Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Robyn Devine of Minimalist Knitter.
When I was a little girl, I used to love heading to downtown Chicago on Thanksgiving to watch the tree lighting ceremony outside of Marshall Fields, and then squeeze in around their storefront windows as they displayed their holiday scenes.
It was a night that marked the start of the holiday season for me: crowded into a square and on sidewalks, wrapped up in coats and hats, and holding hands with loved ones – both so we wouldn’t get lost and for some sort of extra warmth.
Seeing those window displays filled not of merchandise for sale but of elaborate holiday scenes marked time for me. The holidays weren’t about presents and parties and scheduling, but about family and big reveals and crisp winter evenings.
Now that I’m all grown up, that focus has shifted, and I’m not happy about it! For far too long, Western culture has convinced us that the best types of holiday celebrations involve more – more decorations, more presents, more time commitments, more stuff.
While out scouting a craft store for one skein of yarn this past August, I saw a huge holiday display packed full with ornaments, menorahs and tree toppers, and I almost lost my mind. It was still hot outside, and my nieces hadn’t even gone back to school yet! Who needs to be thinking about the holiday season?
The easiest way to put a stop to this sort of consumerist view on the holiday season is to decide here and now to simplify. By choosing not to freak out in August, not shop until November or December, and instead to leave room in your schedule for those magical moments of togetherness, your holidays will be simpler and happier.
It can seem hard, but simplifying your holiday season can be done with a few swift decisions and then just a few minutes a day of triage and maintenance. You really can simplify your holiday to the point of doing only what you want to do, giving freely without concern of a consumerism take-over, and finding time to sip hot chocolate by a fire with loved ones!
- Decorate Less. Easier said than done for some, but by making the decision to decorate fewer parts of your home, or to put up fewer decorations than normal, you’ll simplify your holiday almost instantly. Donate the supplies you don’t use, and you’ll be storing less, dusting less, and packing/unpacking less each year!
- Shop Less. Instead of buying arm loads of presents that most people on your list will promptly stuff in a closet or drop off at the Goodwill, commit to purchasing only one present per loved one, and making those presents consumable. Gift certificates to restaurants, wine, and memberships to museums come to mind – all can be enjoyed without the problem of clutter!
- Travel Less. You don’t have to attend every party you’re invited to. You don’t have to drive halfway across the country to spend a few short days with people you hardly know. Commit this year to spending your time with your immediate family and closest friends, and use Skype to your advantage to send your love to those living far away. You’ll spend less on gas, hotel stays, and plane fares, and you’ll be far less stressed!
These three steps can help you cut bucket-loads of stress from your December, and free up hours upon hours of your time! Now, go to bed early, snuggle under blankets, drink hot chocolate, and enjoy all your free time this holiday season!