Simplifying Christmas Archives - Jo Simply Will

At Christmastime, gifts, gathering, and menus cause enormous stress for many people. Here are some tips for rethinking and simplifying.

Simplifying Christmas: A disclosure…..

This is the last in my season of posts on the topic of simplifying Christmas. I hope that you have been influenced to think differently about gift giving, gathering, and menus, particularly if these have been a source of stress for you.

Today, I’m making a disclosure that some will already know about. I have SAS – Supermarket Avoidance Syndrome – especially during the holiday season. I was going to call it SCAS – Shopping Centre Avoidance Syndrome. But saying ‘I have SAS’ sounds more appealing than saying ‘I have SCAS’! Unlike most syndromes, I won’t say I ‘suffer’ from SAS, because there is absolutely no suffering involved in Continue reading    

Simplifying Christmas: 5 lovely home made gifts

For me, part of simplifying Christmas is avoiding the shops! It is so nice, during the holiday season and at any other time, to give and receive something that has been home made rather than store-bought. Here are my top 5 home made gifts, for the host, teacher, or to put together in a gift basket for a friend. They can all be made weeks ahead of time. Just make sure to hide the sweet things somewhere so that they don’t disappear before you need them!

1. White Christmas Crackles. The addition of pistachios and cranberries adds Christmas colour to this popular sweet.


2. Russian Caramels. These are super sweet and very popular in my household! Continue reading    

Simplifying Christmas: Rethinking menus

I hope that my previous posts on rethinking gift giving and rethinking gathering have provided you with some useful ideas for simplifying and reducing the stress of Christmas this year. This week we are rethinking menus.

As a guest, who hasn’t felt seriously over-indulged during the holiday season? I for one love food and am prone to excessive consumption at this time of year (actually… other times as well!). As the host there is always the tendency to overcater. And we’ve all been to those lunches where the table is groaning under Continue reading    

Simplifying Christmas: Rethinking gathering

Last week on the blog I challenged you to rethink gift giving as a way of simplifying Christmas and reducing the stress of the holiday season. This week we are talking about ‘gathering’. There are 2 aspects of gathering with others that are commonly identified as major sources of stress. The first is negotiating family expectations. The second is the large number of social events that all seem to occur in the weeks leading up to Christmas. These can be ones that you are invited to attend, or that you feel you should be hosting.

Here are my ideas for rethinking gathering in order to further simplify Christmas.

Negotiating family expectations:

Families often feel an enormous sense of obligation to spend a gruelling day travelling from one gathering to another. This is often in response to pressure from each sets of parents (who may not reside together) and sometimes multiple grandparents. There are some who insist on seeing the family ‘on the day’. Then, if it simply can’t be squeezed into Christmas day, the family faces the unenviable Continue reading    

Simplifying Christmas: Rethinking gift giving

What actions do you take that transform you from serene to frenzied?’


This is the question that arrived in my inbox recently, courtesy of Beth Dargis from My Simpler Life. It really caught my attention because it arrived during the same week that people started talking about the number of Fridays until Christmas break.

You could substitute other words here to suit your personal tendencies. Like ‘from calm to overwhelmed’. What I find particularly interesting about this phrase is the order of the key words. It makes the refreshing assumption that we are mostly doing ok but that we sometimes get ourselves into a frenzied state. And it suggests that preventing the shift from a desirable to an undesirable state is within our control.

It seems that just the word ‘Christmas’ itself sadly transforms many people from whatever state they are currently in to ‘frenzied’. As the year speeds to a close and the ‘countdown to Christmas’ begins in earnest, stress levels start to increase. The pressure is on to shop for gifts, plan menus, cram in gatherings & end-of-year Continue reading    

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