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After much discussion my DH and I have decided to downsize our holiday decorations, tree and even the gifts this year. We've been on a very in-depth decluttering/simplifying journey in this past year. We are gearing up to buy a small homestead this summer (hopefully! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/fingersx.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="fingersx">: ) and set up a simpler life for our family. This requires us to really downsize our possesions and think about what kinds of things we really want/need to have around us. I'm at a point where our typical Christmas/solstice decor feels like too much to me. We probably have way less than the typical family anyway as I've never been into the clean up portion after the holidays <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"><br><br>
So anyway, we are planning on getting rid of our big fake Christmas tree and probably at least 90% of the decorations. Instead, we are using either a small live potted tree (Norfolk Is. Pine or a rosemary tree) or possibly cutting a small fir tree from behind our house since they are overgrown everywhere in our yard. Instead of the typical decorations, we are making things like dried fruit slices tied with ribbons, cranberry garlands, and then putting the last few special ornaments on it. Even our gift giving is much simpler this year. The kids are each getting 1 special gift (a handmade doll for dd, a wooden tractor for ds) and then their stockings from Santa. Instead of going crazy making gift baskets for our extended families we are giving a small edible gift and a charity donation. We talked at length with both sets of grandparents and they agreed to buy one nice made in the USA gift for both kids to share, and it will be from all of them. This completely amazes me that they are seeming to finally 'get it' - that we want less rather than more.<br><br>
I'm so looking forward to the simplicity and true meaning of the season. I'd love to hear what other mamas on this board are doing. I'm still a work in progress when it comes to voluntary simplicity, but I have to say I'm amazed that I'm at this point and that DH is right along side me.
 

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We've been working towards something similar to what you described. We've always been fairly lowkey anyway, at least comparatively, but in the last couple years I have become less and less enamored of the stress that seems to come with Christmas. I want to avoid the hustle and rush and worrying about getting the right present instead of just enjoying spending some time with my family. I do want it to be a time of magic for my children, and this is dh's favorite holiday, so we are trying to find a balance.<br><br>
We will have a tree. There is a tree farm just down the road from us and we feel good about supporting that. So a tree with some lights, a couple angel tree toppers I made, some paper cranes I made, and some fake apples we got somewhere. Then the stockings and that's all the decoration's we'll do.<br><br>
Gift wise, dh and I are giving each other one gift. The boys will get 3 - one from me, one from dh, and a book. Then we all have stockings from "Santa". For/from extended family we are doing non material gifts.<br><br>
For Christmas day we are starting a new tradition. Everyone will spend the morning at the their own home, and then in the afternoon meet together. This year it will be at our house. Everyone will contribute an appetizer type dish and some cookies. We'll spend the afternoon snacking and playing board games, and maybe playing in the snow if we have any. Most of us enjoy the big sit down meal at Thanksgiving but agree that once a year is enough! We'd like Christmas to be more low key and relaxing.
 

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Sage, your new tradition sounds wonderful!<br><br>
Our family is all out of state, so we scramble over there every year for a weekend. We spend one day with his family and split another between my 2 families. It's so rushed and not really a whole lot of fun - though it's nice to see everyone. I'd like to modify that to slow it down a bit, but I'm not really sure how.<br><br>
We will get a small organic rosemary tree for our decor this year. I'd love to find some tiny photo frames with ribbon to display photos of everyone in the family for Aidan. It will be our 'family' tree. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"> Otherwise, we'll have his stocking and that's about it.<br><br>
As far as gifts, I bought a little more than I had originally intended with the coops. I am reserving a good bit of it for his birthday and even some for next xmas. It was mostly small wooden musical gifts, but I would have liked to get him just 1 -3 things instead. I've tried to stress not to get him much to other family members, but I'll just have to wait and see what happens with that.
 

