In pursuit of a simple, fabulous, imperfect life at home.

75 Ideas for a Simpler, Greener, More Intentional Christmas

1. Give handmade gifts.
2. Switch to LED Christmas lights
3. Or better yet, forgo Christmas lights altogether.
4. Spend less so that you can give more.
5. Avoid the mall if you can.
6. Give gifts of time and skills instead of stuff;  teach a friend how to knit, snap another family's Christmas card photo for them, shovel your neighbour's driveway.
7. Carpool your Christmas errands with a good friend. Not only will it save gas, it will be tons of fun!
8. Order your Christmas turkey from a local farm.
9. Give your kids a family activity each day of advent instead of chocolate.
10. Have a live potted Christmas tree and plant it in the yard when the holidays are over.
11. Decorate an outdoor tree with edible decorations for the birds.
12. Find creative ways to wrap presents without wrapping paper.
13. Avoid disposable dishes at your holiday parties.
14. Go caroling.
15. Volunteer.
16. Pack an Operation Christmas Child box.
17. Sponsor a child through Compassion International.
18. Take a casserole to a family that is suffering a loss.
19. If you are buying gifts, consider companies that work to improve conditions for women around the world, like 31 Bits.
20. Decorate with nature.

21. Avoid television commercials and magazines, they'll make you want things you don't need.
22. Email your Christmas cards. It will save money and paper. Plus, people who really do want a paper copy to post on their fridge can print it!
23. Give thrifted and upcycled gifts.
24. Instead of exchanging gifts with your spouse, consider carving out some quiet time together doing something you both enjoy.  You'll save money, avoid the extra clutter, and probably enjoy it far more than whatever you could have bought each other.
25. Watch a Charlie Brown Christmas Special in your pajamas.
26. Enjoy some Homemade Hot Chocolate.
27. Invite your neighbours over for charades.
28. Bake with your Kids
29. Assemble gingerbread houses
30. Find somebody who doesn't have family near by and invite them to join your family celebration.
31. Walk, instead of drive, around the neighbourhood to view the Christmas Decorations.
32. Make an alternative gift registry for your family, encouraging family and friends who want to give you gifts to choose handmade items, gifts of time, or charitable donations in your name.
33. Visit a Pioneer Village.
34. Buy a cow or a goat or a well for the developing world.
35. Have a budget. Stick to it.
36. Freeze your credit cards.  Like, actually freeze them in a block of ice so that you would have to wait for them to defrost before you could use them.
37. Visit an old age home. Let your kids make handmade cards for all the residents.
38. Play in the snow.

39. Make a rink in your yard and invite the neighbours to use it whenever they please.
40. Do without a Christmas staple, such as a tree or turkey, so that you can give one instead to a family who is struggling.
41. Do something nice for your pastor - I bet he's exhausted.
42. Be vigilant about recycling any cards or gift wrap you receive. 
43. Call your grand mother.
44. Buy local.
45. Don't read the flyers that come with your weekly newspaper.  They are designed to make you buy things you wouldn't otherwise buy.
46. Rally your friends together to collect a load of food for your local foodbank.
47. Have smaller Christmas stockings (and therefore fewer stocking stuffers!)
48. Knit a lovely pair of mittens and hand deliver them to a homeless person.
49. Put on socks and a sweater and turn your thermostat down a couple degrees.
50. Avoid trends and theme decorations.  Trends turn to trash very quickly. Instead, decorate with what you love.
51. Remember your reusable shopping bags when heading to the store.
52. Instead of buying a new Christmas CD, make a play list using your favourite songs from the CD's you have.  It will feel like a new compilation but won't cost a dime!
53. Help young children to make meaningful homemade gifts for their siblings.  Teach them young that Christmas doesn't come from a store.
54. Smile more. I promise it will make everyone's Christmas brighter.
55. How about a 100 dollar holiday?
56. Don't buy gifts out of obligation; doing so is more about your feelings than it is about the recipient, and meaningless obligatory gifts are likely to end up clutter in the back of the recipients closet. 
57. Check out these printable gift exemption vouchers.
58. Purge half of your Christmas decorations.  Clean up will be so much easier! Maybe you can give the excess to a women's shelter or some other charity that could use some extra cheery holiday decorations.
59. Instead of buying fancy Christmas dresses or outfits for your kids,consider choosing a more versatile outfit that can be mixed and matched for many occasions throughout the year.
60. For hostess gifts, bring a local wine, cheese or whatever delicacies your community produces.
61. In lieu of material gifts, ask grandparents to teach your kids a skill they have, such as knitting, bread baking, wood working, or bicycle repair.
62. Put up some Buy Nothing Christmas posters at your local shopping center.
63. Borrow, instead of buying, any serving or cooking items you may need to host your big family dinner from somebody who isn't hosting one this year.
64. You can save some stress on Christmas day by roasting your meat the day before and serving it Christmas Day sliced, warmed up in a crockpot full of gravy. 
65. Spend Christmas morning doing an act of service in your community.  A family we love does this every year and this year they are letting us tag along with their tradition!
66. Anonymously pay another family's electric bill.  Someone did this for us one year and it was a huge blessing.
67. Sew a pillowcase for the Million Pillowcase Challenge.
68. Go downtown with some friends on a very cold night in December and hand out hot chocolate to anybody stuck out in the cold. 
69. Gather the family beside the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve and pray by candle light together for those who are suffering and in need.
70. If you have young kids, sing Christmas carols while you do the dishes together.
71. Commit to 25 days of random acts of Christmas kindness like this blogger and her family did!
72. Avoid buying plastic stuff.
73. Make Christmas pizzas as a family. 

