Keeping Christmas simple (not stressful!) with kids (31 days to take the stress out of Christmas)

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This post is part of a series – “31 days to take the Stress out of Christmas”. You can read all the posts in the series here.  And to make sure you don’t miss a post you can subscribe to have every post delivered to your inbox, or follow me on facebook.

How to keep Christmas simple (not stressful!) with kids

Kids + Christmas = no stress?  I know you are thinking, “yeah, right!”  With so many possible activities to do, a shopping list a mile long of things they want and more than you can afford, and trying to make things “perfect” for them can definitely cause stress at Christmas.  Since my husband and I don’t have kids I asked three of my blogger friends who are moms to share how they keep Christmas simple with kids, and make it a time of meaning and memories not stress. 

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Molly is a mom of 4 little ones and blogs at Pennies ’n Grace.  Check out her 31 days series on “FOOD – Festivity Planning, Organizational Help, Optimizing Budget, Developing Recipes.”

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Christina’s series this month has been fabulous! I’ve been guilty of checking often each day to see when the next post would be available to read. I have tucked a few of her tips away and began stashing a few things away in the freezer and in hiding as preparation for the holidays.

I am a mommy of 4 precious children– Andrew (8) Chloe (6) Madelynn (4) and Elianna (2). Four children and Christmas can be….well, absolutely CRAZY and WONDERFUL! Christmas in my family was always a HUGE ordeal and my momma always made it extra special. When my husband and I got married we came up with our own traditions and fun for our own family. However, over the years it has changed some, and quite honestly having just moved to Charleston I am pretty sure traditions are going to be changed again. I am thinking a walk on the beach on Christmas night would be heavenly complete with strolling the rich neighborhoods gazing at lights!

Our very first Christmas with our son was spent in a NICU ward. Andrew was born at 30.5 weeks and spent a good deal of time in a box with lots of lights and wires.. That Christmas traditions were somewhat thrown out the window and we opted to do some special things for other NICU families and nurses at the hospital. It was a fun way to give back and to share some extra joy in a tough time amidst the holidays. We plan on doing something with our children at a local hospital or shelter this Christmas too.

Our Christmas Eve tradition is to make every yummy appetizer in the world, have lots of friends over, and play some fun games and eat! After the kids go to bed we fill the stockings and put the rest of the gifts under the tree. Every Christmas morning we start by having a birthday party for Jesus—complete with “cowboy coffee cake,” candles, and balloons. It has been absolutely fun teaching our children the true meaning of Christmas in this way. They enjoy helping me bake the cake the night before and doing a bit of birthday decorating. After we sing “Happy Birthday” we sing a few carols and read the Christmas story from Luke 2 together or just Daddy reads it. We then take turns giving 2-3 things that we are thankful Jesus has done for us the past year.

Our kids pretty much get gifts at birthday and Christmas. I’m sure you mommies are aware of the cost of food and schooling so you will understand! Usually an extra treat is a box of fruit snacks thrown in the grocery cart. They never walk through toy aisles and see commercials of the newest and greatest toys. Sometimes I wish they could and I could buy them what they want, but then I give thanks that they don’t for a variety of reasons. My kids don’t know what they are “missing” by not knowing all the new and “improved” toys there is to offer. Instead, they find absolute thrill in receiving just something “new” to them. I shop for Christmas all year long! Seems silly, but I have under the bed storage just for Christmas gifts that I pick up throughout the year. I just jot down what I get under each name on my handy Christmas notebook so I can keep track what I have. We typically never spend more than $50 on each child. It can go a long way when you shop at yard sales and Goodwill. Our Andrew has had a certain Lego Set on his “list” the last 3 years. The set was $100 at the store and we couldn’t justify that. Well, we found the same set brand new in the box still packaged for $35 a few months ago!!! I cannot wait to see his face! Then, I found him 3 Wii games that he’s wanted for a year for $2 each at a yard sale last month. So, you don’t have to break the bank to be able to give your kids something wonderful for a gift. I pick up a few smaller gifts and set up a mini store in our bedroom the first week of December. Each of the children get to come in and “shop” for their siblings. This is an exciting time for them to pick out gifts and wrap them for their siblings and place them under the tree. They get to enjoying giving their gifts at Christmas.

Those are just a few of the things we enjoy during the holidays. We always carol our neighborhood handing out plates of cookies, have cookie exchanges, wrap stocking stuffers with white tissue paper, and have lots of crazy fun! Enjoy your children this Christmas and give thanks for the moments and memories you have to share with them.

