My ten tips for simplifying Christmas

Below are ten guidelines I follow to simplify my Christmas. They don’t guarantee a stress free Christmas but they sure do help. Neither do they eliminate outside pressures to conform to the rest of society but we can make changes to better suit our princles.  I hope you find them helpful as it is possible to have a very merry Christmas without all the expense, over indulgence, stress and clutter.

  1. Get organised ahead of time. Whether you have big plans or small the more you have sorted ahead of time the smoother everything will run and the more relaxed you will be when the festivities begin.
  2. Declutter ahead of time. For me, nowadays, this is easy. However if you have kids pass on the toys they no longer play with or are broken. If you are having visitors get rid of all the excess stuff out of the guest room. Have the kitchen decluttered so the cooking tools you need are all close at hand.  Clear away space wasting items in other areas of the home to make room for the festivities…
  3. Keep decorating to a minimum and/or recruit helpers. A home can look festive without being over cluttered with decorations. It may even look more tasteful. There is no need to take on this task alone, get the whole family in on decking the halls. As they say, the more the merrier and what better way to prime the whole family for the holiday season.
  4. Keep gift giving to a minimum ~ Don’t be overindulgent with children and consider convincing other friends and family memebers to reduce the gift giving. Both sides of my family do a secret Santa these days. When I suggested it they were only too keen to comply. It was as if they were waiting for someone to get the ball rolling on that idea.
  5. Be prepared for guests ~ Whether they are staying overnight or just dropping in for a drink make preparations way ahead so that there is no last minute rushing about, tidying, cleaning, decluttering or shopping.
  6. Minimise travel ~ In Australia where we celebrate a summer Christmas there is a lot of outdoor activity. Trips to the beach and road trips to visit family are the norm. Unfortunately rushing, alcohol, fatigue and traffic volumes can result in tragic accidents. Also travelling via other means is expensive at this time of year. For me any time is a good time to see family so I try not to travel too often at Christmas.
  7. Don’t over cater ~ Peoples stomachs do not increase in capacity over the holiday season. It is possible to enjoy all those wonderful holiday treats without overindulging. Resisting the temptation to do so is aided by not oversupplying in the first place.
  8. Don’t be a control freak and insist on doing everything yourself because you think this is the only way it will be done “right”.   If you are the only one who cares how the tree is decorated, the menu is set, the gifts are wrapped … then perhaps it really doesn’t matter. In fact perhaps someone else might really enjoy being involved in their own special way.
  9. Don’t feel obliged to follow traditions you don’t necessarily enjoy. Christmas is a time to rejoice and be glad not suffer in silence letting everyone else have their way. With family consultation, begin new traditions that make you all happy, that fit with your simplicity goals. It is possible that everyone would be happy to make some changes and are waiting for someone to lead the way.
  10. No matter what happens, as I am sure there will be some things you just can’t change, make the most of it and have a wonderful holiday season.

Today’s Mini Mission

Study my uncluttered gift giving guides here and here to help you find uncluttering gift for your loved ones and to make suggestion of uncluttering gifts for yourself should anyone ask.

Today’s Declutter Item

Yay there have been more baseball collectables relinquished.

More Baseball Collectables

Eco Tip for the Day

 Keep your motor vehicles well maintained not only so they last well but also so they run efficiently, and cause minimal emissions.

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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  • How little we really need Every time I go on a long vacation I am reminded of how little one really needs to live a comfortable and functional lifestyle. My husband and I often stay in Airbnb places when on […]
  • Getting the stuff out of your home It has come to my attention, both through comments on my blog and through real life experience, that one of the issues people have with their clutter, once they finally decide to be rid of […]
About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. Hmm I think I need to pay particular attention to number eight! Christmas is really much more enjoyable when you don’t overspend or overcomplicate things…. xx

    • Hi @distract_me and welcome to 365 Less Things. I just checked out your blog and was very entertained by your Christmas cake recipe. The enjoyment is in the detail. 😉
      I am a bit of an eight person myself sometimes so I understand. And you are right Christmas is much better when you don’t overspend or over complicate things.

  2. These are all great tips Colleen.

    • I was tempted to elaborate further on some of them but thought I was coming off sounding a little bitter. Especially the travel one. Most of the pressure I put on myself with that one I think. Although I know I disappoint people when I follow through on it, year after year, no one really makes a big thing of it. So I guess I am forgiven.

  3. Great tips. I have just decided that I am going to enjoy Christmas regardless of who I spend it with, how much money I have, or whatever mishaps may happen. There always seems to be something that doesn’t work the way you want, so I decided to just have a good attitude and enjoy whatever comes my way.

    • Hi Marianne, that sounds like a good plan to me. Don’t create too many expectations. I find that the when the gifts are long gone the memories that linger are the funny mishaps, that we thought, on the day, were so tragic. We remember these and laugh about for years to come. Which just goes to prove that mixing it up a little bit each year could make for much more interesting memories in the future. So be crazy and do something different.

