Pretty soon all the retail stores will have their Holiday displays all decked out in full Christmas regalia. Already there is an uproar over holiday cups, of all things. The older I get the more detached I feel from all of this hubbub. I long for a simpler season where I am bombarded with fewer motion activated life-size Santas that Ho-Ho-Ho at me as I walk by. So, here are some things I plan to do to get back to an old fashioned Christmas.

First off, we have set a very small budget for how much we will spend on the whole she-bang. That budget includes decorations, food, entertaining as well as gifts. This has then resulted in creative ideas in order to stretch the budget and get the biggest bang for our buck. It has, in essence, become a challenge.

I will be baking lots of cookies, sweetbreads, cakes and pies. I refuse, however, to make a single fruitcake. At that I draw the line! I also plan to make a lot of cute crafty gifts that are relatively quick and easy to complete and yet not look as if a four-year-old made them in arts and crafts class. I’m talking about things like painting and bedazzling pre-made birdhouses and totebags. A great idea for guys is to get a plain backpack and customize it with fabric paint, patches and interesting gadgets and doo-dads.

We have also decided that we don’t have to see EVERYONE for Christmas. We made a list of the “absolutes”, the people we love the most and mean the most to us, and that is who we plan to set aside time for. We refuse to feel obligated to office parties and such. If we happen to be free and in the mood, we may decide to show up, but we will make no promises to anyone not on our A-list.

I have also decided that I will not send Christmas cards this year and I will also not feel guilty about it. I will, however, commit to handmade cards for my A-listers with a heartfelt sentiment written within.

Every year I spend sinful amounts of money on lights and decorations in order to create the perfect tree with a new, spectacular “theme”. This year, however, instead of retailers getting all of my money for that stuff, I plan to have a decoration party with my grandchildren where we will spend the day together creating paper chains, fancy bows, molding and baking ornaments of salt dough, and stringing popcorn and cranberries.

Now that our children are grown and have children of their own, we plan to have our celebration with our kids and grandchildren the week before Christmas. We understand that they have another family we must share them with. Also, it is important for these young families to be able to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with their children and begin creating their own traditions and memories.

Christmas Eve, my husband and I plan to enjoy the benefit of being empty nesters. We have a romantic evening planned after which we will retire to a top-rated hotel to enjoy room service. The following morning we plan to rise early, dress as elves, and deliver a load of gifts to a family we know that has lots of children but not lots of money. I do believe this is going to be our best Christmas ever!