Oh Christmas. I love it so much. But every year at this time, I have to recommit to simplifying it, because as you know, it can quickly get out of control…and then instead of celebrating Christmas, we merely try to get through it. 

I made this kit this year to help families focus on Christ. The booklet contains 24 simple activities of kindness and togetherness. Go here for more information.

Here are five of my favorite tips for keeping Christmas simple: 

  1. DO put up a Christmas tree. Trees make everything instantly Christmasy.

DON’T put up more than one tree. It just takes extra time and doesn’t feel any more Christmasy. If you have an extra tree lurking in your storage room, donate it! 

  1. DO buy gifts for those you love.

DON’T buy more than a few gifts per person. Instead, decide on giving each other fewer gifts this year, pool your extra money and do a Sub for Santa. And by all means, involve your kids in every step of the Sub for Santa – they will never forget it.

(Over the years, I’ve had a lot of people send me stories of their most memorable Christmas. Not one has ever said it was the year they got the most presents. Just sayin’.) 

  1. DO make things special for your children. Read Christmas stories, sing songs, bake cookies & deliver gifts together.

DON’T make it about Santa Claus. (Warning: soapbox issue here.) I’ve never understood why we celebrate the birth of our Savior, who lives and loves us, and who gives us every good thing we have, by focusing on a fictional character who doesn’t exist and doesn’t give us anything at all. In what world does that make sense? (Okay I’m finished.) 

  1. DO give your neighbors an extra cheery Merry Christmas greeting. Better yet, go visit them.

DON’T feel obligated to give neighbor gifts. In fact, this year, be the neighbor who suggests that everyone in the neighborhood finally give that tradition up in favor of donating to a worthy cause. 

  1. DO center your Christmas on Christ, through simple acts of kindness and togetherness.

DON’T try to do too much. Over-programming Christmas, even if it’s with Christ-centered activities, is still over-programming.

Comment your favorite tip for simplifying Christmas, and I'll send you a free copy of "The Star Still Shines" sheet music.  

*In all you do and don’t do, strive for a few simple and silent nights, where you can feel the wondering awe of the birth of the Savior, and be thankful for all He has given you.



  • Stephanie N.

    This year we involved our youngest two boys (the last 2 left at home!) in our sub for Santa shopping. We had about 5 tags from an Angel Tree and everyone’s schedule miraculously aligned so that we were all able to go shopping (my husband included) one day after school. My boys were able to help pick out a baby doll for a 2-year-old, a church dress for a 7-year-old and make-up for a 14-year-old. I hope it was as memorable for them as it was for me.

  • Elizabeth Baumann

    Hi there, I agree with simplifying Christmas. It really helped us out when we decided to buy everyone the same present. I know that at first hearing of it that sounds a little off, but it really works. I have three small kids and I buy them each 3 gifts. That’s not too hard. The hard part are the gifts for my family, his family etc. you know, right! We are talking a lot of money, time and effort to get those. So I thought one day- too bad I can’t buy everyone the same thing. Then it slowly changed into – hey, I can get everyone the same thing! It still takes effort because I have grandparents all the way down to babies,but it’s easier overall. My first year I bought bath towels. Not major exciting, but nice. Since then we have done all sorts of things like pillows, gloves, aprons, books, and this year we are giving copper coins. My sisters have caught on and they are doing the same. It’s fun, easy, and can fit any budget.

  • Shelley

    I love this post and this topic – such a good reminder to focus our efforts and time on what matters most.

    One of our traditions is doing the 12 Days of Christmas to a friend or neighbor but it was always stressful and seemed to be really inconvenient many of the days. A couple years ago I began preparing all the packages the first week of December and then asking the missionaries to deliver a big box with all the presents labeled “Do not open until …”. It’s made it such a better experience for us.

    Hope you guys have a wonderful Christmas!

  • Sherri Lang

    When our children married and became their own family we started giving a simple gift for entire family. First something like popcorn and a movie and then when children came along ..snack recipes and board/ card games.

  • Natalie P.

    Instead of giving neighbor gifts, we hold a neighborhood open house one night. People come and go as they want, bring a treat or not, and just enjoy sitting and visiting with each other.

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