Christmas is such a special time of year. We get the chance to take time out of our schedules to be with our family and our friends. To enjoy each other’s company and to relax without the pressure of needing to be anywhere else.

It can also be stressful – the desire to make this year the perfect year, to find the perfect gift and to purchase the must-have toys. We feel pressured to be the perfect host and to make the perfect Christmas dinner. Stores unleash their special Christmas campaigns and sometimes the Christmas message seems to get lost in a frenzy of spending and over-consumption.

These are some ideas for enjoying a simple Christmas. I’d love to hear your suggestions, too!Β 

  • Plan a reverse advent calendar – in the run up to Christmas, take the time to buy small gifts to place in a hamper for someone who really needs it. My son is taking part in this at his school this year, where they’re making a hamper for the elderly residents at a local residential home.
  • Bake Christmas shortbread. Or if you’re not a fan of baking, buy some shortbread/cookies and decorate them instead.
  • Source your Christmas food locally and support your local businesses.
  • Go on a nature walk to collect holly/ pine sprigs / fir cones to make your own Christmas decorations or wreaths.
  • Have a day at the beginning of Christmas to make your own decorations.Β such as simple paper snowflakes to put in your window. They look so pretty and cost pennies to make.
  • Give activity vouchers instead of “stuff” – horse riding, bowling, crazy golf.
  • Make your own advent calendar. Instead of having gifts for each day, add experiences or treats that appeal to your kids. Hot chocolate at bedtime, decorating the Christmas tree, watching a Christmas movie.
  • Challenge your family or friends to do 12 random acts of kindness in the run up to Christmas. This could be anything from leaving money in the car park machine so the next person parks for free or offering to babysit for a friend.
  • Check out what’s going on in your local area. Carol services and Christmas markets are fun and inexpensive ways to get in the festive mood.
  • Choose some items to donate to your local charity. Encouraging your kids to do this, too, helps them appreciate giving as well as receiving at Christmas.
  • Light an Advent candle.
  • Have a gift giving challenge such as only giving home-made gifts like chutneys, jam, truffles, fudge or even Christmas pudding.
  • Go through your phone/camera and select some of your favourite photos. These can make beautiful gifts either in a little scrap book or framed.
  • Cook a homemade meal for a loved one and freeze it. They’ll really enjoy it in the days after Christmas when they’re ready for some ordinary food/are tired of eating Christmas dinner leftovers.
  • For adults, gift vouchers for their favourite store, beauty salon, restaurant.
  • Plan your gift giving – pool family resources to buy each family member a single gift that they really want instead of lots of “stuff”.
  • Go to church on Christmas Eve to celebrate and sing Christmas hymns.
  • Research the history of Christmas traditions and share it with family and friends. Did you know that the tradition of Christmas stockings comes from St Nicholas dropping gold coins down the chimney of a poor family, and the coins landing in a stocking that had been hung up near the fire to dry?
  • Create a stocking of gifts for someone that you know has no family or is suffering hard times.
  • Choose an inspirational or funny Christmas movie to watch with family or friends with Christmas snacks and mulled wine.

I’d love to hear about your favourite ways of celebrating a simpler Christmas. Do leave your comments below as I love reading them πŸ™‚

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like reading- Why I’m Already Thinking About (a Minimalist) Christmas

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35 comments on “20 Ideas for a Simple Christmas”

  1. I’ll be doing another small ‘winter clean’ (the cold version of spring cleaning!) this month and I’ll hopefully have a few bags to give to charity, and I like to make donations to our local food bank a few times over the month as well. I’d quite like to try some time making hand-made decorations though – I think this could help generate some of that Christmas spirit I seem to lack! Great tips!! πŸ™‚

    • I love your idea of a “winter clean”, Caz, what a nice idea. I think I need to try that out, too! Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing x

  2. Dear Husband and I set a small Christmas budget that fits within our means and lifestyle and STICK TO IT. That means we can’t go overboard on gifts or decorations, and when we do spend the Christmas budget money, it’s with careful thought. For me personally, I like to sing along to Christmas music on the radio. This is funny because I’m a terrible singer.:-) It’s just a super simple and happy way to enjoy the holidays.

    • That sounds lovely, Priscilla. Christmas music really gets you into the Christmas spirit doesn’t it, and often brings back fond memories πŸ™‚ Sticking to a budget is so important too….that’s something that I’m being very mindful about this year, too. Thanks so much for stopping by x

  3. One of my favourite simple things to do near to Christmas is watch The Bishop’s Wife. It’s a beautiful film that reminds us what Christmas is all about – and life more generally too. Plus Cary Grant is in it. Enough said!

