Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Simplify Christmas

Looking for ways to simplify your Christmas? Try these ideas from the P31 staff and start making more of the Christmas season--with less.

One way our family simplifies holiday gatherings is to take the potluck approach to dinner. The host family prepares a turkey and/or ham and other family members bring side dishes, desserts and disposable tableware. We organize who is bringing what via email. This takes a lot of pressure off of the host family and spreads the cost and responsibility among everyone.

Janet Burke, Assistant Editor, P31 Woman

My family is very simple in our Christmas outdoor decorating. We might have a wreath and a strand of lights around the door. On Christmas Eve, our home takes on a more traditional decoration: Luminarias. I grew up, and still live, in Arizona. This is a traditional Southwestern tradition that has spread across the country. Here, on Christmas Eve, we line our walkways with paper bags, lit from within by candles sitting in a bit of sand. It’s very simple, but it’s a way to welcome Jesus to our world.

Glynnis Whitwer, Editor, P31 Woman

Until Christmas Eve, nothing goes under the tree except the nativity scene. That way we focus on the true gift of Christmas and… everyone that comes over asks us why there is only a nativity scene under our tree, so it provides an opportunity to share our hearts.

We hang a stocking for Jesus. I ask visitors not to bring gifts but, instead, bring a gift card to a local grocery store. We give the cards to our pastor so he can distribute to needy families during the holidays.

LeAnn Rice, Executive Director

Give the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Instead of flooding your family members with gifts in large numbers, focus on quality instead. Narrow your choices down to a few significant items that communicate love, inspire creativity, and encourage growth in Christ.

Adopt the advent calendar. Lengthen your season of celebration by following an advent calendar. Try spreading your special traditions and events over the weeks leading up to and following Christ’s birth, instead of cramming everything into a couple of whirlwind days.

Make it personal. Instead of buying into the commercialization of Christmas, consider which decorations, foods, or gifts you and your family members can make. Discover the joy and satisfaction of being creative together.

Carve out quiet times. Gather your favorite Christmas books and your Bible, and commit to a time of quiet each day. Read a short selection, sip some tea, and slow down long enough to take it all in.

Reach out. What do you do best during the holidays? And what do those close to you do best? Offer to exchange skills to maximize your time and abilities. Allow others to help with things that burden you—and offer your help in areas that light you up.

Don’t overdo it. Make a list of the most cherished parts of your holiday celebration—making sure to get your family’s input. Stick to those things that are truly meaningful and keep you focused on Christ. Allow these to take deeper root in your family’s traditions and let the less significant, distracting things go.

Janine Petry, P31 Woman Editing Team

Last Christmas my husband and I committed to spending less money on the “stuff” of Christmas and spending more time on the “spirit” of it. That meant we needed to get creative about gift giving. Instead of traditional presents, we gave the gift of our presence. We looked at our relationships and decided how we could invest time in each of them. Then we got busy making coupons. I gave my husband coupons for coffee dates, dinner and movie dates, long walks and even some to “get off the computer now!” We made coupons for things like weekly phone calls to long-distance parents, quarterly lunches with out-of-touch siblings and offers to help with home improvements. Our families loved these presents and best of all our gifts kept giving long after the wrappings of Christmas were thrown away. It’s a tradition we plan to continue.

Kelli Regan, P31 Woman Editing Team


Theresa Haskins said...

Absolutely LOVE these! Thank you so much for sharing!