Day 5 - Rely on the Simple and Uncomplicated

Day 5 - Rely on the Simple and Uncomplicated

Rely on the simple and uncomplicated. Do what suits your family best. You know all of those absolutely jaw-dropping buffet spreads and fresh pine swags and elaborate gift wrapping designed specifically for each member of your family, including the goldfish? Skip 'em. Unless you just love to put on the spread and the decor, do what your family loves and will enjoy. Everything else elicits the opposite of easy Advent ideas that don't overwhelm. 

Read More

Day 2 - Find a Church. . .

Day 2 - Find a Church. . .

Find a church that has a Christmas Eve service or other Advent services and events. You don't need to own an Advent wreath and candles if your own church lights and celebrates every week leading up to Christmas. Just make very good use of the time you spend together and that shouldn't be overwhelming at all, even if the kids can't remember which Advent Sunday it is by the time you hit the church parking lot. This isn't a homeschooling subject! Enjoy the experience.

Read More

5 Days of Easy Advent Ideas That Won't Overwhelm

5 Days of Easy Advent Ideas That Won't Overwhelm

Do you feel it, too? That unmistakable pressure to do, be, and go at Christmastime? What if we could just all take it down a notch and listen, quietly, to what God is saying and showing us this year?

What if we could choose a few simple, purposeful activities that are easy and not overwhelming, but that bring a sense of wonder and focus to our Christmas celebrations this year? 

That's the goal this week as I publish each post in our short series. For our family, Christmas can come and go in a fretful blur and leave us exhausted and also empty, when we should be feeling filled up with the realization that this is the gospel! Here He is, the Word become flesh! 

I'm going to go out on a limb here - I'm certain God did not design our feasts and celebrations to be overwhelming and leave us feeling totally spent. I'm certain His heart is for us to feel more by doing less. More of Him, less of us. More Christ in me, less me trying to do my Christmas thing.

How about it? Ready for 5 days of Advent ideas that enhance and don't exhaust?


We're not doing this series alone. Join all of our blogging friends at the iHomeschool Network for a week of excellent 5 Days of Christmas posts. Click the link right here to be taken to a whole list of what everyone is writing about over there!


5 Terrific Christmas Advent Devotionals

This post contains affiliate links.

Looking for a terrific Advent devotional this Christmas? We've mined the best of the best - our family favorites - for you. After 22 years of parenting, we have some definite favorites!

5 Terrific Christmas Advent Devotionals

1.

Starting with the youngest in the family, we love Truth in the Tinsel: An Advent Adventure for Little Hands. It's a perfect Advent study for the little ones because each lesson is short and to the point. If you aren't into pulling out all the crafy stuff, you can also get the printables. Color, cut, and go!

 

 

2.

If you have a heart to get past all the crazy stuff that comes with Christmas and seek Jesus this advent season, then Counting the Days, Lighting the Candles migh be the devotional for you. It begins, centers, and ends on the gospel - the good news - and leaves us breathless with gratitiude and wonder.

 

 

3.

Our hands-down family favorite from year to year is the Jotham's Journey series. Fast-paced, engaging for most ages (from 4-year-old to adult), chalk full of Christmas truth, and tender, each book in the Jotham's Journey series will leave you wishing Christmas was right around the corner again so that you can read the next one!

Jotham's Journey
Bartholomew's Passage
Tabitha's Travels
Ishtar's Odyssey
 

4.

If you want a hands-on approach to a Scriptural study of the Bibilcal account of Christ's birth, we think you'll love Grapevine Studies' Birth of Jesus. Draw your way through all of the events surrounding Christ's birth. Beginning in Nazareth, you will introduce your students to Mary and Joseph as they learn the news that they will be parents to Jesus, the Messiah!

 

 

 

 

5.

If your home is filled with teens or college students, young adults, and you, Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus: Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas is a book that will help you dive deep into the meaning of the gospel. Compiled from the sermons and writings of Christians such as Timothy Keller, Randy Alcorn, Francis Schaeffer, John Whitfield, and Martin Luther, this is a book that will point you to the one who gives us reason to breathe in the middle of the holiday rush.



