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 One Mission

Your mission this week, should you choose to accept it (and I recommend you do), is the first of three steps of the planning stage. Our planning missions deal with time, money, and food. Because I value time over money and slightly more than food, we will begin there.

The first thing I want you to plan is to plan to not over-plan. Commit to not overfilling your schedule, overextending your family, and spreading yourself like butter scraped over too much bread. Make this commitment, and then remind yourself of it every single time you’re tempted to overbook your Christmas. (More on this next time.)

Twelve Weeks of a Simple Christmas Week 1: Plan Your Schedule

Now, time for the Christmas schedule planning.

Grab your calendar (or your calendar app) and write down (or type) the following:

  1. Where you will be for all the upcoming holidays and when. If you are traditionally at a certain person’s house or you stay home, this should be simple. If you rotate annually or have no set pattern, work on getting those details nailed down this week.
  2. Add in all the activities you choose to be a part of. Some you know right now, but others are still sketchy–write them down as soon as the invitations or notices come in, such as church programs or office parties. Call people for info if you need it. Do it!
  3. Write down all deadlines and requirements–shopping deadlines, card-mailing deadlines, shipping deadlines, cookie-baking for a school party, packing days…you know the drill.
  4. Schedule in downtime and family fun, or you won’t have it. Include your family in this. Ask them what they absolutely want to do this Christmas to ensure their favorite holiday fun is included. This is super important!

Need some ideas of what could be on your calendar? Consider these to get the ol’ hamster in the head running and the idea wheel turning:

  • Set a gift-buying deadline.
  • Schedule a family Christmas photo picture day. If it’s a pro session, call today and set it up. Today!
  • Set a card-mailing deadline if you do cards.
  • Set a wrapping deadline.
  • Set a shipping deadline well ahead of the USPS’ deadline.
  • Set a stocking stuffer shopping deadline.
  • Choose a decorating day.
  • Pick a gift wrapping day or deadline if you wrap as you go.
  • Set a deadline for any homemade gifts you’re making.
  • Do you bake? Set grocery shopping and baking deadlines.
  • Add your kids’ and spouse’s school and office Christmas functions.
  • Add club and church functions if you know about them.
  • Call nearby relatives and ask about their kids’ events.
  • Write in any set family events, like the New Year’s Eve party your aunt holds every year.
  • Schedule in family fun: movie night, Christmas light viewing, attending the live nativity, delivering cookies to shut-ins, Christmas caroling, craft day–whatever you want to do.

Simple! Now grab that calendar and get it done! You can do this! You can have a peaceful Christmas–start today. 

For more guidance in scheduling your Christmas without feeling stretched, buy my book, From Frazzled to Festive: Finding Joy and Meaning in a Simple Christmas.

Don't stress this Christmas!

Did you do it? Did you start your planning?

Holding myself accountable: Each week I will tell you what I have done to follow the missions. Since this is the first week, and there technically shouldn’t be pre-mission homework, I’m in the clear. Next week, however, is a different story! 

Truth in The Tinsel: An Interview With the Creator

Holiday shoppers are running around in a frenzy of excitement and spending, their eyes on the latest deal. Christmas trees are being put up, and all eyes are on the twinkling lights and the ornaments. Christmas baking is beginning, and hungry eyes are eyeing the sweets and treats.

Let’s pause to consider one thing: with so much distracting us during December, how can we focus all eyes on the manger?

I am super-excited to interview Amanda White, creator of Truth in the Tinsel: An Advent Experience for Little Hands. She is sharing with us her ideas for using Truth in the Tinsel to focus our children and ourselves on the manger while still simplifying Christmas.

Check out Truth in the Tinsel.

Add Meaning and Simplicity to Your Advent Season: Truth in the Tinsel, An Interview with the Creator and a Discount Code

At The Simple Homemaker, we’re all about simplifying life to regain the joy in our family, faith, and, this time of year, Christmas. How does Truth in the Tinsel help maintain a simple, joyful Christmas season, despite adding another activity into a busy time of year?

