How To Simplify Christmas To Reduce Stress & Better Suit Your Family

by Texas Homesteader ~ 

Sometimes the holidays turn into a  highly-stressful time when expectations, expenses & time demands grow more & more unattainable each year.

If the holidays have become less than joyful for you it’s time to consider making some changes.

Simplify Your Christmas, Reduce Stress #TexasHomesteader - Pexels by Aurturo Anez

Photo credit: – Pexels by Aurturo Anez

A tired low-income parent is struggling to make ends meet. In silent anguish she wonders “How will I provide Christmas this year?” 

Wait, Provide Christmas? Let’s take a look at that.

Redefine Your Perfect Christmas Holiday

Holiday traditions are different for each family. Some absolutely love elaborate decorations. Others enjoy hunting for the perfect gifts. Still others love the parties and family gatherings.

Here are a few key points to think about when defining your idea of a perfect Christmas holiday:

Some families are stressing over not being able to 'provide Christmas' for their children, assuming that Christmas itself comes from a store #TexasHomesteader

    • Are you worried about having enough money to ‘provide Christmas’?

    • Are you feeling trapped by traditions or expectations of others?

    • Think about your perfect holiday – what’s special for you about Christmas? What parts do you dread?

    • How has the holiday become different from the joyous Christmases of your past?

    • If you could, what would you change to realign the holiday with your current values?

Once you answer those questions it’s time to return this beautiful holiday to its proper joyful place. One that suits you and your family.

Deciding To Simplify Holiday Traditions

To simplify the holidays it’s helpful to decide which aspects you enjoy most:

Gift giving and receiving.

Festive decorations & beautiful gift packages.

Religious significance.

Holiday parties.

Family gatherings.

Popping popcorn & watching holiday movies.

Enjoying Hot Cocoa or hot Chai Tea.

Driving around looking at holiday lights.

Animated holiday light display for Christmas. #TexasHomesteader

Choose what’s most important to you and focus on those things. Eliminate those traditions you don’t enjoy or no longer fit your lifestyle.

Holiday Gift-Giving – Fun or Stressful?

Some people love the gift giving. They relish in searching for that perfect gift for loved ones.

Gift present red box and bow. #TexasHomesteader

But not everyone loves that aspect of the holidays. For many (myself included), the gifts are the most stressful part of the holidays.

Now I’m not saying that gifts aren’t fun – they are!

It’s wonderful to be able to give that perfect gift to someone. And Christmas is a beautiful season of sharing.

But all across America there are many families with very little income who are barely putting food on their tables, yet they’re stressing over buying enough gifts for their families.

It’s sad that such a beautiful season of sharing and caring can be so heavily marred by the

$ almighty buck $

It's easy to use these tips to save money. #TexasHomesteader

How To Reduce The Stress Of Gift Giving

If gift giving has just gotten out of hand for you, here are some ideas to consider:

Give gifts only to your immediate family.

Consider giving a ‘Family Gift’ instead of several individual gifts.

Children receive Three Gifts – one to read, one to wear, one just for fun.

Decide to give only homemade gifts. (a list is at the bottom of this post for inspiration)

Furoshiki zero-waste eco friendly reusable cloth wrapping for gifts using a red cloth napkin #TexasHomesteader

RancherMan & I now make almost all of our gifts ourselves. The few gifts we do buy are very modestly priced. Yes, even for our precious grandbabies!

But whether purchased or handmade, our gifts are inexpensive and straight from the heart

How To Simplify Hosting For The Holidays

Some families host elaborate holiday celebrations every year. If you relish this tradition – enjoy it! If not, consider ways to simplify.

In our family hosting the holidays is simplified in two important ways:

We rotate which families will be hosting the holidays each year.

Hosts provide only the main dish, guests bring all sides, desserts, etc.

That way no one family is straddled with hosting all holiday celebrations each year. Plus there’s always plenty of delicious food during our family gatherings no matter how many are in attendance. 

How To Scale Down Christmas Decorations

RancherMan & I enjoy decorating for the holidays. But not the frenzied attempts at Martha Stewart-level of decorating of our past.

Elaborate decorations have now been replaced with Christmas decorations that are simple yet tasteful.

