How to have a Simple but Meaningful Christmas

It is easy to decide that a simple and meaningful Christmas season would be the ideal because it is unlikely that one would wish for a Christmas that is complicated and meaningless.

There are ways to make Christmas simple and meaningful by eliminating the stress and pretentiousness that has become associated with it.

Make gift giving simple with a plan and a budget

Months before Christmas, when you are browsing at the malls, you will more than likely come across items that remind you of a specific friend or a family member. A potential gift does not have to be expensive. More importantly, it needs to be something that will bring a smile to a loved one. If you are not able to buy this gift right then, or if you think something better may come along, simply write down this item in a notebook as a gift idea for later. Also write down its potential recipient, the name of the store where you saw it, and its price.

Creating a list of ideas even before the Christmas shopping season comes around will help you come up with a budget on how much you want to spend on gifts. A big part of the stress experienced during the Christmas season is to be overwhelmed by the task of purchasing a large volume of presents at once and not knowing how much everything is going to cost. Last minute Christmas shopping will likely result in buying whatever looks like it would work and paying the price regardless of whether it is within budget or not. You will end up running up your credit card bills on items that are as meaningless to you as to the persons receiving them.

Having previewed the items you want to buy for loved ones will also help you shop online for these items efficiently; if that’s the route you want to take. You can even buy the items in your idea list right when online stores are offering discounts and free shipping during specific dates or period of time.

Having a plan and a budget will largely eliminate the stress associated with gift-giving during the Christmas season.

Give homemade gifts if you have time to make them

Giving something that you have created is a warm gesture. But don’t give your Aunt Helen a tin of brownies that you made, which she had tasted 100 times before. Baked goods and seasonal treats are good for giving to acquaintances from your club, your child’s school, the new neighbors, or co-workers; people whom you don’t know very well to be able to pick-out personal gifts for.

Make decorating low-budget and stress-free

You don’t need to buy the latest and coolest Christmas decorations to come out in the present year only to be replaced with something better the next year. Make Christmas a tradition which includes unwrapping the same Christmas ornaments year after year and letting the memories rush in of how each decoration was acquired and the memories associated with them. Putting up the Christmas tree should feel like a treat, unraveling treasured memories that have been tucked-away for a whole year. Many people hang photo ornaments on their Christmas tree. This is a good way to revisit moments from your past. Perhaps you may add memories each year by adding a new photo or two to the collection.

Limit the partying, make time for family instead

A whirlwind of parties can be exhausting and expensive, having to buy gifts and new outfits. Pick few parties that are important to you. Spend most nights at home with the family instead. When you spend time with loved ones, you are making memories. If you have children, these are the kinds of memories that they will remember when they become adults. It will give them a good foundation and a sense of belonging.

Spend time roasting marshmallows or drinking hot chocolate and watching a movie. You all can also decorate Christmas cookies, while listening to Christmas music. You can wrap presents together and decorate the tree together.

Visit your parents and help them decorate for Christmas. Meet your aunt and uncle for brunch. Bake Christmas cookies to take to your cousin’s. Show family that you care and that you are there for them.

Give to the less fortunate and volunteer your time

Give what you do not need. Give household items, old books and used clothing, or purchase new ones to donate if you are able to. Get children involved in the spirit of gift-giving. Perhaps they want to donate their old toys to charity, or buy new presents to give to less fortunate kids. Participate in toy drives, such as “Toys for Tots” conducted by the US Marines.

If you have spare time, volunteer to read to the elderly at a nursing home. Volunteer in “soup kitchens” that feed the homeless.  Put together a basket of treats and pet food to take to an animal shelter.

Do what you can to help ease the pain of the lonely, the needy, and the weak. Do it at Christmastime, or do it at anytime.