Friday, November 18, 2011

More Holiday Simplicity Thoughts

Giant Paper Gnome Kit, at Paper-Source


  • Have you dropped off cans of food at your local food bank recently?

  • Have you gotten your flu shot for this year yet? How about your family members?

  • Do you take your children for Santa pics? If so, have you made time, plans, and room in your budget to do so?

  • How are your supplies of printer paper, ink, tape, stamps, and other office supplies? Need to add anything to your shopping list?

  • Kitchen maintenance - Wipe down front of all cupboards and appliances. If needed, remove items from counters, clean counters, then replace items. This should take less than seven minutes. I might even do it between commercials during my TV show tonight.

  • Is your diary or journal up to date? It's the middle of the month. Did anything happen this month that you want to document to read back on in the future? Before things get busy with Thanksgiving?

TODAY'S PROJECT: Home Office Organization

Today I'm working to organize and clean my home office. It's very dusty in here from my leaving the window open often. There's clutter on top of my desk and bookshelves, and two huge boxes standing in the doorway that need to be emptied and put away. I also need to dust off my printer, monitor and scanner.

When I'm done clearing off the desk, I want to sort my four desk drawers, reorganize and try to get rid of things I don't use every week.

Is your workspace where you pay bills and do paperwork clean and tidy? Can you find things when you need them? Do you have scissors, tape, pens, and notepaper easily ready for you? Do you have a phone nearby? If so, does it need to be cleaned off, wiped down of makeup and fingerprints? Have you cleaned germs off your computer keyboard recently?

LOVELY HOLIDAYS: More Christmas Simplicity

Chocolate Advent Calendar, on Amazon

Do you let your holiday preparations take over and become all-consuming? In the next few weeks, will your life become all about holiday planning, cleaning, freaking out, running to the mall to shop, stressing about cooking, etc? Will you miss out on social events and opportunities to spend time with your friends and family because you've chosen to be "too busy" with holiday preparations?

Holidays are wonderful, a lovely part of life. It's ok to be excited and anticipate them. But only if we don't make ourselves (and our families) crazy with the preparations. We shouldn't ignore the other important parts of our life (friends and family) because we're so frazzled getting ready for the holidays. What are we getting ready for the holidays for, after all? To spend time with friends and family.

Olde World Christmas Ornaments, from Pier 1

Are you stressed out because you are doing too much - throwing too many parties, taking kids to too many after-school activities, taking on too many take-home extra work projects, attending events you feel obligated to attend but don't want to go to, etc.? Ask yourself why you are doing all these things? Where do your expectations come from? Who tells you to do so many activities? Spend some soul-searching time to see what the cause of your stress is. Then figure out a way to de-schedule your life.

You can cancel events, do without some homemade baked goods, throw one less party, skip a school PTA meeting, stop shopping for gifts, and insist on more family at-home nights if that helps you. Carve time out of your life for things that are important, and cancel things that aren't.

Being "busy" is not a race or a competition, and even if it were, it's not one we should want to win. I am striving for a good balance between being the least busy person I know (I'd feel lazy or unsociable) and the most busy. I want to be right in the middle: Busy enough to be involved, giving back, being productive and having an interesting life surrounded by good people. But not so busy I am stressed or can't find time to share with loved ones.

I've strengthened my resolve to consciously try to have a simpler Christmas. What traditions do I want to keep? Which ones can I let slide, or do in simpler, less grandiose ways?


For me, the big Christmas meal is not really all that different than the one I eat at Thanksgiving. Turkey for the meat eaters and Tofurkey for the vegetarians (none of our friends or family eat ham or pork), mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, and a couple veggie side dishes. One simple dessert (a cake or even pumpkin pie I can bake the night before) should do it. You don't have to have ten kinds of home-baked Christmas cookies around the house.

I do however refuse to take time-saving measures such as buying refrigerated pre-sliced cookies. One of my holiday traditions is to bake cookies with children. I intend to spend time doing that this year again, as soon as I figure out which children I can borrow to do this fun event with! (Meanwhile their moms can enjoy going Christmas shopping without their kids for a couple hours).


LED Christmas Lights, on Amazon

My outdoor Christmas lights, plus the ones we put in each of my windows, take more than a whole afternoon to put up. I do it with the help of some cousins, so that probably saves me another afternoon of work. We make a special fun time of it, and enjoy a nice meal together afterwards. The tree will take an hour to buy at a nearby farm and set up. Decorating it will only take one pleasant evening - another opportunity to spend fun time with friends or family, as I always invite people to join me for the decorating.

I won't spend more than a couple hours decorating the rest of the house - a few candles here, a couple of garlands on the banisters and mantels, but not so much I get stressed about the time it takes.


This year I'm not buying gifts for adults. Just for the children in my life and for my foster daughter. I'm already almost done Christmas shopping because I started so early in the year.


Activities are something very important to me since it's something you enjoy with other people. You create memories and have a fun time together. With time and budget constraints in mind, I'm going to carefully pick and choose which activities I get involved in. I love everything about the holidays, but to keep myself sane, I'll carefully book two "at home" evenings by myself each week. Activities I can pick and choose between include caroling, throwing cocktail parties, attending cocktail parties, going on a dinner cruise to see the Christmas Ships, movies, theater, shopping, dinners out, gingerbread house making, baking, Christmas card sending, newsletter writing, gift wrapping, game night, karaoke night, a long evening spent reading a book, driving around to look at Christmas lights, babysitting kids so their parents can go shopping, white elephant parties, and Christmas stocking opening.

A Dream Come True

For years my dream has been to stay home in my own home for Christmas. I don't look forward to traveling alone across dangerous snowy roads to visit relatives hours away and staying overnight in their homes year after year. It's fun, but I am so excited to finally stay in my own home this Christmas. I'll invite a couple family members over to spend an hour watching their kids open gifts and drinking cocoa with us, I'll spend time with my dogs and my fireplace, and savor staying cozy in my own home.

Right now this sounds like the loveliest, warmest, most simplistic, stress-free Christmas of all.

What are some of your dreams for this Christmas?


Sweet Potato Pie (Bake at 350)

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