Simple Christmas Ideas – How to Slow Down and Enjoy the Season

Have you ever wanted to just slow down during the holidays? Are you tired of feeling overwhelmed and stressed throughout the season? Do you wonder if a simple Christmas is possible?

simple christmas

Years ago when we started adding children to our family we discovered that Christmas was often stressful. While we were excited when the holidays arrived, by the time the season ended we were happy to see it go.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas, but after a month of late nights, overspending, too much sugar, and tons of excitement we were exhausted.

I dreamt of a stress-free Christmas, but didn’t know if it was possible. Keeping Christmas simple sounded like an oxymoron to me.


For our family, we believe that Christmas is about Jesus’ birth. When I think about that first Christmas, what comes to mind is “simple.”

Well, maybe not “simple.” Having a baby, much less having a baby in a stable has to be anything but simple.

But, that first Christmas didn’t have all the bells and whistles we think it requires today.

No, I’m not suggesting we all start celebrating Christmas in a barn (though my kids, who are animal lovers, would probably enjoy that.:) )

I just think that there are ways we can simplify Christmas. And it starts with changing our view of what Christmas needs to look like.

It’s time to decide that we don’t have to have the same kind of Christmas the media or society tells us we need to.

Can we have a stress-free Christmas? Well, probably not entirely, but I do think there are ways we can minimize our stress levels, simplify the holidays, and focus on slowing down to take in all that Christmas is about.


Simplify your schedule. I love all the extra activities there are to do in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Most of it is a ton of fun. However, too many things on the calendar make us tired and irritable. Too many late nights in a row for kids can contribute to grumpiness and tantrums. It’s no fun for anyone.

I’m not suggesting you don’t partake in Christmas activities. I know I love to do those special events during December. I’m merely suggesting that maybe it’s okay to not go to EVERYTHING. If you usually go to two parades, just go to one this year. Instead of spending every day and every night of every weekend of December out and about at Christmas events you can clear a Saturday where you just stay home in your pajamas, watch Christmas movies together as a family, and drink hot chocolate.

Break tradition. Please don’t throw rotten tomatoes at me for this one. 🙂  Again, I’m not suggesting you change everything about what you did the previous Christmases. But, you can cut some things out or change things around, even if it breaks tradition. Sometimes we get so hooked on “what we’ve always done” to the point that we don’t even really know why we are doing it anymore. It’s okay to find new traditions that work for your family and these may change throughout the years, depending on what season you are in of your life.

Stay within budget. Christmas is anything but stress-free and simple when we’ve overspent. Decide on a budget that works for you and stick to it, no matter what!  For ways to keep Christmas costs down, check out THIS POST.

Minimize the amount of gifts. Kids don’t need a mountain of presents. What we’ve discovered in our home is that our children actually do better with a few meaningful presents. In the last few years we’ve implemented a rule for buying for our children: “Something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.”

Before we worked with this rule we used to buy our children too many gifts. My normally well-behaved and grateful children would struggle with being overwhelmed and overstimulated and would act out. Since we’ve gone with the “less is more” idea we have witnessed our children happier, grateful, and overall they just handle the holidays better.

Another way to minimize too many toys is to buy experiences instead of stuff for gifts.  This means things like movie tickets, trips to the zoo, memberships to the YMCA, or things like that.

Keep your Christmas decorating to a minimum. Okay, there are some people who absolutely love everything that comes along with decorating at Christmas. However, for many of us, too many decorations can feel like an inconvenience. Keep the decorating simple.

The best part about keeping them simple is that cleanup is a breeze, which is perfect because at the end of the season you are tired and need a rest! Simple decorations can be absolutely beautiful. You can also use natural decorations that are super cheap to help you stay within your budget like pinecones, oranges, evergreen branches, and cinnamon sticks.

Incorporate your Christmas decorations into family time crafts. When I think of simplifying Christmas, I think about spending more time with family. While our family keeps our decorating to a minimum, we do like to make salt-dough ornaments and popcorn garland. This is obviously a little more time consuming than if you used store bought Christmas decorations so it may sound like a contradiction to the point before this about keeping your decorating to a minimum. However, doing something like this allows us to spend intentional time together doing a Christmas craft at home. We will string popcorn while watching a holiday movie, or make salt-dough ornaments while singing along to our favorite Christmas CD.

Shop online when you can. We are so fortunate to live in an age where we can shop from the comfort of our own home. It allows us to avoid the crowds, and is a huge time saver because we don’t have to sit in traffic or line ups.

I did half our shopping online this year and half in the stores. It was so nice to be able to do a lot of it with just a click of a button and have it delivered right to our home!

Take time to reflect on the reason for the season. When we focus on that very first Christmas, Jesus’ birth, it has a way of slowing us down. Read the Christmas story to your family found in the book of Luke in the Bible (Luke 2:1-20) and take in a Christmas eve Candlelight service at a local church.


It’s easy to get caught up in all the excitement of the season but sometimes in the end we are left feeling drained. I want to enjoy as much as I possible can during the most wonderful time of the year, and sometimes I need to remember that enjoying the season can happen by slowing down and being more intentional about what we choose to fill the holidays with and what we decide to leave behind.

If you have spent the last few Christmases feeling overwhelmed and exhausted it may be time to work towards a simpler Christmas by re-evaluating what you can change to slow it down.

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