No matter what you celebrate – Christmas, Hanukkah, Festivus, or something else – enjoy this holiday season. This blogger is going to get some much-needed rest and relaxation through the end of the year and will pick up writing again in 2015.
This is a crazy season with, traditionally, a lot of expenses and obligations, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are some ideas to promote a happier, simpler holiday without breaking the bank or running around like mad.
Seven Ideas for a Simpler Holiday
- Visit family or friends – Go see the people you really care about. Not the ones you feel obligated to see, but the people you truly miss and enjoy. Don’t plan any specific activities, just visit and let the mood of the day determine what to do.
- Read your kids a book – I just began Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone with my oldest daughter and we both love it. Dust off your favorite childhood read and share it.
- Drink a hot beverage by the fire – I’ve just begun to realize why so many cultures love hot tea. Tea, hot chocolate, and hot cider are just a few of the beverages that take a hectic day and make it tranquil. Snuggle up and enjoy!
- Work out – Get a jumpstart on the rest of the world’s resolutions. Exercise is a mood and energy booster. If you feel run down by your activities or hit a sugar low, a short run, swim, game of tennis, or other activity is a quick mood-enhancer.
- Breathe – In the middle of your most hectic holiday tradition, close your eyes and take five deep breaths. Reap the relaxation rewards.
- Re-gift a present – We all get things at Christmas that we don’t need. Find someone who does need it and brighten their day.
- Say No – Pick one thing on your calendar or to do list and just say no. It’s a fantastic habit to start and you can start it with one “No”.
I love getting Christmas cards in the mail, especially the ones with news from friends who I don’t talk to often. We’ve sent Christmas cards every year to a growing list of people in the six places we’ve lived since Nathan and I were married ten years ago. Last year, however, after we’d just sent a birth announcement for our second daughter, I decided that the trouble of sending physical cards to our entire list three months after we just sent something else wasn’t necessary.
Instead, I sent Christmas cards only to family and friends for whom we don’t have email addresses. For everyone else, I sent an email with a short note and our Christmas card attached.
I apologized for not sending a physical card, but used the baby as an excuse and called it an experiment. I figured my close friends would pull me aside and say something like, “Hey, you know, sending Christmas cards electronically is rude and you probably shouldn’t do that ever again.” Perhaps some people did think that, but no one told me.
Instead, I got responses; immediate responses from people who I hadn’t heard from in months or years. The e-Christmas card actually started a conversation! It was an invitation to catch up in a way that physical cards don’t allow. It was so great that we’ll be doing it again this year.
Reasons to Send (at least some) Email Christmas Cards
- Save money when you don’t have to buy stamps and envelopes or print your own cards.
- Save time (at least a little). You could blast out a big email to everyone at once, but I recommend sending individual notes, which are far more personal and elicit an actual response.
- It’s easy because you don’t have to check-in with people who moved asking for addresses.
- Reconnect immediately with friends and family.
- Get started. If you’ve never sent a Christmas Card before, emailing them offers an pretty low barrier to entry.
- No physical object for your recipients to display and clean-up later.
Sure, it’s not quite the same thrill as holding a real, physical letter in your hand, but what’s the point in sending a letter if you never hear anything back?
The debate rages on over whether to get a live christmas tree or an artificial one. From a minimalist perspective, an artificial tree is an unattractive option given the storage space needed to keep a tree you won’t use for 11 months a year.
What doesn’t surface often in debates are some very creative Christmas tree alternatives. Year-to-year, I don’t remember our individual Christmas trees at all. They blur together into one big Christmas tree memory. What I do remember is the year we decorated a broken chair and the years we had a Christmas Hibiscus, which fit perfectly into our tiny North Dakota apartment.
You don’t have to keep putting up a regular Christmas tree! Here are a few Christmas tree alternatives to make your holidays brighter and easier.
Christmas Tree Alternatives
- Living trees – Buy a smaller, potted Christmas tree and plant it in the spring. You’ll be able to enjoy your Christmas tree year-round without any environmental guilt.
- Rent a tree – If you live in California, you can rent a Christmas tree. It comes in a pot, you return it after Christmas, and it keeps growing and is rented again next year.
- Decorate a houseplant – Many people have rather large houseplants already and they make great temporary Christmas trees! For many years, we had a Christmas Hibiscus, which brought so much more (tropical) warmth into our lives than a traditional Christmas tree.
- Decorate the wall – You can create a beautiful, one-of-a-kind tree out of paper, lights, or even a chalkboard and chalk on your wall. Excess storage space is minimal and everyone will appreciate your unique spin on the Christmas tree.
Photo Credit: babble.com
- Decorate something else – This is where you can get really creative and have some fun doing it. One year, our computer chair broke just before Christmas and, instead of hauling it off to the dump right away, we made it the centerpiece of our Christmas lives. It even gave us more space for boxes because we could stack them on top of the tree!
We clearly weren’t trying, but I laugh every time I think of this “tree”.
- Cut your own Christmas tree – Avoid the crowds at Home Depot and head out into nature with your family. There are many places to cut your own, live Christmas tree in the DC area and all over the US. Turn the experience into a memorable event complete with a stop for hot chocolate afterwards.
- Branch out – Select an interesting branch from your yard, pot it, and decorate it. It may not bring the traditional Christmas tree green indoors, but it can be a lovely reminder of what makes winter beautiful.
Photo Credit: Babble.com
- Don’t worry about a tree at all – We do a lot of things because they are tradition. Traditions can make things special, familiar and give you something to look forward to, but when a tradition starts to become stressful, it loses its fun. If shopping for, untangling lights, feeding, and disposing of a Christmas tree no longer inspires the Christmas spirit, stop doing it, and use the time to start a new tradition.