Well, Truth in the Tinsel can seem overwhelming because when was the last time you did a devotion and craft with your kids 24 days in a row?! But that’s exactly why Truth in the Tinsel is such a great activity–Christmas is the best time to lead your kids to Jesus. The stores, the television and even people’s front yards are celebrating Jesus’ birth. We can either choose to go along with all their celebrations and be swept away with the craziness or choose to slow down a bit, focus on spending time with our family and on the most important story of all.

My goal in writing the book was to empower parents. I wanted to give them a tool or vehicle to tell their kids about Jesus and his birth. The book includes detailed supply lists, easy tutorials and minimal “hard work” on your part. I’ve written the hard parts so you can do the fun part!

I know you offer printable ornaments to simplify Truth in the Tinsel for busy parents. Are there other ways it’s adaptable for people who don’t have the opportunity to do this nightly? For example, some parents work odd hours or only have time on weekends. Some grandparents would love to do this, but only see the children for a few days during the holidays. And some didn’t find this terrific program until the week before Christmas, like us two years ago!

I know not everyone (myself included) can do every single activity! 24 days is a long time! So, first of all–give yourself permission to not do it every day! You will be too busy one day and that’s fine! Just pick up where you left off!

I’ve also included alternate schedules in the back of the book. There is one for just 6 days that cover each of the traditional Scripture passages. There is a 10 day version that focuses on just the people/characters of the story. And even one for 7 days that is about the prophecies about Jesus and his life.

I’d love your ideas for long-distance Advent fun with Truth in the Tinsel. Could grandparents, for example, Skype the lesson with a grandchild, and the child can color the printed ornaments and show Grandma and Grandpa on Skype the next day?

Oh my goodness, I totally love that idea! I’ve always thought it would be fun–especially with multiple kids (like do you really want 5 of the exact same ornament?!) to give your ornaments as gifts. You could deliver them to nursing homes, use them as gift toppers or even box a few up and ship them off to Grandma for her tree! And you could include photos of the kids making the ornaments!

I’m sure readers share stories with you about how Truth in the Tinsel has made their Christmases more focused and joyful. What is your favorite story?

I hear stories all the time about how kids are begging to read the Bible every day in December, how kids can tell the entire story of Jesus’ birth at just 3 years old, how parents and kids felt closer with one another after doing Truth in the Tinsel together each night, how churches brought parents together when they gave the ebook as a gift, how kids will talk about the stories and ornaments in the middle of the year and more. But one of my favorite stories is a little boy who was just 4 years old asked Jesus to be his Lord and Savior because he was so intrigued and impressed with learning that Jesus came into the world to to be a light in the darkness (this is day 1 in the ebook). He recognized the own darkness in his life and asked Jesus to be the Light in his heart. How cool is that? A mama was purposeful enough to do the devotions with him, talk to him and God’s Word did what God promised–grew and produced results in that little boy’s heart. It wasn’t anything hard, just reading stories and making crafts. Who knew that could make an eternal difference?

Do you have any final thoughts for my readers, my happy crowd of simplifiers trying to make life less complicated, especially at Christmas?

Simplifying, to me, doesn’t always mean getting rid of everything and being still. Sometimes it means focusing. It means cutting off the fat, the unimportant and frivolous. I hope that’s what Truth in the Tinsel can encourage parents to do at Christmas. To cut off the frivolous parts of Christmas and put a laser-focus on the things that are most important.

Thank you, Amanda!

Add Meaning and Simplicity to Your Advent Season: Truth in the Tinsel, An Interview with the Creator and a Discount Code

Personally, my family has used Truth in the Tinsel with our seven children for two years now. Not everyone in our brood fits the recommended age, but you’re never too old or young to hear the message of the manger or to spend time together. Some of my children made fancier or simpler crafts that they improvised, and some skipped the crafts and merely listened. It was a wonderful experience, and no, we didn’t do it every day. It’s easy to pick up anywhere and jump in, just like Amanda said.

Buy Truth in the Tinsel here.

Read my review from last year here.

Please hit the share buttons and spread the word about Truth in the Tinsel. Other mamas will thank you!