Living Simply Saturday: Keeping Christmas Simple and some Birthday Party Fun

As you may have guessed by the title, I’m taking a week off from the book I’ve been going through. 🙂

While I’m skipping a week, might as well skip one more, right? I’ve got something special planned for next Saturday, that I’m really looking forward to!


Christmas seems to be one of the most difficult seasons to keep simple. There are work parties and concerts and special events and living nativities and church services and family get-togethers to attend. There’s shopping for or making gifts, or some combination in between. There are Christmas cards, family photos or yearly letters to be written, addressed and sent. There’s baking, baking, and more baking. There’s a tree to be chosen, set up and decorated with care, and magical, memorable moments to be made with the children.

In the midst of all the busyness, it is so easy to forget the reason for the season (I know it’s a bit cliche, but it’s true). Christ coming to earth, as God incarnate, to set His people free from the bondage of sin and to reconcile them to God forever… so simple, so beautiful, so worthy of celebration.

How do we keep the focus where it truly belongs, on Christ and what He has done for us and on the kindness of God to send us a Savior? What can we do to keep our priorities straight, to slow things down a little a lot, to make things as simple and meaningful as possible? How can we find time and energy to serve and love others? What can you share with me (with all of us) about how to simply celebrate Christmas?

Announcing the…

Simply Celebrating Christmas Carnival
When: Next Saturday, Dec.6 (carnival will be up by Friday night)
What: Anything that make Christmas more simple and meaningful, less busy and stressful, etc. The ways that you minimize or prioritize or say no or find shortcuts. Practical is good!
Please feel free to use the button I’ve made, to share about the carnival on your blog (there is a smaller one on the sidebar if you prefer). The more people that participate the more valuable the carnival will be!

Now, a little birthday party fun!

I’ve been known to go a little overboard with my daughter’s birthday parties. Okay, okay. A lot overboard!

I could tell you about her insanely big 1st birthday party, where I rented a room, invited practically everyone we knew, made a huge cake and tons of appetizers, and wore the birthday girl out to tears by the time she was opening her presents (did I mention she wouldn’t take her nap?). Or her 3rd birthday, which although it was fantastic, had me up to nearly 1am the night before trying to complete everything and have the house ready for a gaggle of preschoolers!

Not this year. Cheap and easy, but still a blast. Here’s what I did for the big shindig this morning:

  • Used Evite to send out adorable, spring themed invitations (we wanted something bright and sunshiney in the midst of the grey clouds and rain)
  • Grabbed a cute (cheap) paper tablecloth with matching napkins at Walmart last week while doing my couponing
  • Made the party from 9:30-11:30am. Short and sweet. Just enough time to get ready, and it will be over in time for a small lunch and much-needed naptimes after all the excitement.
  • Craft- I decided to combine this with making Christmas gifts, and it’s
    super cute and easy, but I can’t tell you what it is because some
    family members who read this blog are getting some (so here’s the link- but anyone named Mom or Grandma is forbidden to click on this link! 🙂
  • Instead of gift bags (or homemade playdough like I did last year- sheesh!) and in addition to the craft the kids took home, we gave out two small gifts (very inexpensive) and a simple gift tag cut out of leftover scrapbook paper, with a “Thank You” stamp, a flower punch out, and Abbie helped me write “Love Abbie” on them (we had fun making these during our learning time this morning- letter writing practice!)
  • Food- One Gingerbread (spelt/kamut) Cake with cream cheese/honey icing (very simple to make), two large blenderfuls of fruit smoothie (so yummy and easy to whip up), a plate of veggies, plus coffee/tea for the moms.
  • Gathered a few “springy” decorations (stuffed birds, flowers, butterflies, etc.) from around the house to do some simple decorating (took 10 minutes flat)

That’s it! We still had 9 kids over (including younger siblings), plus my own 2, and 5 moms (plus myself). It was a full house but I didn’t go insane, we had tons of fun, everyone left happy, and my house was almost clean by 2pm! 🙂

How do you keep birthday parties simple and easy to pull off, but still fun and memorable? And, are you in for Simply Celebrating Christmas?

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  1. How do you keep birthday parties simple and easy to pull off, but still fun and memorable? And, are you in for Simply Celebrating Christmas?

    My children get to pick a birthday meal, and grandparents come over for an evening with a few aunties and uncles. We open a couple gifts have cake and we are done. Nothing ever crazy fancy, just a nice meal with those who TRULY love my child and fellowship. That child is on top off the world for the day and not over indulged, spoiled little stinker.

  2. Keep it even simplier and just enjoy birthdays at home – no parties! I think I had one birthday party growing up and it was a slumber party. All the others were a homemade cake and 1-2 presents from my parents and brother, which we enjoyed together after dinner. Simpler is better.

  3. Would you share your gingerbread cake recipe from the birthday party? It sounds like you did a wonderful job planning and executing the party without wearing yourself out! Congratulations.

  4. I feel like hiding… 🙂 I have never done a birthday party for my daughter, who will be 3 soon. Her first birthday we had just moved, and I didn’t know anyone, and there was no family around. The second year, I was sick. This year, I will have/almost have a brand new baby… Maybe I should have done something later on for her…but I didn’t. Each year we have just made her a spelt applesauce cake (no sugar, its really good!) and given her one gift. Family mails gifts to her and we open them with her on the day. That’s it.

    I hope to do a nice birthday party the year she turns 4, as I also think she will be old enough to enjoy it. This year I think I will be a little preoccupied to do more than the simple family stuff.

  5. I have to admit that I easily get caught up in all this birthday party glitz. I feel like it’s a silent competition within myself to either outdo or do as well as last year’s or someone else’s. I tell myself it’s for my kids but in actuality, it’s all for me…..*sigh* I was just talking to some moms and remembering how much less complicated birthday parties were when I was growing up: no hall rentals, Bobs & Lolo, Go Bananas, etc.
    Thanks for your post because I’ve been thinking about my son’s birthday coming up in January. It’s a fresh reminder that simple is also good too.

    One thing that a friend of mine does that I think is less stressful is to have a big birthday bash for her daughter every other year, with small family ones yearly.

  6. Hi,

    We keep things simple at our house. I have a limit on what I will spend per child for their birthday. It usually means one, maybe two gifts.
    We have a family party where we’ll invite the grandparents and aunties/uncles/cousins.
    My children are weird (compared to their friends) and they prefer homemade cakes, to store bought. So I bake one chocolate cake with chocolate frosting for the chocoholics-my son, Gramps and me. And one marble cake with white frosting for everyone else. We throw on a few candles and some sprinkle/colored sugar for decoration and that is about it.

    My daughter is twelve and had her first birthday party involving her friends. We kept that simple too. There were only three friends allowed; they spent the night. They had a blast decorating their own homemade cupcakes, playing at the local park for a while, and then later watching movies on dvd and making the living room into a giant fort.

    Children really do seem to prefer simple parties, even if they don’t communicate that At least, my daughter always has the best time at those.

    Love your blog!

  7. In an effort to teach my kids that Christmas is not about getting toys. This year we are doing 25 Days of Giving. I’m trying to celebrate Advent by helping to teach my kids about sharing the blessings we’ve received and giving of ourselves to others. I’m sure I’ve actually made things harder for myself though! I’m attempting to document my journey, hoping to have some success.

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