My Simple Holiday Plan

Article and photo’s by Rain San Martin

*You may also listen to a Podcast version of this article on my YouTube channel!

The Holidays have been known to be one of the most stressful times of the year. This is especially true for women who are usually the ones working behind the scenes baking, preparing cards, gift shopping, decorating and more.  The good news is that you can give yourself permission to omit any traditions that you feel no longer add joy to your life. At first this may feel awkward, yet with time you may rediscover the simplicity and joy of the holiday season that you knew as a child!

Get Inspired by visiting Pinterest or Reading Magazines

In Pinterest I typed in a couple of key words such as “rustic Thanksgiving”  and it yielded inspirational pictures and how-to articles. This is a great way to do a quick brain storming session for home decor, meals and activities. Make your own boards for future reference. I personally have created two key boards including: Fall Magic and Winter Magic which take me through the Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and winter seasons. You can also read beautiful magazines such as Martha Stewart Living or find inspiration in the how-to articles of your personal favorite magazines. One of the best ways to get motivated is to visit the Flylady website (AKA: Marla Cilley) and view her “Cruising Through the Holidays Missions” in article and video format. They are so inspirational and motivating!

Holiday Cards

This year my large roll of return address sticker labels were nearly empty. So I returned to to reorder, yet decided to buy something more vintage inspired. Self-adhesive labels (stickers) were invented in 1935 by Stan Avery, as a return address format. Along with that invention came today’s modern sticker. Yet I am longing for more household items from the older world. Sarah Chrisman of has stated that she has gradually replaced modern day items with those of the past. A personal goal of mine is to live a hybrid life both in the modern world, yet bringing many staples from the past. Living as a time-traveler would. As not all technology is progress. I recommend buying holiday postage stamps online, as there is a larger selection of festive stamps. Also keep your recipient list simple!


Come September I begin to put up fall themed decorations as I like to get the absolute most out of this season, my favorite time each year. This year I will following the more traditional custom of waiting until the day after Thanksgiving to decorate for Christmas. I’ve begun to incorporate more classic rustic “winter” themed decorations such as pine cones, evergreen trimmings and wood. This way I can enjoy these decorations throughout the winter season rather than having to remove them all after Christmas is over.

My Simple Gift Plan

Give individual gifts for your friends and relatives throughout the year, yet during Christmas consider a generic gift, making your holiday considerably more simple. For your immediate family and grand-kids you can follow a modest budget and complete your shopping before Thanksgiving arrives. I personally use Shutterfly to make beautiful photo books. I can then ship these directly to the recipient.

Thanksgiving Dinner and Christmas Dinner

Three weeks before thanksgiving I begin buying groceries for Thanksgiving. Rather than think about elaborate meals I go for a classic country style Thanksgiving dinner. Usually I purchase 3-4 pre-made  items to help out. Both growing up and in my immediate family Stove Top Stuffing, Pillsbury Crescent Rolls and Sparkling Cider were store bought family holiday staples. Homemade whipped cream is still unmatched by a landslide however. I recommend taking the extra time to whip it up just before serving your pie, everyone will be amazed! This year I plan to make:

Roasted Turkey

Mashed Garlic Red Potatoes

Green beans with bacon

Savory Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Bought items include:

Pumpkin Pie

Stove Top Stuffing  ( purchased and pre-made )

Pillsbury Crescent Rolls ( purchased and pre-made)

For some Thanksgiving is their favorite holiday of the year. Find ways to bring the magic of this holiday into your life.

Opting Out, Graciously Saying No and My No Holiday Travel Policy

When a person wants to invite you somewhere or invite you to an event it is actually an honor that they thought of you. Rather than feeling a sense of debt and obligation simply reply: Thank you so much for thinking of me! At this time I am unable to do this however. Never give more than one explanation. If they counter offer with a solution to your explanation, simply state that you are simplifying your life. There may be a future opportunity where you can do something as well, yet not at this time. For me this meant a no holiday travel policy. Guests are welcome to eat with us at Thanksgiving, yet Christmas is limited to the immediate family of our household for simplicity.  This powerful limitation has helped me to return to the joys of the holidays. Bringing back more of the wonderment of childhood.

Now Rediscover the Joys of the Holiday Season

Once you have cleared your plate of all non-essentials you may start to remember more magical moments. When we are frazzled and stressed with the weight of responsibility it is normal to associate stress with the holiday season. We have the power to change that. Saying “no” in a loving manner frees up time. Decluttering our possessions and keeping our home more tidy makes our space feel more breathable and relaxing. Keeping to a simple budget and streamlining our gift exchange list will save us time and money. Simplifying holiday decor and cooking will give us more time to rest.  Get inspired by viewing homey Pinterest images and read uplifting homemaking articles, this will spark a joy and motivation for the season. You may even clear out the cobwebs of your memories to Christmas’s from long ago, when life was more simple and the wonderment of Christmas was alive in your heart!


History of the “Sticker” by

R. Stanton Avery, 90, Inventor and Producer of Self-Sticking Labels

History of Rubber Stamps


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