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"You have taught me to believe in myself and to take things slowly, one step at a time, keep sight of my goals, both short term and long term.

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I would recommend the Simplicity Course as an easy, practical way to start simplifying one's life. I especially liked the segments on Tolerations, Wardrobe, and Office and Paperwork.

Each day focuses on only one task, which is helpful to people who feel overwhelmed by the complexities of modern life and hardly know where to begin downshifting.

-Joan, New York

Beth has an uncanny way of, "reading between the lines" to see a person's heart. I appreciate how genuine she is.

I have already begun implementing her suggestions, and am dumbstruck at how well they are working. I am feeling so much more secure, and feel I am finally put onto a life path that will bring me joy for many years to come."

-Sue Halpern

I feel more focused and have an objective instead of aimlessly filling up the day.

-Shelli Segura



Simplifying Christmas

Be silent. For just a moment. I know you are busy. Reflect on the season: your blessings, giving, your faith. You may not get everything done that "needs" to be done this month. That's O.K. It will not be a big disastor if your house isn't spotless for company, or your kids get less presents. There are more important things. See if you can remember them this December.

I tried to do those plans that have you planning Christmas from August or all year to prevent overwhelm. They overwhelmed me. Some people do all this, for one day?

I encourage you to narrow down what you think needs to be done. Simplify this Christmas so you can focus on meaning and people.

One of the best ways to simplify, is to decide what is important to your family. In my family we decorate lightly, usually don't have a tree, and since people would much prefer to eat my sister's baking I leave that to her. But, my kids love making the advent chain, seeing the lights and volunteering is important to us.

Admitting you don't have time to do it all, is the first step in conquering Christmas overwhelm. Your worth is not dependent on how well you "do Christmas."

4 Week Simplified Christmas Plan

This Christmas plan needs to be modified for your family's preferences. If I have down decorate lightly and you love to decorate full out - go for it. Just know for most people, we can't go full out with everything. So pick and choose what is right for your family.

Week 1

1. Make lists of menus, gifts, card list, and things to do. On each list put the most important things at the top. And if you don't get to the ones towards the bottom, that's OK. You are simplifying.

2. Plan a Christmas budget. Only buy what you can afford and stay out of debt.

3. Pick out an advent calendar and wreath.

4. Get out your decorations. Find a separate box for all the decorations you are going to give away. Resist the urge to buy more this year.

5. Use your present list to buy at least 1/3 of your presents. Buy most of them online if possible and shipped directly to their destination. If your family still buys presents for everyone, suggest drawing names. The rest of your family probably doesn't have the time or money to buy everyone a present either.

6. Have a holiday craft day with the kids for homemade decorations and cards if this is something the kids like to do.

7. Exercise at least 15 min a day and take your vitamin C so you don't get rundown.

8. Begin filling out Christmas cards starting from the top of the list. The ones you don't get to, you can send New Year's cards to. I am sending Thanksgiving day cards to get them done early. Or you can choose not to send any cards.

9. Go over Christmas calendar together as a family deciding what's really important to attend. Remember you don't have to attend every party, family and church event you are invited to.

Week 2

1. Take a long bath one night after Christmas shopping.

2. Keep writing out cards.

3. Send out of state packages that aren't shipped directly.

4. Take a winter walk with the kids, then drink hot cocoa at home.

5. Buy film for the camera or for the video camera. Get batteries.

6. Bake cookies with the kids and freeze or send if this is important to your family. Otherwise, don't feel you have to bake. Most people get too many goodies as it is. You can also narrow it down to one thing that your family really looks forward to.

7. Get stocking stuffers if you are doing stockings this year.

8. If you are having family over for dinner, let people know what they can bring for the meal.

9. Decorate the house. But you don't need to get carried away. An hour of decorating can bring in the holiday spirit.

Week 3

1. Mail cards. Smile at the harried person at the post office.

2. Decorate tree with half the ornaments. Now that my kids are older, we haven't put up a tree for the past two years because the hassle and space it takes up wasn't worth it to our family.

3. Plan New Years.

4. Get clothes ready for holiday events. You probably have enough holiday outfits so don't feel you need to buy more.

5. Go caroling, watch a holiday video or take a neighborhood drive to see the lights.

6. Check travel arrangements.

7. Buy the unperishable food for get togethers and finish up Christmas shopping.

8. Set up a wrapping station with paper, bows, tape and scissors. Start wrapping.

9. Go to bed early one night.

10. Give holiday tips to babysitter, etc.

Week 4

1. Do any dinner preparations ahead of time that you can.

2. Do any last minute baking, wrapping and buying.

3. Lay out clothes for church, including shoes.

4. Make sure you have enough dishes and seating..

5. Do a one hour family cleaning of the house. Close doors of rooms that don't get done. Clean bathrooms and put out guest towels and soap.

6. Relax and enjoy the festivities. You did what you could. Now enjoy your time with family and friends.

More articles on Simplifying Christmas:

World Vision

Meditation on Christmas

Whose Birthday is it Anyway?

Books on Simplifying Christmas


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Beth Dargis helps the overwhelmed to create saner, simpler lives. For free monthly Simple Self Care Calendar and Weekly Simplicity Tips visit: http://www.encouragingcoach.com. This article is Copyright 2005 by Beth Dargis, Zeeland MI. To send feedback or request reprint permission (usually granted free of charge), please contact .



PO Box 233 Zeeland MI 49464 Beth Dargis