Simplify Your Season: Shop for Gifts

This is part 4 of the Simplify Your Season series.

Simplify your season by planning ahead and shopping early!

How is your shopping going?  I’m guessing some of you are already finished purchasing gifts…and some of you haven’t started yet!  I’m in the in-between stages–I still need to pick up a gift for the husband and one other family gift, and then I’m all set.  Simplifying our approach to gift-giving has definitely made the holidays much easier!

Here are three ways to simplify gift-giving:

1)  Consider using the three gift approach.

We started this several years ago when the girls were smaller.   The girls receive three gifts from us—and we talk about how Jesus received three gifts after He was born.  For us, it has simply been a way to draw the attention back to Jesus instead of to the gifts.

Our gifts usually include:

Extravagant: This gift could be a bicycle, doll house, legos, or other fun gift. It’s a gift that isn’t a necessity.

Practical:  Clothing, shoes, school curriculum, and books are just a few of the practical items we’ve given over the years.

Spiritual: We also try to give the girls one item to encourage spiritual growth throughout the year. It could be a Bible, Bible study, CD, or a DVD of some sort.

2)  Give consumable gifts.

Consumable gifts are those gifts that will be used up.  I love how they help keep household clutter to a minimum.  Magazine subscriptions, crafting kits, clothing, lessons (piano, art, etc.) and gift certificates are just a few of the options.

I’ve also begun to prefer consumable “experience” gifts.  These are simply gifts that help you make memories together.  It might be a ticket to a play, an ice-skating trip, dinner and a movie, an outing at a museum, or anything you can experience together!  This year our “extravagant” gift for the girls are tickets to a Disney on Ice performance coming up this spring.  We’ve never done anything like that before, so I can’t wait to see their faces!!

3)  Stock a “Gift Closet”.

You already know I love deals!  If I find something I know will be a great gift for one of the girls and it’s on a huge discount, I will pick it up–even if it’s January 1st.  Shopping ahead of time allows me to take advantage of the best deals and forgo paying retail price.  There is an area in one of our closets I’ve designated as our “Gift Closet”, so I can pick up inexpensive toys, early Christmas presents, and book deals I find.  I realize this isn’t an option for everyone (we are fortunate to have extra storage space), but having our gift closet definitely takes some stress out of buying gifts for me.

What are your favorite ways to take the stress out of shopping and buying gifts?


FREE Christmas Crafts & Carols eBook

12 days of christmas crafts and carols

Several years ago, I did a series called “12 Days of Christmas Crafts and Carols.” I took those posts, fixed them up a little bit, and combined them into an eBook form. Some of you probably picked this up last year, but I know my audience has grown quite a bit since then–and I wanted to offer it as a freebie to all of you!

Download my free 12 Days of Christmas Crafts & Carols eBook herePlease be sure you have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed in order to access this file!


Hope you enjoy and make some great memories with your kiddos this Christmas season!



christmas crafts for kids

Wanting more ideas for this Christmas season?

My Favorite Things Giveaway

Favorite Things Stocking Giveaway

I am pleased to be part of a fun giveaway today!  The ladies over at Thriving Home have put together a “Favorite Things” Stocking Stuffer Giveaway where each blogger has put together a stocking with some of their favorite things for you to win!  I love Christmas and I love giving things away, so I am so excited about this!

To Enter:
  • Check out the Stocking Giveaway Collage featuring 12 other beautiful bloggers and their Favorite Things stockings.
  • Scroll to the bottom to see the details for MY Favorite Things Stocking.
  • Enter to win my Christmas Stocking Giveaway at the giveaway below.
  • HOP to all the other sites and enter to win their stockings!
  • Look around and enjoy the sites of these incredible bloggers. I love this hand-picked group of blogs. They all love the Lord and their sites and content reflect that. If you like Thriving Home, you’ll like these friends of ours too!

1. Thriving Home 2. Happy Home Fairy 3. The Nourishing Home 4. Heavenly Homemakers

5. Meaningful Mama 6. Slugs and Bugs 7. Seeds Family Worship 8. Jennifer Ebehack

9. The Generous Wife 10. The Modest Mom Blog 11. My Humble Kitchen 12. Kara Chupp

13. Motherhood on a Dime


I laughed when I looked at what I had compiled for my stocking.  I guess I love food and books!  :)

Here’s what is included in my giveaway:

Barney’s Almond Butter (reg. $9.99) – What can I say?  This stuff is so good!!  I can’t eat peanuts, so it’s my favorite nut butter now!

