I’ve got a bonus holiday episode for you today that you don’t want to miss! Every year I hear the question, “How can I have a simple Christmas?” Well, today I’m giving you all the practical tips to help you simplify this season for you and your family. Let’s jump in!
In This Episode Allie Discusses:
Christmas as a business
Communicating your simple holiday to your relatives
Mentioned in this Episode:
Courses (Use the code PURPOSESHOW for 10% off!)
Mom life. We’re surrounded by the message that it’s the tired life. The no-time-for-myself life. The hard life. We’re supposed to get through it. Survive. Cling on by the last little thread. And at the same time, Carpe Diem—enjoy every moment because it’s going to go by so fast. The typical mom culture that sends us all kinds of mixed, typically negative messages. We shouldn’t take care of ourselves; it’s selfish. The more ragged you run yourself, the bigger your badge of honor. But also, ditch your mom bod and work out. Don’t yell. Make more money. Show up. Be better, but not at the expense of time with your kids. I am putting a hard stop to all of this. While being a mom, running a business, and whatever else you might have going on is hard, it is a lot and there’s lots of giving of yourself, the idea that motherhood means living a joyless, nonstop-hustle-with-zero-balance kind of life, where you give and give and give and never take, needs to stop.
I’m on a mission to help you stop counting down the minutes till bedtime (at least most days). Stop the mom guilt and shame game. Stop cleaning up after your kids’ childhood and start being present for it. I want to help you thrive in work, home and life. I believe in John 10:10 that we are called to living an abundant life and I know moms are not excluded from that promise. Join me in conversations about simplicity, some business and life hacks, spirituality 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.
Hey friend! Welcome back to The Purpose Show podcast!
Today we’ve got one more episode from 2018 that I am rereleasing that has to do with the holiday season.
I know a lot of you guys are celebrating Christmas and, because of that, the questions I get asked a lot at this time of year are: How do you have a minimalistic Christmas? How do you have a simple Christmas? How can I simplify Christmas?
I get it. But it’s such a big loaded question because everyone’s situation is different.
We all want different things. We have different families. We have different traditions.
We have different goals. We want different end results of what our holiday season is going to look like. There’s really no one answer.
Because of that, this episode is perfect. I talk about what Christmas has become in our society. How it’s this big, stressful thing instead of what it’s really meant to be.
As always I’m giving you some super practical steps to simplify this season for your family. If you love this episode and you are wanting more, don’t forget that there’s also a mini course that’s literally like $39.
It’s called Your Happiest Holidays and it is one of the smallest and highest praised things that I have produced. People just love it. I think it’s because it serves as such a good recentering, grounding reminder for people during this time of year.
You listen to this mini course and you feel so empowered, so centered in this season. You know exactly how you want it to feel. You feel like you know exactly what to say to those boundary crossers in your family who are begging you to go to that holiday family function that you do not want to go to anymore.
You know exactly what to say. You feel so grounded. And that is exactly what I want to help you do. That’s what I’m good at.
That’s what Your Happiest Holidays will do for you. Again, it’s a mini course. Nothing overwhelming at all.
Super quick. Super pointed. Super powerful. It’s $39.
I’m going to help you with everything that has to do with the holiday season. You can get it at Alliecasazza.com/holiday. It’s going away soon so go grab it for $39 while you can!
And please enjoy this episode on A Simple 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 as they spent on you last year.”
There are 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, around January, I had called our finance company for our car. Brian and I had them on speaker phone and were calling with some kind of question. I don’t remember what it was.
We were on hold for forever and when the woman finally came on the phone 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, so 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. 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 we’re maybe 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’s 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. Jesus is the reason for the season,” and all those things which, of course, are true. 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 Your Happiest Holidays 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.
If you follow me on Instagram you’ve seen them because every time I post anything about them I get a million messages asking, “How are those 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 is 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. 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 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 on 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, 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, back to the heart of the holiday season but you feel overwhelmed and unsure of where to start, we’re 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.
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All right. So first let’s talk about a basic question: How do you even simplify Christmas?
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. Maybe you do live somewhere where there’s snow and you don’t like it and you want to ditch it plan a family trip to Florida and have a super, non-traditional Christmas. Whatever it is, ask yourself, “What do I want?”
Then, 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 say, “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. It’s so small and simple that maybe some years it gets pushed aside and it doesn’t get the space that it needs because you were busy doing other things. You didn’t realize that you were 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 notice that all the things on their list is being outdoors, doing something out. 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 overcomplicates it for me and 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 your Christmas to other people’s Christmas. 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, “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.
Another thing that people struggle with at the holidays is 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. Have your boundaries. Don’t be super self-centered and say, “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 don’t give 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. 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 and 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 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. We don’t feel like we’re being selfish.
We just feel like this is what’s going to work for us. 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 this practical tip can really, really help when 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 that every relative wants to be the one who gets your kid the thing they really, really want. They want to 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 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 want, 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 are. 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 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 with typical relationships that kind of have a difficult time getting along. It was great.
We had great conversations. 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 fine, because we have a separate Christmas Day thing with them. But 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. Find the common ground. Communicate kindly. Don’t be over-controlling. Simplify what you can. Let go of the parts that you can’t.
Thanks so much for hanging out with me! In case you didn’t know, there’s actually an exclusive community that’s been created solely for the purpose of continuing discussions around The Purpose Show episodes. It’s designed to get you to actually take action and make the positive changes that we talk about here. I want you to go and be a part of it. To do that, go to alliecasazza.com/facebookgroup.
Thank you so much for tuning in! If you’d like to learn more about me, how I can help you, how you can implement all these things and more into your life to make it simpler, better, and more abundant, head to alliecasazza.com. There are free downloads, online courses, programs, and other resources to help you create the life you really want.
I am always rooting for you, friend! See you next time! I’m Allie Casazza and this is The Purpose Show.
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