Keeping This Season Simple. Really.

Written by contributor Renee Tougas of FIMBY.

For several weeks now, and even months in some cases, bloggers have been posting about preparing for a simpler holiday.

Tsh has a countdown series, Plan Your Peaceful Christmas and fellow contributor Jessica (from Life as Mom) also offers a free Simpler Season planning resource.

I haven’t done any planning whatsoever, except for pinning a few wishful thinking, “maybe I’ll find extra energy next month” crafty ideas on a Pinterest board.

November was an unreal crazy month for our family. Another move. Our second in six months. The worst cold we’ve had in years, the same time as our move. And now, in two days we celebrate our youngest daughter’s 9th birthday.

Christmas has not been on the radar. At all.

It appears that everyone around us has their holiday act together. They made a budget and saved money. Handmade gifts were started back in July. A cute family photo is back from the printer, ready to be mailed. Operation Christmas Child boxes have already been sent.

These theoretical people – I know they’re out there, I used to be one – are really on the ball.

Then there’s our family.

Barely unpacked from our move and exhausted from weeks of sickness. We find ourselves nearing the end of this month pulling together the last of our energies to make a memorable and special day for the birthday girl.

Christmas this year truly needs to be simple. Homeschool this month truly needs to be simple.

Photo by Renee Tougas

Here are a few things I plan to do to K.I.S.S. (keep it simple sister) this Christmas season.

Keeping the calendar open.

This year we live in an entirely different community and country than where we used to call home. There are no “but we do this every year” local activities. Our December calendar is a clean slate.

I’m interested to find out what cool and interesting local things do happen during December but I am not committing to any of them.

We’re not doing school, we’re doing crafts.

I look forward to our December homeschool break.

Photo by Renee Tougas

We’re a crafty bunch and enjoy spending the month making gifts and celebrating the season. I am hoping (though not placing unrealistic expectations on myself) to make a few handmade gifts and the kids of course will be crafting a storm creating gifts for each other.

Celebrate the light.

For the first year ever we have a wood burning stove in our home, front and center in our main living space. An honest to goodness hearth.

No mantle for stockings but a fire for snuggling late afternoons and evenings to read, craft or play games together.

Photo by Renee Tougas

I also love to burn candles this time of year. Something as simple as a beeswax candle on the counter is one way I like to celebrate this season of light (and dark).

Let the kids decorate.

There was a time in my life when the tree was decorated “just so”. These were the years before I had children older than six months.

But children have their own ideas about decorating and as soon as they could reach those shiny ornaments all my perfect decorating schemes went out the frosty window.

These days I am happy to let the kids take over the decorating. They love opening the Christmas bin and finding favorite treasures and making the house festive.

Go outdoors.

A month of moving and sickness seriously curtailed our weekly outdoor adventures. We are all looking forward to getting back into nature.

Photo by Renee Tougas

Winter is a magical time of year to be outdoors. The frosty ground, icicles and (if we’re lucky) mounds of snow are the perfect playground for this time of year.

Enjoying treats (but just a few).

Having sick family members, including myself, for most of November was simply no fun. Our immune systems have been working hard enough without adding heaps of sugar to compromise them further.

But…it is Christmas so we’ll make a few treats, just not too many.

I like it when I’m ahead of the game coming into December. But I’m keeping it simple this year instead of struggling to keep up with unrealistic expectations.

Anyone else coming to the game late? How do you plan to keep your season simple?

About Renee

Renee is a creative homemaker and homeschooling mama of three. She loves to write, take pretty photos, and be in nature with her family. Her mission is to nourish, encourage, and teach; build relationship and create beauty. FIMBY is where she tells that story. Drawing from her years of experience and training, Renee also offers individual and personalized Homeschool Coaching.


  1. Our November has been consumed by basketball, but even in that, I can be thankful! It has helped me to be thankful for new friendships, learning to be more organized and planning ahead for crockpot dinners, and my boys sleep better.
    However, I am hoping for a very simple December. I have two things on my calendar right now after BB is done. I hope that I can keep it that way. I have cut out a bunch of the “good” things, but the less stressful time really helps!
    Martha Artyomenko’s latest post: Finding our way home by Charlene Baumbich

  2. I love this! We are keeping it simple by not actually starting the ‘holiday season’ until this friday and doing only homemade/craft-style gifts. My daughter’s second birthday is a week before christmas so I am more inclined to put 100% more energy and effort into celebrating that – she’s number one this season 🙂
    Elisabeth@Manic Mrs. Stone’s latest post: 23 WEEKS!!! {MATERNITY SERIES}

  3. Renee, I struggle with how much I need to do every year for Christmas (we also celebrate Hanukkah). I am definitely not in the “do too much” category and rarely start before December.

    This year we are making our own Christmas tree, instead of buying a real one. Each year we try to do about three traditional things for each holiday and always try to keep the meaning of each holiday in the forefront, rather than dwell on the commercial definitions of what the holidays are supposed to be about.

    Since the days have gotten shorter, we burn candles every night for dinner – and the candles are my favorite part of Hanukkah.

