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by Kara Fleck

Kara lives in a small town in Indiana. She is the editor of Simple Kids. You can also find her writing about creative living at K.Elizabeth Fleck.

simple holiday gifts

Holiday gifts to give yourself now that you’ll thank yourself for later

It’s that time of year again: hustle and bustle and holly and jolly. I bet you’re making a list and checking it twice, thinking of the loved ones you want to give gifts to.

Today I want to ask you to think about including one more person on your gift list this year: yourself.

Although the kinds of gifts I’d love to see us giving ourselves aren’t the kind that require any shopping, I think you’ll thank yourself later if you take the time to do a couple of things I’m sharing today.

So, here’s my proposition: pick a few things, or all of them, from this list and treat yourself right. Ranging from practical to pampering, they might not all seem like “presents” on the surface, but I think you’ll agree that sometimes the best gifts don’t come all tied up in ribbons and pretty paper.

Slow down. Set a budget. Take some shortcuts. Give yourself the holiday gift of less stress this year. | Art of Simple

Pre-Address Thank You Cards

I’m not talking about counting your chickens before they are hatched, but you probably have a list of the usual holiday suspects who give you and your family gifts (grandparents or Aunt Kara who knits you a pair of socks every year).

Take something off of your post holiday To Do list and address those cards of gratitude now so that all you have to do after the holidays is sit down and write a heart felt note and then pop them in the mail.

Freeze Some Extra Meals

I’ve been doing this by doubling or tripling our normal dinners a few nights a week and by baking some double batches of cookies for the freezer. It’s not much extra effort  and I’ve given myself the gift of some time off in the kitchen during the weeks ahead.

A few resources for freezer cooking:

Start Wrapping!

Do you have some gifts you’ve already purchased or finished making? Well, what are you waiting for? Start wrapping! Here’s a blog with some pretty printable gift tags to get you started.

No more Christmas Eve last minute rush or frantic tape/bow/paper hunting (not that I speak from experience, ahem) means you’ll be tucked in your bed with visions of dancing sugar plums before midnight this year.

Speaking of gifts, we keep things simple at our house with Want. Need. Wear. Read.

Set a Realistic Budget. Stick to it.

I know that this one is hard. But, it might be the best gift you give yourself this holiday season.

As I said in my last Art of Simple post, I can tell you that there are a lot of things I regret that we spent money on and very few times I look back and wish we had spent money but didn’t do it.

Keep Decor Simple

Now, I have to confess that my birthday is a few days before Christmas and this time of year I like going over the top. I love to have a themed tree in every room and every area lit up with lights and baubles. Yes, I’m one of those people.

And, that’s fun and festive if you’re into it.

But some years December seems like the finish line I’ve crawled toward after a difficult year and I just don’t have it in me to do anything but the essentials. We put up a simple tree and hang the kids’ stockings and that is that.

And you know what? It’s still fun and festive because we set the tone for our holidays by our attitude.

things to do before before the holidays that you'll thank yourself for later | The Art of Simple

Go Disposable

Paper plates and paper towels aren’t common in my kitchen, but they appear every December and I welcome them with open arms (especially this year, as we are currently without a dishwasher).

Would I want my kitchen to run like this every day? Well, no, but I am a big fan of the 80/20 Rule and I give myself some grace if it helps me to stay in a calm and bright mood during the holidays.

Schedule a Popcorn and Movie Night

We aren’t normally a big TV viewing family. We don’t have cable and we are pretty screen-free. However, at least once a week during the holidays we get our couch potato on and watch a favorite holiday movie or television special.

If screen-time isn’t your family’s thing, curl up together with a great holiday read-aloud. The gift here is time at home with your family with no rush, no major preparation, no pressure.

Skip to the Good Part.

Take short cuts. I’m giving you permission.

This year I spent November baking cookies and freezing them for December. Do you know what I did last year? I purchased cookies. Yes, I did.  Mrs. Bakes Her Own Bread used pre-made cookies. We got right to the icing and the sprinkles and skipped over the flour covered kitchen portion of the holiday.

I promise you won’t be on the Naughty list if  you cut corners in areas that stress you out.

Give Yourself a Time Out Every Day in December.

A cup of peppermint tea and a good book has become a daily December tradition for me. I love this tea and I’m planning to settle in with Tolkien’s Letters From Father Christmas this year.

This kind of ritual is great for kids, too. My thirteen year old has been re-reading The Best Christmas Pageant Ever for about five years now.

A “time out” every day with something warm to sip and familiar holiday words to read is a nice gift to give yourself.

I’d love to hear what shortcuts, traditions, and tips help you to simplify the holiday. From the practical to the pampering, what holiday gifts are you giving to yourself this year?

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