Let’s Do Organic Coconut Flour (reg. $5.99) – Learning to cook with coconut flour has been an adventure, but I finally have a few favorite bread and muffin recipes.  It makes for yummy, dense baked goods!

Equal Exchange Chocolate Chips (reg. $5.49) –  I LOVE dark chocolate, so I keep bag of chocolate chips in the freezer.  This particular brand I purchased from our Azure Standard drop this month for the first time.  They are great in cooking, but a little bitter for just eating by the handful (I guess the “Bittersweet” in the title really does explain them)!  Keeps me from eating too many!!

Coombs Organic Maple Syrup (reg. $7.99) – Our sweetener of choice lately is either maple syrup or honey.  I love this brand of maple syrup…and I just happen to find a great sale on it!

The Mission of Motherhood: Touching Your Child’s Heart of Eternity (reg. $11.21) – I have been a huge fan of Sally Clarkson forever.  This book will inspire you and encourage in your life as a mom!

That’s Not My Panda ($9.99) – I started selling Usborne Books seven years ago just so I could buy them at a discount.  We love them–and I especially love the touchy-feely books for babies and toddlers.

Sticker Dolly Dressing Fashion Long Ago (reg. $8.99)

A DIGITAL copy of God’s Little Explorers ($17) – God’s Little Explorers is a preschool curriculum I wrote and used with my daughter and shared it on the blog.  When we finished, I combined all the lessons into one digital download, added some new printables, and put it up for sale.  100% of the proceeds go to fund an orphanage building project in India (we’re about 2/3 of the way there)!

Read and Learn Bible ($9.99) – You can use any Bible with the God’s Little Explorers curriculum, but this is my favorite for early readers.  All three of my girls learned to read using this Bible!

$5 Starbucks Gift Card ($5) – I don’t have a Starbucks in my town, but when I visit the “big town” a Starbucks stop is on my list.

Follow the directions in the Giveaway Tools form below to enter to win!

Simplify Your Season by Simplifying Your Home Management

This post is part #3 of Simplify Your Season. Find all of the posts here.

Simplify Your Season

We’re here!  It’s December…and I’m trying to keep it simple.  Unfortunately, a mouse showed up in our house this morning, so a huge kitchen cleaning project is underway.  We’ve never had a mouse before, so I am beside myself!!  (If you have any tried-and-true tricks, let me know!!  I had no idea there were so many options for getting rid of a mouse…and it is actually overwhelming! I just don’t want to see it or have it run across my feet again!!  Ack!!)

In general, I prefer to keep my home management pretty simple around the holidays, and here are a few of my favorite tips:

1)  Institute a TurboTidy

The girls love this!  A TurboTidy is just my silly way of getting the girls (and myself) to clean as quickly as possible.  I set a timer, turn on some music, and we get to work.  Sometimes I will assign a room to each person.  Sometimes we will all work together in one room.  It really just depends on how messy things are!  I like to do one of these every day–usually in the afternoon. Some days require two (or three) sessions, but it keeps life so much simpler if we keep the chaos under control!

2)  Use a basic chore planner

I don’t normally think about things like cleaning refrigerator shelves on a schedule, scrubbing tile with a toothbrush, cleaning under the stove, or dusting baseboards, so a chore planner has been helpful to me (yes, I am a creative, messy type who prefers to spend the least amount of time I can on cleaning–while still keeping things sanitary around here).  I am currently using The Confident Mom chore planner, but I have also used Motivated Moms planner, too.  I find both of them helpful in giving me some direction to accomplish those cleaning chores I don’t normally think about!

3)  Menu plan for sanity

I actually love menu planning.  It has saved us a ton of money and time over the years, and I recommend it highly.  You can see my step-by-step approach to menu planning here.  I also have some free printable menu planners for you!  Freezer cooking also keeps me sane!

4)  Think ahead

At the beginning of each week, I like to take some time to review our family calendar and see what is coming up.  I figure out what can be done ahead of time (like getting cookies made and stuck in the freezer) and what I can delegate to someone else.  Just taking a few minute to plan for the day each morning can keep you from drowning in the to-do list!

Do you have any great home management tips for the holiday season?