December 6, 2011

Slow Down + Simplify

Tis the season. The season of parties and get-togethers. The season of long lists and endless to-dos. The season of cooking and baking, shopping and wrapping, decorating and dining. Tis the season to be ... busy or so it always seems. I don't know about you, but sometimes that busyness can suck my merry and bright right out of the air, so this year I'm trying to slow down and simplify the season all around.

This is not the norm for me. I'm usually the one with a calendar full of sociables and am trying to balance how to get to everything relatively on time for a least a period of time. I've usually been in the thick of handmade holiday cards for a couple of months by now, or very much stressing about finding the time to finish them off. I've tended to plan my gift-wrapping station so that all the elements coordinate just so and that there's a little something special, be it handmade tags, a pretty bauble, or perhaps a sweet treat. My oven is usually working overtime starting early in December, pumping out the many sweets and treats to be devoured all month long. And of course, I am decking the halls and putting Christmas on anything that doesn't move.

While that's all good, it's not always happy holidays. I can guarantee there's a night {or two} of frustration in the mix when the decoration I had in mind I can't find, or the cards are not in the mail on time, or when I've realized I'm stuck for a good gift idea, or when I'm downright exhausted from eating, drinking and be freakin' merry. It quickly becomes the not-so-happy-holidays and my inner bah-humbug comes out.

Not this year. Nope, this year I'm slowing down and simplifying with the intent of enjoying the oh-so-short season with family and friends. This doesn't mean there won't be gifts or cards or sweets. There will, it'll just be with a bit less fuss and muss and lot more calm and bright. A few things I'm doing around here to simplify the holidays are:

1. Nixing the handmade cards ... well sort of. I decided that most peeps would prefer a pic of my cutie patootie than another holiday-themed card, even if it's one I've laboured over. Doubt me...have you seen his face? So the hours and hours I'd spend making 50+ cards over 2+ months were replaced with a pre-made template + a pic of my handsome HP + the Costco photolab. Well, that was my first intention, but I wasn't 100% pleased with the way the card turned out so I ended up doing a little trimming, adding a handmade touch, and mounting on cardstock. Even with that, it took less than three hours total, including uploading, picking and fixing them up! Easy peasy lemon-squeezy.

modified, simplified christmas cards

2. Trimming Tree-Trimming. Usually I'm scouring the Internet for decoration inspiration, hanging greenery and sparkles wherever I can, picking up new bits and bobs to add to the holiday decor. This year, everything didn't even make it out of the holiday storage boxes. I picked out a few trinkets, some greenery, some lights and some ribbons and placed it sparsely about. I find that it's usually the tree that really makes the decorations and am a-ok letting it be the star of the show this year. Excluding the tree that is yet to come, it took less than a day to haul it all out, put it all up and that's cleaning each room as I went with a baby underfoot. Will I make the pages of House & Home? Nah. Did I enjoy it ten times more than usual? You betcha. And better yet, it's done.

pulling out a few things, not all the stops
3. Shop early, shop online, + shop once. I love shopping and love seeking out the perfect gift for people, but that often involves several trips to several stores before deciding and purchasing. With time at a premium (thank you Mr. HP), this year went a little simpler. I made my list and checked it twice, early. I spent some fun time online and snapped up what I could there, early. What was left was then compiled into a power-shopping extravaganza. Four hours and one good list later, it was almost all done. Just a few outstanding items that I knew would have to follow. While I love to shop at my leisure, I decided my time and stress levels would be better served by making it simple rather than trolling around the Avalon Mall during the busiest time of year.

4. Stress-Less Wrapping. Instead of stocking up on more matching papers and ribbons to create creatively wrapped prezzies this year,  I'm going to use what I have and call it done. What I have are the ends of several rolls of paper and ribbons, plenty of tape, miscellaneous tags and bobbins to tack on top. While I love the look of coordinated packages, the reality is the only place it looks really great is under my tree before it gets given away. Once I deliver the gifts to family and friends, they end up under the tree among in the hodge-podge of other papers. Though it's not in vain as people do appreciate pretty packages, my packages can be pretty without being themed the same. Welcome to the year of the smorgasbord everyone.

5. Skipping a Few Dos. Between work parties, family gatherings, birthday parties and miscellaneous other events, we could be on the trot from now til January 2. Rather than try to do them all, we've pre-ok'd it to say no to a few. Now, if I've declined your invite, take no offence. It's not because you're less important, simply more likely that you've invited us to attend on the same day we've already agreed to do something else or that you'd be the fourth event in a two-day weekend. Instead of cramming it all in, we're going to a few places, making the most of the time we have there, and then spending equal amounts of time relaxing at home.

6. Sipping wine by the fire with my family. Yes, the time I saved making cards, doing my shopping, and skipping events won't go to waste. There will be ample time by the fireplace with coffees, hot cocoas and tasty malbecs this season. Oh yes indeed.

a tree from christmas past, the feeling will be the same

I guess most of this can be summed up as letting go of the usual 'obligations' in favour of a more relaxed and happy holiday. It will be Hudson's first and we really want to enjoy it. Spending that time together, with spirits that are truly merry and bright is simply what feels right.

What about you, is there one small thing that could simplify and slow down your holiday season?

1 comment:

Lesley Ann Staples said...

I feel the same way this year. While I don't not have the tree up yet my decorating on the house is toned way down. I have left lots of stuff in totes in the basement thinking I will donate to good will. The tree itself will make it Christmasy enough. Merry Christmas!