I may have over-extended myself a bit last year. I planned 25 activities for us to do with 2.5-year-old Talitha every day of Advent to Christmas Day. And good golly, somehow we managed it all.
We even did lots extra that wasn’t on the list, like making gluten-free, dairy-free mince pies – and failing miserably, I might add.
I think it must have been some pregnant, hormonal thing where I felt so strongly that I wanted to build our holiday traditions as we were growing our family. I also wanted to make the most of this special time where Talitha had my sole attention during the day before Ophelia was born.
Even though I still think traditions are fine and valuable things, I’m being easier on myself this year and possibly paring them down a bit. It was all a lot of fun last year but it was tiring and I do think the mentalness of it distracted a bit from the reason we were celebrating.
As Christians, we use this time to remember the Great Light that came into the world. So this year, I’m hoping for more quiet reflection and less rushing around crazy, loud shopping centres and wringing hands over a Christmas pudding that isn’t just right.
I will probably do another post about fun activities to do with children as we thrive on a bit of structure anyway in our day-to-day lives but it will be a short one and that will come later. For now, here’s a few ways we’re considering simplifying this Christmas.
1. We’re committing to not spending money for the sake of it
Why must Christmas send us to into financial distress every year? The reality is that if we haven’t saved for it (and we haven’t) we have to be realistic about what we can spend on gifts and how many outings we can take. So, with calendar in hand, we’re planning the month, budgeting for it and just being honest with ourselves. Stocking fillers can just be things the girls need. Talitha likes a good toothbrush.
2. I’m thinking about not making pastelles
I know some of you don’t know what these are. They’re a savoury Trinidad and Tobago delicacy eaten especially at this time of year, spiced minced beef (or fish, chicken or vegetables) wrapped in cornmeal. There’s a great recipe on Simply Trini Cooking if you’re interested.
I do love them. They remind me of my childhood Christmases and I have made them almost every year I’ve lived here. I want my children to grow up remembering a Christmas that isn’t just British so part of me wants to make them this year.
BUT, they are a pain to make, Talitha won’t eat them and Ophelia is too young to remember either way. So I’m thinking, reluctantly, I’ll give them a miss this year. If my brother and his wife are reading this, however, they are welcome to make them! *hint, hint*
3. I’m going to do less crafts and more printables
We do a lot of crafting around here, even with a baby in tow but I must admit it is very tricky with Ophelia around and not able to join in. It’s also really annoying having to assemble stuff for millions of crafts the night before when I’m tired, have a ton of work to do and would rather just read something or watch TV. So I think we’ll get our Christmas fix with printables this year.
4. We’re having a Christmas tree delivered
So, we’re being sent a real tree to review by Pines and Needles and it’s been ordered online and will be delivered in a couple of weeks.
I’ll tell you what I think of the tree and full service once it’s here but I think the whole idea is a great one. Every year sorting the tree is just another thing on a bursting to-do list and I always threaten to get a fake so we don’t have to go through it again. Laurence would rather have no tree than a fake so this might be the answer for us.
Pines and Needles have also given me the code “CIRC14” which entitles you to a free gift and gives me a referral payment if you decide to make an order.
5. I may not even make a Christmas cake
A part of me wants to hold on to making gluten-free, dairy-free Trinidad black cake as a family tradition we’re establishing with our family.
But realistically, the girls won’t eat it (Talitha doesn’t like fruit cake and it’ll be too rich and sugary for us to give to Ophelia), I don’t want to eat a huge load of cake and they’re expensive. I may just make a little chocolate log or something.
6. We bought our Christmas cards early
We spotted a couple of sets we liked in a charity shop and just picked them up, no fuss. So we’re drawing up the list right now, getting addresses sorted and will be sending them off early. The mad dash to make the last postal date does my head in every year.
7. We’re having a simple Advent calendar
My mother-in-law gave me these sweet little pegs she picked up in New York recently and I’m just going to pin Scripture readings to a bit of string. No making advent calendars from toilet rolls this year. No activities. Just readings.
8. We’re starting later
Apart from the tree and Advent readings, we’re saving the festivities for when my parents get here mid-month. Last year, I definitely experienced a bit of Yuletide burnout by the time the day was upon us, simply because I started it all too soon.
9. I’m buying any “free from” Christmas treats, not making!
After driving myself to unholy despair over gluten-free mince pies and Christmas pudding, homemade Christmas can do one.
10. I’m taking social media with a HEAVY pinch of salt
Every year, our timelines fill up with all the festive fun everyone’s getting up to with their Elf on a Shelf, Santa meetings, complex Advent ideas and endless crafts and decorations. All of it is lovely. I really do enjoy looking at them and think there’s nothing wrong in sharing pretty things. I’m no Grinch.
But I am susceptible to seeing those things and feeling like I should be doing more. This year, I’m just going to look, “like”, maybe even “pin” and move on. I’ve already decided on how much and how little I’m doing this year. There many years ahead to do all those fine things.
What about you? Any thoughts on whether you’ll simplify Christmas this year?