by Cara Putman
Have you ever felt that way about the last six weeks of the year? You wake up one morning and it’s November 20th. Blink and it’s January 2. Weeks have passed and you’d had such high hopes for a wonderful season – hopes gone in a fog of busyness.
Let’s face it – most of us dread the thought that the holidays are here. Christmas has become a time of immense busyness. Instead of being a season of peace and enjoyment, many of us see December approach on the calendar with a sense of dread. Do you hate that as much as I do? Do you long for an approach to the season that doesn’t make you cringe?
Simplify means to make (something) simpler or easier to do or understand. If you enter simplify Christmas in Google, in less than a second, the search engine will give you more than 3,500,000 hits. Yes, that more than three million hits. We long to make the holidays simpler. How can we do that?
I’ve asked some people for advice on how they do it. Today, I wanted to share some of those ideas as they relate to gifts.
- Our family loves participating in secret Santa! Instead of having to buy for everyone, you only have to buy for one person. Of course, the real fun is trying to guess who have you your present. —Catilin Smart
- We do handmade gifts and focus ore on the actual meaning of Christmas than the commercialism. —Darlene Clark.
- Less gifts & more together time. Money is tight for some so we usually draw names & then my husband & I pick up fun gifts for winners of games. —Deanna S.
- I’ve toned down the gifts I buy. I may make some of them and/or only buy one or two for each person on my list. —Gail Hollingsworth.
- We make photo ornaments for each member of our family every year; there is not a purchased ornament on our tree. All our kids are grown up and have their own homes, but they all try to show up to decorate the tree at our house because they love to look at each ornament and reminisce. —Sue
- We simplify Christmas by exchanging names. We put the kid’s names together and have them draw names. We also put the adult names together and draw from them. All of the adults try to buy for the kid’s and the person whose name they drew. —Donna B.
- My siblings and I simplified Christmas several years ago by drawing names instead of giving everyone a gift. This is the siblings, spouses, and adult children (over 18). We also have a limit of what to spend. Since there are six of us siblings, this helps a lot. We still have the joy of giving without as much expense or time devoted to gifts. This leaves more time for the people in our family. —Pam K.
- I have attempted to simplify gift giving by buying gifts for family through Compassion International that benefit those in third world countries that need simple things like something to eat, clean water, preventive medicines, and education. —Teresa
- After spending hours devoted to unwrapping gifts in the early years of grandchildren, I have made a few changes. One that has worked well is that I buy the same or similar gifts for each grandchild and then pass out checks. Last year, for example, I found a company that makes wonderful, personalized, hooded sweatshirts. I was able to choose shirts that matched each individual’s personality and interests, and then it was personalized with their names. Additionally, they all love the extra cash! It’s much simpler for me. —Kay M.
- I make a Christ-centered ornament each year and give it away to who God leads me to. In years past, I have given them to the dispatch staff at the PBSO (my hubby is a 28-year vet with the Sheriff’s Office and they helped us one day when his car broke down. They all cried and said they never get a thank you! ) I have given them to all the servers I meet in Nov/Dec from waitresses to grocery store clerks . . . everyone. One year I gave about 100 to a church we visited in VT who was opening right before Christmas . . for them to give out to the new visitors! This year I am making ornaments for our Christmas production (need 1500!). We are opening our new church building with a 600 plus seating sanctuary and hosting a Christmas musical/play. All of my ornaments are sort of like a little tract explaining the Christmas symbol or Nativity along with a gospel invitation. Just keeps me focusing on Christ. —Chris
- I try to buy gifts all year so it’s not so hard on the budget in December. —Linda Syman
- Shop very early and concentrate on Jesus during the two weeks surrounding Christmas. —Jo Evan
- We simplify Christmas by drawing names for gifts and not going overboard with spending! —Patty
- Usually have the gifts and wrapped before Thanksgiving, so I can enjoy everything about Christmas. —Tina Rice
- We simply set a limit of the amount of gifts each child will receive. Each one knows this so they have to make a list of things they would like with the top 3 being the top 3 on the list. They can put unlimited items on the list we just know the top 3 are the the things they really want. We also draw names for everyone else in the extended family. —Traci Nelson
- We simplify Christmas by lessening the amount of presents we give to each of our 5 children, and we focus more on the traditions and the reasons why we celebrate the holiday. —Cheryl Rogers
- We simplify by making a lot of homemade gifts. For the last few years my husband and I have baked rum cakes for our family and friends. They are a big hit with everyone. And our day of baking together has become a treasured part of our own holiday. —Ellie W.
What traditions or simplifying tips would you add to these?
Do you break out in hives just thinking about the craziness and chaos that comes with Christmas? It doesn’t have to be that way. Inspirational authors Cara Putman, Sarah Sundin, and Tricia Goyer share about Christmas’ past in their new novella collection Where Treetops Glisten. Their three stories “White Christmas,” “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” will take you back to war-time 1942, 1943, and 1944.