You can get FULL ACCESS to bonus interviews, exclusive content, and cool free stuff by joining the HomeschoolingIRL community, and you can do that by subscribing (and telling your friends about us, too!)

Make Holiday Food Prep Stress-Free

holiday-food.jpg

Make Holiday Food Prep Stress-Free

Some of us love to cook, but others of us feel the extra pressure that holiday entertaining and food seem to put on all the adults. Didn't Christmas seem much more fun when you were a kid and just showed up at the meal table?

Make it easy. If gourmet is your thing and it brings you joy, do that. If you need people to pitch in, call a potluck. If you need to order in, be free to do that, too! When the Mexican families in our area offer homemade tamales for sale around the holidays, I'm the first in line.

Get a leg up. It's not too late to assemble a couple of casseroles or slow cooker meals that can be popped into the oven when the day allows you absolutely no time to get a meal out there. I've got a freezer meal Pinterest board just for that.

Stock the pantry. I just knew that my teen and tween daughters would need to take food to some event this month, and the last minute scramble makes me sweat. This year I got smart (it's about time!) and bought the makings of a couple of easy treats that they can make a take: Rice Krispie Squares, Chocolate Raspberry Cake, Cheesy Dip and crackers. 

We're all wrapped up for this week's series on making Christmas memories stress-free, but we'll be back on Monday with our latest podcast: Episode 32: I Love Homeschooling But I'm Totally Disorganized. Sign up for our free newsletter below and you'll get the podcast delivered to your inbox!



5 Days of Making Christmas Memories, Stress-Free! - Day 4

Stress-Free Christmas Gift Giving

To make the whole process of gift giving a little less stressful, you might need to look at gifts with a new eye.

One year I set up a card table in our bedroom and diligently set to work wrapping presents every night for four nights. At the end of that marathon, I calculated that I'd spent a total of 16 hours wrapping gifts for our 8 kids and assorted family members and friends. 16 HOURS! 

That was the year we ended the assortment of Christmas gifts for our kids. Instead, we now give them each an "experience" - tickets to a concert, a road trip, Disneyland passes, etc. I fill a stocking for each with items I've collected throughout the years and then they get an envelope with an announcement of their gift experience inside. And peace returned to my December evenings.

I'm getting a little smarter about gifts for our extended family and friends, too. If I'm knitting beanies for a couple of college guys, I'm knitting beanies for all the college guys. Last year my brother's family got San Francisco Giants hats I'd knit, and after another World Series season, you can bet those beanies were put to good use.

 

More Ideas For Stress-Free Gift Giving

  • Give the kids a group gift: a stack of board games, a Wii, a basketball hoop.
  • Eliminate the part of gift-giving that stresses you out: hire a kid to wrap, order online, have it shipped.
  • Let the kids draw names, especially if there are a lot of them or they are older. 
     

Coming up tomorrow: Stress-Free Christmas Food

Day 3: Christmas Movies For Stress-Free Family Nights

Day 2: Christmas Books For Stress-Free Moments

Day 1: Golden Rules of Making Stress-Free Christmas Memories

 

 

 

Join the bloggers of the iHomeschool Network for 5 Days of Christmas. So much goodness there! And then enter to win over $400 in cash - our Christmas Stocking Stuffer Giveaway just for you. Enter below!

Christmas Movies for Stress-Free Family Nights

Christmas Movies for Stress-Free Family Nights

Pinterest mostly inspires me, but often the posts there overwhelm me instead. A couple of years ago I saw a pin boasting a recipe for "Grinch Punch" and I thought, "Aha!" My kids would love it! So I picked a December date that wasn't already taken and told the kids we were having a Grinch dinner. 

We served "roast beast", Who Pudding (I made a corn pudding), a festive salad, and the Grinch punch. Then we watched the movie and voila! The night was a big success for not a whole lot of mom effort. 

Since that first Christmas Movie Night year, we've done an Elf night complete with snowflake decorations the kids made (believe me, I want this to be stress-free so if the kids wanted to do it, I said, "Go for it!" and sat back to watch them), and just this week we did a Home Alone night.

