Crafting your own simple holiday season

I was debating about whether to write this now or later, but with Thanksgiving next week, many people will jump headlong into Christmas activities immediately after.

I know I have already gotten some Christmas invites, so I’m guessing many of you have too.

I don’t buy into the notion that every single Christmas activity has to be either a gift giving or food gorging event. I’m just not buying it.

What ever happened to just getting together to visit while sipping on some tea or cider?

I’m not Scrooge. I promise. I love Christmas. It’s my favorite holiday, and you can ask my husband, I talk about the things I want to do with our family all the time. I am always thinking and dreaming about ways to make it special and meaningful for our family.

But what I like about Christmas has very little to do with food or gifts. In fact, I have intentionally made that a small part of the festivities. We do make treats, but not tons. And we do give gifts. I love finding gifts that are unique to each person’s personality and interests. But these things are only a part of the season.  It isn’t our focus.

What I love about Christmas is music playing in the background. Lights on the Christmas tree. Candles flickering. Cozy evenings reading a book aloud as a family. Driving around to look at lights around town. Sipping hot cocoa, popping some popcorn, and watching a Christmas movie. Lighting a new candle each night at dinner until we have 25 lit on Christmas day. Focusing on God’s redemptive plan in Jesus’ birth through our Jesse tree tradition. Christmas stories. Laughter. Memories.

I want to encourage you to have the freedom to make your own Christmas meaningful. Have the freedom to say no to all the loud clamor surrounding Christmas and do what will be meaningful and memorable to your family.

You don’t have to come off the Christmas season completely exhausted and spent because you have been so busy running from one Christmas party to the next. Just don’t do it, I say.

Neither do you have to make every treat that you see on Pinterest, dozens of crafts with your children, or do every “meaningful” activity you come across. If it’s not meaningful to your family, then don’t do it.

Have the freedom to be yourself this season. If a quiet dinner with another family is more your thing, then go for it. If you would rather host (or attend) a large party, then go for it. But don’t be pressured into having to spend the entire Christmas season in a way that really doesn’t mean a whole lot to you.

Put the non-negotiable events on the calendar now.

Before you schedule any extra things put those parties or events that you absolutely will attend. Family get-togethers, church events, work or school parties, etc. The events that you wouldn’t miss for anything need to be up on the calendar right away so every one knows what to expect.

Block out days for specific family activities you want to do.

If you are the type to accidentally over schedule yourself, than you may need to just put your own family on the calendar. We don’t have much going on in our evenings, but I still find it helpful to put things in pencil on the calendar. Otherwise, the season gets away from me and I haven’t done some of the ‘little’ things I had intended.

Do some big and lots of little things.

Remember, that memories are made of a few big things and a lot of little things. You want to see the Nutcracker? That would probably be a bigger thing. That will be a memorable outing that you look forward to and remember for years to come. But the evenings of playing games by the Christmas tree will be equally memorable.

Keep tabs on what your family can handle, and spread the big stuff out among lots of slow, peaceful memories. You will all enjoy it more, and you will be much less exhausted.

Above all, make this Christmas season one that you look back on with a smile and precious memories. It is a great thing to get tired out making one special activity happen. You’ll think that was worth it. But doing it night after night, is not worth it.

Craft your own December. Be yourself. Know your limits and your family’s limits. And have a fun, memorable Christmas that is unique to your family.

What are some unique Christmas traditions that you do?


  1. A couple of years ago, I got so excited about Christmas and so overwhelmed at the same time. I wanted my kids to remember the holiday season with fondness as they grew older, but I wanted to keep my sanity. I started making a list of all the things I wanted to do or read or watch or make. Then, I wrapped up the books and movies, and I wrote out different activities for us to do on cards. I numbered everything from 1-25, and we open one thing each day. I know it sounds like more trouble than it’s worth, but it really helped me to not get overwhelmed but also to remember that Christmas is a special time. So, every year we read How the Grinch Stole Christmas, go look at lights one night, call family and sing “Jingle Bells” on another day, make snowflakes on another. I don’t spend any extra money for any of the things, but every day becomes a little extra special for my kids. They get to unwrap something or open an envelope to have a little Christmas magic.

    • I love this, Kelly! We have done the one small thing a day (with a made up calendar), but I like the idea of wrapping it up. The kids would totally love that. I might see if I can throw it together before December 1st. :)

  2. “Craft your own December” – I love that! Also, cute kids :)

  3. “But what I like about Christmas has very little to do with food or gifts. In fact, I have intentionally made that a small part of the festivities.”

    I love this. And agree wholeheartedly!

  4. Great reminder. I need to start thinking specifically.

  5. I loved this post! My kids are older now, but they haven’t forgotten any of our traditions. They will come home from college and expect to light candles and sing carols together before decorating the tree!

    • I love this! I have great memories of our traditions growing up too! I love that I can pass those on to my kids now!

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