Vintage angel Christmas tree topper. Some families are stressing over not being able to 'provide Christmas' for their children, assuming that Christmas comes from a store #TexasHomesteader

Our tree is now tiny but loaded with meaningful & sentimental decorations. Even our outside Christmas lights have been scaled back to match our simpler version of the perfect holiday.

Benefits of Reducing Holiday Decorations

We couldn’t be happier about reducing our holiday decorating.

Less time hauling large amounts of decorations from the attic.

Smaller tree can be set up & decorated in minutes.

Quicker home decorating using less items.

Reduced storage space requirements during off season.

Small Christmas tree can be beautiful and sentimental. #TexasHomesteader

So we’ve removed the aspects we didn’t enjoy, all while keeping the traditions that mean the most to us.

What Did We Eliminate From Our Holiday Celebrations?

Reduced Decorations

We can get our simple decorations out & displayed in very little time now. Cleanup after the holidays is fast too!


While we loved the family gatherings & food, we didn’t like the overly commercial aspects of holiday gifts. So now we make our own gifts each year.


We hated the huge environmental cost of the holidays. Gift-giving time went from beautifully-wrapped packages to mountains of trash in literally minutes.

So we made easy changes to our gift-giving procedure to be more mindful: (click links for more information)

Wrapping in Reusable Cloth (Furoshiki)

Low-Waste Gift Baskets of Homemade Food

Experience Gifts (no wrapping needed)

Large reusable fabric Santa sacks for zero-waste gift wrapping. #TexasHomesteader

Now there are no mountains of trash for us to haul to the dump every year. This makes my crunchy-green heart very happy!

Don’t Be Afraid To Scale Back Your Holiday

 It’s taken deliberate action to return the joy of Christmas to our home. It was initially uncomfortable for us to scale back our Christmas holiday. To scale back the gifts, the decorations, the commitments of other’s expectations.

We were hoping not to disappoint our loved ones with our dramatic shift in the holidays. But it was important enough to us to soldier through.

Surprisingly, once we did I saw relief on the faces of other family members. They’d wanted to do the same but were afraid to be the first to take that step. I many of our family members are making their gifts & simplifying their holidays as well. I LOVE THAT!

So don’t be afraid to make the holiday one that suits you and your family. In all probability those around you will actually be relieved.


This post categorized in      

Tagged in  All our favorite posts about Christmas Holidays. #TexasHomesteader   Our best holiday tips. #TexasHomesteader   Posts about family and relationships. #TexasHomesteader   

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Gifts Of Food

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23 thoughts on “How To Simplify Christmas To Reduce Stress & Better Suit Your Family

  1. Angela DeGroot

    Enjoyed your post – seeing it in action keeps me always looking for new ways to bring it down to a simple but memorable level. Doing out Immediate gathering 2nd weekend in December brings our family all together at same time and allows them to not be pulled some many directions which I also adds extra stress. We then can concentrate on each other and our parents.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I love the idea of celebrating this way Angela. As the family gets larger & kids grow up, marry and have children of their own, it’s harder & harder go get everyone together at one time. I see great value in setting a specific time to gather with core family before the holiday to accomplish that goal. ~TxH~

  2. Brittney Ortiz

    My husband and I were just talking about Christmas presents and he told me that it’s looking like it’s not going to be able to happen because bills are so tight. It is so sad to know that we as my daughter’s parents can’t just say “Christmas will be no problem.” In no way is she spoiled to the point where she expects presents but still times are so much more tough now then when we were younger. It’s really depressing but I just feel like even if we don’t take care of her, she’ll get things from family and friends. Just the fact that we are able to be with friends and family makes it worthwhile. One day she will get that when she is older than her 3 years.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      The holidays can bring about a clash of feelings sometimes Brittney – the joy and excitement of the season clashes sometimes with our desire to create “THE” perfect Christmas for our family – especially when little ones are involved. But perhaps this year is an opportunity to focus on the vision of Christmas that YOU want for your own family. Especially with a younger one, perhaps this year you can focus on the sparkly excitement of it all – the lights and decorations. Or perhaps focus on the familial involvement – A special night at Aunt Sue’s house helping with decorations, or making easy but fun desserts with grandma, (thumbprint cookies anyone?) etc. Don’t buy into the advertiser’s monetary version of what you should struggle to accomplish at all costs during the holidays – strive to make it custom-made & personally yours. (HUGS)and wishes for a very Merry Christmas from RancherMan & me! ~TxH~

