I wrote a couple of weeks ago about how Christmas should be kept simple so we don’t lose sight of the reason we celebrate Christmas in the first place. I thought it would be good to share a bit about how I’m keeping Christmas simple this year.

Our dear little tree this year (showing its best side)

Buying Gifts
My family and Leon’s family do things a bit different as far as giving Christmas gifts. My family just gives gifts according to what the other person may like, while Leon’s family circulates Christmas lists through email to the immediate family. Not one of these approaches is wrong… they’re just different. While it’s nice to have a list, it’s also nice to sometimes receive gifts that are thought out and given because someone was paying attention to wants and desires throughout the year.

Anyway, buying Christmas gifts for two families can be daunting. I don’t like Christmas shopping in stores—in fact, I often avoid going out on the day after Thanksgiving (and avoid certain stores during the Christmas season full stop!). One advantage Leon and I have with living in England is that the most effective way to buy gifts is online. Amazon has become an excellent source for buying gifts! It simplifies Christmas because we can buy gifts all in one place! It also simplifies Christmas for our families because they, too can purchase gifts for us on the UK Amazon site.

No Over-Commitments
This one has been easy this year. Since we’ve only been back in England for nearly 3 weeks, we haven’t been asked to do a lot of things for Christmas. I’ve made it a habit of mine, however, to say “no” to certain things in order to have my priorities straight. Otherwise, we’ll end up spending Christmas with several different families if we were invited around to all of them!

Decorating our House
This one is another one that seems relatively easy to accomplish. Still being newly-weds, Leon and I haven’t had much opportunity to collect all of the Christmas “stuff” that a lot of families get over the years. Last year it wasn’t as much of a deal because we were going to be away for Christmas. This year, however, we’re staying home meaning that I want to decorate a bit more.

At first I had a hard time with not having very many decorations. Then I decided I really like the simplicity of it all. For our tree this year, we cut down a tree in our back garden (that needed to be cut down anyway). In lieu of ornaments, we put a strand of fairy lights (Christmas lights) on it and strung popcorn. It looks a bit like a “Charlie Brown tree,” but it will do for us this year.

Spending Christmas with Others
Being so far away from home, I kind of like the idea of spending Christmas with others. It’s nice because we can still celebrate the holiday in a family atmosphere. Being able to celebrate Christmas with a couple of our friends kind of keeps Christmas simple because we don’t have to do all the prep work for our own Christmas “do.” Sure, we quite often have to bring a dish or something to contribute to the meal… but it’s far better than having to prepare a meal myself! Although I would like to prepare my own Christmas meal someday.

So, there you have it. Those are some of the ways I’m keeping Christmas simple this year. Sure, it’s nice to bake cookies for the neighbours, go Christmas shopping, and be involved in a lot of “Christmas-y” type things. But keeping things simple means being able to focus on what’s really important—That Christ our Saviour was born to die for our sins.

What are your plans for Christmas?