    Our homeschool calendar is pretty light (by choice) this month, too. I love your idea of crafting the whole month…hmmm…that would open up time to make the homemade pasta gifts we were thinking about.
    Jennifer @ kidoing!’s latest post: Chia Caramel Fruit Dip (Dairy-Free and Sugar-Free)

  4. I feel like we’re late too… But our budget has never been tighter than it is this year. Both kids will get 1 toy they’d really like, a stocking and we’re going to remember the real reason for Christmas. I may take a little Internet break just so everyone else’s fabulous Christmas isn’t right there in my face to make me feel like the grinch! 😉 (any baking, treats and crafts will depend on what the morning sickness strikes-randomly-through-the-day-sickness will allow!)

  5. yes we are always late….November is a busy birthday month for us ( 5 birthdays!!!) and because we make the birthday presents Christmas is not on the radar until after November 29th–#3’s birthday 🙂 we pick a few special events (this year only two) and we focus on crafting/baking and if the weather is not too cold/snowy I try to get the brood outside (baby just turned one so our outdoor adventures are never too long unless I can find a babysitter esp. if its cold) but really I try to keep life slow and enjoy the fire and very soon Christmas lights….

  6. What a lovely piece. It can be hard to “let go” of controlling all those things for me, but I find that when I do, everyone has a better time and the memories we make are authentic. Happy Holidays to your family!
    Jessica’s latest post: A false sense of security…

  7. When one has had a super stressful fall, absolutely don’t put the pressure to have a “fabulous” Christmas. A simple one will do just fine. We had a holiday season 3 years back where we had a 2 week hospital stay just after Thanksgiving. The whole situation was stressful yet a miracle at the same time. That year for Christmas we had frozen lasagna. We were just happy to be alive and together!
    My special season of Thanksgiving

  8. I am never prepared for December! LOL Luckily I don’t have to do much for the holiday besides decorate and purchase a few gifts. I am thinking about not sending Christmas cards this year — every penny counts this year. I am hosting an adoption shower for a friend next week. Thinking about Christmas will have to wait until after that. I will watch your blog and think about my Christmas next year. 😉
    shelli’s latest post: Where to take kids on a rainy day in Athens, Georgia

  9. Great tips! Good luck continuing with the move-inning, and happy holidays to you and yours. 🙂
    e-Expeditions’s latest post: Links We Love: 11/23/11

  10. The best thing I did this year was to ask each family member what meant Christmas to them. I was shocked by the answers! Most all revolved around the simplest things: making paper snowflakes, playing the guitar in the evening and singing carols, and letting the kids decorate the tree themselves were at the top of the list. So, if everything else is less important to them, why am I wasting so much time, energy, and money on it?
    Jennifer’s latest post: Thankful

  11. I love your plan! There is a season for everything, and it sounds like you have that figured out.

    Three years ago, my mother-in-law died just a week before Christmas. It was a very sad year. And yet, there are bittersweet memories of that time as well.

    I hope you guys are on the mend! My family was sick, sick, sick, as you were moving, so I could totally relate.
    Jessica’s latest post: Get Your Engines Revving with Cars (A Rainy Day Survival Kit)

  12. I’m with you, Renee. I’m not particularly on the ball or ready for Christmas. It will be simple this year, low expectations, but I almost think that makes more room for it to be meaningful and focused on the right things, you know?
    Stephanie @ Keeper of the Home’s latest post: Happy Thanksgiving

  13. Good for you, Renee. It can be disheartening to see everyone else’s supposedly perfect blogs and all the stuff I “should” be doing, but am not. I am making more again by hand this year, but that can also be stressful, since the time is so limited, it seems. Last year I let the kids decorate the tree, and they did a great job. It wasn’t “perfect” or even how I would choose to do it, but they had so much fun and it was special. This year I hope I can keep from the depression and funk, and not be a scrooge, grumpy with my children because of all the stress.

  14. What a refreshing post! Just reading these ideas makes others realize that they too can have a simple Christmas. I love the idea of doing crafts instead of school. Don’t know if I can actually do it, but it’s a great idea.

    One thing that makes our Christmas simpler is that we have never been able to afford to spend much money at Christmas. Maybe everyone could cut their Christmas spending in half and realize how much simpler their Christmas can be.
    Heidi’s latest post: Online Phonics Program

  15. We’re also keeping things simple this year. We won’t also “do school” starting from the first day of Advent as we will make our Jesse tree ornaments every day. I also just discovered the “luminarias” through a Christmas book and we’ll also do that. We’re trying to start our own Advent family tradition and we want it simple and meaningful. 🙂
    mariel’s latest post: The Jesse Tree: Starting an Advent Family Tradition

  16. As the years have gone by and more children have been added to our family the more we have let go of all the “doing” for Christmas. This year is a baby year for us (I’m due in early Dec.), my dh has started a new job which takes him nowhere near the big stores, and of course the budget is tight. So, I am with you- more candles, more fire, more cozy, a beautiful meal for our Christmas dinner and the stillness of going to church on Christmas Eve.
    We will order some gifts for the kids, we will do some puzzles, we will have some friends and family over…. nothing elaborate just relaxed… peace.

  17. Thank you for this post – very encouraging!

  18. Amy Morehead says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this today. It was a HUGE encouragement to my heart and soul and much needed. Simple Christmases are the very best kind to me. I have Christmas in my heart all year long through Jesus Christ my Savior. So glad I stumbled upon this read today. Thank You 🙂 ~ amy

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