When In Doubt, Lower Your Expectations

It seems like EVERYONE is talking about scaling back their holiday celebrations this year.  Everywhere I go — blogs, Christmas parties, church, school, people are talking about buying fewer gifts and doing less decorating.  I don’t know if it’s the economy or if we’re all sick of the demands of the holidays and wanted a year off or a combination of both, but everywhere I look the sentiment is the same.  Enough is enough!  And I’m putting my foot down with the best of them.

Even so, I’ve found myself on certain days woefully overwhelmed.  I know why I’m busier this year than I’ve been in years past.  This is the first year I’ve really been working.  I still don’t consider myself a “working mom,” but with a booming design business, countless reviews to write, and 3 blogs to run, I think I work as much as any work-at-home mom possibly could.  Add to that 3 kids in school and all of the paperwork and school parties and performances to balance, a daughter with a Christmas birthday, extra church functions that come with the holidays, and then of course all the holiday parties, and I just want to crawl in bed and sleep until January 2.

But I’m not sure that would go over too well.

So instead, I decided to scale back this year.  And scale back I did.  For one thing, I decided not to have my annual Christmas ladies brunch.  I’m throwing my daughter a birthday party this year, and while two years ago I was actually delirious enough to plan my brunch and her party two days in a row, this year I decided that I’d need a straight jacket if I attempted such a feat again so I just ditched the brunch.  Sorry, ladies.  I love you all and miss you, but something’s gotta give!

We also cut back on our decorating.  I have probably 30 Department 56 Christmas village houses in my attic, and I didn’t bring a single one down this year.  NOT A ONE.  I do rather miss them, but I’m confident that I made a wise decision seeing that we won’t even be spending Christmas here this year.  We also downsized from 2 trees to 1, albeit 1 GIANT tree, but 1 just the same.  I didn’t put nearly the amount of lights outside that I normally do (and some that I did put out aren’t lit because we haven’t gotten around to finding an extension cord.  Pathetic much?  I KNOW.

Besides that, I have only made one batch of my world famous peanut butter balls, rather than the eleventy-five batches that I usually make.  Only my grandfather and the bus driver got homemade peanut butter balls this year.  I smartened up and bought a bunch of those Christmas ornaments filled with Lindt chocolates to give as teacher gifts, and just when I ran out of those, I received in the mail a box of THE most adorable little Snowman Tube Hot Chocolate Mixes that I plan to use for the rest of the teachers/service workers on my list.  They are so cute that I might just order a case of them next year and forgo the homemade treats altogether.

I already posted about how we were more intentional about planning our Christmas shopping this year so our kids won’t end up with more toys than they even care to open on Christmas morning.  And I did almost all of my Christmas shopping online.  Although I love going to the mall at Christmastime, I hate the pressure of shopping with a purpose.  Takes all the fun out of it.

And then there are my poor, pathetic Christmas cards.  Usually I have my cards addressed and stamped by November 1.  I know, it’s a sickness.  This year I put them off until it was too late to order them from anywhere, so I just printed out some Christmas letters with a few pictures of my family (with my Epson Artisan 800 of course!)  I put the last few in the mail today.  Nothing like waiting to the last minute.  But they ARE done and out the door, I am happy to say!

So that’s how I’ve scaled down my holiday preparations this year to keep from being completely overwhelmed.  I’d love to hear how YOU are adapting this year!

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18 Responses

  1. We used to buy gifts for our parents, then order them all the tower of gifts from Harry and David. This year we aren’t doing that. I’m sure they’ll be missing it, but it is one way to scale back.
    For our kids, we got them each one present under $100 instead of buying a bunch of presents.

    We are a military family, and are choosing to stay where we are stationed this year, instead of flying home. We’ll spend more time at home when we drive there this summer.

    My husband has 2 work parties, and this year we chose to go to only one. We went to the family friendly potluck party so we saved on tickets, and dress clothes.

    We aren’t getting together with friends on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, but are going to stay in and veg, go to our candlelight service at church, and watch Christmas movies. Our plan is to really focus on the real meaning of Christmas, and to enjoy the holiday without the hustle and bustle.

    I love your blog, thank you so much for all of the work you put into it. 🙂

  2. NOVEMBER 1st?!?!? My jaw is still on the floor. Wow. That would happen in my wildest dreams. Procrastinating the Christmas card is a holiday tradition that I do every single year. I’ve convinced myself that it’s festive to mail them out so they are received on Christmas Eve. 😉

    Anywho, we scaled back a lot this year, as well. Not as much baking. Not as many decorations. You know what? I’m actually enjoying it this year, instead of running around like a nut. Two of my kids also have birthdays during the holidays, so I scaled back in a large part because with the birthdays (and our wedding anniversary) Christmas was getting to be too much work and not so much fun.

