Keeping Christmas Simple

Amish Holidays, Contest Comments: 39

Nativity Christmas ornaments on gold.
I believe that one reason Amish fiction is so popular is that we all long for simpler times.

For me, that’s especially true during the holidays. I enjoy being “out and about” to celebrate the season, but not if there’s a large crowd. And my heart longs to spend time at home, curled up in front of the fire with my family. So what can we learn from the Amish about Christmas preparation?

  • People over things. During the weeks before Christmas, there’s a lot to get done. But maybe not all of that “stuff” has to be done. If you have a choice between rushing around decorating or shopping…vs spending time with a friend/family member, choose the second.
  • Don’t overspend. Culture teaches us that we can make our loved ones happy if we just find the perfect gift, but is that true? Gifts are symbolic of how much we care for someone, and there are other ways we can show we care.
  • Take time for the spiritual. This is a holy season, but often things related to our faith get pushed to the back burner in the rush and worry of Christmas. This year take time to attend a local service, read the Christmas story from your Bible, and pray.
  • Surprise someone. So much of what we love about the holiday is seeing joy in someone else’s eyes and feeling like we brightened their world. Reach out to a neighbor, an elderly person from your church, or a struggling young family. This doesn’t have to cost money. You can bake a plate of cookies.
  • Rest. Too often when the holidays are over we find ourselves exhausted and depressed. This year vow to take care of yourself, to rest when you need rest, to curl up in front of the fire when you need peace, and to take care of yourself physically by eating right and exercising.

Now it’s your turn. Tell us a way that you have learned to simplify the celebration of Christmas.



Announcements for this week:

  • My short story, Christmas at Pebble Creek, is free on all e-readers. If you haven’t read it, please give it a try!
  • A Simple Amish Christmas and The Christmas Quilt are now available in paperback, ebook, and audio book (including A Simple Amish Christmas was my first Amish book and one that is still special to me.
  • Quite a few of my books are currently on sale in both paperback and ebook. You can visit my author page at AmazonB&N, and CBD for details.
  • I’m participating in the Amish Wisdom giveaway. You could win a copy of Sarah’s OrphansCheck it out here.

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39 thoughts on “Keeping Christmas Simple

  1. mimionlife

    Our son and daughter-in-love have been married for a little over 3 years. They are trying to simplify things and save for a downpayment on a home. My husband and I see how they are choosing to find joy in simple things instead of spending money on “stuff”. We are very proud of them. 🙂 Merry Christmas!

  2. amy guillaume linderman

    i love this idea for kids gifts: something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read!

  3. Cherese Akhavein

    We as a family decided several years ago that being with family is all we needed, so with that in mind we all buy one gift that’s suitable for anyone in the family (which usually ends up being a game or gift card, movie voucher, ) then we wrap it and put it under the tree. On Christmas Eve we read the Night before Christmas and we all seat in a circle and every time the reader says the word “and” we pass the gift we are holding to the person to the left of us. When the story is finished we take turns opening our gifts, then starting with the youngest in our family they can decide to keep their gift or take any or the gifts anyone has, this continues until everyone has two turns. It’s fun and we all enjoy the time we have together.
    Then of course being a mom I give my children new pj’s Christmas Eve, along with a Christmas movie and a new ornament. On Christmas Day we spend time together playing the games everyone recieved during our game. It’s a simple and wonderful Christmas. At the end of the day we place a memory in the memory jar of what we are most happy and grateful for,

  4. Paula Newton

    My husband and I don’t go all out for Christmas, it’s truly a blessing just to be able to share a dinner with our family and friends. To us that’s more important then all the gifts in the world. I think Christmas time has went to extremes anymore with who can out do who with the biggest and most expensive gift. We all should go back and realize the true meaning of why we celebrate Christmas. Our Lord and savior is the true meaning and blessing for celebrating Christmas.

  5. Marilyn R

    I’ve simplified by decorating less–always the nativity set out for the true meaning of Christmas and some years that’s it except for the wreath on the door.

  6. Ladette K

    No matter what (gifts, decorations, family) we emphasize Christ. On Christmas morning, the first thing we do (well, after coffee) is to gather ’round and read the story of Christ’s birth. It’s so precious… especially when my dad and my youngest daughter take turns reading parts to us.

  7. Kay Bennett

    Family is always the most important thing for us during Christmas and the holiday season. We used to go all out on presents, some years having close to 200 presents under the tree. Now we pick names for gifts each previous Christmas. Each person has one gift and it is more than enough. Between the 4 of us adult kids we pair up and each duo gets the gift for our parents. It makes it much more meaningful and loads more economical for all of us. We spend time chatting, talking about what is going on in our lives and just being together, rather than hours opening gifts that will never be as cherished as the time we have with each other.

  8. Gail Estes Hollingsworth

    The older I get the less decorations I put out. My son put up my tree and stockings for me this year since I was out with my back. Less to put up afterwards too. I still love to buy/ and or make Christmas gifts and usually tend yo go overboard with that.

  9. Judy Smith

    We send the”gift” funds to missionaries we know in honor of family members. The family is doing well and lack for nothing while the recipients can always use a little extra. No shopping; no debt. We are blessed.

  10. Susan Ferrell

    This year we’re thinking of gathering in the afternoon, after lunch time — foregoing “the big meal”…the 12-course one — and maybe just have some appetizers and desserts. The important thing is gathering with family. 🙂

    We’re also, with exception of my young daughter, considering just doing a White Elephant exchange (and NO buying!) Again, it’s just great to be together.

