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Challenge: Reducing Holiday Stress

The First List I Write Every Christmas

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Ready or not, friends, Christmas is right around the corner. Soon, we will all be making our To Do lists and checking them twice - and then (spoiler alert!) realizing that this Santa guy is no help at all. It's completely up to us to get it all done.

I'm doing myself a favor and adding a few things to my Christmas To DON'T list right now. Here are five ways I'm more than happy to let myself off the hook this Christmas season (and you too!):

1) The Matching Outfit Christmas Card Photos.

I'm not gonna lie. It's a struggle for me to find matching socks for my kids - matching outfits are but a distant dream, people. I'm going to give myself a pass on this one. I'm pretty sure the rest of the world does not hold me to this standard as much as Pinterest may tell me otherwise. In fact, I'm guessing if I skipped Christmas cards altogether, my people would understand.

Simple solution: I've discovered that simply creating a collage photo card with candid pics of my family over the year still honors this classic tradition that pre-dates the internets while not offending anyone with my lack of family fashion sense.

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(My family picture the year my Mom bought us all ugly Christmas sweaters for Christmas. Family fashion sense at its finest.)

2) Exquisitely Wrapped Gifts

Don't get me wrong. I love a creatively wrapped gift as much as the next girl. But my creative wrapping juices usually dry up after about gift #3. Plus I get all twitchy when my boys take two seconds to tear into that package that I so painstakingly handcrafted. It's like they care more about what's inside or something.

Simple Solution: I'm going to lovingly wrap all my gifts in pillowcases or gift bags this year and save my time for other things.

And yes - I'll be the crazy Aunt/Daughter/Sister asking for all of her gift wrap back. Let's just call that being Earth Friendly, shall we?

3) Keeping up with the Jones's.

Ahh, Christmas. The most wonderful and guilt-inducing time of the year. From worrying that our kids' feelings will be hurt that their gifts aren't as awesome as the kid's next door to comparing our Christmas lights display to the Dad's next door, we sure do know how to pile on the envy during this season of Good Will.

Simple solution: I'm making my new mantra at Christmastime "Less is more." While this may not be as simple as I'd like it to be since there are so. so. many. expectations. at Christmas, it sure helps eliminate the envy of anyone else's "stuff". Besides, the less time I spend worrying about "stuff", the more time I have to actually enjoy the season.

4) Anything that distracts me from savoring the season.

I've learned a lot of things in life the hard way. Like the first Christmas that I was married. I was determined to get this homemaking thing down, so I attempted to make my own Christmas tree ornaments. It involved a lot more fabric and pins than I was comfortable with.

12 years later and I still haven't finished them.

I have a whole new take on Christmas since then. Simple is good. Whether it be Christmas tree ornaments or Cake Pops in the shape of Santa for a class party - anything that makes Christmastime more stressful than it needs to be gets stored in the "NOT to do" file.

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Simple Solutions: We are going to fill our season with those activities that force us to slow down - reading by candlelight in the evening, driving around to look at Christmas lights, spending time with those who might be lonely. We are still going to bless others and celebrate well, but we'll find simpler ways to do so.


5) Waiting until the last minute to prepare for Christmas.

Yes - people like to act shocked and awed when you claim that you have already started Christmas shopping in October. I used to be one of them. But then I was the one crying over my to do list come December.

No longer.

I love to savor the Advent season. So, I work really really hard to cross a bunch of things off my to do list in November. My goal is to complete all of my shopping and wrapping by December 1st. (Usually that translates to MOST of my shopping. Husbands sometimes have a hard time making their Christmas lists. Ahem.)

Simple solution: I love the community that our Merry Little Christmas Project Facebook page provides. We help inspire each other to Do Christmas Well by simplifying, planning and making the season more meaningful.

What is going on your Christmas To-Don't list this year?

This excerpt is taken from Kaley's Book The Merry Little Christmas Project - Five Words that will Transform your Christmas - written for those who are looking for a simpler, more joyful Christmas.

Click here to learn more and join The Merry Little Christmas Project on Facebook.

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