Simplify The Gifts This Holiday Season

Simplify The Gifts This Holiday Season


Welcome to my mini-series about Simplifying The Gifts This Holiday Season

The more you can simplify, the greater the opportunity you have to enjoy the holidays.

Are you ready to make this happen?

Before we dig in, I have to warn you about something that’s critically important. And not paying attention to this will virtually guarantee holiday chaos.

We have this idea that we need to DO ALL THE THINGS in order to have a hallmark holiday, complete with tear-jerking reunions. That in order for our family to have good memories, we need to pull it off like “Supermom”.

That mindset is purely made up by the retailers, to push us to feel inadequate and buy more stuff.

Let’s face it- we take action to avoid things, and the retailers do everything they can to suggest that our family isn’t going to be happy unless they have the biggest, newest, and trendiest gadgets out there.

Though the kids might think that they do want the biggest, newest and trendiest, have you ever considered why, that after the holidays are over, everyone ends up in kind of a funk? Even if everyone got “everything they wanted”, the holidays felt rather anti-climatic.

The winter holidays are not a miracle machine.  

They are but dates on the calendar we choose to celebrate in a certain way.  In and of themselves, the holidays cannot magically make our lives, family and situation the way we romanticize.

Certainly, we can enjoy our celebration days, but enjoying something and expecting it to be perfect are two very different things.

I’m sure you’ll agree, getting to an enjoyable and relaxing holiday time isn’t always as simple as people sometimes make it seem. It comes with its challenges.

When we try to cut back on gift-giving, people can get offended and if they’re giving an over-abundance of toys to our children and won’t listen when we say “there simply is no more room in the house”, then, we struggle with animosity.

That’s why, in this mini-series, I’m going to demystify the process of simplifying your gift exchanges, on all fronts. Which is going to save you a lot of time, money and frustration.

Let’s eliminate animosity and bring harmony.

Maybe you’re just starting out with young children and want to set a standard for Christmas. Or maybe you’re a seasoned mother, but you want presence instead of presents. Either way, you’re in the right place because after this series you’ll know how to approach your holiday gift exchanges.

I got married at 18 and started having children just over a year later. I looked like I was 12 (and I’m not kidding- when I went shopping for a wedding dress with my 13-year-old cousin, they asked which one of us was getting married.)

I started out feeling like I had to prove that I was a good wife and a good mother. I fell right into the idea that I had to be Supermom to be respected.

When Christmas came around, I had a Martha Stewart type of ideal that I was comparing myself to, I would sew full sized quilts for gifts, I would put together large gift boxes full of homemade cookies, candies, loaves of bread and jellies.

With toddlers in tow, we would go from one family gathering to another, bringing an abundance of gifts to exchange, all while at home, clutter was strewn on every surface of the house, dishes were piled high in the sink for days on end and the new items that were gifted to us, had no place to belong, so would end up in piles and added to the chaos surrounding me.

I rushed from one activity to the next- I was far too busy trying to do all the things that Supermom would do, and if I did find myself with a few minutes to spare, I would distract myself with browsing the internet or escape into a novel.

It continued in that way for 12 ½  years.

Once I came to an understanding that I didn’t need to be Supermom and realized that I did have time to take care of the house, I was only mismanaging it, I started learning to enjoy the holidays with my family. I’m now a full-fledged minimalist – with 6 children even, and yes, I know that being a minimalist with 6 children is a little ironic, but now our holiday celebrations are focused on relationships and require very little preparation.

But this story doesn’t stop with me. Everything I am about to share with you is the plan I followed to bring harmony into our holidays. And it’s the plan that led me to experience orderliness and peace. And that’s what I want for you. I know you wouldn’t be reading this if you weren’t dreading the holidays. That’s why I want to make things easy for you.

The purpose of simplifying gifts is to help you quickly overcome the frustration in gift exchanges these days so that you can experience peace and harmony.

Posts in this mini-series:


I’d also love to know a little more about you. Tell me where you think your holiday stress comes from and what does that look like for you? Leave a comment below.


About the author, Rachel

Hi there! I’m the Joyful Space Specialist. it’s my desire help others create a joyful space of their own and enjoy their time spent at home.


  1. Jamie on 11/04/2015 at 3:11 PM

    Hi Rachel! I’m really looking forward to this series. I’ve been married to my husband for 10 years and we have a 1.5 year old daughter. He comes from a huge (and generous!) Italian family. I can count my immediate family on one hand. This dichotomy in our upbringing has us disagreeing on how to gift for the holidays. He feels obligated to give gifts to extended cousins’ kids (who live in other states) because they sent gifts to our daughter. He’s riddled with guilt and worry that we don’t give enough. Yet we started Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover last month, so I think it will be challenging (and stressful!) to have a long list of people to buy for. We also have a problem with certain family members ignoring our wishes for no physical gifts (clothes, tchotchkes, etc.) because they insist on giving us “something to open” only for those things to end up in a donation pile a few months later. Looking forward to establishing new traditions and teaching my daughter how to truly enjoy Christmas without the anxiety leading up to it and that after-holiday funk.

    • Rachel on 11/05/2015 at 4:46 PM

      Jamie, that is definitely challenging. We went through the Dave Ramsey TMM as well, it was really good for us. The feeling of obligation is strong, but hopefully he’ll be open to change. I imagine his cousin’s would be relieved if they weren’t under that obligation as well.

  2. J. M. on 11/04/2015 at 3:14 PM

    My husband and his family are gift givers. It’s their love language and they enjoy it so much. But my in laws give SO MUCH. My husband grew up with just about everything he ever wanted and always wants more whereas I grew up with little and have no regrets that my parents didn’t hand me the moon. I want my kids to spend lots of time outdoors, reading and growing their imagination like I did. Theholidays really bring out anxiety between myself and my in laws because they buy more gifts at Christmas than most kids get all year. I have asked each year for them to scale back and each year there is a mountain of presents waiting. Then other extended family give them little trinkets and my house is crammed full of stuff. Help!

    • Rachel on 11/05/2015 at 4:51 PM

      My growing up was very similar J.M., I had friends, who I was jealous of, who got everything, but then when facing it as an adult and watching my children- we were all overwhelmed with it.

  3. Liz on 11/05/2015 at 1:12 AM

    My holiday stress really comes from a previous not great relationship that left me expecting to be disappointed at every holiday. I don’t expect a lot. Or anything for that matter. But I have little kids now (actually, again since my two oldest are 21 &18 and the littles are 6) and I have a hard time embracing “Santa” and giving lots of gifts when I know so many others have so little and will not get gifts at the holidays. So I have baggage and guilt and it really makes me want to just skip it altogether. I also do not want any more “stuff” to trip over and have to clean up! What I want for Christmas is a dumpster in my front yard to throw everything out and go on a trip instead!

    • Rachel on 11/05/2015 at 4:54 PM

      I think a trip is a great idea! You can celebrate the holidays without focusing on gifts- maybe now would be a good time to start some simple traditions with your children, so when they (and you) look towards the holidays, pleasant memories of games, singing, movies and cooking together will come to mind, rather than gifts.

  4. Jenn on 11/05/2015 at 11:05 PM

    My parents are divorced and remarried. One of my parents’ parents are divorced and remarried. That means between my husband’s family and mine, we have 7 family Christmas events to attend. I have a 5 year old and an 8 year old to drag around to all these events. It’s not all that fun. Add to that the budget for shopping, actually shopping and then making food for all these events, it’s easy to see why I don’t much enjoy the holidays. I’m very much looking forward to this series and seeing your ideas for simplifying.

    • Rachel on 11/06/2015 at 12:30 AM

      That is a lot to commit to for sure!

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