  4. Love these tips. Getting done ahead of time those things that can be done ahead, certainly helps reduce stress. Allowing other people to help, and not doing it all yourself, will help considerably as well. This will be the first year that we will draw names for gift purchasing. That will help cut down tremendously on cost for me. I have started trying to only purchase gift cards for people, like restaurants or stores that I know someone shops at. It really isn’t about the gifts though, unless you are a kid :), it is about the time that you can share with other people, your family and friends.

    • Hi Jen, stop for a moment and think about Christmas from your childhood. Of all the memories that pop into your head how many of them are of a specific toy you received and how many of them are about fun times with family. As children, at the time we may have thought the gifts were important but I bet it is the fun with family that you remember most.

  5. I am the Christmas day Hostess so this is a very timely and helpful post. Thanks.

  6. My 9 yo son said just this morning: “I enjoy the food at Christmas even more than the presents”. It’s the one time of year we have a brandy glazed ham with the retro 70’s pineapple rings and canned peach halves on top. Delicious. Each year we have less and less food, but there is still more than enough for leftovers for DAYS. We’ve totally given up on a proper dessert, and have choc-covered cherries, peppermint bark and chocolate truffle balls (homemade), plus lots of champagne.

    We travel to the in-laws every 2nd year and those years have an early Christmas lunch with my family. No one minds, which is such a pressure off, so please don’t feel guilty Colleen!!

    • I’m kind of the same way. Most of the presents I would gladly do without. The FOOD on the other hand, I just can’t give up. For Thanksgiving and Christmas, my mom makes mini-pies (the mini-muffin tins) in all sorts of flavors. I’d give up the presents for the food any day, especially all the junky little ones.

      However, for my family, I like knowing all year that I can come up with one thing, and I know my parents will get me it for Christmas (as long as it’s under $150 or so), but the rest…. meh. I got cash and a $45 grocery card last year, (and the year before). A camera one year, an mp3 player one year, and this year I asked for a salad shooter (about $100 for the lifetime waranteed super sturdy amazing brand). So I like my one big present, but the rest (5 tubes of lip gloss?) could be gotten rid of.

      • Hi Amanda, I am all for the food too. We always have ham and eggs for Breakfast and a roast with all the trimmings for lunch ~ no matter how hot it is ~ and of course the Christmas pudding. The fruit is soaking in rum now as I type this. Yum!

    • Thank you Loretta. Your ham does sound good. I make a Christmas pudding every year, that is my husband’s and my favourite thing about Christmas. I could make it any other time because we like it so much but that would take all the fun out of this time of year.

  7. This is a really good post and applies regardless of what sort of gathering or occaision is planned.

    A friend of mine has four menus that she rotates each year. Obviously some items feature on all four of the menus but beneath each item she has written the ingredients listed so she can check her pantry or add to her shopping list. She said she factors in the sizes of the dishes, that they fill the table and so doesn’t do lots of of different dishes.

    This year she has added at the top the guest list so she (a) can keep the quanitites in mind and (b) if there is someone who likes to contribute a plate they can be invited to do so and she can then cross that item off her menu.

    • That is true Moni this plan can apply to all occasions.
      It sounds like your friend is very practiced in her Christmas routine. It takes all the guess work out of it and practice makes perfect right?

  8. We are taking it super easy this Christmas & opting to go nowhere & have no one come to us. It will be the quiet before the storm so to speak as I just found out that I got accepted in a program that assists future small-business owners. I have to go back to college & take some special accelerated classes as well as work with small-business mentors who basically provide guidance (hand-holding) to help me through the business start-up procedure in the form of monetary assistance as well as one-on-one mentoring. Pretty cool! I’m quite fortunate!
    I don’t want to say what my business will be just yet. It’s always been my thing to keep business separate from social/personal.
    Anyways, I’m pretty excited about it all & had been amping up my home decluttering to a screaming frenzy because come January, it’s gonna be a whirlwind of non-stop busy for quite some time.

    • Good for you Jane. What better way to go into business than with lots of helpful training and advice from experts in the field. I wish you success in your future business and a very quiet and peaceful (calm before the storm) Christmas.

  9. Last year we were expecting our second baby at Christmas so we moved our big annual Boxing Day party to Thanksgiving instead. This year we’re looking forward to a low-key open house for Boxing Day that just happens to fall on Pip’s first birthday. I find it helps with the stress of the holidays to host our party AFTER the 25th. Christmas IS 12 days long, after all, so we might as well use it! There’s no shopping/wrapping/ gift making to compete with and feeding a crowd leftovers is a breeze. I look forward to it every year!

  10. I’m really going to work on no.7 this year. As you say don’t oversupply and plan, plan, plan …

  11. My tip is that throughout the year when people mention things they love I email gift ideas to myself and put them in an xmas folder. Then come December, I’ve got a ready-made gift list with very little effort. Otherwise I go a bit blank trying to think of the best things to get everyone. I hate getting generic presents just for the sake of it.

    Something I’m going to to try this year – when people open their presents and react to them is a really good time to get gift ideas for next year. Whether they wish they’d got so-and-so or would like more of the same next time. Make sneaky notes while its still fresh in your mind!

  12. would love e-copy of clutter reduction guide but i already subscribe..


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