Faith and Family — Learning to live simply: Focus on making family, faith your priority this holiday season

December 8, 2016

By Brenda Poinsett

Excerpt from

1. Decide what’s most important.

Make a list of what your family does to celebrate Christmas. Ask family members which preparations and events are meaningful to them. Arrange list items in order of importance and ask them to consider eliminating those at the bottom. As the family members discuss changes that could be made, you may be amazed that some of the things you were knocking yourself out for really aren’t important to the rest of the family.

2. Share the load.

Ask family members to help you prepare for Christmas. Divvy up the tasks. Using the talent of family members can make them feel special. One woman had her 10-year-old daughter design their family Christmas card. The girl drew the original and then they photocopied the card. Then she and her brother addressed and stamped all the cards. When my sons were little, I gave them jobs to do and paid them in multiples of dimes (to make it easy to divide). I had them give half of what they earned to Jesus (an offering for international missions). We put the collected dimes in paper stockings and placed the stockings in the church offering plate.

3. Cut back on décor.

Is it really necessary to have several Christmas trees in your house? Must you decorate every room in the house, including changing the kitchen clock to one with Santa on it? Is your goal to win decorating awards or to have a meaningful Christmas? If it is the latter you want, then you need just enough decorations to indicate that something special is happening and to provide a warm ambiance. One tree and lots of candles will provide that.

4. Prune your gift list.

Even if you can afford to buy gifts for numerous people, it still requires time and effort to buy, to wrap them and to sometimes return them. Simplify your Christmas list so you will have fewer to buy and to wrap. You’ll enjoy the process more and find you can really focus on making the recipient happy. If you regularly exchange gifts with certain individuals, don’t wait until December to tell them you would rather not exchange gifts. Bring this up earlier in the year, say in July, and discuss it before gifts have been bought.

5. Save time by being practical.

I wanted to spend time with my young adult sons and I also wanted to buy them gifts they would like. There wasn’t time to do both so I chose time over gift-pleasing efforts. I arranged a “date” with one son at a time and took him shopping. I told him how much I had to spend for his gifts and let him decide how we would spend it. We shopped together, did a lot of conversing while we looked and he made the final selections. I took the gifts home and wrapped them, and when each opened their gifts, he said, “What a surprise! And it’s just what I wanted!”

6. Learn to say ‘No thank you.’

There’s no rule written anywhere that says you have to accept all the party invitations that come your way. Select a few significant activities — ones that will enhance your celebration — and decline the other activities. This is especially important if you have young children. Their Christmas will mean more if they have parents who are present in body and spirit.

7. Plan simple activities.

Many people see getting together with others as one of the things they appreciate most about holidays but they don’t have to be elaborate affairs. Plan a soup party. Friends and family love the informality of a homemade soup party. You can ask your guests to bring various kinds of breads, crackers and cheeses. Soup also is a stretcher in case you add extra guests at the last minute.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Brenda Poinsett is a teacher, speaker and author of several books, including “Holiday Living: Using Year-Round Holidays to Build Faith and Family” and “Unwrapping Martha’s Joy: Creating a Mary Christmas in Your Heart and Home.” For more tips and resources on simplifying holiday celebrations, visit

  • David Garrard Magic