When You’re Not Quite Ready for Christmas

NotReadyChristmas

I want to encourage you today. Maybe your house isn’t clean, your gifts aren’t wrapped or you don’t have the finances to purchase gifts, and you won’t have time to bake the cookies you wanted to make. It’s okay. Christmas will come and go, and more than our family wants us to have everything perfectly done, they want us to be present and pleasant.

And you know, there’s so much beauty in the undone. There’s beauty in the imperfect. And we can find joy amidst the mess and the tight budgets.

If you need a few last-minute ideas or encouragement, here are some things you may like. Don’t read all of these articles. Just pick and choose a few that will help you the most:

Encouragement

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Embracing an Imperfect Holiday – on Beauty through Imperfection.

The Christmas Cookie Disaster – Sometimes it’s easy to think that other people’s Christmases are perfect and beautiful all the time, but that’s simply not true. In this post about my nearly disastrous cookie baking experience, I share how I finally realized that my attitude matters more than the circumstance.

Why We Simplified Christmas This Year – by Money Saving Mom.

Dealing With Difficult Relatives During the Holidays – on Worshipful Living.

Gifts

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22 Themed Gift Ideas for Everyone on Your List – If you’re trying to think of a last-minute gift for someone on your list, then read this article. Not only are there 22 great themed ideas, but each idea is also frugal and (mostly) clutter-free! Plus over 30 other gift lists are included in the link-up on this post so you’re sure to find some fantastic inspiration.

10 MORE Themed Gift Ideas for Everyone on Your List – Whether you’re looking for stocking stuffers, need a last-minute co-worker or family gift, or just want a little fun inspiration, you’ll definitely want to check out these neat ideas.

Celebrating a Memorable Christmas on a Zero-Dollar Budget – by Brandy at the Prudent Homemaker.

How to Frugally Fill Awesome & Clutter-Free Stockings – Enough Said 🙂

Scheduling, Cleaning & Organizing

SanitySavingGuide

Last Minute Holiday Sanity-Saving Tips – If you need to simplify your holiday to-do’s but aren’t sure where to start, then check out this article for practical tips and encouragement.

How to Keep Your Kid’s Christmas Gifts From Taking Over Your House – This was one of the most brilliantly simple ideas I’ve ever had and I just had to share it.

How to Fake a Clean House in Less Than 20 Minutes – If you want a cozy feel amidst the chaos in your home this Christmas, or if company is coming on short notice, then you’ll definitely want to see the tips in this article.

Crafts, Recipes & Decor

Christmas Dinner

Simple & Elegant Christmas Dinner Menu – This is what I’ll be making for Christmas Dinner this year. Maybe you’ll see a few ideas that you like?

25 Frugal Days of Christmas – Check out this link-up for crafts, recipes, and other fun ideas.

Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments – My friend Stephanie introduced me to these Christmas tree decorations, and they’re absolutely wonderful! These are so easy that my five-year-old can make them almost completely by herself and these beautiful ornaments make the house smell amazing.

A Cute and Easy Way to Display Greeting Cards – If you’re looking for a quick way to display your greeting cards, then simply put them on a bookshelf or try this idea. And I’d love to know: how do you display your greeting cards?

Christmas In The Midst Of Our Mess – by the Nester.

More Christmas-ing

You can read all of my Christmas articles here or see my Christmas inspiration board on Pinterest.

What’s one thing you do to simplify Christmas preparations?


Simple & Elegant Christmas Menu

{EDITED TO ADD: I just saw Overwhelmed to Organized menu scheduling tips, and she has great suggestions for organizing your time in the kitchen this Christmas! Definitely go check out her article!}

Here’s what I’m making for Christmas Dinner this year. Maybe you’ll see a few ideas that you like?

Christmas Dinner

Main Course

Whole Chicken or Cornish Hens – When I only serve a few people, cornish hens are delicious and elegant. When cooking for a crowd, a couple of whole chickens are also delicious but much simpler. (Note: Short on time? Buy a rotisserie chicken!)

Plum Sauce – This is the most amazing sauce ever. We start by putting a dab on our chicken just to try it. By the end of the meal, this sauce is smothering nearly everything on our plates.

Homemade Stuffing – Until recently, I didn’t know that stuffing doesn’t have to come from a box. Or that it doesn’t take hours to prepare from scratch. After I bake this in the oven, I like to let it cook in the bird, then top the stuffing with plum sauce. Delicious.

Whole Sweet Potatoes – When topped with butter, brown sugar (or cinnamon-sugar), and miniature marshmallows, it’s basically like eating candy for dinner.

Green beans or peas – A simple way to round out the meal with a healthy green veggie. If I have time, I may add bacon or ham to the beans.

MuffinsBanana, pumpkin, chocolate or blueberry gingerbread? Tough decision!

Fruit – Homemade applesauce, tiny clementines, or a fresh fruit salad will grace our table this Christmas.

Desserts & Snacks

I’m still trying to decide which dessert to make. Here are a few I’m thinking about:

PeanutButterPie

{I recently made this old-fashioned peanut butter pie. Click the photo for the recipe.}

Pie – Mmm. Pie. What’s your favorite kind?

Pecan Ice Cream Ball – shape ice cream into a sphere, then roll it in roasted pecans (or sprinkles, crushed candy canes, or anything else you’d like). Top with hot fudge or caramel sauce and a cherry. Simple. Beautiful. Delicious. The best part? These can be made ahead and placed in the freezer until Christmas.

