Hello December. Hello Christmastime! Hello trying to be minimal and simple during Christmas. Anyone struggle with this? I think much of the problem is that our society puts an overwhelming amount of pressure on Christmas and focus on the wrong things. We reach for what we want rather than what we need (and what will bring us true joy). Not to mention the serious FOMO we face during the holiday season! We're afraid that if we don't buy lots of presents, overbook our calendars with holiday activities, and go all in that we're missing out, or our kids are missing out, and we're not doing a good job. Like we aren't giving them a proper Christmas. But everyone has has different family situations, budgets, and ideals that need to be considered. I hope you find this episode encouraging and helpful as you take action on simplifying your Christmas!
In This Episode Allie Discusses:
The reality of what Christmas means (and costs) in our society.
Quick, actionable tips on simplifying Christmas that you can apply this holiday season.
The value in finding your sweet spot and what matters most to you and the power of letting go of the rest.
How to deal with relatives and the parts of Christmas that aren't in your control.
Mentioned in this Episode:
The holiday season is almost here! Oh my gosh, it can feel super overwhelming but it doesn't have to be that way this year. What if this year the holiday season was just as fun, just as magical and just as exciting for you as a parent, as you’re trying to make it for your kids? My course, Merry Little Christmas, will do that for you! It is just $15 and I know that it will help guide you through a simple, yet fun holiday season!
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Mom life. We are surrounded with the message that it’s the tired life. The no-time-for-myself life. The hard life. And while it is hard and full of lots of servitude, the idea that motherhood means a joyless life is something I am passionate about putting a stop to. I’m on a mission to help you stop counting down the minutes till bedtime, at least most days. I want you to stop cleaning up after your kid’s childhood and start being present for it. Start enjoying it. I believe in John 10:10 “that we are called to abundant life” and I know mothers are not excluded from that promise. Join me in conversations about simplicity, minimalism and lots of other good stuff that leads to a life of less for the sake of enjoying more in your motherhood. I’m Allie Casazza and this is The Purpose Show.
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Hi, beautiful friend! I cannot even believe that I am recording this episode right now. Christmas. What's even happening right now? I don't want to be cliché and say what everyone else is saying and that I can't believe it’s this time of year again, but…I can't believe it's this time of year again.
Also, here in southern California it's not super Christmasy and it kinda never is. Brian and I were just talking this morning about how we were really over not living in a state where we get to have the seasons.
But anyway, it is Christmastime and I love Christmastime! Even if I don't live in a state that feels super Christmasy, we have a lot of traveling coming in this season and we will be going to places where it's Christmasy, so that'll be really fun.
But I wanted to just do an episode about this kind of beastly topic that I get asked about all the time and it's been really hard to know, “Hey, how do you have a minimalist Christmas? How do you simplify Christmas?”
That's a really loaded question. It's really hard to answer. There's a lot of things that go into that and even more things that go into it, the more specific I get with the person that I'm talking to. I know each of you have different family situations. Each of you have different budgets. Each of you have different ideals.
Sometimes these big questions are really hard for me to answer, but I didn't want to let this season go by without having an episode about it and at least addressing some core points because there are some things that you can just take and run with, apply to how your life is and what your circumstances are (you know how your family is) and play it by ear and live your life.
So, I'm not going to shy away from this, even though ‘a simple Christmas’ is a beastly topic to me and it can be a little intimidating to be like, “Yeah, here's my episode on a simple Christmas.”
Of course, I can't cover all the bases and dive really deep into all the things, but before I get into this, and I'll mention it a couple more times in this episode because it's that important, I do have something that I created last year and put together. I spent a lot of time on this. I surveyed hundreds of thousands of people and got down to the nitty gritty, a deeper dive into what does go into simplifying Christmas. And that is what A Merry Little Christmas is all about.
A Merry Little Christmas is a mini course that I have. It's only $15 and it's something that I put together that really just dives a little bit deeper. We can only get so deep in podcast episodes.
