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I think we all need simplifying in December more than any time of year.  It's quite a month!  Here are some tips for simplifying this overwhelming season:


1. Use only one type of wrapping paper.  I find it much easier to store things when I use only one kind of wrapping paper and ribbon.  Pick a theme and stick with it, so you're not constantly buying wrapping and matching ribbons that you won't use again next year.

2. Create and exchange wish lists.  Gift giving can be stressful when it really doesn't need to be if you just create and exchange wish lists with the people you plan on getting gifts for.  As a minimalist, I can be difficult to shop for, but instead of trying to find something I'll like and keep, everyone just asks John for my wish list and he assigns things to people.  Everyone wins - I get what I actually need and people know that they aren't just wasting money.  I likewise ask for lists from people.  I know John's sister well (we've been friends for 20 years) so I know what she likes but the fact is she already has what she likes.  So I just ask for her wish list instead, which is often needs (new snow boots) or help around her new house that needs things like light bulbs or caulked tubs, things I would have never thought of.  Ask for wish lists.

3. Use less decorations.  I apply this to all holidays.  Life is simpler if you just don't decorate every room and keep buying more decor.  It's easier to set up and take down, easier to clean around and keep track of.  It's okay if Christmas is your holiday and you don't want to go all out.  I know we don't.  Unlike Halloween.

4. Buy less gifts.  That means less people, yes.  It also means considering group gifts.  John and I often get one bigger gift that's from us as a couple that we gift to his parents, together (think a new blu ray player or coffee maker, etc.)  It doesn't mean less money spent but it does mean less physical things and less gifts to think about.

5. Commit to less activities.  Everything seems like a fun and festive way to spend time at the start of the season, but as each activity comes up in the calendar, the more you dread going to it.  Commit to less.  Make a list of every possible way to spend your time and pick your top five.  Top three even, if you want.  Alternating years could be a good way to make certain things seem even more special.

6. Cook one less side dish.  Will anyone even notice?  Probably not.  There's so much food and sweets and general excess that go along with holiday meals.  Cutting just one side dish from the usual menu will simplify things for you, and it won't even be missed.

7. Bake less desserts (or none at all.)  Like the one less side dish, no one will notice less desserts except your simplified to do list.  There's just no need for 12 different cookie recipes when 1 or 2 will do.  If you need variety, host a cookie exchange so you aren't doing all the work.  Another great way to simplify is to make no desserts at all.  So many come into our homes from other people that it's almost redundant to also bake them yourself.  Save that time and energy.

8. Limit travel.  Everything about travel is the opposite of simple.  There's planning and coordinating planes and cars, packing and unpacking, making sure the house is secure when you're gone and pets are taken care of, and on and on.  The more you limit travel plans, the simpler things can be.

9. Focus on giving.  Turning your attention outward will simplify all your own plans real quick, I assure you.  Your decor and extravagant dinners and present piles under the tree will be the absolute last thing on your mind if you focus on helping other people who don't have what you have this season.  Try adopting a family or a shelter for Christmas.  When you see those wish lists that ask for basic needs like towels, blankets, food, soap, and maybe one Barbie that will be the only gift that little girl gets this year, nothing else on your to do list will matter any more.

How are you simplifying this holiday season?