74. Avoid the "Black Friday" chaos and observe Buy Nothing Day on November 23rd.
75. Don't exhaust yourself trying to do everything in a big list like this, just choose a few small simple changes that mean something to you and your family and take the time to enjoy the people you love this Christmas season!

Thanks so much for visiting The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking.  Please take a moment to "like" me on facebook or follow me on Twitter!


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Here's a tip: if you absolutely need a new Christmas outfit for your children, they are sooo easy to find at thrift and consignment stores. It's the sort of thing that gets worn one day and donated. Often they still have tags!

    Such a great list, Kelly! :) Robin

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE.... oh and LOVE!

  5. This is AWESOME!! My Favorite post EVER!!! Totally sharing this with everyone I know & actually looking FORWARD to Christmas this year!! Thank you! Thank you!!!!! :-)

  6. This list is AWESOME! I'm sharing it with my teen and preteen boys, and we will see how well we do with it this year!

    P.S.Don't forget small business Saturday, if you must buy things retail. Most small business give a discount the Saturday after Thanksgiving in the US.

    1. I've never heard of Small Business Saturday. What a great tradition!

  7. Are you on Pinterest?!?! Already shared!!! :-)

  8. I have bookmarked this one! While my kids are getting older (13, 15, 15, 26) these ideas are still sound and relevant. You help keep the focus on what is important. Thank you!

  9. LOVE LOVE #50. The trend in my area for a few years was to have the Christmas tree decorated with only one color or one theme (only snowmen ornaments, for example). I never got on board with that trend. In fact, I have the craziest mish-mash of ornaments! But all my ornaments have been from my own childhood, or given to me, or I bought for my children (which they will take with them into adulthood to start their own ornament memories). I can tell an interesting story about practically every ornament, and those memories are cherished. So my tree isn't pretty like a department store, but it's definitely interesting!
    And I am adamant that the tree does NOT go up until AFTER Thanksgiving! Just my own soapbox that society in general has been squeezing Thanksgiving out of the calendar.

  10. Almost stopped reading after #3...glad I continued, lol! Love this (except #3) :-)

  11. What a great list! I really love your Advent Activities idea and will be putting a similar calendar together for our family since I already try to specifically schedule the important family things anyways and this will just make it more concrete and special.

  12. I loved your fall to do printable! It helped me to be intentional with a few things. Have one for Christmas season?
    Ok so i know i could do one myself....but i love yours! :)

  13. I was really inspired by this I created a list with 25 MORE ideas!

  14. I love this. I was finding all the shopping and malls and everything so crazy the last couple of years we decided to bow out of adult gift exchanges and just buy for the kids with a limit on the amount. When we spoke up and said we weren't going to be involved everyone else gladly followed and all said they were more than happy to have less stress and debt at the end of the day. I think we do a lot of it out of obligation and to 'keep up with the jonse's". Christmas should be about enjoying family and friends not about stress and debt. Thanks for all the ideas!!!

  15. Those are some really neat ideas, perfect for putting a personal touch to the holiday season! Thanks :)

  16. Hi Kelly...oh I love these ideas! I'm printing this out to stick on my fridge. Thank you!

    I wanted to let you know that I have nominated you for the Leibster Award. If you choose to accept it, please visit the link below for the details:

    God bless!

  17. Hi there! Lovelly post just as so many others you have here! May I translate your list and adapt it to our (portuguese) culture/country/town (some items don't make sense to us) to post in my blog? with all due credits of course! I think it would be awesome to share it with some more people and try to go with it myself. Looking foward for your reply so that I can start writing! ;)

    Thanks for sharing!

  18. Cloth bags make reusable wrappings. My MIL would do xmas themes, on our side we would make bags that could be used year-round. I've also simply tied bandanas around presents.

  19. I really really love your blog! It's so encouraging! :)


  20. This is really really good! I will pin this and have to save it for the day when I start my own household.


    The Blue Birdhouse

  21. Oooh I wonder if the time delay is because there's an exciting arrival or whether you're just enjoying waiting for an exciting arrival!? :) Missing posts BUT totally understand that you're mega busy - I really don't know how you do it! :) XXX

    1. I was thinking the same thing, Antonia!!!

  22. You are so wonderfully created, mind and spirit. What a beautiful and inspirational site. My heart is on the same path as yours is, you inspire me to keep going. I believe that the greatest gift I can give my kids is humbleness, so we serve and adopt a family every year. Even tho we are without work and I was recently diagnosed with uterine cancer. I believe that we are here to show and give love regardless of our own "temporary" situations. Besides I LOVE seeing a thankful face when you have given a gift, yet feel so uncomfortable receiving
    Them anyway ;) right?!
    Thanks for all you do and teach on your site!

  23. I just finished to translate in French your ideas on my blo, if you want to see it, here is the links :

  24. "61. In lieu of material gifts, ask grandparents to teach your kids a skill they have, such as knitting, bread baking, wood working, or bicycle repair."

    I love, love, LOVE this idea. My daughter is only a year old, so we're not quite there yet, but I'll definitely keep this in mind for when we are.

  25. Wonderful ideas! Love the deeper meanings of Christmas besides material goods :)

  26. I love your blog!!! You seem like a wonderful mother, wife, and Christian. I love how you break everything down and make it much more simple. These are great ideas for Christmas, and i look forward to trying a few out with my family!!!


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