It might feel a bit early to talk about Christmas, but it’s actually only sixty days away! And only forty-four business days away if you’re thinking about items that need to be ordered and shipped.

For me, a big part of making sure the festive season isn’t too crazy is to plan ahead a bit and make sure I’m not doing everything last minute. Here’s a few other ways I’ll be simplifying Christmas.

Spread the preparation of the Christmas day meal

If you’re lucky enough to be gathering with family or friends for your Christmas day meal, spread out the preparation of dishes. The host might cook the roast or main course, but guests can bring the side dishes, starter and dessert to cut down the pressure on one person.

Don’t feel like you need to stick with tradition either – make things that are not too much hassle, but are a treat that everyone enjoys. I’m not a fan of fruit based desserts so I’ve never felt the urge to make Christmas pudding, Christmas cake or mince pies.

Here in Oz 25 December is typically a hot, dry day and we usually have BBQ’d prawns (yes, we do eat prawns on the barbie!), cold roast meat and plenty of side salads.

And there’s nothing wrong with buying pre-prepared items if you’re not a great cook, or if you don’t enjoy it. A special desert from a nice cake shop will be enjoyed much more than an amateur’s first attempt that is burnt on the outside and undercooked on the inside.

Try organising a secret santa

Instead of everyone needing to buy everyone else a gift, try organising a secret santa. This might between family members or your circle of friends. It reduces the onus of needing to buy multiple gifts, and people are more likely to receive one thing they really want instead of a bunch of junk items.

Set an agreed dollar figure, and spend a bit more time thinking about the one gift for that one person that they will really appreciate. I usually want to get something specific, so I order online gifts well in advance to ensure they arrive in time.

Have some gift ideas for yourself

It’s inevitable that someone will ask you what you would like for Christmas. This might sound a bit selfish, but for me receiving a gift can be a little stressful. As a wannabe minimalist I only want to own items that I truly valuable and this especially applies to new items. I also feel a sense of frustration at the waste of money if someone buys me something that I don’t want.

Instead, I try to bypass this angst for myself and remove the pressure from the other person, by thinking about a couple of reasonably priced items that I can ask for ask gifts.

Don’t go crazy with the Christmas-themed ‘stuff’

Ever since moving to the Southern hemisphere, Christmas decor has never really felt quite right. A lot is snow/winter themed, and the cozy lights and tinsel that gets you in the mood on dark winter evenings don’t have quite the same effect when it’s the middle of summer. Personally, I’m also not a fan of putting up pieces of plastic around the house. It might look nice from a distance, but so many Christmas ornaments are cheap products that will ultimately end up landfill.

I create a simple, miniature version of a Christmas tree by sticking a large-ish pine tree branch (free from a nearby forest floor) into a bucket of soil. I wedge it in-between a couple of wooden blocks. It only lasts for a week or so as it doesn’t form roots, but that’s all I need. I’ve made some simple decorations by folding patterned paper into origami stars.

I also try not to buy any other Christmas-themed personal paraphernalia. Jumpers with reindeers on them, santa hats, snowmen earrings, pajamas printed with sleighs… the list goes on and on. I’m not a humbug, but I don’t feel the need to kit my wardrobe out with seasonal items that are restricted to be worn at a certain time of year.

Plan for some down-time

The holiday season is when a lot of people get to have some genuine down-time from work. I like to use some of this to reflect on the year, my goals and values, and do a bit of personal planning.

In order to be able to do this, you can’t pack every moment with social engagements, so I to try and set aside at least one day for myself. I can then restart the year with a clear mindset.

Are you planning for a simplified Christmas this year?