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We don't celebrate christmas. We celebrate winter solstice and Buddhas' Enlightenment. We celebrate for 7 days and each day, a gift is given. The gifts are things like a foot massage,washing dishes for a week or membership to the zoo.I gave away 90% of my decorations. We buy a potted Bodhi tree and decorate it with beads, pine cones and a star.We have dinner on the solstice.<br><br>
My family does get gifts but it is usually gift cards to Target or the bookstore.
 

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we are moving dec 31st so our christmas is definitely going to be simplified this year<br><br>
i will put the nativity set out on the mantle<br><br>
that's it<br><br>
no tree, no lights...<br><br>
we are spending the 24/25th at my inlaws anyway...so why decorate if there will be nobody here!
 

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We are downsizing this year and cutting out one of our stops on Christmas morning. Since dh and I were married on christmas morning we would exchange gifts, head over to my parent's house and open gifts with my family and eat, head over to dh's dad & step-mom's open gifts and eat some more, stop over at dh's grandparents/moms and then head back over to my parent's for dinner. Christmas was a chaotic mess and by the end of the day we were exhausted and we were the only one's running around. On dh's side, they do a separate get together the week before christmas with extended family. Last year instead of buying gifts, we took everyone out to dinner. Dh's step-sis stole that from us this year, so that already makes two christmas celebrations with them. Neither of dh's step-sisters are married or have children, so that is the only stop for them. Step-mil isn't too happy and in the past withheld and actually returned dh's sister and her husbands gifts because they came early one year and had to leave to go to the next stop before the rest of us had arrived. I am not dragging my girls around like that this year.<br>
Last year we started a popular tradition of opening a new pair of pjs on christmas eve and we also filled a thermos with hot chocolate and drove around looking at christmas lights. We are going to open gifts at our house with the girlson christmas morning. Dh made this for dd <a href="http://i45.photobucket.com/albums/f80/stujenske/Carpentry%20By%20Jake/DSC04543.jpg" target="_blank">http://i45.photobucket.com/albums/f8...e/DSC04543.jpg</a> and I bought some accessories so we will play with that until around 10:30 when we head over to my parent's house for brunch. I told my mom to go easy on the gifts this year, so she got dd a playtable and chairs for her room to do her coloring at. Early in the afternoon we will stop by dh's grandparent's house because this will probably be grandpa's last christmas with us. We will then go back to my parent's for christmas dinner. Every year we make a different culture's meal. We've had Italian, Mexican and this year it is German.( I voted Polish for next year)<br><br>
I am happy that we are cutting back while they are both so young. So far this year we adopted a Family in Need from the Holiday Helper board, which is something that I want to continue, we plan on putting up our tree on dd's birthday and our stockings are already up for St Nick.
 

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Dh made this for dd <a href="http://i45.photobucket.com/albums/f8...e/DSC04543.jpg" target="_blank">http://i45.photobucket.com/albums/f8...e/DSC04543.jpg</a><br><br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/jaw.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="dropjaw"> That is absolutely beautiful!!! Did he use a pattern or just wing it?
 

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We've DEFINITELY simplified this year! It is awesome-- I'm feeling great about it. We never had many decorations to begin with, so we still do have those, but we've gotten much better about presents and spending.<br><br>
GOOD LUCK!
 

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Definitely simplifying this year here too! We have our tree.. but I'm hating every minute of it, mainly because mr 18month old is eating ALL the ornaments. I took off any glass because he'd break it (already did a few in when he toppled the tree the first time), then took the plastic baubles off because they have the gods only know WHAT in/on them and replaced them with homemade salt dough ornaments. Well I just had to pull ALL of those off from waist height down because he was treating them like COOKIES <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/dizzy.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Dizzy">: <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"> We are going to end up with little but lights and our dried fruit slices (which do look lovely <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/loveeyes.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Loveeyes"><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"><br><br>
Presents are going to be very limited... I've thinned out the kids toys and they STILL have too much stuff! They are getting two 'big' outdoor toys (summertime here <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/wink1.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="wink1"> and a few smaller things each as well as stockings under the tree. There will be the gifts from grandparents as well but the IL's are totally on board with the non plastic mic stuff with all the drama<br><br>
We NEVER do the traveling around on xmas day! I just refuse to rush my kids thru THEIR christmas morning in order to go somewhere to please someone else. My in laws are coming here on christmas eve day to spend the afternoon & we'll have our traditional seafood platter & cold salads <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/wink1.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="wink1"> (aussie tradition) and then we'll open the gifts from them that evening... On *the* day we just hang out at home and I might throw a ham in the oven and a couple of sides... but we're all about taking the stress out of it this year.
 