It's broken down into “here's the sections of your holiday season, and the things that can feel really stressful, really overwhelmed, really cluttered, really heavy and how we can just breathe simplicity over all of that and make it lighter.” I get really specific.
For example, one big question is what do you do when your relatives or even your husband just doesn't want to simplify Christmas? They want to go big or go home and all you want is less? How do you handle that? What do you do when your ‘live at home together’ family is just really all about simplicity this year and your relatives are feeling weird about it and they want to give your kids a ton of crap? How do you have that conversation? What do you do?
I really just dive deep and get specific about all of those things in that little course. And again, for $15, that's pretty great. It's a seasonal thing that I like to do to help you guys out and really get a little bit deeper. So that is there. And you can just go to alliecasazza.com/jolly to check that out. And again, $15, you can see a breakdown of what you'll be taught in there. We'll talk about that again in a little bit.
But for now, let's dive into this basic episode on the topic of simplifying Christmas.
I think the first thing to say is that we need to look at the problem with our society and Christmas. Again, this is a huge thing to talk about, but what it comes down to is that Christmas in our society, in our culture right now is a business. And it's a 400+ billion dollar one at that.
It's raking it in and it's fooling so many people into financial ruin with this idea of “You've got to give your kids a great Christmas. Oh! You've got to get Billy what he wants for Christmas. You’ve got to get your daughter that one thing she really wants for Christmas. Go into debt. You have to get them a present. You have to spend more than $25, obviously. You have to make it feel really special. You have to make sure that you spend the same amount on them is they spent on you last year.”
There's so many little lies. The Christmas industry is, like I said, raking it in and fooling so many people into financial ruin.
A couple of years ago, it was around January, when I had called our finance company for our car and I remember Brian and I just had them on speaker phone when we're calling with some kind of question. I don’t remember what it was. We were calling them and we were on hold for forever and when the woman finally came on the phone, we had been on hold for so long and she was like, “Hey, I'm so sorry about that wait. At this time of year, we have so many repos from people going into serious debt and not paying their bills around the holiday season that we just have a lot of people on hold trying to get their cars back because they were repossessed.” We were like, “That is so sad.”
But we also totally get it because it's a lie that so many of us buy into and it's easy to buy into it. Just the reality that people are getting their cars repossessed. They're not paying their bills. They're skipping on their mortgages. They're going into serious debt because of the Christmas culture.
I think that a lot of the time, maybe we're a little too prideful to simplify into what fits our means. I think we're focused on the wrong things, reaching for what we want rather than what we need. And what we need is what's going to bring us joy. Simplifying things down to those basics. And those basics look different for everybody.
Simplifying things down to, “What's going to make this Christmas joyful?” It's certainly not going to be a repossessed car and a crap load of debt, right? It's like we're buying into the business’ lies and really missing the point. I don't mean that to sound really overly cliché, like ‘let's just get back to the point of Christmas and Jesus is the reason for the season” and all those things which, you know, of course is truth. I'm not trying to say, “We're just missing the point. Let's just get back to the heart of it.”
It has to be deeper than that. It has to really mean something. We need to realize how much we're buying into the lies and really truly missing the point of this season.
I think the core of this problem that we have is fear. I think it's a lot of real serious FOMO, fear of missing out. We're just afraid that if we don't buy lots of presents, if we don't overbook our calendars with holiday activities, if we don't go all in and create this immense fun in this season that we're missing out or our kids are missing out and we're not doing a very good job and that reflects on us.
It's like we aren't giving them a proper Christmas if it's not insanity. What we're really doing when we live this way during this time of year is we're setting a really unhealthy precedent for our kids.
I share this in the Merry Little Christmas course in the beginning of the intro lesson because it's so important, but I'll share it here too because it just popped into my head.
I remember years ago having a conversation with my dad. My dad and I are really close. My parents are still married. I have awesome parents. They're super awesome. You guys, if you follow me on Instagram, you've seen them because every time I posted anything about them, I get a million messages about, “How are those are your parents? They look so young.” They're not; they just have great genes and I hope I got all the good genes from them.
