Twelve Weeks of a Simple Christmas — Week 11

Unless you are my super-organized friend Tammy or my seeeeester Karen, you probably have a few missions from the Twelve Weeks of a Simple Christmas to finish up. That’s what we’re doing this week–putting the bow on our Christmas prep.

Twelve Weeks of Simple Christmas Week 11

Take a peek at all your presents. Has everything been wrapped? Delivered? Shipped?

Are your stocking stuffers organized according to person–I use shopping bags, but you can use whatever you want.

Take a look at your house–is it cheery and bright?

Take a look at all your cards. Have they been sent out and the rest put away for next year?

Take a look at your menu? Have you purchased all the non-spoilables? Have you labeled them with coal-in-the-stocking threats so nobody touches them? Do you have a shopping list of what you’ll need to purchase later? Do you have a write-up of when to do what?

Have dinner invitations been sent? Is your home prepared for guests?

Is your calendar filled in and up-to-date? Did you include family fun down-time, like watching the Grinch and eating popcorn from the $5 tubs at Walmart?

Are your clothes ready for the season?

Is your freezer FULL of cookies?

If yes, you are set. If no and you’re feeling stressed, consider crossing things off your list and not doing them. If no and you’re not stressed, start at week one and work your way through the list, finishing up each week until you’re ready for next week’s mission, my personal favorite–no, it’s not about cookies.


Don't stress this Christmas!

Twelve Weeks of a Simple Christmas — Week 10

If you’ve been following along on our Twelve Weeks of a Simple Christmas missions, you are almost finished with buying, wrapping, and sending gifts; you’ve got a great start on cards or you’re finished; you’ve got the meal planned and many of the non-perishables tucked away; you’ve got the month scheduled so as to enjoy your favorite activities without being overbooked; and you even have some cookie dough in the freezer.

If not, you are right where I am. I don’t always practice what I preach…but I should listen to myself more. Especially about the cookies. (Eat the cookies, Self. Eat them all.) Hmmm…maybe not.

First, let’s address today’s mission. Tomorrow I’ll share an alternative schedule for those who are starting to freak out because it’s December and you still have pumpkins out. ‘Kay? ‘Kay.

Twelve Weeks of Simple Christmas Week 10: Laundry (Prep clothing,PJs, and linens, and get caught up on household laundry.)

This week’s mission for people more organized than I am has to do mostly with laundry. Woo hoo! Since we don’t have a machine in our rig (you remember we are full-time RVers, right?), laundry means laundromats. Some of them are pretty skanky, but when we find a nice one, it’s like a party in the laundry room! We are simple folk.

I digress. What’s new?

This week, make sure everyone’s church clothes are clean and ready to go for Christmas programs, fancy dinners, and church services. This might mean mending, letting down seams, or shopping. It might also mean polishing shoes.

Personally, we’re the thrift store, hand-me-down, only-own-what-you-truly-need type of people that make serious shoppers shake their heads. If you’re like us and can’t or won’t spend money on new outfits every year, add a little merry and bright to an old dress by purchasing or passing down a fancy hair doo-dad. My six girls are all getting a hair clip (because I’m a girl and I get it) and new tights or nylons (because I’m freezing my toes off in Wisconsin this month and so are they).

After every event, spot clean the clothes and hang them back up. Please don’t buy a new dress for yourself or your kids for every single function. Please don’t. Just please don’t. Think of her future husband! I’m glad I got that off my chest.

Next, if you’re having guests, wash your sheets and linens and set some aside so they’re clean for when your guests arrive and you don’t have to hustle and bustle to get that done when what you really want to be doing is eating the secret cookie stash sitting and visiting.

Still not done with the laundry!

Do you participate in the Christmas Eve PJs tradition? This is year 15 for us. I used to make PJs for my kids every year. Then I bought coordinating outfits. Now I get them each something they’ll like, even if it doesn’t match everyone else’s. Sniff sniff.

Wash those PJs so nobody wakes up with a Christmas morning rash! Then wrap them and stash them away. (I only wash them for my littles, not my middles and bigs, because I’m never positive there won’t be a return on the bigger sizes. There never has been, but…well…it’s what I do.)

Still not done with the laundry!

Get caught up on your laundry this week and stay that way. You don’t want to be crashing and burning Christmas week because you stayed up too late folding undies, do you? If you crash and burn, you want it to be from a self-induced chocolate cookie overload, right?

That’s it for the laundry. Whew! I feel so clean and fresh.

Now then, a few more details–keep going on the cookies if you’re into that. If you’re not…who are you? Also, if you haven’t started making those gifts yet, it may well be time to reconsider your gift list. And finally, deck those halls! We talked about decorations back in week X, so this is just a friendly reminder to actually do it and then pack the boxes away so they’re not cluttering up your Christmas. Have I mentioned how clutter makes me feel–can’t…breathe…gasp…gasp…gasp. It makes me tense.

