Decluttering Christmas

It has been said that less is more. This holiday season in the spirit of generally simplifying my life I thought I’d see if that’s true. So what better way than to declutter what for most Americans is the jam-packed pinnacle of all holidays? Christmas.

Christmas in particular can use a lot of decluttering. Two thousand years after the blessed event we celebrate, we’ve managed to turn the season into the Olympics of gifting, baking, mailing, decorating and travel. We’ve made it a month-long sprint of parties, shopping and shipping deadlines. We even kill trees for it. I for one can live without fruitcake, egg nog, and a fresh evergreen in my living room once a year.

Decluttering the holidays means decluttering your life by eliminating excessive or unnecessary holiday activities you have been conditioned to do, and taking more time instead to celebrate the holidays as your heart desires.

But I admit, decluttering Christmas came for me this year out of necessity rather than reflection. Due to a cluster of December business trips – for both my husband and myself – further complicated by a mid-December weekend cruise we’re taking (I just won it and it’s a “use it now or lose it” deal), capped off by the fact that we’d be spending the entire week of Christmas and New Year’s with my husband’s family in a foreign country, I knew back in November there simply would not be time to accomplish all the Christmas and holiday rituals I usually undertake. All told, out of December’s thirty-one days, I would be home for fourteen. And did I mention we have a ten year old daughter (who still believes in Santa) and a dog?

So when contemplating how I would “get it all done”, I quickly realized the limited options available:

1)Don’t sleep and go crazy from sleep deprivation 2)Cut back on sleep, thereby resulting in greatly increased crankiness and diminished holiday enjoyment 3)Try to get it all done but don’t. Feel frustrated and guilty. 4)Do only the holiday things I enjoy and that are important to me, skip or short-cut all the rest, and damn the consequences.

Not liking options one through three, I sanely selected number four. No sooner had I made my choice for happiness over obligation than the universe conspired to help me at every turn. In fact, it conspired so well in my favor that this has been one of the most enjoyable holiday seasons I can remember. Even with limited time I have had enough space to do what I love and enjoy, and then some. And that, more than altruistic intentions or principles, is the main reason I’ll stick with this approach for years to come and am inspired to share it with you.

So here’s what got kicked to the curb, what didn’t, and some tips for how you can do the same:

1.Gift Shopping. I love playing Santa with my own kid and giving presents to the other children in my …