The holiday season is just around the corner, and although it’s often portrayed as the “happiest time of the year,” unfortunately for many it’s the most stressful, exhausting, wallet draining time of year. But it doesn’t have to be! You have the power to make this season exactly what you want it to be. By being intentional and applying simple living principles, you can create a simpler, more enjoyable holiday season.
Here are 14 simple living principles that will help you simplify the season along with some tips and examples for how to achieve them.
- Generosity – Isn’t it fun to give to others? Choose to give more than receive this holiday season. EXAMPLE: Instead of spending two hours out shopping, give your time to an organization that you love. Volunteer your time in honor of someone you would have given a gift to OR volunteer with that person. Those two hours spent volunteering will likely have a bigger impact than two hours spent shopping.
- Gratitude – How often do you say thank you? Show gratitude more often this holiday season by speaking up and telling others you’re grateful for them. EXAMPLE: Instead of exchanging gifts, share a printed photo or handwritten note with friends and family. Choose one from the past and thank them for that experience you shared. This simple act can have a big impact on you and the recipient of your heartfelt words.
- Spirituality – Many of the events of this season are rooted in religion and spirituality, which can be easy to forget during this ‘crazy busy’ time of year. Be mindful and remember to focus on the meaning for the season-whatever that is for you. EXAMPLE: Incorporate a few minutes of quiet into your day to reflect on what the deeper meaning of this season is for you. You could even journal your insights and could take it a step further by starting out the season gifting journals to your family members for them to do the same.
- Experiences over things – Do you remember the last “thing” you received from a friend or family member? Do you remember the last experience you had with a friend or family member? Which comes to mind faster? Over time, we remember the experiences we’ve had more than the physical items we’ve received over the years. Keep this in mind as you contemplate purchasing another gift for someone. EXAMPLE: Instead of purchasing a restaurant gift certificate for friends, tell them you’re taking them out for dinner and share the experience with them.
- Quality over quantity – More isn’t always better. Don’t fall into the belief that you need lots of gifts to open this holiday season. Instead, one nicer quality gift can be a better choice than several lesser quality ones. It will take up less space, last longer and be easier to wrap. TIP: Stay away from the large bins at the front of the store and the end caps throughout the aisles. That’s where they like to tempt you into buying things you don’t really need!
- Releasing perfectionism – This is a tough one, but it’s a biggie. Before you begin planning the season, get clear on what truly matters. Find your version of “good enough” for each of the activities during your holiday season. TIP: Don’t let Pinterest ruin your holiday! If you must search it for ideas (like me) do it with the idea that you are simply looking for inspiration. Choose only projects that excite you and that you’re truly interested in spending your precious time and money on.
- Delegating – When you delegate you give others the OPPORTUNITY to do what they do best. And, in turn, you free yourself up to spend your time doing what you enjoy most. TIP: Time and money are often trade-offs. You can always make more money, but you can’t make more time. Choose wisely.
- Being present – As Brene Brown suggests, spend more time ‘sinking into joy.’ This is hard for many of us to do since it is easy to slip into thinking about what we didn’t get done and what we still have to do. Focus on just being where you are-fully. TIP: Set the camera down. Leave your phone in your coat pocket or the car. Just be with the people you love.
- Flexibility – The holiday season is filled with LOTS of activities and options. Adding a boatload of responsibilities to an already overstuffed life won’t make for a simple holiday season. TIP: Be intentional about what you choose to say “yes” to then go with the flow.
- Teamwork & Communication – If you’re doing anything over the holiday season with anyone else, this one is critical. So often the source of our stress and messy holiday issues are a result of someone not asking for help or communicating clearly. TIP: Sit down with your family and extended family, and discuss your traditions for the holiday season. Consider if there’s anything you’ve been doing “just because it’s always been done that way” and consider if it’s time to change something up a bit this year.
- Community – Even if you like to be alone, you likely can’t do everything by yourself. Community is important. This might be a good time of year to focus on giving back to your community. TIP: If things are too crazy to contribute to your community during this season, you can at least come up with a plan and schedule ways to contribute throughout the new year when there are fewer extra things demanding your attention.
- Releasing consumerism – It’s the time of year when companies try to convince you that whatever product they’re advertising will solve all of your problems. Don’t let them trick you! Also, remember, just because you can save 25%, it doesn’t mean you need to spend 75%… TIP: Turn off the TV, recycle the catalogs and unsubscribe to the emails that are trying to convince you to buy it all and seize the sales.
- Whitespace – Do empty spaces make you uncomfortable? They don’t have to! Now might be the time to get comfortable choosing not to fill voids. Whether it’s time in your calendar or space on a shelf, it’s okay to have some whitespace in your life. TIP: Resist the urge to pack in too much literally and figuratively. Try putting only one holiday decoration on a shelf. Or decide that you’ll have one night each week that you won’t commit to an activity. See what that’s like for you and your family. It’s all about giving your mind and body a much-needed chance to rest.
- Upholding boundaries – You’re likely going to get asked to do something this holiday season. When this happens, pause and remember what’s really important for you this season. TIP: You always have the option to say “no.” But another option might be “yes, and” followed up with an alternative that works for you and them. Focus first on what’s best for you and your family!
I hope these simple living principles help you simplify the season. If you are stuck trying to figure out how to simplify something in your life, send me a note or leave a comment and I’ll send you back an idea or two!
To Simplicity & Joy,