How to Simplify Christmas

It's been easy lately to let fear, anxiety and even despair creep into our souls hasn't it? I've been trying to limit the time I spend on news channels and increase time spent with feel-good books, blogs and spiritual resources. This is the time of year that I normally love - gift giving, decorating, entertaining and eating. But this year it feels a bit contrived and excessive. I've been distraught over world problems and those much less fortunate than me. Add to that anxiety over my first Christmas without a steady pay check, client jobs that have materialized all at once, and the feeling that I should entertain family and friends in a perfectly decorated home  - and this festive season is becoming a season of overwhelm. 

But wait. Why do I feel weighed down during a time of year that encourages peace, love, stillness, gratefulness, and pure joy? Why am I nervous over my work being appreciated and friends and family wanting to be near?  And what happened to my focus on simplicity? Any of this sound familiar?

So this week I paused. I got still in order to be present, practice gratefulness and get back in touch with my values and intentions.

Simplifying Christmas

I realized I need to do three things this Christmas to simplify the holiday season and enjoy every minute of it:

1. Decorate less. 

2. Buy less.

3. Love more. 

Over the next days and weeks leading up to Christmas I'll be posting ideas on how to decorate simply for the holidays - thereby consuming less stuff, money, time and energy. I'll post on buying less as well - with a holiday gift guide and DIY ideas that will help you give better, not more. And I'll post on how to show even more love and gratitude to those around you - which is the best gift of all. 

Simple Christmas decorating

To get started, let's decorate the outside of our homes naturally and simply. Instead of lots of lights and blow-up figures and tons of plastic on your front steps, yard or balcony, try a simple small tree or boughs. 

I've decorated the steps with baby fir trees in old buckets and baskets. I took a walk in the woods with my Mom and got these from our family wood lot and it was a wonderful day. Then I did it again with two dear friends that I invited out for lunch and foraging in the woods. We had a wonderful chat, got some fresh air and came back with natural and free ways to decorate our steps. What a blessing.  The baby trees that we picked grow in thick clusters and need to be thinned out so that the ones left will grow big and full. They have the roots in tact, so they will stay alive through the winter in the buckets filled with soil and wet moss (don't use ceramic pots that will crack when they freeze). Then come Spring I'll plant them back in the ground in the perfect sunshine-y spot. 

small outdoor Christmas tree in basket
Christmas trees in buckets - simple holiday decorating

So your task this weekend is to get your family or friends and get outside.

Whether it's a walk in the woods, a drive down a country road, or a trip to your local farmers' market - get outside and bring back some greenery. Of course make sure that you're not trespassing and stealing trees that are someone else's property!  If you don't have access to a tree lot, vendors at markets in most cities will have trees and/or fresh boughs that you can buy. 

Breathe the fresh air. Walk with loved ones. Chat and laugh. And decorate simply and even imperfectly. That's all you need to do for this week. The rest can be done later.

Relax and enjoy. Happy weekend and happy holidays.