But my parents are awesome and I was having a conversation with my dad. My Dad was an awesome dad. He did a great job. We were talking about parenting and regret. It wasn't near the holiday season or anything, we were just talking about parenthood.
I remember asking my dad, “Is there anything that you really wish you would've done differently?” Out of all the things he could have said, he said, “I wish that I would have not gone so over the top with Christmas for you kids because I felt like I set a precedent and it kind of took the focus off of what it needed to be on. And I never really felt like we were spending good time together. It felt like I trained you guys to look forward to a crap ton of gifts.” And I remember that. We had awesome Christmases. I encouraged my dad that I felt like, “Well, just so you know, I think you're thinking of it in a different way. I don't think of it that way.”
My parents were pretty well off and they didn't spoil us during the year at all. We had what we needed. That was it. We never got toys randomly, but my parents went real big on Christmas and birthdays and that was fine. I never really felt super spoiled. I know my siblings have said something different than me, so I don't know, maybe that was my personality responding to that parenting differently. But anyway, that's what he said. And he said that out of anything he could have ever said…he could have said, “I wish I hadn't spanked or I wish that…” I don't know, he could have said anything. And he said that. That really struck me, especially because it wasn't around the holidays; it's not like it was on his mind.
I'll always remember that. That really struck me huge. I think it's important to just like ask yourself, where do you want to go? Where do you want to go with this holiday season? How do you want this to be in your family?
I think it's important to note that it's not that it's bad to go big on Christmas. I'm not swinging way the other way with this. What I'm talking about is messed up priorities where people are spending beyond their budgets and killing themselves during the season, packing in way too many activities and making themselves way overly busy and way overly broke because it's too much.
So, if you want to go big and Christmas and that's your family’s thing, do it, whatever. But if you're stretching yourself too thin, you're feeling really busy, you're missing the point. Your family's not feeling closer during this time. If you're feeling financially burdened, then maybe it's time to reflect and go a different way.
If you want to get back on track, just kind of back to the heart of the holiday season, but you feel overwhelmed and unsure of where to start. We're just going to dive into some ideas that I have, some things that we do in our family, and some solutions that I think I have to this problem.
We're keeping it as helpful as we can, but it's just a beast of a topic and the Merry Little Christmas course is there for you, so just remember that, okay? Alliecasazza.com/jolly. It’s a $15 course. It gets way deeper and specific into issues.
Hey friend, can you even believe it? The holiday season is almost here. It's coming! It's crazy that it's already here!
Oh my gosh, this season can so easily feel super overwhelming, not very fun, really stressful, and it just doesn't have to be that way this year. What if, imagine with me for a second, this year the holiday season was just as fun, just as magical and just as exciting for you as a parent, as you’re trying to make it for your kids?
I've put together a little mini course called A Merry Little Christmas and it does just this for you. I created this last year and it's been enrolled in by thousands of moms all over the world and they are loving it. It's coming back this year and here's what it does for you.
It basically will simplify everything about Christmas and the holiday season for you as a mom. You get an aerial view over what you want your Christmas season to look like.
We talk about what your intent is, what's important to you, what your focus will be. We talk about decorating your house with a simplicity mindset and prepping your house for the holidays.
What if your husband wants to go super overboard and doesn't want to simplify the holidays? How do you handle that? How do you transition your kids to a simpler Christmas when they're used to you just going all out? How to make new traditions. How to handle buying your kids presents in the minimalist way? What about relatives and all of their gift giving? How do you handle after Christmas? And a bonus for me is all about decluttering the toys for purposeful play.
This is a really awesome little course. It really packs a punch and it's only $15. So, head to alliecasazza.com/jolly and you can enroll for just $15 and get your holidays started off on the right foot.