    • I’ve not heard of that film before, Rae. Thanks so much for the recommendation – I’ll definitely be looking that one up πŸ™‚

  4. I love this post because it reminds us of the real meaning behind Christmas which is totally lost in commercialism these days. It’s 11th November and I am sick of all the Christmas TV ads already!

    • Thanks, Linda πŸ™‚ I can totally relate to the Christmas ads thing….it’s really a marketer’s dream, isn’t it? Sometimes it’s nicer to reign it in, and keep it simple x

  5. These are great ideas. I want to take the kids to a Christmas parade. It really sets the mood. I may have the grands over to decorate the tree and have a sleep over, they love that stuff.

    • Thanks, Michelle πŸ™‚ A Christmas parade sounds like so much fun, oh and sleepovers too. A great way to create some special memories!

  6. Rachel,

    I love this post. You’re right: everywhere and everyone is so focused on consumption to the point that it’s excessive.

    Each year, my family usually watches a Charlie Brown Christmas, but give TONS of gifts. Now that we live out of state and in an RV, we’re only asking for gifts that don’t take up any space like cash or gift cards.

    As far as how my husband and I will celebrate, we have friends and some family coming to visit. That’s all we need!

    Thanks again for this post.


    • Hi Melanie, thank you for stopping by and for your lovely comment πŸ™‚ Your plan for Christmas sounds just lovely, really special. I’ve just Googled that movie and I’ll be adding it to my list to watch with the kids. Can’t believe that we’ve never seen it x

  7. This is a really good post and I totally agree that organising things well in advance really takes the stress out of things. I start to buy a few extra non-perishable items each week starting from October so that the Christmas week shop I don’t have to worry about them and the cost is spread out..We also make a favours Christmas advent calendar, where each one puts a chit in to offer a favour to a family member.

    • Oh I know what you mean, Fiona – my kids are the same with the Christmas decorations πŸ™‚ Thanks for stopping by!

  8. I love this post. Keeping it simple but fun. When the children were younger, they made advent calendars for each other. They used to love making them. We also make biscuits and goodies for the neighbours, which the children still enjoy delivering. Up to last year, we would collect the turkey from the farm across the lane, each Christmas Eve. So simple but everyone enjoyed the trip. Took the sleigh in the snow one year. It is all about the family traditions you make. Unfortunately, I have not managed to sneak pre-holiday cleaning into any of our traditions, but I’m still working on it. #MMBC

  9. Hi Rachel, I love these simple ideas. I do love Christmas, for me, it’s about family, downtime and twinkle and not about spending a fortune and stressing. Abit of Christmas baking is a nice way of getting into the mood. I do enjoy a walk on the beach with family and the dogs on Christmas morning. It’s refreshing and feels special.

    Thank you for linking up with the #MMBC.


    • Hi Debbie, I’m so pleased that you enjoyed the post. Your Christmas walks on the beach sound like a wonderful family tradition. Thanks so much for stopping by x

  10. Great ideas.
    My son’s five and I wanted to start a Christmas tradition with him that was fun, meaningful and easy. He loves supermarket shopping, but I don’t take him that often. So I thought we could go and shop for the food bank. Take the list of most needed items, he could hunt for them in the supermarket, plus select some Christmas treats. Then we could go and drop it off together.

    • Hi, Amy, I’m so glad you liked the post. Christmas shopping with your son for the food bank sounds like such a fun and kind thing to do. How lovely. Thanks so much for stopping by.

  11. Such lovely, but super simple Christmas ideas. I don’t know why but I already feel a little bit Christmassy, which is NOT like me at all… I have nearly done the shopping too which is also not like me at all! πŸ˜€

  12. Such a good list of ideas. As someone who had worked in retail for many years, Christmas lost a lot of the magic for me. But now it’s back and I am already feeling festive. There is a christmas market this weekend that we are planning on going to.

    • Thanks, Ky! And I hope that you have a lovely time at the Christmas market this weekend :-). That sounds like fun! We have a Christmas Fayre this weekend, so I’m looking forward to that, too.

  13. I just love your blog.
    I love the reverse calender idea. How lovely. I also love the idea of doing an advent calender of things that aren’t “things”. Something for the children to look forward to each day. So beautiful.

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