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We've deliberately simplified our holiday since having kids.<br><br>
During the month of December we read our special stash of holiday storybooks and sing a lot of seasonal songs and do art with holiday themes.<br><br>
DH and I still exchange *one* (wrapped, surprise) gift on Christmas Eve after the kids are asleep. It's our special moment together in the quiet by the fire.<br><br>
We have simple stockings stuffers plus a total of less than two presents per person under the tree. All the "tree gifts" from Santa/us/? are for everyone in the family collectively and are unmarked from giver or receiver. There are enough for each kid to open a couple.<br><br>
Something that my sister remarked on recently is that I don't buy a pile of cheapie stocking stuffers, I buy a few nice lasting things instead. It isn't as cheap/frugal but I know the stuff my kids are getting isn't going to get broken or trashed right away. This year they're each getting a story CD, a shake flashlight, some Waldorfy crayons and colored pencils, and fleece gloves, plus our usual edibles: clementine, dried fruit, nuts, and one wee little piece of chocolate.<br><br>
We have a small live potted tree that lives outside during the year. It is only growing very slowly even though I repotted it. I think we've had it four years now. It comes in on the Solstice and can stay in for only a week before it gets too shocked by being inside. Mostly it has only lights and a few special/homemade ornaments.<br><br>
We decorate with paper chains and long ribbons holding the Xmas cards we receive. And candles on the mantel (up high so littles don't get burned).<br><br>
We turned Xmas cards into a family art project and enjoy making that a focus of our holiday efforts - not simple, but definitely an endearing tradition.<br><br>
We have special food on Christmas. Not simple for me, but it's very meaningful to the kids, and they focus on that as much as on presents! It's the only time all year when we have cinnamon rolls, for example, or roast pork.<br><br>
We don't go ANYWHERE on Christmas. We hang out at home in comfy clothes or jammies all day, and after we open presents we play games, read, maybe watch a family movie together but otherwise no TV. I try hard to do as little housework as possible (except for the special food and resulting dirty dishes).<br><br>
The kids can open stockings before breakfast, but then it's strictly waiting until after breakfast is eaten and cleaned up. This helps stretch the gift-opening out a bit.<br><br>
We open presents one by one and ooh/aah over each gift. My dad always made a big deal out of handing out one present at a time when I was a kid, and I do the same. It makes the gift-opening last longer and it's enjoyed more by everyone.<br><br>
Our big celebration with other people is a holiday singing night that we host earlier in the month. We have a big potluck and invite everyone we know. We've been doing it long enough that we've put together our own little songbooks for it, but that isn't necessary. Everyone requests one or two songs and we sing until we're too tired to keep singing. It's lovely.<br><br>
We keep extended family gift-giving extremely simple also. My sisters and I agreed not to exchange gifts out of obligation (for birthdays or Christmas) ever again. That said, we gave both of my sisters and my parents a quart of local organic maple syrup. A bit of a splurge but it's wonderful stuff and *consumable*. I prefer giving consumable gifts and they like getting them. In the past I have made tea baskets, natural cleaning baskets, and CDs made from our childhood holiday record albums. Some years, nothing but a photograph of the kids, and they are fine with that. I give a 5x7 to my sisters, parents, in-laws, and grandparents - they don't want clutter either, so they all think it's grand to have an updated photo ever year. The first year I gave them all a frame and now they just exchange the photo in it.<br><br>
That's about it. I love our traditions and they are just right for us. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">
 

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I love talking about simplifying the holidays (I just blogged about it!) and am realizing more and more that what is simple to one person isn't to another. I think the main thing in simplifying is to live out your personal holiday priorities. What things mean the most to you at Christmas? If it's lots of time with family and friends, then you must clear your schedule of needless parties/get-togethers with those that you don't hold dear. If you value being crafty, then clear your schedule and make those cards and gifts. If that is not simple to you, then buy gift cards! Everyone's idea of "simple" is different...find your true holiday values and be intentional.
 

