I love an over-the-top celebration more than anyone else, but for the past two Christmas seasons I've been dialing it down, way down. I've only opened my molasses jar once, kind of down. The first thing I did was pick up a gingerbread man kit from Costco.
Four giant gingerbread men with the icing and the candy ready to decorate. It took what used to be a 2 day event into an easy, hour-long activity for my kids with zero prep mess. I may never make homemade gingerbread men ever again (or at least not this year.)
One Present, Not Lots of Presents
We decided on one big present for our family this year: a Wii game console. It's a little strange not to be stressing out over buying this many toys, or books, or little gifts for each kid; I sure hope they like their one present! If they don't I don't care!
Host a cookie exchange with your friends. At first it seems like a lot of work: pick a night and bring 120 cookies that you made, and your friends do the same. You each go around taking a variety of cookies until you have about 10 dozen assorted cookies. Split them onto holiday-themed paper plates, cover with a little red saran wrap, and deliver those cookies to your neighbors. You can have the cookie exchange and take the plates to your neighbors the same night. Your neighbors think you made a bunch of different cookies, you know you spent almost no time with an impressive result.
(Or you could just get a whole bunch of different cookies and feed them to your kids for "Holiday Breakfast", but that's on you.)
Here are a few other ideas from our local writers that are fun, easy, or great stress-free holiday ideas:
Start with little chocolate donuts and let the kids decorate until Rudolph comes home.
Pare Down to the Essentials
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Allison recommends paring down the activities you're planning on doing with your family to just the essentials (like getting a tree, making cookies, lights on a drive, and donating to the needy) and, of course, wrapping your presents early.
6 Solid Ways to Simplify
Carrie has a spot-on list to keep Christmas simple, including the great idea to make the same dish for all your holiday parties.
Want, Need, Wear, Read
Megan suggests narrowing your family gift list to the classic four: something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read. She even found a printable to make it even easier for your kids!
My biggest stress-free holiday idea? Just say No to everything that's not essential. Slow it down and enjoy the time.
What are you doing to reduce your holiday stress?
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