. Since then I've tried to cut back and only do the necessary activities like school concerts. Extra things like playdates and haircuts can be arranged for a different time.

I go through the letters from the school as soon as they arrive and sort out everything that is needed well in advance, like bottles for the bottle tombola, secret Santa gifts, food bank donations and so on. Then if I can I try to send it in early with the children so that I don't need to worry about forgetting on the day that it's due. 

On the big day itself we open presents with a bin bag handy for the rubbish (which I hold on to for a couple of days just in case anything ended up in there by accident!) I also like to get the presents either in use or stored as soon as possible - clothes in the wardrobe, books on the to be read pile, electronic devices set up and extra packaging put away. 

I also make a plan for the Christmas food to make sure that it is all eaten before it goes out of date. We eat the leftover party food for several days after Christmas, so I make sure that we work through everything before the healthy eating begins in the New Year!

Finally I'm trying to be more relaxed about not having to do everything, every year. For example, for the last few years we had made a gingerbread house each year. Last year we were away for a bit around Christmas and I just couldn't face it - I make the gingerbread pieces from scratch so it takes several days to make and decorate the house as well as giving me a huge shopping list of ingredients. I'm hoping to make some this year as we have a little more time, but if we don't manage it we don't manage it!

What tricks do you have for keeping your Christmas simple?

1 comment:

  1. We usually decorate the whole of downstairs but this year have just done the living room, trying to keep things simple. It sounds like you are really organised with buying presents. The Amazon wish lists are a great idea.
    We do much the same when it comes to eating after Christmas. It's all party food and snacking until the new year. x


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