The holidays are always a challenge for those of us trying to simplify our lives. From parties and pizzazz, to shopping and shipping, it can be a whirlwind of spending and schmoozing.
Many of our past holidays have been a Nomads’ Christmas, wandering around the world. But this year we’re happily nested in our cozy little apartment, so we’ve been looking for ways to keep it simple while enjoying our holiday with family and friends. Here’s what we decided to do:
1. Go Natural. We love natural decorations – from pinecones and acorns to evergreens and magnolia leaves. These materials have the added advantage of being totally recyclable … and we don’t have to store anything in our meager storage space.
For us the main attraction is a Christmas tree, and our favorite is a fragrant Fraser fir. I know that many of you are over the needles and hassle. But we love the whole experience of finding the perfect (for us) tree, getting it home, discovering the little bird’s nest from past years’ inhabitants, wrestling it into the stand, enjoying it first with only little white lights, then spending the evening decorating and reminiscing over every tiny ornament (see #2).
2. Curate Our Collection. Although in many ways we’re minimalists, the one place we allow ourselves a little indulgence is in our Christmas ornaments – but on a very small scale. Over our years of travel we used to collect big things – masks from Bali and tagines from Morocco. But that kind of accumulation no longer fits our simplified lifestyle. Now we pick up tiny mementos during our gallivants and turn them into Christmas ornaments. There’s just one catch: everything has to fit in one shoebox. That’s right – it’s like portion control for Christmas ornaments. Every ornament we choose to keep has to be very special and carry a great story.
3. Use What We Have. We don’t buy special Christmas tchotchkes. In our house most things have to do double duty. Our Kentucky Folkart Horse “Pansy,” with her festive makeover, will stand in for Rudolph.
4. Be a Borrower. Since we live in a small place, we keep our kitchen gear simple and basic. So when we needed a rolling pin (not in our gear) for Christmas cookies, we didn’t run out and buy one. We borrowed it from Terri’s sister, Nancy.
5. Rent from a Thrift Store. When we’ve exhausted options #3 and #4, then we head to our favorite thrift stores for those special touches.
This year it was our turn to provide a wreath for the front door of our apartment building. We found one that we could fix up for $2.99 at Goodwill. And the reason we say “rent” from a thrift store is that afterwards, we will re-donate the improved wreath so they can sell it again next year. We just rented it for $2.99 … and we don’t have to store it.
6. Try Something New. Although traditions are a joy, they can sometimes introduce complexity and expectations that don’t always help you simplify. Usually we go to The Nutcracker, but this year we went to a Motown Christmas performance. Absolutely Fantastic!
7. Practice Small Acts of Kindness. This year instead of scrambling to buy Christmas presents for lots of people, we decided to focus our energy and resources on bringing joy to special people throughout the year. This decision not only simplified our life – it focused our intention to make a difference in the lives of others.
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We would love to hear if you decided to simplify your holiday this year … and what did you do. In the meantime, we wish you all joy, health, and happiness during this festive season.
Peace and Joy!
Terri & James
P.S. If you’re thinking about simplifying your life in the new year check out our Simplify Your Life Series to gather ideas from us and all our readers. It may be one of the most satisfying decisions you’ll ever make!
Photo Credits: 1. freestockphotos.biz