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We are pretty simple on Christmas, because we spread it all out to last the whole season. And I try to emphasize traditions.<br><br>
Our decorations are some lights around the living room ceiling, some greens and our yule log, the tree with lights and the kids ornaments, and whatever Christmas cards we receive.<br><br>
We celebrate by doing the 12 days of Christmas - a gift for the family (board game, movie), something small (piece of candy, etc.), one individual gift, traditional gift of pajamas, etc. For the 12 day of Christmas, Christmas Eve, the kids get an ornament, symbolic of their achievement or interest the past year. We make gingerbread house/men, bake cookies, cut down our Christmas tree at the farm, take a family pic for our Christmas card, drive around looking at lights while drinking hot chocolate.<br><br>
We're going to have our first Winter Solstice celebration with my friends family - simple and festive. Candles, thoughts, food and playing games. We'll also offer a handmade gift to their family.<br><br>
We'll go to my Grandmom's house at some point, but not on Christmas.<br><br>
Christmas Eve we go to my parents for dinner and exchange gifts with my family. (This year my niece and nephew will be getting playsilks and a bag of beans with some measuring utensils. Everything else for other people will be consumable or handmade.)<br><br>
Then we get together with my best friends family and read the Christmas story with hot chocolate and cookies.<br><br>
When we come home, the kids have decided they would like to exchange gifts with each other instead of waiting till the morning.<br><br>
In the morning, each kid will get 3 gifts.<br><br>
I like the pp's tradition of exchanging gifts with your spouse, alone Christmas Eve night. Very sweet. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">
 

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I'm definitely scaling back the gifts for DD this year. I haven't bought any new decorations in years; I might upgrade to LED lights for our tree this year, we really only need one string because the only place we have to put the tree is behind the altar up against a wall, so we only need to decorate the top front/sides.<br><br>
I'm also thinking about doing smaller stockings, but probably not until next year because I already got the stocking stuffers. DH is getting pants and DD is getting 1 present from Santa and 1 (handmade) present from me. Well, and a book but that hardly counts because I get books all the time. GF is getting a stocking and a present for her and her kids together.<br><br>
DD (and GF's boys if they're here any of the nights of Yule) will get candy in her shoes from the tomtens, too.<br><br>
Next year I'm going to try to scale it back a little further still. It's my fave time of year and I tend to go overboard, so I'm weaning myself gradually.<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/winky.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Wink">
 

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<a href="http://www.verdant.net/" target="_blank">http://www.verdant.net/</a><br><br>
There is a xmas page but I am not allowed to link directly to it here-because it might be offensive,<br><br>
Scroll down and you will find it. Great info. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngbiggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="orange big grin">
 

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<a href="http://www.newdream.org/holiday/index.php" target="_blank">http://www.newdream.org/holiday/index.php</a><br><br>
Lots of simplifying ideas!
 