Accountability Time

I’m so far behind that if this were a race I’d have been lapped by next Christmas…but that’s okay. I’m not stressing about it. If you’re behind also, you’ll appreciate tomorrow’s Festive Minute Mission–It’s technically Last Minute Mission, but the phrase “last minute” makes me get all stressy, while “festive minute” makes me get all cheery. Simple mind–simple mind game–it works for me.


Don't stress this Christmas!

Three Ways to Maintain Your Focus on CHRISTmas {Great for Homeschoolers}

We can no longer deny that Christmas is here! Because it is!

Just an aside–if I were Abraham Lincoln, I would have set Thanksgiving a couple weeks earlier. It leaves more time for the Christmas cookies decorations to be out.

3 Ways to Focus on CHRISTmas {Great for Families and Homeschoolers}

There are a few things I want to highlight that help make the season bright around here–not that Jesus’ birth needs any brightening, but sometimes our focus needs adjusting and our lenses need cleaning if you catch my drift.


Family Advent Guide: Truth in the Tinsel

Every year I tell you about this Advent program, Truth in the Tinsel: and Advent Experience for Little Hands. It’s a delightful Advent guide for the younger set, and even some of the older kids if they’re interested–my kids all participate to some extent. (I’d love to hear your suggestions for Advent activities for the older set!) My favorite part is that the readings are straight from the Bible–they’re short and sweet so the kids can all grasp them.

Truth in the Tinsel is wildly popular. There’s even a Facebook group for you to post your creations and so on and so forth–we don’t do that, because we are prefer our own group of faces. (That cheesy pun is my Christmas gift to you–no returns, no exchanges.) It’s also easily adaptable, because we adapt everything. (I really don’t like that about us, but it’s how we are.) Anyway, read my explanation of it here, see my interview with the creator of the program here, or check it out for yourself right here. If you buy through my links, you help support our Christian music mission.


Charlotte Mason Homeschool Holiday: Rediscovering Christmas

Right about now we scrap normal homeschooling for something a little more Christmasy–okay a lot more Christmasy. Jim and Sheila Carroll’s Rediscovering Christmas is our go-to and I l-o-v-e it! Not like I love my husband and my kids, but if it baked cookies for me, it would rank pretty close. It’s not worksheets and flashcards. It’s real living books, beautiful images, moving music, and more.

It’s ideal for us because my children love to snuggle down and listen to me read Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (which inspired our Judah’s middle name, Ebenezer) and can spend an hour poring over books filled with Norman Rockwell’s paintings. They love to listen to the old stories and the old music and the old traditions and the beautiful old poems. They also like Phineas and Ferb, so it’s not like we’re stuck in the wrong generation or something. Wink wink.

Here’s what I especially love about this seven-week course that takes you from Thanksgiving through Epiphany (January 6): All the proceeds go to support the founders’ seven African schools. They walk the walk, people! Check them out. I get nothing if you buy this downloadable course, but the African students do. If you have questions that can’t be answered on the site, please email Sheila–she’s super helpful!



Holiday Unit Study: Christmas Comes to America

Christmas Comes to America is a fun, Christ-centered unit study that lasts four weeks. It can be downloaded instantly or you can buy the print version. It is light, so you can still fit in all your other Christmas fun, and it requires very little parent prep. One thing I know after 18 years of homeschooling is that too much prep means it ain’t gonna happen. I like that it teaches the Old Testament prophecies and the New Testament fulfillments, talks about other cultures and traditions, and includes the arts. I also like that it directs you to quality books

We are testing it for the first time this year, so I can’t give you an in-depth analysis, but you can download a free sample week here so you can try before you buy. This is an affiliate link…and yes, I bought it, too.

How do you maintain focus through the holidays?

Thanks to Anna Fox for the gorgeous photo from a Dickens Christmas fair. (Screen and text mine.) Here’s a better view:

Three Ways to Focus on CHRISTmas {Great for Families and Homeschoolers}


Twelve Weeks of a Simple Christmas — Week 9

This week is the official launch of the Christmas season. If you’ve been following the Twelve Weeks of a Simple Christmas missions, you’re almost ready and can skate through the month with peace! If you are behind (like me), just jump in where you are. No procrastinating, no yelling at your kids, no blaming your hubby–just jump in joyfully and enjoy the season.

This week’s mission is a continuation of what you’ve already begun.

Twelve Weeks of a Simple Christmas -- Week 9: Finish Shopping. Wrap & Deliver Gifts.

1. Finish your Christmas shopping. If you can get it all taken care of by December 1, have a candy cane! If you can’t, have one anyway. If you’re making gifts, that have to wait until the last minute, double check that you have everything you need (including time).

2. Wrap all remaining gifts. I wrap everything individually, including stocking stuffers–it makes Christmas morning last longer and the kids feels like they’re getting more presents than the bank account actually allows for.

