Simplifying the season (and our lives)

Life lately

Sarah’s loving relaxing weekends with her family.

Abby is struggling with a moth infestation.

Reading lately


Sarah read How to Be a Happier Parent: Raising a Family, Having a Life, and Loving (Almost) Every Minute by K.J. Dell’Antonia and Abby finished Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi.


With the holidays upon us, we thought it would be the perfect time to take a step back from the madness and discuss simplicity. We share how we try to find it in our schedules, stuff, relationships, and holidays.

Eating lately

Abby’s happy to meal plan again after not being excited about food in the first half of her pregnancy.

Sarah experimented with adding cocoa to the best chocolate chip cookie recipe to make chocolate chocolate chip cookies.

If you’d like to join in the conversation, please leave us a comment, email us at, or find us on Instagram @friendlierpodcast. Thanks for listening!

3 thoughts on “Simplifying the season (and our lives)

  1. Loved this episode! I’ve been working on simplifying gift-giving for several years. For friends where we used to exchange gifts, I just talked to them (in summer, way before the holidays) about how I was trying to simplify and could we not do Christmas gifts anymore. I actually did the same thing with birthdays too except for very few, very close friends. Sometimes I’ll still make a gift for a friend because I feel inspired, but I enjoy it more because I don’t feel obligated.

    With my parents, I talked to both sets (mom and stepdad, dad and stepmom) about toning down Christmas a bit, and not doing stockings. (We had still been doing stockings. Which I loved as a kid but stress me out as an adult!) So that’s worked well for the past two or three years.

    I have some extended family that I was always stressed about getting gifts for and receiving gifts from, so a few years ago I proposed we exchange recipes every year instead of gifts. We do three recipes per family, and mostly folks print them out and put them in an envelope. I have to say, based on varying tastes I don’t generally actually make the recipes, but I like that it’s gotten us out of the gift cycle, and it’s interesting to see what different families are loving even if it’s not something I would make. (I secretly don’t think anyone makes each other’s recipes, to be honest, but I didn’t quite feel like I could announce that I was just not doing gifts for anyone without some kind of in-between substitute.)

    The recipe thing doesn’t really help with kids, though. I still do Christmas gifts with one friend and her family (spouse and two kids) and that basically doubles my gift-list of four parents, so this year I suggested a few experiences we could do instead. Honestly, one of the things I struggle with is that those kids, who I adore, have SO many toys. And they have all the books already, which is normally my go-to gift. So I usually have to ask my friend what the kids would like/don’t already have (often if I have ideas it turns out they already have the thing), and then I feel like she’s doing the emotional labor to come up with gift ideas, and I’m only actually buying the gift, which doesn’t seem great. I don’t know. Still hoping to start a new tradition in this arena!


    1. I had never heard of exchanging recipes! Intriguing. One idea I love, but have not implemented with anyone, is exchanging book (or podcast!) recommendations. Most people I know love and use the library, so we don’t need a physical copy of our own, just to be pointed in the right direction. Then we could discuss the books at a later date, though that may put too much pressure on folks to read books they don’t enjoy, similar to what you described with the recipes that no one makes.

      Stockings are tough. We stopped doing them for adults, so just our two kids get them. We mostly put in edible treats and maybe an art supply or two (this year I got modeling clay).

      Gifts are so tricky since everyone comes with their own unique baggage, expectations, and traditions. An ever evolving and unfolding process in our family… Thanks for sharing your experience! -S


      1. Ooh, I love the idea of exchanging book or podcast recommendations! Books are usually my favorite book I receive, but I’d generally be just as happy with a library copy!

        I did love getting a stockings as a kid, and treats and art supplies are both so much fun.


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