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As the holidays ramp up, it's so fun to focus our attention on all of the good times that are on the way. The joy that this time of year brings can be quite contagious. And as requests for our time and attention start rolling in, it makes it hard to say "NO" to those requests that come from loved ones who are also energized by the spirit of the season. Therefore, getting hoodwinked with an over-packed schedule of commitments can happen in a glittery, ribbon-wrapped flash! 

Baking, decorating, shopping, wrapping, volunteering, school performances, holiday parties, family responsibilities, traveling, caroling and general merriment... it all sounds like a blast!  However, when I think about all the things I'm going to attempt to cram into my schedule before the year is through, I actually feel a bit tired and anxious. How about you? Is this reflective of what the holidays are like for your family? How does a stuffed schedule make us feel? For some moms, the busyness is energizing. But for me, holiday busyness can sneakily steal my energy and attention away from living in the moment.    

On my journey toward more mindful moments, I've found it is important to sit with irksome feelings as they arise, such as feeling overwhelmed or anxious instead of ignoring them. And boy can that be uncomfortable! I am a stubborn Capricorn, so giving thought to bending the rules of "Christmas Tradition" is far from easy for me. Honestly, giving it any thought whatsoever sends my insides into a mess of knots and anxiety.  Part of me says, "This is just how it is! It's always gonna be crazy! It'll be fine. My friends and family (and children!!) have expectations, I can't let them down!" But I find that sometimes those kinds of excuses don't lead to good "end results." 

Rather than side-stepping a problem, having a mindfulness practice has taught me the power of seeing my problems clearly so that I can better "see" a new perspective; one that is full of love, acceptance, forgiveness, letting go, and (during this holiday season) plenty of strategies for simplification.       

So, I went on the hunt for ways to simplify the holiday experience (and life as a Mom, in general!). And in the spirit of simplicity, I'll list what I found in a "no frills" sorta way. Hope you enjoy {{jingle, jingle}}

Simplicity
The Four Laws of Simplicity | Zen Habits
Simple Living Manifesto: 72 Ways... | Zen Habits
Simplify the Holidays eBooklet | The Center for a New American Dream
Preventing Holiday Fatigue | Greater Good Science Center
When In Doubt, Simplify | Zen Habits
Surviving the Holidays | Greater Good Science Center

Traditions
Holiday Traditions That Raise Happiness | Greater Good Science Center
Walking the Talk: Happiness is... a Holiday Tradition | Greater Good Science Center
Unusual Holiday Traditions | Ladies Home Journal
Treasured Holiday Traditions | Baby Center

Save Some Dough
The Buy Nothing Holiday Survival Guide | Zen Habits
The Best Online Sites for Bartering | TLC
1 Simple Strategy to Save... | Far Beyond the Stars
A Non-Consumer Christmas: Simple Gifts for Kids and Grown Ups | Get Rich Slowly
Christmas Budget Worksheet | Life Your Way
Holiday Printables | Life Your Way

Gift Giving
35 Gifts Your Children Will Never Forget | Becoming Minimalist
Kids Who Are Giftless are Gifted | Zen Habits
The Ultimate Clutter-Free Gift Guide | Slow Your Home
This Christmas, Give Peace | Becoming Minimalist
Three Ways to Help Students Give Meaningful Gifts | Greater Good Science Center
Big Hearted Families

Entertaining
Planning a Potluck Christmas Party | eHow
The White Elephant Party | WikiHow

Decorating 
Minimalist Christmas Tree | Everyday Minimalist
Pinterest

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Since Christmas and the holidays are about the joy of sharing abundantly with those you love, to me, it's all about being present to the joy within the moment... not about being overwhelmed and stressed! 

Therefore, I'm committing to incorporate a few of these strategies into my family's holiday experience this year: When In Doubt Simplify, Surviving the HolidaysPotluck Christmas PartyWhite Elephant Gift Exchange, and homemade gifts (most likely found on Pinterest) :)     

Simplicity is a way of life that can help us to find more peace and love within our moments this season and all year long. Let's spread simplicity along with cheer! What simplicity strategies work especially well for you this time of year? We'd really love to hear. Simply drop us a line in the comments section below.  

<3 Caroline