3. Deliver teacher, office, mailman, newsboy, and pastor gifts (unless there are specific times, such as an office or classroom party, when gifts are exchanged.) Ship gifts that need to go to family far away. (Remember, the post office does pick-ups.) Hide the rest. Wink.

It’s all about giving this week.

See all the Simple Christmas missions here.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Accountability Time

Let’s not go there. Wink wink. You know that comment at the beginning about not stressing out about being “behind?” That was for me.

Now is the perfect time to take a look at my ebook, From Frazzled to Festive: Finding Joy and Meaning in a Simple Christmas. It will help you with the practical side of Christmas as well as keep things in perspective. As one reader said, “It’s a guide for life–not just Christmas.”

Don't stress this Christmas!

Twelve Weeks of a Simple Christmas — Week 8

We are on week eight of Twelve Weeks of a Simple Christmas. It’s never too late to jump in!

This week is simple. It’s about cookies and cards.

Twelve Weeks of Simple Christmas Template Week 8


If you’re sending Christmas cards, here’s what you do:


Gather all the Christmas cards leftover from years past–the packages that come with 20 but you only use 17, the freebies in the mail, that one card you had to buy but never sent. Gather them all in one place.


Grab the cards you ordered last week.


Put them in a pretty basket or an ugly Walmart bag–whatever! Add your address book (unless that’s your cell phone), stamps, and some pens…because you will lose a couple.


Address a few each day or night. Of course, you can’t mail them until after Thanksgiving–it’s tradition! I always envied whoever was organized enough to have sent the first card that arrived in our mailbox every year. Maybe this year that will be you!


Eat a cookie.

Try to get them all out by December 11—two weeks before Christmas.

If you don’t do cards, you can skip to here. Try to get another batch of cookie dough in the freezer before all the Christmas hullabaloo starts next weekend, or just focus on Thanksgiving baking.

Accountability Time

Wait. What?

How are you doing?

Don't stress this Christmas!

Find Joy and Meaning in a Simple Christmas

Find Joy and Meaning in a Simple Christmas

Christmas is just around the corner.

Did that statement make you a little queasy? Did your heart start pounding a little faster? Did you instinctively stiffen, bracing yourself for a mad season of busyness during which you would grit your teeth and push just to get through it?

Or did you smile and relax deeper into your seat, thinking of the peaceful, joy-filled time of preparation and family that would soon be upon you?

If you’re in that second group, this post is not for you.

If, however, getting through the Christmas season is much like surviving final exam week, I have help. I have been where you are, but no longer! Christmas can be a time of peace. It can be a time of savoring the smells and tastes of the season, holding family members a little closer, and remembering the Savior born on Christmas day. It can be fun and fulfilling without being overly busy.

Make This Christmas Special by Making This Christmas Simple

I wrote a book to help you enjoy a more peaceful Christmas, to regain the joy of the season, to deal with gifts, family, food, fun without a heaping helping of angst. It’s called From Frazzled to Festive: Finding Joy and Meaning in a Simple Christmas.

My Christmases have been getting better and better as I’ve been implementing the principles I wrote about in the book. My children have been enjoying them more, also. Even so, every once in a while, I have to go back and reread a chapter or two to keep the calm in Christmas.

Don’t barely survive Christmas. Thrive! Savor it! Love it once again like you did as a child.

One reader wrote in saying that the principles in From Frazzled to Festive could be applied to many other areas of life as well. What an excellent thought–finding joy and meaning in a simple life!

If you want to regain the joy and meaning in a simple Christmas (and a simple life), do it! Refocus on what matters most. If you need help, my book is available right here.

Learn more about From Frazzled to Festive here.

Buy From Frazzled to Festive here.

Do your family a favor--simplify Christmas this year.

Twelve Weeks of a Simple Christmas — Week 7

This week’s Twelve Weeks of a Simple Christmas mission revolves entirely around cards. If you don’t do cards, you’re finished. Congratulations!

This is short and sweet…for once.

Twelve Weeks of Simple Christmas -- Week 7: Take your family photo and order your cards.

If you haven’t yet, take your family photo. Consider taking it while everyone is together over Thanksgiving weekend and can peek at digitals to decide on a favorite.

Regarding cards, there should be some incredible online sales over the next couple of days, so keep your eyes open.

That’s that. Say cheese and get moving!

(Since this week’s mission was so quick, what do you say to whipping up a batch of Christmas cookie dough and popping it in the freezer? I say that’s just brilliant. Cookies…brilliant.)

Accountability Time

Let’s talk turkey…or stockings. I am still perfecting my gift list, haven’t bought wrapping paper, and didn’t do anything with my decorations. That said, my decorations were put back very wisely last time, and I only have a tiny bit, since we only have a tiny trailer.


Don't stress this Christmas!