  11. strgth4yu

    Keeping Christmas simple is by reminding yourself what Christmas real stands for. It is the Birth of our King Jesus. It is a time of sharing that with family and friends celebrating together. Of course, the little ones love the gifts because it is advertised quite a bit by tv, school, and what they hear. If you teach them early in life the meaning behind Christmas….it is not that important to have everything on their list. Like my kids say, It’s okay mom if you can get us anything. As long as we have Ham and all the trimming, plus dessert. 🙂

  12. Nancee Marchinowski

    I love the theme of this blog post, emphasizing simplifying the season. With past Christmas seasons I’ve felt so rushed and overwhelmed with “to do’s” that I couldn’t really enjoy my time with family and the reason for the season. This year is different. I’m taking one day at a time and simple is my new way of celebrating Christmas! Thanks, Vannetta!

  13. Marsha

    We all need to stop and remember what the season is about. I just returned from a get together with some friends for dinner and a gift exchange with a $3.00 limit. We all had some laughs and left happy. It was more about the fellowship.

  14. Kathy Jacob

    I stopped sending Christmas cards a few years ago. I miss not keeping in touch with long distance friends, but the pressure of having to get that done, on top of everything else, would put me over the edge! Most people I’m in touch with on Facebook now, anyway.

  15. Ammie

    I’m not sure I have much to contribute. Your ideas were great already. I think my biggest problem is I try to do too much. And I over think everything. Thank s for the awesome giveaway

  16. Connie Ruggles

    To me, keeping Christmas simple means focusing on just a couple of gifts for each person, something I’ve taken time to pick just for them and their interests. Sometimes I will resort to gift cards, knowing that the person or family have particular wish lists and want something very specific. It feels better to give something wanted than just to do something to get it checked off my list. For me, trying to make it special is a gift to myself.

  17. Sonja

    Oh, the overspending! We are so guilty of that with our grandkids. We’re going to have to work on that one! I love the thought of keeping things simple, just like the original and “real” Christmas was.

  18. Maureen

    A friend gives each of her grandchildren $25 at Thanksgiving. Between then and Christmas Eve, each child chooses a way to spend that money to bless someone outside their family. On Christmas Eve, the family gathers once again and each child shares the blessing they gave. I think this is a wonderful way to instill the habit of giving to others.

  19. Melissa Willard

    To simplify Christmas at our house everybody chips in, whether it’s decorating the tree,cookies, cleaning & cooking. I used to do it all by myself but I found it actually fun when we all pitch in, even when we get more icing on our hands than on the cookies,lol!

  20. Rita DeCook

    my family prefers to spend our Christmas at home remembering those who are no longer with us and remembering the past Christmases and how much fun we had spending time with one another … and opening presents.

  21. Pat Thompson

    I am still learning the simple Christmas. We go to the Christmas Eve service. The next day, my family comes to visit for an 11:00 meal, then my husband and I watch movies the rest of the day and usually take in a movie at the theater. My personal family is 1000 miles away, but my children’s families are within an hour. Something I want, something I need, something to read……those are the gifts for Christmas.

  22. Angie M

    I am trying something new this year with the kids, gifts are something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read!

  23. Jody Rigle

    I am simplifying the holidays by only buying gifts for our grandchildren. My gift to the rest is of my family, is a wonderful homemade holiday meal.

  24. Donna Simmons

    My husband has been out of work since January, and has been terminated due to disability. It has been a rough year with his 2 back surgeries. We are scaling back on gifts tremendously this year, and focusing more on spending time with family.

  25. Syble Ditzler

    Maybe drawing names for a large group. We have stew instead of a time intensive dinner. Usually a lot less work and easier to get to the important stuff like opening gifts!

  26. Kim Bennett


  27. Kay Garrett

    Best way I know how to simplify is to make it simple – lot of times something small and homemade is better and received better than going into debt for something expensive, don’t over indulge in things you will be sorry for later – in food, activities or use of credit cards, relax – take time for the fun stuff and delegate – don’t try to do it all yourself.

  28. Gidget

    I love something homemade for Christmas best gift you can receive. Being with family on Christmas is all I really need.

  29. Kate Kleinert

    Spread the joy! Give a gift of …..we’ll go to brunch when you are home from college. For Mom or Dad…..I’ll drive you to the garden center to buy flowers in the Spring. We’ll go for ice cream on the first day of Summer……….use your brain, not your energy. The outings may seem simple but the real gift is spending time together.

  30. Pam Flynn

    With all the hustle & bustle during the holidays it’s easy to get caught up but I have learned through the years that the most important & cherished things in life can’t be wrapped in bright ribbons & paper. Sitting quietly by a window watching the sun come up, listening to a child’s laughter, saying hello to someone in a store who might just need a smile. Christmas began in a simple barn with a child born in a hay manger surrounded by animals & a very young couple who were chosen by God. There were no bright lights, only the light from a beautiful star! Though this may sound simple it is truly what Christmas is all about.

  31. Julie Ikeda

    You can simplify Christmas by not sending Christmas cards to everyone! I have had such a calm CHristmas season because of this.

  32. Anne H

    I find that making all the Christmas sweets early and freezing them simplifies things for me. That way when unexpected guests or family show up, there is always something good to munch on.