10 Tips to Simplify the Holidays

simplifying the holidaysIt’s November, which means it’s go-time for the holiday season! Even as we remember “the reason for the season,” we can get caught up in oh, so many tasks and lose site of what's really important. With holiday gatherings and gift exchanges to participate in there is a lot of prep work to be done. There’s the shopping and the wrapping, the cooking and the baking, and don’t forget about the parties and the family time. You may be tired just thinking about everything that needs to be done in the days ahead.

Before we set you off into panic mode, let’s take a step back. It doesn’t have to be chaos. Here are 10 tips to help you simplify the holidays.

Start early – You know how all of the stores start putting out Christmas décor before Halloween? Yeah, that makes us nuts too, but if you space out your shopping, planning and prep in smaller doses throughout the holiday season, you'll be significantly calmer come Christmas Eve. Don’t do it all at once, do a little every day...starting after Thanksgiving. It's much easier to enjoy giving when we give thanks for what we've been given first.

Write it down – Be realistic, there are so very many things going on this time of year, you cannot keep it all straight in your head at once. Trying to do so is only going to result in forgetting things, which equals major stress. Jot items down. Keep a calendar, keep a list and strive to keep yourself organized. You’ll stay saner, we promise.

Learn the magic word – In this case, the magic word is not “Please.” It is “No!” You cannot, let us repeat, you cannot do everything. You must learn to set limits for yourself. Limits on parties, limits on gifts, and limits on all the ways you spread yourself thin. Just say, "No." That will allow you to focus on the things you really want to say, "Yes" to. (Good luck!)

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Stop and smell the nutmeg – It’s the most wonderful time of the year, if you allow yourself to relax and enjoy the merriment. Don’t let too much hustle and bustle get in the way of your holiday spirit. Take things down to a kid level and bask in the beauty, the joy and the love that are the best parts of the holiday season.

Avoid the madness – In the days leading up to December 25, the malls will become more and more chaotic. The lines will become longer and tempers shorter. If it’s too overwhelming, stay away. Do your shopping online. There’s nothing simpler than taking care of everyone on your list with a few clicks.

Enlist help – Even if you are a party planner extraordinaire, there is nothing wrong with asking for a little help. Keep your help organized with SignUpGenius. Whether you are planning a potluck, a class party or collecting money for a group gift, you’ll look like a genius when you simplify the details for yourself and others. Let SignUpGenius send out reminders for you - that’s one less item on your to-do list!

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Indulge in holiday cheer – Santa isn’t the only guy on the block with a sweet tooth. Unwind, and let yourself indulge in a treat or two. Don’t go on an all-out binge, but if you indulge just a bit, you won’t be tempted to eat every sugary thing in sight during a moment of weakness. Bring on the candy canes.

Make a list, and check it twice – Just like the jolly ‘ole guy himself, keep track of gift ideas, budget, purchases and what you still need to get by making a list and checking it twice. Take your gift wish lists online with SignUpGenius for easy sharing!

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Don’t break the bank – If your gift-giving list is a mile long and your budget tight, go back to the simpler things in life. Create handmade ornaments and cards, bake cookies and pies. It is still the thought that counts, so simplify you’re shopping list and make something that comes from the heart.

Remember the reason for the season - As the Grinch once learned, it isn’t about the ribbons or tags, the packages, boxes or bags. "Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!" Taking the time to focus on what's most important to you and your family during the holidays will go a long way in helping you simplify and enjoy a peace-filled season. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! 


Jennifer Burg is a flip-flop wearing, Gator-loving, picture-taking, deal-hunting Florida gal. As an overachieving mom of two awesome daughters, making to-do lists helps her remain calm and (somewhat) organized. When she's not planning events and party sign-ups, you can find her blogging at www.TheSuburbanMom.com.