With Thanksgiving behind me, instead of feeling like the most wonderful time of the year, I walked into December filled with dread.

You see, there’s a history here. Two years ago, when my 3rd son was a newborn, someone at a Christmas party simply asked, “what’s it like to have 3 boys” and I burst into tears. Yes, yes I did.

What was it like to have 3 boys in less than 4 years? Hard.

Then add the holiday season demands. . . unbearable.

Fortunately I’ve learned from the past. Made adjustments to how we “do” Christmas during the years with a house full of littles. As a gift, I’m passing my tips on to you. . .you’re welcome.

1. Ask your kids what matters to them

Instead of feeling like you have to go to every holiday concert, activity, craft-time, party, etc. Sit down at dinner one night and ask your kids what their favorite holiday traditions are. If they remember it from last year and enjoyed it, then it’s worth doing it again.

If you’re children can’t even answer this question because they are too little, then don’t go overboard and stress yourself out. Make the memories that matter most to you. Because they will really only remember what they see later in pictures or do on repeat each year. Choose wisely and simply.

My kids’ favorites are: the downtown Christmas parade, the Lionel train set at our local mall, visiting Santa, making Christmas cookies, and watching Christmas movies. Another one of their favorites is…

2. Find an advent that works for your family

Advent, from the Latin adventus, meaning “coming”, is a formal way to expectantly wait and prepare for the coming celebration of the nativity, birth of Christ, at Christmas.

There are a lot of different options out there for advent.

We have used a set that my sister made for her kids called “The Family Promise Tree”. The creator of it, Cherie Steuerwald, adapted it from the Jesse Tree, which has been around since the 60s. The booklet that she wrote to go with the daily ornaments, has a short poem with hand motions, story lesson and memory verse. 

It starts at Genesis in the Bible and works through God’s promise to send His Son to deliver us from sin. Each day tells a story from the Bible (Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Ruth, David, Isaiah, John the Baptist) leading to the arrival of Jesus…the Promised Child. It’s a simple advent and it works for us.

Another option we are going to try this year is brand new…”Truth in the Tinsel” by Amanda White.

I love it because:

  • there are hands-on crafted ornaments for each day
  • focuses on telling the nativity story
  • has adapted schedules for busy moms (if you can’t craft everyday in December)
  • easy one page supply list (most of which you probably already have).
  • super cute book layout

The key is to find what works best for your family. Low stress. Fun. Then the truth of the miracle of “God with us” can be shared with your children.

3. Fewer, more meaningful gifts

Our boys have so many toys. So. many. toys.

Last year I heard about giving them gifts according to this little rhyme/categories and I loved it. You give them 4 things:

  • Something they want
  • Something they need
  • Something to wear
  • Something to read

I decided that what they really “need” is clothes. So instead of the “wear” category, I inserted a “something made”. (Mac Version: want, need, made, read).

4. Order Christmas Cards from Hallmark.com

The last three years I have ordered our cards from www.Hallmark.com. I typically order a postcard (less paper/less cost) with our family picture on the front.

The best part is that Hallmark  will address and mail them for me. I keep all my address in an excel spreadsheet. All I have to do is upload the spreadsheet to their website and for no additional charge (just cost of stamps) they will address & mail the cards for me.

I know it’s not as personal as handwriting the addresses but this is the season of life that I am in. Most people just want to get a cute picture and update of your family.

5. Let go of “perfect”

Once we had young kids around I had to let go of all my expectations of a “perfect” Christmas. I had to realize that in my attempts to make it all perfect, my stress & attitude were far from “perfect”.

So I put up fewer decorations around the house…only those things that are important to me (nativity set) and the kids (stockings & tree). I have the boys join me even if it means Martha Stewart may frown at our results. To me a perfect Christmas is perfectly imperfect!

Maybe each morning we can chant together, “God with us. GOD with us. God WITH us. God with US.” He came as a baby, dwelt among us, redeemed us and sits on His throne. AND He walks with you today as you love your own babes. Amen.

Do you have little ones at home? What does your family do to simplify and enjoy Christmas?

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