The holidays, meant to be a time of peace, reflection, and celebration, too often exhaust rather than uplift us. If you sometimes feel trapped by the shopping, spending, crass displays and frenzied preparations, you aren’t alone.
The Simplify the Holidays Pledge offers many fun and creative actions you can take to add more meaning and environmental mindfulness to the holiday season. Celebrate what really matters: creating a meaningful life, contributing to community and society, valuing nature, and spending time with family and friends. This year, take the pledge to make your holidays more simple!
Below is a list of ideas to help you celebrate the holidays with more joy and less stress.
Pledge to five actions – or more! – that you will adopt this year:
- Give the gift of time by creating your own gift card for a service (e.g. babysitting, carwashing, petsitting, chores, making dinner, organizing an outing)
- Give a handmade gift like a memoir of cherished memories with that person, a book of family recipes, a collage of pictures and mementos, or a calendar filled with the birthdays and anniversaries of friends and family.
- Offer to teach a skill you possess (e.g. knitting, photography, computer skills, financial planning, a foreign language, music lessons, canning tomatoes, cooking a favorite recipe).
- Consider less gimmicky, less commercial gifts for children, such as arts/crafts supplies, books, a magnifying glass, or building blocks.
- Create a paperless holiday letter on the computer and email it to your list.
- Draw names in your family for gift giving (for extra fun and surprise, make it “Secret Santas”), so that you can put more time and thought into one gift instead of having to give to several people.
- Shop for used items for all or most of your holiday gifts (e.g. local thrift store, Craigslist, Freecycle, used products on Amazon or eBay).
- Share the gift of music by caroling, and include visits to elderly neighbors or a nursing home. Or, gather friends and family for an in-home holiday sing-a-long.
- Give back to your community by preparing care packages for the homeless, or volunteering at an organization to help those in need during the holiday season.
- Adopt a “less is more” attitude toward holiday decorating. Opt for natural trimmings such as clippings from local evergreens and holly bushes.
- Save paper by wrapping gifts in newspaper comics, junk mail, paper bags decorated with markers, recycled gift bags, old maps, phone books, or other reused paper.
- Prepare holiday meals with as many seasonal, locally grown, and/or organic foods as possible.