Christa is a mom of 3 little ones and blogs at Brown Sugar Toast.  Check out her 31 days series on “Simplify” – I have been so challenged by her series!

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I truly love Christmas – and {most of!} the lovely sights, sounds, and activities that come along with it. However, I also love simple things. And a lot of times, I find that Christmas + simple do not go together. More like Christmas + STRESS, am I right?! That’s why I love Christina’s series on 31 days to take the stress out of Christmas!

I have 3 kids – 4 years old and under – so there’s a pretty big potential to be stressed even when it’s NOT Christmas time! Even though I am totally not a simple + perfect mom, there are a few things we’ve done to keep the stress out of Christmas. I even alliterated them to help you remember. 😉

Plan. Planning ahead makes everything better. In the case of Christmas, I love doing extra things like decorating cookies with my kids, delivering treats to neighbors, sending out Christmas cards, and checking out the Christmas lights around town. The only way I’ve found to do those things and not turn into a crazy woman is to plan ahead! So I make cookie dough before Thanksgiving and pop it in the freezer. I shop for presents throughout the year. And I try to have our family pictures done before Black Friday so that I can take advantage of the amazing Christmas card deals the stores are running. That doesn’t mean you need to do everything exactly like I do it in order to have a stress free Christmas. But it does mean you need to plan ahead in whatever way works for you + your family. Planning ahead always reduces stress!

Prioritize. What are your priorities during the Christmas season? Is it to spend extra time doing Christmas activities in your city? Make special crafts with your kids or by yourself? Spend time helping needy people? Have family/friends over? Attend special events at church? Take time before the season ‘hits’ to decide what your top priorities are so that you’ll know what to…

Pick. Whenever you choose one thing, you’re always saying ‘no’ to something else. And vice versa. When you decide what your priorities are for the Christmas season, it makes it easier to pick the best activities for your family. Should you allow your child to spend the day with their friend? Should you attend the Christmas party? Or make cookies? Drive to see relatives? Deciding your priorities beforehand makes it easier to know which activities you should choose to do in the moment.

Hope these three tips are helpful as you decide what’s best for your family this season!

Heather is a mom of 5 little ones and blogs at Thrifty Stories.  Check out her 31 days series on “Life Contained” – all about organizing using different types of containers in her home.  I have really enjoyed her series!

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My husband I decided a few years ago that that we wanted to instill in our children the concept of a simple Christmas. One that consisted of less of the “gimme-gimme” attitude. We all have tendencies towards that spirit, don’t we?

We are striving to focus on simple things: faith, family time, and fun memories.  We wanted there to be less of a focus on gifts and Christmas lists- not that we have a problem with doing either of those. We don’t.  Christmas is much deeper than those reasons and we want our celebration to reflect this choice.

So we after find this idea online we adopted the The Four Gift RuleFourgiftrule

You can read more about how Heather and her family put this to practice in their home here.

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I hope you gained some ideas and encouragement in keeping Christmas simple (and not stressful!) with kids from these moms. 

What tips do you have on keeping Christmas simple and not stressful with kids?

Comments

  1. What a great series this has been. I have loved reading all of your ideas and tips. I am so eager to relieve stress from my Christmas this year….starting now.
    You have me all inspired. I totally had to hold myself back from wrapping one of my girls “something to wear” gifts that I have set aside for her (clearance rack and thrift store). “Girl, it’s still October. You can’t wrap Christmas presents yet.” I told myself. We all know that wrapping Christmas presents two months ahead of time is insanely early and only an overachiever would even consider it, right? I reluctantly put my tape back. “Yeah, I guess that October is a bit early.”

    So I’m wrapping it tomorrow. 😉 😉 😉

    (Thanks for the mention, Christina.)
    Heather @ Thrifty Stories recently posted..S5, E7: News Baby {The Birth Story of Baby #5}My Profile

  2. Thanks for letting me be a part of your series!! Here’s to a simplified Christmas that is special because of the focus in Christ!
    Christa recently posted..31 Day Simplify Series :: Result of Simplicity {day 31}My Profile

  3. The number one way to focus the season on Jesus? Attend church–at least on Christmas Eve, but even better throughout the Advent season. Of course, my family attends church year round, but seeing the sanctuary decked out with wreaths, holly, and candles (even helping with the decorating when we can); the lighting of the Advent wreath, hearing the scriptures relating Christ’s coming and building up to the Nativity stories, and singing Advent and Christmas carols–that’s what makes this time of year so very special. It is the manifestation of “For God so loved the world…” Besides that, the greatest joy of Christmas is being together with family.

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