So you jumped ship on the Twelve Weeks of a Simple Christmas missions and now you’re kicking yourself and possibly your dog, Max. Poor Max.

First, don’t stress. Stress stinks like hot chocolate gas–nasty that.

Second, stop kicking poor old Max. And don’t yell at your kids. And don’t be mean to your husband or your mother or the poor kid in Kohl’s trying to earn a little Christmas cash. Just be nice.

Third, I’m not going to lecture you on Jesus being the reason for the season and that Christmas is still Christmas even if you don’t have gifts for your kids. That is super true, of course. I mean, super-duper true. Super-de-duper-de true! (I lost my thesaurus.) But the fact is, you want to give your children presents–I get that, so let’s get it done. 

So jump on my Festive Minute Train (that’s a nice way of saying Last Minute Train) and let’s get this Christmas prep chugging along.

IF you're unprepared for Christmas and starting to stress, this post will help you get it done.

Here’s what you’re going to do:

1. Get a piece of paper and a pencil…oh, and the budget you keep firmly attached to your body at all times.

2. Write down everything you need to get done. Ask my four-year-old about the differences between need and want.

3. Cross off the things you don’t really need to do. The cards can go. The fancy up-do appointment–really? Is it necessary? A manicure. Come on here. Let’s all just be real. Buying another new dress? What’s wrong with last year’s outfit? Cross those things off! Look, you’re halfway finished with your list and you’re still sitting on your keister!

4. Simplify the things you really want to do but are going to stress you out. You wanted to cut a tree, but Walmart has pre-cuts for 20 smackeroos. Just get one. You wanted to do a fancy Advent activity every night. If all you can get around to is reading Luke 2 and singing Away in a Manger, that’s beautiful! You really want to make cookies with the kids. So maybe you won’t get a dozen or so homemade cookies done, but you can follow Sandra Lee’s example and do semi-homemade. Dip some Oreos in chocolate and put sprinkles on them. Lovely! Dip pretzels in chocolate and drizzle a different color chocolate over the top. Dip anything in chocolate! Buy sugar cookie dough. Nobody’s judging, and if they are, they don’t get your cookies–send me their share.

5. Simplify the gifts. If it’s homemade and it isn’t nearing completion by now, forget about it. Gift cards might just be the way to go this year. Write it all down.If you are a visual person like I am, barricade yourself in a room, lay everything out, see what’s missing, and fill in the blanks. Buy it online. Done. Do it tonight!

6. Simplify wrapping. Homemade–forget it! Quick wrap is just fine, and so are gift bags, although I find them expensive. Let the kids help–happiness trumps perfection.

7. Make all the necessary phone calls and record everything on your calendar. Who’s hosting? Who’s bringing what? When are the kids’ programs? When is the office party? Write it all down.

8. Plan the menu for Christmas week. Just do it. Stop grumbling. Remember that enough is as good as a feast, so don’t go overboard. There’s no shame in ordering a ready-made meal from your grocery store. Serve it with a smile on your face and it’s all good. It’s all good!

9. Make a shopping list for groceries.

10. Shop. Don’t drop. Do shop. You have to get groceries anyway, so get your Christmas food at the same time.

11. Postpone anything (including school) that doesn’t have to do with Christmas until after the holidays…unless it’s paying bills or another time-sensitive necessity. Do brush your teeth.

12. Breathe! Sit and watch a movie with the kids and breathe.

13. Speaking of kids, let them decorate this year. Or just do the very basics. It doesn’t have to be Better Homes and Gardens. It does have to be Happy Home and Heart

14. Do yourself a huge favor and get the laundry done this week. Clean all the church clothes and set them aside and don’t let anybody who’s been dipping things in chocolate anywhere near them.

15. Call your grandma or your mama. Don’t rush it–just let them talk while you listen. It will be the best present they get this Christmas…even better than the chocolate-dipped-Cheerios your kids are inspired to create while you’re on the phone.

That’s that. If you do one or two of these a day, you’re finished with a little breathing room for Christmas. Please please please don’t stress. Just start at the top and move down, repeating numbers 11, 12, and 15 at will.

Keep it merry!

Thanks for the photo, Leland! (Text mine.)