  3. Shantel

    My Dad died last year and this year… well, I’m having a hard time with the commercialism Christmas with the memories of my Dad in the back of my mind. On top of that my husband recently finished school and we have 4 young boys to somehow buy presents for, while being ever so careful on our tight budget. There are so many reasons to cut back and help people realize the Christmas is more about giving of yourself than with monetary things.
    Thank you for this post!

  4. karen@somewhatquirkydesign

    The thing that I lament the most is the advent of the gift card and how nobody really wants a “gift” they just want money to go buy something they want. I absolutely abhor the commercialism – every talk show, news show, commercial, etc. is about getting something or spending on something. This year I’ve tried to stay away from the news as well. I don’t want to cast too many stones though because as strongly as I feel about Christmas being about giving LOVE, I don’t always find ways to extend myself to those that are really lonely and in need.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      You know Karen, I know different people celebrate the season in different ways. Some people get giddy over over-the-top decorating, others totally enjoy the thrill of the hunt for that perfect gift. Some love to shower loved ones with many gifts and some prefer to make their gifts themselves. All can be delightful parts of the holiday, but when the meaning and beauty of Christmas actually gets REPLACED with the consumerism of it all, or an already stressed family budget is pushed to the limit because of perceived gift obligations, well to me that’s missing the point entirely. Of course the advertisers share in that blame too – their one and only job is to part you with your money regardless of the circumstance and they love to almost guilt you into it. The way I see it – sure, go ahead & shower that loved one with a gift from your heart, whether it be purchased or made by hand. Just make sure you’re doing it for the right reason – from LOVE, not obligation. ~TxH~

  5. Simple Nature Decor

    Beautiful post! Brought tears to me eyes! There are so many ways to give simple gifts or jestures of good deeds


  6. Terri Presser

    You are so right, I don’t know how families can afford all that they buy and then how they pay for their credit card accounts. Each year we have everything paid for before Christmas, sometimes it is tight but that’s ok we are used to that. We make a lot of gifts, but then I lay-by lego for my husband and son for 6 months before (great toy shop). But you are right it isn’t about presents its about Jesus, family, and sharing. I just love giving to my family and my friends and get such pleasure from it, but there are ways to do this that doesn’t break the bank. Thanks for sharing at Good Morning Mondays, blessings.

  7. Deb

    Tammy, this is a lovely post. I couldn’t agree with you more. I went shopping for Christmas Decorations at Michael’s Craft Store this year and I didn’t find Christmas there amongst the glitter and glue. I left with out spending a penny. I couldn’t wait to get home and cut some fresh evergreens from our backyard and put them on the table in a mason jar. Christmas is not about commercialism but every turn would like to convince us different. For us, it’s always been about the memories we make together as a family sharing the beauty of the season with loved ones and those in need. Merry Christmas to your and yours and thank you for this post. Blessings, Deb ( Dandelion House )

  8. Melissa French, The More With Less Mom

    This is a sweet post. I think it’s important to reflect on what we remember from our own childhood Christmases. It might be one or two gifts. But mostly it’s making cookies with mom, sledding with the cousins, ice fishing with grandpa… These are the things that are important. Thanks for posting. Hello from Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop.

  9. Aspen Jay

    My husband and I love to carol during the holiday season, especially to our neighbors (which is how we met some of them). (o: It was sad to hear though that many had never ever been caroled to before!!! I love this simple act which brings the Christmas spirit alive.

  10. Jendi

    My thoughts are very similar to yours. We have never gotten our children more than 2 or 3 presents. Some years everything was handmade, and other years we were blessed to be able to buy some things they asked for. I’ve been trying to clean out and live a more minimal lifestyle so the idea of piles of things for Christmas is a stress factor more than a joy.