All right, so first let's talk about a basic question. How do you even simplify Christmas because that can feel really overwhelming. Ask yourself what you want. What do you want? What does it look like? What does your ideal holiday season even look like? What really attracts you and your spouse to the holidays? Is it baking? Is it having a lot of fireside talks with your family? Is it a lot of activities? Is it a lot of getting out? Is it going somewhere where there's snow, if you don't live somewhere where there's snow? Is it totally doing it a different way and maybe you do live somewhere where there's snow and you don't like it and you want to plan a family trip to Florida every year and just ditch it and have a super, non-traditional Christmas? Whatever it is. Ask yourself what do you want?
Then I think out of that, have a conversation with your spouse and your kids about what they want. I think a lot of the time your family and especially your kids will really surprise you and be a lot simpler than you think. Maybe not your spouse. Maybe your spouse is giving some resistance to simplicity here. And they're going to be like, “Well, when I was a kid we went all out and it was so fun. I want to do that for the kids.” And that's okay. You can talk about that and find a compromise.
But usually with our kids it's a lot simpler than you think. The most random and smallest little traditions will really strike a chord with them. And that's their favorite thing. And it's so small and simple that maybe sometimes some years it gets pushed aside. It doesn't get the space that it needs because you were busy doing other things and you didn't realize. But you're missing out on your kids’ favorite tradition that was really simple.
You don't even have to do all the things that your family wants to do when you have this conversation, but just start that talk and just listen. Get to the heart of what's on their list. What can you do that meets their core desire? For example, maybe you ask your kids, “What do you guys want for our Christmas season? From the end of November through December, what do you want to do?”
Maybe you noticed that all the things on their list is being outdoors. Going to visit Santa’s Workshop in your town. Going out and playing in the snow. Going up to the mountains or going to visit Grandma and Grandpa. Maybe you notice a theme that all the things they want to do are out of the house. Maybe you notice that it's all inside the house. Maybe you didn't realize how much older your kids were getting and they just want to hang out with you at home, bake sugar cookies, sit by the fire and make cider.
Maybe you'll notice a running theme. You don't have to do everything on their list, but you notice a common theme and you can say like, “Okay, I can see that your core desire is to be at home, stay cozy and hang out. Let's plan some days where we just block it out to set aside time to do that.
Just have that talk and get real with yourself and your family. I think it's very, very easy to not realize how much we're going overboard because we feel pressured to show up and make something awesome for our kids and our families, and then it's too much. It’s not even what they wanted. We're missing the whole point and that really sucks. We don't want that to happen.
Another step in simplifying Christmas is talking about gifts. Set a limit for gifts in your home. What that is for you depends on you. It depends on your budget, but I don't think it should just depend on your budget. I've been on both sides of budgeting. A few years ago, a limit to my gifts would have been because of a budget issue. I don't have that budget issue now, but I limit my gifts because I don't want to set a certain precedent for my kids. I want to keep it simple. It's very sweet and unstressful. I order a few awesome gifts for my kids off Amazon and I'm done. I'm not a part of the holiday psycho stressful shopping and I love that.
That is a big piece of the joy that I feel around the holiday season. I'm not a part of that rushed-out-of-the-house-shopping. Even if I'm going to get a really special in-person-present for somebody on my list and I have to go out, it's not crazy because I'm not doing that for everybody. I'm not overspending or really stressed out. It's simplified.
Think about the gifts in your home. What's the limit that you need to set? What is your budget? What’s too much? What do you feel like is a good amount for your kids?
Just to give you an example, we keep it pretty simplified. We typically do three gifts per kid. They don't have any theme. I know some people like to do something to read, something to wear, something to play with and all that. That over complicates it for me and it makes me feel even more stressed. If that simplifies it for you, go ahead. Look up that list online. It's awesome.
But for me, I don't like those limits. I just think three great gifts per kid, plus a stocking with some little fun goodies in there, usually candy, maybe some Hot Wheels for Emmett because he loves Hot Wheels and he always loses them when we're out. Little simple things and that's pretty much it. I'm not psycho about it. Like, “Oh my gosh, three gifts per kid and that’s it!”
