A Simple Christmas

A Simple Christmas

We live simply so naturally we also celebrate a simple Christmas.

We’ve said no to busyness, consumerism and unrealistic expectations. Instead, we simply enjoy the season.

Here are some ways we’re celebrating a simple Christmas:


We give our children 3 gifts each.

This year our oldest is receiving a Thomas Wooden Railway engine, aΒ Richard Scarry bookΒ and a pack of 3 pair of Thomas socks (socks sound boring but he saw them in a store a few months ago and has talked about them since then!)

Our youngest son loves farming so we’re giving him a toy piglet and goat to add to his little farm and a book about spring called Let It Rain. (We have the 3 other books in this series about the seasons Let It Shine, Let It Fall and Let It Snow. They are cute, simple books that are perfect for teaching toddlers and preschoolers about the seasons.)

Only giving our children 3 gifts may sound cruel to some, but it’s perfect for us. After all, we live in a small home and don’t like clutter! And, for those who feel sorry for our children because of our 3 gift policy, know that our boys have grandparents, great grandparents, aunts and great aunts who send them gifts so they’ll be receiving more than 3 gifts at Christmas.


While we try to focus on Christ’s birth as the center of the season, we have chosen not to observe advent by following any set of readings or activities. During this season of life with 2 small boys and a pregnant mama, it seemed like more of a stress than a joy to try to do something daily.

Instead, we’re reading picture books about Jesus’ birth and playing with our nativity, teaching our boys in fun, simple ways. (The stories about Christmas in The Jesus Storybook Bible are our favorites!)

Baby Jesus


No Santa or Elves in Our Home

We have chosen not to ‘do Santa’ in our family. We don’t believe Santa is evil, we just have chosen not to have Santa visit our home. Our boys still talk and sing about Santa, they just know he isn’t real.

If families choose to do Santa, that’s their decision, we do not judge other parents for their choice. For us, it just made sense to not have Santa come and bring even more presents to our children since we desire to live simply and not make Christmas all about stuff.

Since we don’t do Santa, there is no need for us to have an elf in our home during December. And, quite frankly, these naughty little elves seem like a lot of work for parents. By the time our boys are finally asleep at the end of the day, I’m too exhausted to do anything creative!


While I love homes that are beautifully decorated for Christmas, it’s just something I choose not to do.

We have a Christmas tree and that’s it. Our tree is a small, artificial tree that was given to us several years ago. It’s not a fancy artificial tree but it’s lovely during the evenings when it’s all lit up.

Our tree is decorated with kid friendly ornaments which my children still manage to break. (During the decorating of the tree we had 3 ornament casualties and have had several more since then!) And, our boys decorated the tree so the ornaments are just randomly placed. But, they had a wonderful time and were proud of their decorating and we used what we had – no going out buying brand new ornaments for a fancy color scheme of the year here!

We’re enjoying this Christmas season and excitedly anticipating gathering with family, having daddy off for several days and visiting with our parents in the weeks ahead.

What are some ways you keep Christmas simple?Β 

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responses to “A Simple Christmas” 18

  1. I think it's important to point out that your Christmas would still be extravagant compared to some others. I am thankful our Savior looks at the heart and we can honor and worship Him at Christmas with no presents and decorations or many! It does take an intentional effort to focus on the true meaning of Christmas, and it's good you are seeking to teach your kids that. πŸ™‚

  2. Loved this post! We don't do Santa either, although sometimes we make jokes/pretend. We try not to spoil our children either (like you, that department is already covered by extended family, whether we like it or not, lol), but our children know the gifts are from us and thank us directly for them. We also have the utmost respect for those who do choose to do the Santa thing, but for us personally, we don't do it because we don't want them to question if God truly exists if we were to lie to them about Santa and then tell the he isn't real. We always want to be honest with them. And honestly, they don't care…they are just excited for the season and excited to be getting gifts–they don't care WHO they are from. πŸ˜› However, we have trained them very well to NEVER spoil it for another child. Thankfully they are both just obedient enough and just shy enough that they do keep their mouths shut around other kids when they are school or wherever. We do have some Christmas decorations (the ONLY holiday I have decorations for) but we keep it to one tub, and whatever fits in that tub (including the tree stand/star for top of tree/ornaments/etc…) we keep. But if we end up getting new stuff as gifts or whatnot, something else will have to go because I refuse to have more than one tub. I think it's nice to have just a few things that you absolutely love.

    1. We sound very similar – and I love that you have taught your kids not to spoil Santa for other children. Ours are still pretty young but I'll probably need to start talking about the fact that some children do believe in Santa with our oldest next year. And, I also have one tub of Christmas decor and that's it!

      1. My 4 year old daughter actually feels very grown up that she knows a secret that NONE of the other kids do (that Santa is fake). It makes her feel proud and grownup, which I think is what drives her to keep the secret. Plus, she happens to be an AMAZING secret keeper anyway, but I do think it's cute that her knowledge of the truth makes her feel grownup.

