Creating a Simply Joyous Christmas: Ideas & Inspiration to Celebrate the Season with What You Have came out of desire a few years back to enter into the Christmas season more fully, keeping Christmas well in spite of the madness that often comes with the season.

(This book was formerly attached to a different website with a different title, ‘Twas the Week Before Christmas – you can read more HERE about why I’ve updated it.)

One of my most vibrant memories of Christmas in my adult life was hosting a Christmas Eve dinner in my apartment for my grandfather and two uncles some years. My beloved grandma passed away the year before. Grandma made Christmas special with her tried and true desserts, her hugs and laughter, and the simple Christmas tree with the 1950’s angel set on top of it that appeared year after year.

Our Christmases weren’t fancy, but they were full of love and family. That Christmas Eve after Grandma’s passing I invited Grandpa and two of my uncles -we all lived in the same town- over for a Christmas Eve dinner. The apartment was decked out in all things Christmas, Piano Winterlude was playing and dinner was almost ready. I recall anxiously examining the salmon to see if it was done and asking Grandpa for his culinary input (he was an incredible chef). I wanted everything to be as perfect as possible for Grandpa.

Little did I know, that was the last Christmas with Grandpa. He passed away the following November. I’m so thankful to have spent the last Christmas with him; that Christmas Eve dinner will always be poignant in my memory.

Since my maternal grandparents passed away, the leaders of the family, the holiday traditions begin to change, a lot. There’s been a lot of unraveling in the family- none of us gets away from this, right?  Time changes things and that is good and bad, happy and sad

About two years ago, it dawned on me that though the shifts in my life were unwelcome and unwanted, there was also an invitation to create some new Christmas traditions.

And it was time to start celebrating again.

It took me a long time to embrace the parts of me that were so different than my own family of origin. As I have I realize I bring something new to the table. That’s a good thing.  Changing up the Christmas tradition meant I could start new traditions, welcome more people into celebrating the season.

Creating a Joyous Christmas

I’ll share my secret: the best way to celebrate the season is with a group of friends. It may be one or a few, but doing Christmas with another person is huge.  Cohost a party, meet at Starbucks for some laughter and stress relief, help each other do whatever. Doing stuff together makes life sweeter.

What else is in this book?  My thoughts on….A bit of organization during the season. Casual planning. Collaborations with friends. Impromptu parties. A few funny stories and some thoughts, DIY projects that anyone can do. And the importance of surprises. I just love surprising friends and family with fun snail mail during the holidays.

My sister, mom, sister and me! Hunting for the perfect Christmas tree- a simply joyous and fun day!

My sister, mom, sister and me! Hunting for the perfect Christmas tree- a simply joyous and fun day!

If you’re feeling low on inspiration or just want to shake things up this year, I’ve included a lot of ideas for parties, gifts and some practical ways to infuse a bit of dreaming and organization into the holidays season.  Some of the chapters in the book include:

  • Creating a Christmas Vision Board: Your Map for the Christmas Season (mine took only a few minutes this year- you can be as elaborate or simple as you’d like)
  • 7 Tips for Creating a Simply Joyous Christmas in Less than 2 Weeks
  • DIY Gifts for Everyone (even if you’re not crafty)
  • 13 Ideas for a Fantastic, albeit a tad unusual, Christmas Gathering
  • Tutorials on How to Make Your Own Candles (you can see this section online here)
  • DIY Decor with Limited Time and REsources
  • and much more 🙂
making a simple Christmas vision 'board,' I save mine in the Christmas box and look at the ones I've made in years past.

making a simple Christmas vision ‘board,’ I save mine in the Christmas box and look at the ones I’ve made in years past.

This isn’t a holiday book about doing more.

Creating a Simply Joyous Christmas is about providing inspiration and practical guide to helping you create a simply joyous Christmas with what you have no matter what is going on in life right now. Christmas originated when God sent his divine son to take on human form (goodness, what a shock that must have been!) to a world that was wracked with oppression and the lust for power.  His coming, an expression of God’s love, brought celebration to otherwise mundane lives. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see that this period of history was not a Hallmark holiday card, it was downright chaotic.

I believe that in God’s infinite grace, He puts times of celebration into our lives to break us from the tyranny of the mundane and breathe a bit of joy into our lives. It’s not supposed to be a time of stress and living beyond our means, although I need the reminder every single year when I’m tempted to do too much or overspend at Target.

A celebration is a time to step back from the work and bask in the gift given to us.

For me, basking in the celebration means taking joy in the simple things and gathering around both the people who mean the most to me and the people who need a bit of joy infused into their lives. Others have blessed me in the past when I was going through a dark time during the holidays and their gentle touch remains with me today.

That’s what this book is about. Celebrating Christmas and the love we’ve been given and can give to others, right where we are with what we have.