  3. Very funny and very true! I have cut back a lot as well.. even though there wasn’t much to cut back on, I still did so and am thankful I did. I had my tree up and then had to put it away since my youngest broke 5 balls with his bare hands (I know)! So.. thankfully I am not the only one who waited till last minute on cards either.. since I just ordered mine through shutterfly/target Monday and sent them all out Tuesday! ok I’m done sharing.. Thanks! Elaine

  4. I’ve definitely done everything this holiday season with low expectations in mind. We weren’t able to travel, so we’ll be here on our own. I’ve been able to find little things to make it special, including the decorations. We didn’t put anything up outside, except a front-door wreath, but it looks pretty festive inside!! And starting out with low expectations, I’m already pleasantly surprised at everything we’ve done already and I know that will continue.

    It just seems like starting out with a huge agenda almost always makes me fall short and be disappointed in the end, you know?

  5. And the list goes on…we too made some changes for vairious reasons. Not as many decorations, made a gift list and stuck to it. I also planned better…got everything in the house by today so all I have left to do is wrap…scheduled meetings with friends all for this week so the girls and I can ENJOY next week and bake and play and craft…and probably pull my hair out.

  6. No Peanut Butter Balls – are you kidding? I know you are kidding – right!
    You have got to have one down there for me somewhere.
    Kidding of course.
    I hear ya on the scaling back. I said I was going to, but when I look at what I bought this year I don’t think I did.

  7. We’ve scaled back…….just keeping it slow and simple. It’s easier to do with just one child, but it still involves looking for fun in your own house. I’m all “bah humbug” to the work Christmas parties. I just want to be at home.

  8. We have and yet we haven’t. We had more Christmas parties than normal. We are actually going on vacation on Sunday – something we don’t usually do but really need to get out of here. It has been 3 1/2 years since our last vacation and this was the only week we could do it. Pretty sad eh?! Our kids pretty much got what they asked for but they did not ask for much knowing that spending a week at Disney is a HUGE treat in itself. My candy making we down by half and we did not miss it.

    Enjoy your Christmas!

  9. Count me in the sick of the hustle and bustle camp. We’re scaling back too. Not necessarily in the spending department, but definitely in the to-do department. And it is just so much nicer.

  10. I was talking to someone the other day and we were thinking the reason that many, including me, had downsized Christmas this year is that it was closer to Thanksgiving! I don’t know about you but I feel like we just had Thanksgiving and now Christmas is less then a week away! Wow.

    I’m impressed by the November 1st thing. I have to say that I love Walmart and Walgreens because they print those Christmas cards in less then 2 hours! I just did mine last Monday and mailed them out on Wednesday. I wasn’t going to get them printed at first. I thought it would be cheaper to buy cards and just sign them all. No pictures. Well, it would have taken 3 boxs of 18 cards each……..cost $29.97 not including tax. I ordered 40 picture cards for $14.99 at Walgreen’s. Woo Hoo!

    I have to say another thing that ‘saves me’ in relation to preparing for Christmas is that I shop all year long for Christmas. I enjoy buying items when I see them. I like to know that I am really thinking about the person receiving the gift. I also like to do something personal each year. One year I made a photo quilt for the parents (both sets). Another year, a holiday album. Another year a frame of 48 photos.

  11. It hasn’t been easy for this Type A mom, but I have been scaling back too. My cards haven’t went out, but hopefully by tomorrow they will although I still can’t find my address book so who knows who will be receiving them!! I did buy some cute stamps though for the inside of the photo cards. Other than that I’m doing pretty well getting things in order. At least now I’m on winter break so that will make things much easier. Good luck getting all your ducks in a row and congrats on doing so well with your designs, reviews, and blog to be so busy!! Merry Christmas.

  12. I think it’s great that people are staying within a budget this year and simplifying is always great. However, Ihave to add that I think some of the “simplificiation” this year is due to a slight depression in many people at the state of our economy or something like that. I say that just because it seems like tons of people are not doing things they normally do this time of year–and not just the things that cost money.

    Just my observation…

  13. Hey, wait! I didn’t get peanut butter balls last year either. I miss my peanut butter balls. Of course, by this point in the season, I feel like a giant walking peanut butter ball but who’s counting calories anyway?!

    Enjoy the season and the freedom of scaling back!

  14. Every year I go simpler and simpler…I’m loving it.
    I used to host a mother daughter tea…gave it up and not looking back.
    We do love to do Christmas cards though.
    (Those peanut butter balls? They can be a bear to make but they are so good.)
    Thinking of you and wishing you a Merry (scaled back) Christmas.

  15. We’re all about simple holidays here…especially this year since I’m pregnant. We have one tree up (with lights, no decorations). We did all of our shopping online. And we still haven’t taken our annual family photo…

  16. Me too. I scaled back this year. Cut back on gifts and I finally accepted the fact yesterday that the lights on the house just weren’t gonna happen, and told myself today AGAIN that it was O. Kay.

    I have decided to put on my google calendar that the tree and the lights must be up before Thanksgiving. Because otherwise, it just starts December off with a stress-bang.

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