My plan for the Thanksgiving and Christmas Season

Monday, November 14, 2011

This is big y'all.  I had a revelation.  We always have a VERY busy October-December.  First, is Dave's birthday (10/27), then Halloween, then my birthday (11/13), then Thanksgiving, then our anniversary (12/2) and then Harry's birthday (12/8) and then Christmas.  I did not even include my sister's, nephew's, two brother in laws' and a sister in law's birthday in that time frames as well.  And we usually do a very big (100+people) Christmas party. So every year, I feel quite stressed and overwhelmed during the holidays.  I know everyone does but I always feel like I am just trying to make it from one party/occasion to the next. And I realized that is not fun for anyone in our family.

This year, I am doing things differently. I really just want to savor the beauty and miracles of the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons with my family.  So I asked myself what 3 things cause me the most aggravation and stress each year.  And I came up with: 1) our family Christmas cards (getting the  "perfect" photos and choosing the design, etc) 2) cleaning, cooking, decorating and hosting our party and 3) the tree (putting up and taking down---we have TONS of ornaments).

Then, I devised ways to eliminate or reduce the stress.  I decided we are not having our party this year.  While I love entertaining, it sometimes becomes a huge to do list with little enjoyment.  So, we are taking a year off and I am so glad. I might throw an impromptu small happy hour or dinner party but no BIG party.

For our Christmas cards, I am using a photo that my sister took of us at the beach this summer.  I usually prefer a more seasonal look but it is a good photo of our whole family (thank you Dawn) and it is done! Minted gave me a nice credit and discount in exchange for using some of my photography on their site. So I chose one of their beautiful cards and I am done.  This may not be my favorite or most creative card I have ever sent but it is certainly the most stress-free so far. And Minted has beautiful cards.  In the past, I have used Tiny Prints and I love them too!


{I love the simplicity of this tree}

Finally, we are doing something different with our tree.  I sort of pre-planned this one last year.  When we were packing up the ornaments, I kept a few white and silver ones separate.  I plan to decorate our tree very simply with white pine cones and some white and silver balls.  It will be simple and beautiful and hopefully about 1/3 of the work.  We had a family meeting about the tree because I did not want the kids to be upset.  And you know what?  They are so excited about my plans!  Harry in particular is really looking forward to a simpler, less stressful season.  Our plan is to really celebrate Advent (light the candles and pray and do the readings), read more together, watch the Christmas specials, bake holiday cookies.  I want us to spend more time focusing on the birth of Christ and less on the "stuff."

I have to tell you that my plan makes me feel so FREE.  So, I encourage you to think about what stresses you out about Thanksgiving and Christmas (or Hanukah) and think of a way you can eliminate that stressor.  Share with me.  What is your biggest holiday stressor?



  1. LOVE IT..
    Great choices...
    Love ya..
    And can't wait to see the house and cards... they will be BEAUTIFUL just like you and the family..
    Happy Holidays

  2. Great ideas Kim! It is nice to make the holidays much simpler and just focus on the true meaning of Christmas:) I love the new traditions you are beginning!

  3. I love what you are doing Kim! It is always so stressful here this time of year and I need to find ways to slow down and actually enjoy it! And happy belated birthday! I still desperately need to e-mail you something about Lola and her meds....maybe I will get to it today.

  4. We did the same a few years back... I gave up being the perfect mom, the perfect wife, the perfect friend with a perfect house, while being the perfect employee all at the same time. So I took a step back and decided what was the most important to me... And gave up being perfect in every single aspect of life. But I tell you. We have some fantastic Christmas days. :)

  5. Bravo; well done. I love this!

    My biggest stressor is perfection and its constant pursuit...something's gotta give and that is it. No more racing hither and yon for the perfect paper, the perfect ribbon. This year's motto is strike while the iron's hot, if it's in front of me and I like it, I'm buyin' it, then I am NOT driving to Three other stores just to see what they have--especially since most of December I will be in China!


  6. I love stopping by your blog and I'm sorry to say that I don't leave comments very often. But I love reading your posts about your beautiful family and seeing your beautiful photography.

    I have to tell you this isn't the first time that I've read your post at the perfect time.
    We moved our children (both 6 now) into booster seats and the safety issue had been on my mind right when you posted about keeping children in the 5 point seats. That post really affirmed my thoughts and later that day 2, five point seats were on the way.

    Today I am fretting through pictures for the Christmas card while at the same time I keep glancing over the next few weeks of busy, busy schedules. I quickly decided something needs to change so that we can just enjoy the holiday and each other this year....
    I stopped by your blog and you posted about this very thing.

