What feeling washes over you when you think of your childhood Christmases?
For me, it’s that fluttery feeling I’d get in my stomach on Christmas eve. I can feel the cold pillow against my face as I lay there in bed—waiting. Then I’d blink and Christmas morning would be there, just like that. It felt like magic. As a kid, Christmas truly was all joy—zero stress. As an adult, I’d be lying if I said Christmas is just as fun. Don’t get me wrong, I still get a bit giddy on Christmas eve. (I’m not dead inside, for goodness sake). It’s just different. As adults, Christmas comes with both joy and stressors. If we aren’t intentional, the holidays can take over our lives, our homes, our schedules and our bank accounts. The good news is, we have the power to choose our lives, moms! This year, we don’t have to cave to the weight of social pressures that so often tag along with this holiday; instead we can prepare and simplify.

Here are 5 things to remember this Christmas:

1. Keep decorations simple.

Decorating is one of my favorite parts of our family Christmas celebrations. However, I’ve found that keeping decor simple allows me to enjoy it without the dread of having to take it all down! Of course everyone is different. If you truly enjoy going all out with decorations, go for it! Enjoy it fully. For me personally, simple = joy.
In our house, we’ve taken simple Christmas very seriously, in order to maximize the joy! For now, we have a “one bin” policy—meaning we have one large plastic bin for Christmas decor (plus our Christmas tree stand). Each year, when we get new ornaments or decor, we give something away in order to make it all fit. While I imagine our policy might expand to a “two bin” policy (or more) once our daughter starts making ornaments, the principle is the same: Keep it simple and enjoy the process.

2. Make and keep your Christmas budget.

It can be tempting to overspend when it comes to Christmas gifts. Before you start shopping (or do more), make a budget (on a spreadsheet or a piece of paper). Add it all up and see if you can afford the total. If not, make cuts. Don’t let Christmas spending follow you into the New Year. It will steal your joy—guaranteed.

3. Clear out your kid’s toys before Christmas.

I don’t know about you, but when my daughter receives a lot of presents, there’s a part of me that panics a bit inside. While I’m very grateful, I can’t stop myself from thinking: Where am I going to put all of these toys? Since we know our kids will receive new toys for Christmas, it’s smart to donate old or unused toys now, to make space for Christmas gifts. That way, on Christmas day you can rest easy knowing that each new toy has a home.

4. Make gifts intentional and meaningful.

When giving gifts, sometimes I’m tempted just to give for the sake of giving or even out of obligation. In these moments, I’ve had to tap back into the heart I had as a kid, when I bought or made my parents presents. Those awful presents truly came from a pure heart—and a desire to give. Before buying for someone, ask yourself: What does this gift communicate to the other person? Does it show love? Does it tap into their interests?

5. Limit your commitments so you can focus on family time.

Christmas comes with an increased amount of invitations: parties, gatherings and cookie bakes. I love this! However, when our schedules get too full, it can take away from our family time. It’s important to be intentional with your time during this season. Don’t say yes to every party; leave time for your family. This year, make the choice to make Christmas magical again by simplifying and tailoring it to your family, this year, right now.