Cake or cupcakes. Either way I go, I’ll use Wilton’s icing recipe.

Cookie Tray – The girls and I make a cookie tray every year (you can read about one year’s cookie disaster here). This year I’m thinking about keeping it simple by making fudge, buckeyes, Rice Krispy treats, and only one type of cookie. Perhaps chocolate chip, gingerbread, or these dark-chocolate cookies?

Beverages

Punch. I usually make this kind but think I’ll switch it up a bit this time by using wild berry juice instead of grape juice.

Wassail. An old-fashioned fancied-up apple cider. Or, if I’m running low on time, I’ll just pour some apple cider into the crock-pot and let it simmer for awhile.

Need more ideas? Check out my Thanksgiving menu suggestions.

And don’t forget that you can read all of my Christmas articles here or see my Christmas inspiration board on Pinterest.

What’s your favorite Christmas food?

Christmas Dinner


If You’re Feeling Behind on Holiday Things…

“If you haven’t sent out Christmas cards, participated in your favorite tradition, baked cookies, made crafts, or set out a bunch of decorations, it’s okay! Go ahead and leave at least a few of those things undone this year.” – Davonne Parks, Last Minute Holiday Simplification

SanitySavingGuide

{I’m so excited to be closing out the 25 Frugal Days of Christmas series this week! Here’s a snippet of my post:}

Christmas is lingering right around the corner and it seems that many people have had their gifts ready for months and their menus planned for weeks. They may even want to find a new fabulous recipe, craft or activity just for fun!

The rest of us are starting to go into a frenzy because we’re still trying to figure out what to buy our relatives for Christmas. But, don’t panic! If you’re so behind that you don’t know how you’ll possibly finish everything by Christmas Eve, then you’ve come to the right place because I’m here to help!

Here are some last-minute ways to simplify your holiday:

1) Embrace the Chaos.

First of all, if we have a good attitude, most people will be forgiving when we don’t finish everything perfectly. So let’s choose to enjoy these days because before we know it, Christmas will be over once again and all that will be left are wrapping paper remnants and the memories.

2) Gather your presents into one place.

I like to lock myself in my room and spread out all of the gifts that I have on my bed before I finish shopping. This allows me to see exactly what I’ve purchased so I can make my remaining list based off of what’s not in the pile…

{Will you join me at Frugal Homeschool Family to read the rest? –>}


How to Frugally Fill Awesome Stockings

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I remember rising early each Christmas with my younger brother and tip-toeing to each other’s rooms so we could dump out the contents from our homemade stockings together. Then we’d go around the upstairs, knocking on bedroom doors and hollering into vents to let everyone know that it was Christmas.

After several rounds of, “I know! It’s too early! Go back to sleep!” my brother and I would return to one of our rooms so we could play with our new things while we waited for everyone else to wake up.

As a child, I absolutely loved receiving those stockings at Christmastime and now that I fill stockings for my own children, I’m always on the lookout in December for fun stocking stuffers that won’t clutter up our house! After a few years of experience at clutter-free Christmases, I’d like to share some of my tips with you.

Stocking Stuffer Tips for a Clutter-Free Christmas:

1) Have one big item.

By big, I don’t mean expensive. I mean physically large. That way one item will take up a good portion of the stocking 🙂 Bubble bath, a book, or a box of candy all make good “big” stocking stuffers.

2) Focus on consumable items.

Things that can be used up then thrown out like lotions, bubble bath, crayons, or fun food make great stocking stuffers. Those items help people have fun and enjoy their gifts without the items becoming permanent fixtures in our houses.

3) Keep the recipient’s tastes in mind.

Stocking stuffer ideas you find online can be fun and helpful, but don’t feel like you need to buy the conventional stocking stuffers that are mentioned on those lists. Get creative and think about things the recipient would enjoy!

Clutter-Free-Stocking-Stuffers

{Click the photo to see 22 themed stocking stuffer ideas!}

4) Stay within your budget.

I’ve filled entire stockings for as little as $5.00 per person when money was tight. I’ve also spent as much as $40 for one stocking on years that we’ve went all out – and the $5 stockings have been just as well received as the $40 one! Sometimes it truly is the thought that counts.

5) Consider whether stockings are really necessary.

If your kids get stockings from you as well as from grandparents or other relatives, if they’re just not that into stockings, or if you’re on a very tight budget right now, then consider cutting out stockings altogether this year – just make sure to sit down with your kids in advance and let them know what to expect.

6) Browse the internet for ideas.

Even though other people don’t know our family members like we do, we can still get really good ideas from other people’s suggestions! So do a google search for something like, “Frugal stocking stuffer ideas” to get your wheels spinning! You can also check out my own stocking stuffer & themed gift ideas here and here.

7) Don’t panic at the last minute.

Christmas will be here soon and it’s tempting to panic and run to the store grabbing stuff just to fill a stocking. Resist that temptation! A stroll through the Dollar Tree may be helpful in finding some consumable items, but most people will enjoy a stocking that contains a few thoughtful gifts much more than they’ll enjoy a stocking that’s filled to the brim with trinkets.

So there you have it – seven simple tips for creatively and frugally filling clutter-free stockings the recipient is sure to enjoy!

What kinds of things do you like to give or receive in stockings?