    Now I am off to think about what changes we can make this holiday....

    Hope you enjoy a wonderful (stress free) holiday season!


  7. Great ideas!! I am actually frenzy right now doing more holiday decorating than usual as the Hubs volunteered our house for a holiday open house to take place on Nov. 20!! A bit stressful now, but then I am going to relax and enjoy the holiday season! Have already purchased tickets to a Christian holiday concert and can't wait to enjoy that. Slowing way down after next weekend and cannot wait!


  8. Hi Kim-

    Brilliant idea! What stresses me out the most? Decorations! I'm a very " clean lines" girl who loves nature and not a lot of color and clutter. Having 3 littles, I always create so much, but.... A few months ago I decided to redo our tree! Bring in the twigs, pinecones, feathers! I plan to have our family tree ( vacation ornaments, etc) in my hubs office ( right at our front door). Oh....and shopping early! All of my children's birthdays are oct/nov/dec, so I have always thought of one celebration at a time. Not anymore! Just ordered a lot of Christmas! Online it!

  9. LOVE it!!! I don't have a pic yet since it is so hard to get kids together (college, married, young) and I am doing that on Sunday and am already decided that "it is what it is" and just take a few:)
    You've got me thinking on the simpler side, thank you!!!
    Oh and I've kept with the bible plan that you shared last year and plan to be finished in December...whoo hooo, it has been so very good for me!!

  10. I really tried to do this last year..partly because it was forced, money was very tight, but I used a picture from the beach, decorated a little less, baked only what I wanted, and I truly enjoyed every moment of last season...SO, I am trying to do the same this year...I don't have a card picture yet, will try when Powell comes home from college, if not, I have something from the summer~

  11. I love your plan...we too have a zillion bdays between the end of Oct-thru december...with my daughter's sweet 16th falling on Thanksgiving day....we are having a party with her friend early though...this time of year has become more stressed as an adult...oh the joy to enjoy it again as a child

  12. Kim, this sounds great and I hope it will be a WONDERFUL holiday season for all of you!
    We got rid of our huge tree years ago and it was one of the best things we ever did. I seem to go more simple each year and each year gets better ~ and I know it's because we focus less on stuff and more on people and moments.
    For me, there are so many traditions I want to include and things I'd like to do and I just have to surrender that it all won't get done, and that is doesn't HAVE to and it's perfectly okay. We went very simple last year and it was the best Christmas ever (and Thanksgiving) and I honestly cannot wait for this year ~ and isn't that how it should be?!
    Did you get your big box of pine-cones? Not sure they're what you needed, some were small. Wish I'd known it was your birthday so I could have included a gift! :)
    Love your holiday plan and I love that your kids are excited as well!!!

  13. Kim, I am going really think about what you have written here and make my own plan! thank you!


  14. My stress is mostly packing for Ireland, and having gifts for Lilah, but nothing too crazy in weight. This year I got it together and ordered the majority of the gifts from and got them to mail it to my parent's house!

    It's a bit of a pain, but I guess I could have far worse stress to worry about and deal with!

    Sounds like you are taking control of your life and that is wonderful!

  15. You go girl! Less is more and especially during the holidays!

  16. What a blessed point of view!!! Thanks so much for being open and honest about your feelings and your plans.

    I too am going to think about how to de-stress and really enjoy the holidays. That was my intention last year - but after losing my mom in the fall, Christmas lost some of its glimmer. I just tried to get through the holidays.

    I am now committed to having a truly blessed holiday season.

    Thank you and many blessings for you and your family.


  17. I am stressing about the Christmas cards... As I posted about earlier! As for parties, 'Mike and I have decided to have a rather large one this year as a big thank you for all the kind things people have done for us these past few months with all we have been through. I must admit, I am rather excited about it!

  18. So with you! I posted about my cards yesterday and decided the same thing. It's not the perfect shot and it's definitely not my most creative but who cares- I just want people to know that we're wishing them the joy of the season.

    Love your white tree plan- can't wait for pictures.

    Happy belated!!

  19. Sounds like a wonderful plan to me.

    Gin =)

  20. I have to say, I'm a bit stressed about the holidays. For me, it has been trying to figure out how to see all the extended family. (Husband is taking that over now), the expense, and the cards. And trying to make everything special and look pretty, of course!

    I don't really have a plan of action for how to relax yet. I have decided to bake for all of my colleagues and school personnel, instead of shopping for gifts. And I've planned to take a day off to handle the rest of the shopping, and have nabbed flyers for some special sales. I guess I'm just going to try and be really organized?