I can't remember a time when we went over that. Usually three gifts per person. I'm able to make those gifts really good ones and that makes me feel good. They're good quality gifts that this kid is going to love and that's it. It doesn't matter if our budget is 10 times higher this year than last year. The gifts don't reflect that really. It's still the same amount of gifts.
I think the next step in simplifying Christmas would be to stop comparing our Christmases to others’. It's okay to keep it really simple and get your kids coloring supplies and blocks. You don’t have to do a big thing like a trampoline or a gaming system, or one big family gift.
It's okay to keep it small. It's also okay if it is your season to go big. Ask yourself, what's going to work for us? What's going to simplify this so that we as the parents can enjoy this time and have magic in it as much as the kids do.
Looking at the gifts that other moms get their kids and feeling like you're less than, looking at what the other moms are taking their kids to and feeling like you're not doing enough to celebrate, that's not helping you. It's not furthering your holiday season. It's not furthering your growth as a person. It's not helping your family in any way, shape or form.
We really need to be mindful of that and just learn to appreciate like, “Wow, that's so great that that family did that. What a great idea. You know, maybe someday when it's our season to do things like that, we'll do that too.” Find your sweet spot. Consider your season of life. Consider your schedule, your work. Consider what matters to you. Decide what's going to feel good for your family this Christmas, and then let the rest go. Just unabashedly let it go.
Moving away from how to simplify Christmas, a lot of the time people struggle with how to deal with relatives and the parts of Christmas that aren't in your control. You can have this mindset of, “Okay, I know what matters to me this Christmas. I know where my spouse is at. I know where my kids are at. I know what we want. We've got this simplified Christmas that feels really good to us in mind and that's what we're going to head for.”
But a lot of time the holidays involve other people who maybe have a different ideal than you, or maybe you've always had a certain tradition that you're ready to drop and the other people aren't ready to drop it. It can get tense. The holidays can already get tense because they involve family. If your family is imperfect and there's people involved, it can get a little tense.
I think that it's something to just navigate mindfully and have your boundaries. Don't be super self-centered and like, “Hey, we're not doing that tradition anymore. Sorry.” Communicate. Find some balance.
Maybe there is something that you go to that’s kind of an obligation, but you're loving on your family in this way when you go to that Christmas party and you show up for them. But you don't say ‘yes’ to all the things. You don’t show up to every single house because everyone's gotten divorced and the family’s split up a million different ways, and you feel really obligated.
Maybe you can find your sweet spot with where your boundaries are and where you show up, step outside of yourself and give to the people in your family and your extended family in the holiday season, but you're not giving so much that you're not able to pour into your family, which is really important.
I understand that that can get really complicated and I've totally been there. We have divorce on one of the sides in our family. It's very complicated and messy and people are not very nice and it gets really difficult. I feel for you and I understand that. All I can say is just pray about it. Think through what you want, what matters to you. In your gut, run it through like, “What would it feel like if we went to this party? What would it feel like if we didn't? What would it feel like if we hosted our own party and brought everyone to us? And if they don't want to come, they don't have to. What would it feel like if we just said ‘no’ this year? What if we just traveled and left this year?”
We've done all of those different things and now we kind of feel like we have our sweet spot. And even though other people are being kind of nasty and not cool, we know we're making the right decision and we don't feel like we're being selfish. We just feel like this is what's going to work for us. And then over here we've got something that we go to that we really don't want to go to, but we love our family and it's about family this time of year and we're going to go to that anyway. Finding that balance.
Also, when it comes to gifts, getting a little bit more practical, it can really, really help when you feel like you're working on simplifying your space, you're getting rid of stuff, you're going minimal, and then here comes Christmas and you're worried that it's totally going to undo all your hard work - it doesn't have to be that way.
One thing that's really helped me is creating a wishlist for my kids’ gifts. I have found that people want to be the ‘present hero.’ What I mean by that is every relative wants to be the one who gets your kid the thing they really, really want and swoop in and get them the awesome thing and have your kid love them. And that's the core of getting presents is that your relatives just want your kids to love them and they just want to love on your kids and it's a way that they can do that. Because kids love presents of course.