    1. We did stockings last year. We had things like toothbrushes, applesauce pouches (which I never buy), a t-shirt and a few more little things that were useful/edible. This year, we haven't bought anything for stockings and if we do end up doing it, we'll just do toothbrushes and a few snacks in them.

      1. I have found that if you do want to have a few fun little surprises in stockings (but cheap) to go to the Dollar Tree! They often have coloring books for 1 dollar and other neat things. Made the mistake of NOT shopping there for stocking last year and it made a huge difference.

  3. Wonderful post, friend!
    It's so hard this time of year, consumerism everywhere!
    I put up very little decor and not much is on our tree this year as items tend to break with little hands, just like you said.
    Our girls get absolutely spoiled by our parents. I'll send my mom 3-5 things per girl for their wish lists and she'll email me back and tell me it's not enough. Oh my goodness! It kind of drives me crazy. I love the generosity but we're trying to do things differently and it's hard to do when we get so much stuff. My MIL is the same way. As well as extended family.
    Thankfully, I've implemented the toy rotation boxes so I can put some of their gifts up in the boxes and get them out at a later time. It's still hard to get all the stuff but the rotation boxes make it easier.
    I love the simplicity we choose to live our lives by. I sometimes wish others would jump on board and help us. πŸ™‚

    1. It is such a hard thing when parents want to keep things simple but family doesn't! Toy rotation definitely helps simplify the toys. And, I also view some of the excess like I would flowers, you can appreciate the gift and the person who gave it to you but you don't have to keep it.

  4. I am all for simplicity and love that you have emphasized that even at Christmas. Esp. when pregnant, it's hard to do normal tasks let alone get energy to devote to holiday decorating. I love holiday decorating for all events throughout the year, but I especially love Christmas so I go all out. But by Dec. 26 I am ready to take it down since it's just more STUFF to clean, take care of and deal with.

    I do have to ask, do you do the easter bunny, tooth fairy? Just curious.

    1. There is definitely nothing wrong with decorating! I love seeing other people's beautifully decorated homes at Christmas – it's just not something I love to do so I keep it simple every year (and especially when I'm pregnant!) And, right after Christmas, I'm ready for things to get back to normal too!

      We do not do the Easter bunny and I doubt we'll teach them that the tooth fairy is real. Growing up, the 'tooth fairy' did visit but I knew it was my parents. I always loved trading my teeth in for quarters – and sometimes dollars! We'll probably do something similar with our boys.

      1. Maybe you disagree, Rachel, but I feel like Santa/Easter Bunny/Tooth Fairy are lumped together. Like you either need to do all of them, or NOT do all of them. My 7 year old has lost 2 teeth so far and he used this tiny little pillow that's been passed down thru the family and has a teeny little pocket in one side for the tooth. He loved putting it under his pillow and waking up to find a dollar bill. But, he gets very attached to things, so he also left a note (mind you he was in Kindergarten but I was still able to figure it out) asking me to please also give him bath the tooth or he would be very sad and mad. Ha! πŸ˜› I will keep that note forever, and he sure didn't mind WHO gave him that dollar! πŸ˜›

  5. I don't think giving "only" 3 presents is cruel!

    As for decoration, I keep it simple too, but then feel bad compared to my flamboyant neighbors.

    Even with the cooking, I like to keep it simple. I will buy things we don't eat often, but I don't want to spend my holidays in the kitchen!!!

  6. Rachel, I'm curious to know how you handle gift giving to others. I love being generous to our parents, grandparents, siblings, nieces/nephews, friends, and friend's children…but I find that I get most stressed at Christmas trying to come up with gift ideas for them. Buying my son gifts is not stressful at all (maybe because he is only 19 months old right now). How do you keep gift exchanges with others simple and stress free?

    I love reading your blog!

    1. We only have 2 nieces and they also receive a lot of gifts from grandparents. This year my sister and I agreed to keep it simple – she bought my boys each a book and I gave her girls 3 SEEDS CDs (they are kids scripture songs.)

      We do give gifts to our parents and grandparents but instead of lavish gifts, we give smaller, personal gifts. Examples- This year all of our grandmothers received necklaces that I made. Our mom's received scarves that we purchased in Ethiopia this past summer. I gave my mom crocheted dish cloths and my mother-in-law received some Ethiopian coffee.

      I also love giving consumable gifts – notecards, coffee, gourmet chocolates, quality cheeses, tea, etc. These things can be enjoyed but they don't add to the clutter in the recipients homes!

      We are fortunate that our extended family does not exchange gifts really. Great aunts/uncles give our boys gifts but beyond that, our families keep things simple also! (Which we are so thankful for!)

  7. Our children….who are now 19,17, & 15 receive 3 gifts……based on what the Wise Men brought baby Jesus. The Elf on the Shelve came along when my children were older so we never participated in that Christmas hoopla. I did see an alternative to this called "Kindness Elves" on Pinterest. It looked very sweet and a great lesson for kids.

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