  21. Good for you for making your holidays joy-filled instead of stress-filled!

  22. This post really has me thinking. I am working to simplify the holidays as well and will have to figure out the biggest stressor. I will have to let go on the Christmas card. I was worrying about the picture taking and then realized I have a great photo from NH that I even posted this summer. Will use that and am nearly done the card.

    I have always wondered about holiday parties. While I enjoy them, they are a lot of work on the hosts and there are so many happening all in the same 3-4 weeks. I would enjoy their party so much more in a time of less stress and when I am not juggling shedules. How about the other 10 months of the year?

  23. Hope your holidays are peaceful!
    I really like the wreath on the window in the photo of the Christmas tree.

  24. I love your plan....really getting into the real reason of the season and forgoing the stressful parts that don't matter anyway. Kudos to you! I wish more people would do the same.

  25. It does feel great to let go of stressors, doesn't it? The only benefit I've found to getting older is the ability to be fine with "good enough". I even gave up cards and spent the month of December calling the people who really mean a lot to me.
    My stressor now is all the gift giving! So many gifts for so many people - not family, we already quit gift giving except for the children - the time and money gifts take really stresses me out.
    No one has mentioned this yet, so maybe you all have some good solutions!

  26. Kim, I love your plan! You are inspiring me to enjoy the
    "moment" instead of all the stuff.
    My family I have also made a decision regarding Christmas gifts. We have too much stuff, and we have so much to be thankful for this year, Mom and Dad survived an F4 tornado, their retirement dream home a total loss, but they walked away without a scratch! They are already in their brand new home and settling in! So we decided to go to and select an Salvation Angel or two. The beauty of this program is we can select where the child is from and have the gifts sent its perfect for all of us and we get to relax and enjoy the holiday knowing we have each other and that someone special will also have a wonderful Christmas!

  27. My mom was diagnosed with uterine cancer this fall, so the past several months have really put things into perspective for me as far as priorites go - watching her go through surgery and now chemo. I've always been very close to my mom, and my 6-year-old daughter (adopted from Guatemala) is, too. This year Christmas will be simpler in just about every way - gifts, decorations, baking; I'm just so, so thankful to have my mom around to share the season with.

  28. Travel is probably my biggest stressor. It was worse the past seven-or-so years as I both went to college and had my first career about four hours away from home where I was expected to return and then participate in going to see both sides of the family from there (both about six hour round trips). I would have to plan and pack and fool myself into thinking I would get anything done amongst all of that.
    This year I am back home while between careers (lovely economy we are having) and we have taken trips to see family for other reasons recently enough to forego additional visits. Mom had considered a vacation to spend Christmas in Virginia but (thankfully) we talked her out of it as our favorite places wouldn't necessarily be as enjoyable during that time of year if the weather doesn't cooperate. We are looking forward to some nice, quiet relaxation at home. Maybe go see a movie or two (personally looking forward to The Adventures of Tintin movie). We are even going out to eat for Thanksgiving to avoid the hassle of preparing and then dealing with the leftovers (we always make too much).
    By the way, love the tree idea! We switched to going simple (even simpler than that picture) a few years back. Granted, 'simple' for us is lights, shiny leaf things, and my requisite train ornaments. A tradition around here is a new keepsake ornament every year which would go up in addition to the others that we'd somehow manage to obtain. When we switched we left all of the others boxed and just get out my keepsakes now. Most seem to be trains, must be because I'm an engineer (electrical - not the guy who drives the trains).
    Have a happy Thanksgiving, a merry Christmas, and a joyful . . . everything else you've got going on!

  29. Your plan is very "intelligent" ... Christmas is a magic moment of serenity and peace ; the way you planned this seems to be the perfect one for enjoying simple moments .

  30. I LOVE the idea of getting back to the basics!! I pray you are greatly blessed this season!

  31. I just love this! Honestly, shopping is my biggest stress. I always want the perfect gift for everyone. Last year was my first married Christmas and adding a second family to the mix almost sent me over the edge. So, we decided no more Christmas gifts. Yep. This year, I have focused on finding special birthday gifts for our families and for Christmas we will be donating to charities in honor of our families. My husband and I will only exchanged stockings. Talk about FREEDOM! I love our plan and feel so excited to focus on Advent, Christ and family as well.

  32. Kim,
    I couldn't agree more! We are doing less presents and more fellowship with family and friends. Last night (just before midnight) I just picked a picture from our Disney trip and uploaded it to Shutterfly before the sale was over. With the change of address, I need to get these out! Funny that one of my thoughts was, well, Kim will not be impressed with this year's card! I should have known you would understand! ~Olivia


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