10 Dec, 2011

Untangling Christmas

All tangled up.

Two years ago, when New Year’s Day rolled around, sadness filled my heart. December was tangled up with ministry, shopping, giving, party planning, baking and decorating. When the snow-covered cloud of dust finally settled from my flurry of activity, I realized that I personally had missed Christmas.

In my own heart.

I was so filled with the desire to help others (including my own family) to see Jesus at Christmas, that I worked and worked and I missed Him.

Last year, Jeremy and I decided to do our best to do two things for Christmas:

  1. Simplify.
  2. Focus.


  • We started saying “no”. We used to say “yes” to every Christmas party and event that could fit onto the calendar, but we realized that we need time to breathe… even in December. So, we say “no” to things that are very good, but are not the best for our family.
  • We took inventory of the things that are important to our family. We refuse to spend time and money on things that are just “Christmas traditions” that don’t mean anything to our family.


  • We want Jesus to be the main focus of Christmas. After all, it’s His birthday, not ours. Christmas belongs to Christ. Not Santa. Right after Thanksgiving, I bought this great DVD to help the girls understand what hanging stockings, decorating the tree, etc has to do with Jesus’ birthday. I wanted them to understand how these traditions came to be.
  • We brought focus to our gift-giving. I got this idea from Karen Ehman. On Christmas Day, our children get a stocking with small gifts inside and they each receive 3 gifts under the tree:
  1. “Gold” gift– This is a toy, or something valuable/ special to them.
  2. “Frankincense” gift– Something to help them grow closer to Christ. Music, book/ devotional, DVD, tickets to a Christian concert or play, etc.
  3. “Myrrh” gift– Something that they can wear.  (clothes, boots, jacket, dress, scarf, etc)

That’s it. We tried the “3 gifts” last year for the first time and it was the most meaningful time of gift-giving that we’ve had as a family. Believe it or not, the girls loved it!

Taking it a Step Further

This year, we’re taking it a step further with “Untangling Christmas”. I was so excited to find this sweet, little tool that is jam-packed with ways to keep things simple and meaningful. I just had to share it with you.

This e-book is only $5.99 and is well worth the read! It’s packed with recipes and creative ideas. It’s a book that invites you to be intentional and to rest. You can download pages from the book’s site to assemble your own “Untangling Christmas” planner. I did this and I love it. It’s a great way to create a vision and a plan for celebrating Christmas.

It’s not too late. Don’t get tangled up in Christmas to-do’s. Check out “Untangling Christmas”. You’ll be glad you did.

How do you plan to keep Christmas simple this year? I’d love to hear your ideas!


  • Hi Jen. WOW! What great ideas. I”m interested in the book, too!
    Merry Christmas. Love you! HUGS

    • Thanks, Netta! Love you too! Merry Christmas!

  • Love this!

    • Thanks, Sarah! Thanks for reading!

  • Hey Jen~
    I remembered you posted this last year so I went searching until I found it and am so glad I did. Dan and I are thinking we will be doing the same thing this year. I just found the DVD at Lifeway and I am so excited to watch it Thanksgiving night. We usually watch a movie that night together as a family and sleep in the next morning avoiding all malls and stores :) Thanks so much for your blog!

    • Thanks for your sweet words and thanks for reading!

So, what do you think?