This is meant to be easy, fun, and stress-free, so pick a movie and do something fun to go with it, then call it good. Some years are easier going and I can plan a little more to go with the theme, other years leave me feeling overloaded so we go with simple. 

Yes, affiliate links below.

 


 

 

How the Grinch Stole Christmas Ideas

-Grinch Punch

-Grinch Centerpiece - I know, I know. Not stress-free, unless you love to do beautiful floral arrangements and this would be fun for you!
 


-Roast Beast 

1 pkg onion soup mix 
1 roast, 3-5 pounds
1 can jellied cranberry sauce
2 T flour, not to be added until roast is cooked

Sprinkle onion soup mix on the bottom of the crock pot and place roast on top. Spread the cranberry sauce all over the roast. Cook on low for 10-12 hours, or on high for 4-6.

After roast is done, remove it from the slow cooker and slice or shred. Stir flour into juices in crock pot and turn the temperature to high. Cook and stir for 5-10 minutes, until you have a nice gravy. Spoon gravy over roast and enjoy!

-Who Pudding (Cook's Country Corn Pudding)
 


 

 

Elf Ideas

-This Elf party post has a lot of great ideas. Just make sure you choose the non-stressful stuff :)

-We served spaghetti (I drew the line at syrup on the pasta and just served meat sauce), French bread, salad, and lots of candy. Our kids did try the syrup on plain pasta just for fun.

 


 

 

 

Home Alone Ideas

-Most stress-free movie night to date: I picked up take-and-bake pizzas, Pepsi, and created an ice cream sundae bar. 

 




5 Days of Making Christmas Memories, Stress-Free! - Day 2

Christmas Books for Stress-Free Moments

What are the easiest, sweetest moments in our home? Any time I pull a book out and read aloud. It seems so simple, because it is. Never feel as if grabbing little ones, middle kids, and teens aside to read aloud is not exciting. Oh, the stories to be shared and the moments of laughter and emotion. Even our adult kids reminisce about the books we've read together.

Need some ideas for what to read this Christmas season? I've compiled a list of our favorites over the years and written several posts about Christmas reading:

 

Best Christmas Books for Your Collection

The Ultimate Guide to Christmas Books

Five Christmas Books That Top Our List

 

And do you know what else? You, too, can take a break from the stresses of the season and allow a story to change you. When was the last time you read the story of Christ's birth without assigning it to a church service or nativity play? Just enjoyed and savored each word and drawn deep breaths of the glory that is the birth of Christ? Pour that cup of coffee, curl up in a chair, and unravel the stress. That story is meant for you!

 

Coming up tomorrow: Christmas Movies for Stress-Free Family Nights

Day One: Golden Rules of Making Stress-Free Christmas Memories


 

 

 

Join the bloggers of the iHomeschool Network for 5 Days of Christmas. So much goodness there! And then enter to win over $400 in cash - our Christmas Stocking Stuffer Giveaway just for you. Enter below!

5 Days of Making Christmas Memories, Stress Free! - Day 1

5-Days-Christmas-Memories.jpg

Today kicks off our 5-day series on making this Christmas stress-free, so let's start with a few pointers. Stress-free Christmas? Yes, please!

 

Golden Rules of Making Stress-Free Christmas Memories

1. Don't make a commitment you can't keep. Advent readings that are one per day for 25 days straight sound lovely on November 30th but can feel like a loadstone on December 21st, especially if you've got a gaggle of little people (or a couple of teens with social lives).

2. Don't let a tradition rob you of your joy. If it's not working for everyone, ditch it. Traditions for the sake of tradition wrap us up in bondage. Seasons come and go and there's great freedom in being flexible so that we can serve and love others in a way that works better this year.

3. Remember that time spent together is the best memory of all. Over the next few days we'll be sharing some simple, stress-free ways to spend time with your kiddos this Christmas. They may not be Pinterest-worthy, but they will fill your kids' cups up high with relationship-building love and goodness.

 

Coming up tomorrow: Christmas Books for Stress-Free Moments


 

 

Join the bloggers of the iHomeschool Network for 5 Days of Christmas. So much goodness there! And then enter to win over $400 in cash - our Christmas Stocking Stuffer Giveaway just for you. Enter below!