Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Our Simple Christmas: What We Do and Don't Do

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With Christmas fast approaching, it's easy to get wrapped up in all the details of the holiday.  But for all the emphasis we put on one day, it can easily become stressful.  So in an attempt to focus on the reason for our celebration, our family tries to simplify both in what we do and in our expectations.  Here's what we do and don't do:

We try really hard to focus on experiences during this season so our time can seem busy.  But for our family, spending time has more significance than spending money.

*Christmas Parade--This Christmas Parade takes a significant amount of planning from Mom, but it's one of those experiences that anchors us from year to year.  Planning a sack dinner, loading up numerable layers of clothing, and filling thermoses with hot chocolate, our evening pulls us together in the lights and sounds of the season.

*Experience Advent Calendar--Each year we do an Advent calendar, filled with experiences for us to enjoy as a family.  Some things are more elaborate like making it to the Christmas parade, while others are as simple as having a pancake and hot chocolate dinner.  I keep this list so it's one of those experiences that can flex as mom needs it to.  But it also reminds me of some of the small things we like to do at this time of year.

*Bake cookies--I know.  This one can get out of hand.  That's why we've narrowed it down to our three favorite cookie recipes and just make giant batches of those.  If I find I have time to do more later on, great.  Otherwise, we focus on our three favorites and never feel like we're missing out.

*Buy simply and thoughtfully--Just a few things for each kid, something that will foster their imagination and help further their intellect.  I try to find gifts that straddle between fun and educational and think of each of their personalities in mind.  Just a few things to not overwhelm them, or our limited space.

*Do a Book Advent--We love books so I do a book advent each year and we open one a night through the month of December.  Some come from our collection while others come from the library and it's a new adventure each night.

*Cut down our own tree--We make a day of it.  Combine a snow trip with a Christmas tree trip.  We make lots of memories, sled, and build snowmen.  This is also a great opportunity to spend time with cousins and other family.


*Elf on the Shelf--Our family doesn't do Santa so the Elf seemed a little pointless.  However, I will admit I do feel a little prick in my spirit when I see all the cute ideas you moms come up with as these little elves run amuck.  Just doesn't fit our family culture so I don't make the time for it.

*Buy presents for each other--My husband and I haven't exchanged gifts in years.  We don't buy for each other at Christmas or on our birthdays and instead opt to do an overnight trip on our anniversary.

*Buy many gifts--I love crafting anyways so we just pick out a few gifts for each kid and then I supplement with a few small things that I've crafted for them.

*Buy outside our family--We have tossed around the idea of buying for our siblings this year, but in the past, we haven't bought for anyone other than our kids and parents.  If we do exchange gifts with our siblings this year, I've been collecting ideas for jar mixes, homemade kitchen items, and homemade gifts.

*Every dish and dessert--I grew up in a house where the Christmas table was overflowing.  Every dish and dessert was available during the holidays.  But with three little ones in the house and a very limited budget, it's just not realistic.  Nor is it healthy.  So we've narrowed it down to our favorite dishes, those that really say "Christmas" to my husband and I.  And we're starting our new holiday traditions.

These are just some of the ways we're keeping our simple Christmas.  How do you try to celebrate without going crazy?

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