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This year, I am celebrating Christmas for the first time in ten years.<br><br>
I read <span style="text-decoration:underline;">Unplug the Christmas Machine</span>, and did a lot of the exercises to determine what I really hated about the holiday, and what I wanted to have for myself.<br><br>
1) The insanity of the decorations.<br><br>
My mom had (has) sooooo many decorations. Really expensive stuff, too, even tho' we never had 2 nickles to rub together. We each had at least three stockings. She never got rid of ANYTHING.<br>
So after cleaning like a demon for a week, she would set up all these delicate glass tchotckes, and then it was like: "Don't go in the f'ing living room!" for 6 weeks.<br><br>
Oh, and we had cathedral ceilings, so we usually got a 20' tree- no, I am not exaggerating. Do you know how many lights and ornaments it takes to decorate a 20' blue spruce? A TON.<br><br>
And we were not permitted to decorate anything- my mom had to do it all- after which, she was, of course, exhausted and acting martyr-like.<br><br>
2) The craziness of running around to a bazillion houses. DH and I have now moved 450 miles away, so this problem has, happily, solved itself.<br><br>
3) The clueless nature of the gift giving.<br><br>
Our extended family is just too big to buy for everyone, yet it went on this way for years, amid continuous bitching.<br><br>
Plus, my grandparents went nuts with the grandkids for Christmas, and their kids eventually pressured them to scale back. Which was fine, except for the fact that the parents decided to scale back, too, so the kids went from having 25 gifts at age seven to fewer than 10 at age eight. It set up a real problem with expectations.<br><br>
And then there was the fact that my parents did not get us what we wanted, they got us what they wanted us to have. It's hard for a kid to fake gratitude or wonder and awe. (Really, what 12 year old girl wants a fancy, expensive radio controlled car?) When I got older, my parents would ask me what I wanted, and I'd just say, "Money", which made me a brat of course.<br><br>
So, to combat these things, we stay home on Christmas, we each get three gifts and three stocking stuffers, we only buy for our immediate family (each other, our children, our one sibling apiece, and our parents). We go for quality gifts, rather than a bunch of wrapped $1 store garbage. For decorations, we have a boot box full of ornaments, a wreath, a bread bag full of lights, a spool of ribbon, a tablecloth, a tree stand, a Christmas candle in a jar, and this wooden Christmas house that my grandma gave me, AND THAT IS ALL.<br><br>
Hopefully, my plan for a simple Christmas will work. I'll let you know!
 

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Leta, good for you. Your plan sounds good (and very do-able) to me!<br><br>
And congrats to everyone posting here for achieving or working toward a simpler Christmas. I've found it very satisfying and I imagine you do or will, too.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Leta</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/9909925"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
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And then there was the fact that my parents did not get us what we wanted, they got us what they wanted us to have.</div>
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And that seems to be the theme. It's what I have been talking about all season. "Not made in china""the wood toys" " The Good toys" etc.<br><br>
I am seeing it all over MDC. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/gloomy.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Gloomy">:<br><br>
But my dh wants a $50 talking parrot. Thats gonna suck.<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/dizzy.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Dizzy">: <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol">
 

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We scaled back years ago and I will continue to keep a lid on it going forward.<br><br>
My family buys no gifts for each other (that includes husband and I) so it is already pretty simple in terms of consumerism. Our son will receive three gifts from us (a train set, wood blocks and play animals) and books.<br><br>
We will do a tree, purchased from a local tree farm. Many (at least 75%) of our decorations are handmade and I will decorate the mantels and such with live greens picked from the yard and pine cones, which litter our street.<br><br>
One of our best family (aunts uncles, cousins, etc.) was our soup Christmas. Each family picked either a homemade soup or bread to bring (like a potluck) to my aunt's house. It was so relaxing.
 

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I havent really "decorated" for the holidays ever. We just never had the $$ to buy all that stuff, and I keep thinking I am "depriving" my kids of a beloved family tradition....<br><br>
But the truth is-I dont care if the whole house is decked out top to bottom. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/shrug.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="shrug"><br><br>
My mom likes to make me feel guilty about it all the time though...as if I am depriving the kids.<br><br>
One thing I LOVE about our tradition right now, is something we did last year. I wasn't sure about having a tree in the house for a month, our ds was pretty rambunctious...and now we have 4 yr old, 2 yr old, cat, and new baby coming soon-so we dont have a tree again.<br><br>
We got our tree for FREE xmas night and said Santa brought the tree.<br><br>
The idea came from my Dad, who grew up poor, and thats what his family did every year. Santa brought the tree (because it was free xmas eve! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol">)<br><br>
I think that is a totally sweet tradition and I plan to continue it for years to come. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/luxlove.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="throb">
 
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