    We do enjoy lots of music – at home, participating at church, and more! That is a big part of Christmas at our house. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  11. Dolly Sarrio

    I enjoyed this post and agree with you wholeheartedly. This year even more so. I lost mama. It is in these times that you realize things are not important. Our faith in our Lord and Savior number one. Family and friends next. Things last! Thanks for this post.

  12. Trisha

    What a beautiful post and I am so glad you linked up to the All Things Christmas Link Party! If you hadn’t I would not have seen this! I am subscribing to your blog! We have 6 children and are hosting a German exchange student for 5 months. He was totally enthralled with Christmas in the United States. For them there is no real celebration of Christ’s birth – they just have a tree, a few presents, maybe go to church. Then wake up Christmas morning and begin a new day. I totally agree that the materialism part of Christmas has become overwhelming, as well as all the decorating. When did Christmas begin in July? Crazy. It is all about money – Unfortunately the citizens of the US are pushing our Lord out and most people are allowing it. Sad but true. I really feel like HE is coming back to get us soon, I just hope HE takes me!! God’s blessings to you and your family for a healthy happy new year. Trisha

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Trisha, I think there are many people who wish to unplug the materialism aspect of the Christmas holiday but who feel trapped by tradition & expectation. It was unconfortable for me to start this ‘less-is-more’ for Christmas rolling but it’s gaining steam with my family – many of which actually made their own gifts homemade this year. How wonderful! Again, there’s nothing wrong with gifts – they’re fun if you partake for the right reasons & stay within your financial means to do so. I’m truly sad for those people barely putting food on the table & afraid they are letting their families down by not being able to do the full-blown gift exchange. OMGoodness, let’s put the JOY back is this blessed holiday! ~TxH~

  13. Vashti Quiroz-Vega

    Hello Tammy, it’s so sad how commercialized Christmas has become. It seems that many people have forgotten the real meaning of Christmas. It’s nice to give and receive gifts, but the nicest thing of all is to spend time with family.

    Merry Christmas!


  14. Joyce @ It's Your Life

    I remember when my first husband was alive, but disabled. I prayed about putting my beautiful children in school and going to work, but time and time again I heard no. We were blessed through the church, and my children knew there was no Santa Claus making those time less stressful. My children had said that the birthdays and Christmases they had those two years were the best. I believe it was because they were thankful to have something, anything, they had something, and that was enough. At this point in their lives they struggle to find what they want, for they know that materialism holds nothing.

    My husband will be working Christmas Eve, and Christmas, but we have each other, our health, a roof over our heads, a place to sleep, food, and clean clothes, we are happy. I only wish others appreciated the simple things in life as much as we do. Thanks for sharing once again on Tuesdays With a Twist, your one of my features this week

  15. Kathy

    I actually would prefer to exchange a few handmade things and maybe volunteer at a church or soup kitchen for Christmas but being an only child, and living 8 hrs away from Mom, I have her here every year and we have a traditional Christmas.

  16. Linda @ A La Carte

    I have always tried to make Christmas about the real reason not the gifts. We make gifts and buy some but it’s not about money for sure. We try to always find a way to give to others in need and that is an important part of our holiday. To me it’s about my faith, my family and love! Thanks for sharing your thoughts at TTF!

  17. jody

    We really enjoy the kids seeing presents under the tree Christmas morning, but it doesn’t matter if we bought thousands of dollars of toys (we didn’t) or bought a few things second hand and made the rest (we did), by noon they’ll be happily playing with the boxes! 🙂 I’m all for making sure the Spirit of Christmas doesn’t get lost in an avalanche of presents! Great post-as always!

  18. Buttons

    Oh yes it is too much about gifts but not giving it saddens me. I would much rather give food to a family I know in need and give grocery store gift cards then things people do not really need and hopefully more people will realize that. You are not alone in your thinking. All the best in the season of real giving. B

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      It’s a natural thing to give gifts that WOW your children, but it seems if you give that huge special expensive gift this year, you can’t go back next year – you’ll have to out-do yourself every year. Then there’s the obligation felt to give to everyone you know (and even some people you DON’T). Kindness & generosity in spreading the holiday spirit can be done without putting yourself in debt. I think it’s the expectations that have gotten out of control – both those dished out by others as well as unrealistic ones we burden ourselves with. ~TxH~


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