So tell them what your kids want. Talk with your kids. Create an Amazon wishlist. Create a Target wishlist. Just create a paper list and have your kids mail it to everybody and maybe put a little note in there for grandma, “Hey, just so you know, this one that I circled, she really wants that and if you got her that you'd make her whole holiday.” The relative is going to get that thing. They want to be told what to get. They don't want to just randomly waste their money and get random stuff that your kid might not even like.
Take advantage of that. Tell them what to get. And then you can kind of have a little bit of some control over the things that you know your kid is going to love and the things that you know they're going to use. It's going to be good for them. It's not going to be a waste of space because they're going to love it or they're gonna use it. It's going to grow their imaginations or whatever it is.
I'm not saying to be hyper-controlling and make a wishlist for your kid without talking to them and putting a bunch of educational stuff on there. It's your kid's holiday. Let them like toys. It's okay. But people just want to be told what to get. It's going to be so much easier for you to take on some more toys if you know that it's things that your kids really wanted, or that is helping them grow their imagination or whatever it is.
I also think that there's something huge to be said about just talking. Communicate kindly to your relatives, as much as you can and as it fits the relationship, where you're at. Talk to them about your simple lifestyle that you're pursuing, especially if it's new and it's different than what you guys have done in the past. People can't read your mind. They don't know where you're at. They don't understand what your aim is and they might think that you're just trying to be controlling and keep them from loving on your kids and you're not. But they don't know that, so just let them know.
Communicate kindly and sweetly. “This is just where we're at. I definitely want to have Christmas with you guys and we definitely want to do presents if you guys want to. Here's a list.” Maybe even through talking you'll find that your relatives are kind of on board and they don't want to do a gift exchange this year.
You guys know who I am and what I do. I've been doing this. I've been well known for doing this and talking about what I talk about for years. Just last year was the first year that our relatives were onboard with not doing a gift exchange and it was really freaking awesome. It was the best Christmas we ever had. Tensions were low. Typical relationships that kind of have a difficult time getting along - it was great. We had great conversation. We ordered pizza. We had an awesome holiday celebration. We watched Christmas movies and we exchanged no gifts. They brought coloring books and crayons for my kids and that's it. It was awesome. Everyone realized how awesome it was and now that's our new thing, and they're finally on board with just ditching the gift exchange thing.
My parents still get my kids gifts and that's great. That's fine, because we have a separate Christmas Day thing with them, but I mean extended relatives like my grandparents, aunts and uncles and all of that. They're on board and it's awesome.
It might take time to get there. Maybe you're lucky and they're onboard now, but if not, it's okay. Just find the common ground. Communicate kindly. Don't be over-controlling. Simplify what you can. Let go of the parts that you can't.
And remember in the A Merry Little Christmas course, the $15 one, all of this is really dived into deeply if you really need help with this. If you feel like you really want to make changes and you really want to enjoy the holidays this year, you're feeling a little panicked, go get that. It's going to be a great $15 that you'll spend and it's not going to be regretted and I can help you a little bit deeper in there.
Next week on the podcast we're going to talk about traditions, which I think is going to be really neat for you guys. Kind of on the topic of simplicity, but more so towards traditions and how to choose what's going to be worth it. What's going to be good. We're going to talk about that next week.
Go get yourself A Merry Little Christmas.
Go simplify your holiday. Love you guys. Let's talk about traditions next time.
This was an episode of The Purpose Show. Did you know there is an exclusive community created solely for the purpose of continuing discussions surrounding The Purpose Show episodes? And to get you to actually take action and make positive changes on the things that you learn here? Go be a part of it. To join go to facebook.com/groups/purposefulmamas.
Thank you so much for tuning in. If you are ready to uplevel and really take action on the things I talk about on my show, and get step-by-step help from me, head to alliecasazza.com. There are free downloads, courses, classes, and ways to learn more about what the next step might look like for you and to focus on whatever you might need help with in whatever season you are in right now.
I am always rooting for you, friend!
See ya next time!