Planning for a Simpler Season – 60 Days & Counting

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Want to plan a fabulous holiday? A Simpler Season holds almost everything you need to do just that. This guide to planning the winter holidays provides creative ideas , time-saving tips, and budget-minded inspiration for making the most of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. With the busy family in mind, I’ve provided recipes, to-do lists, children’s activity sheets, planning pages, gift ideas, and step-by-step tutorials for creating homemade gifts. Buy the book here.

That sounds so ominous, doesn’t it? 60 Days and Counting?

Truth is, I love the holiday season. But, as with most things, I tend to get carried away. I find one good idea and then another, and before I know it, I’ve made a list a mile long that would stump even Santa himself.

Since it’s a season that I truly want to savor, I don’t want to get overwhelmed by things that aren’t essentials.

What’s most important?

Years ago, I stopped sending Christmas cards in the mail. And while I miss that fun creative outlet of designing a card and writing notes to friends and family, I found that it just wasn’t adding to our quality of life. Plus, the expense got crazy after a time.

Finally, I learned to follow the deals and for the last two years, I’ve ordered “free” photo cards of the kids — and then never got around to mailing the cards.

I think it’s safe to cross Christmas cards off my list.

Planning Ahead

Christmas is a time for our family that evokes feelings of anticipation and hopefulness, reunions with family members, and all sorts of goodies that we only eat at this time of year. But, none of those meaningful “essentials” happen without some degree of planning.

That’s how my Christmas in July series came about. Three years ago I started posting ideas in July to help me (and you) think ahead to the holidays. Whether it’s setting aside a separate holiday budget or starting handcrafts during the summer so that they’re completed in time, planning ahead can make our holiday celebrations a little easier.

 This year I put together a FREE planning ebook that includes some of my favorite ideas, recipes, and planning pages for Christmas. It’s a quick read, and worth it. Sixty days will pass by before you know it. Trust me.

And while the “perfect” Christmas is not necessary — nor possible, a little planning ahead can prevent you from being a day late and a dollar short.

I hate that.

But, wait, there’s more!



Since this post originally went live, I put together all kinds of cool things to make Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s a little more fun — and simpler — for all of us.

While the free printables: “grab and go” recipes, gift ideas, and family fun are still available online, they’ve been enhanced, updated, and combined into one ready-to-go ebook.

Because we all need this season to be a little simpler.

In A Simpler Season, you’ll find resources to help you

  • Think through the season and reflect on Christmases past
  • Count our blessings and practice thankfulness
  • Make the days count with holiday time management
  • Keep the kids happy while the turkey cooks
  • Countdown until Christmas with easy family fun
  • Bake someone happy — in a simpler way
  • Plan to have fun and make memories
  • Wrap presents in style without a lot of stress
  • Create a simple and inexpensive gift for children
  • Get supper in the bag
  • Serve a make-ahead Christmas breakfast
  • Ring in the New Year with kids

Want to plan a fabulous holiday? Grab your copy of A Simpler Season.

Buy the book here.

What’s your style?

How far in advance do YOU like to plan for the holidays?

About Jessica Fisher

I believe you can get great meals on the table -- and still keep that pretty smile on your face.

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  1. wow, 60 days…I just had a mini panic attack & downloaded your ebook! It’s coming way to fast! *deep breath*

  2. I love planning months in advance, and right now I have most (if not all) of my Christmas shopping done. However, I really want to strive to simplify things this year (i.e. I’m not sending Christmas cards, I want to downsize in decorating, etc.), so that’s my goal for the next two months of planning.

    As it happens, I just started a Christmas series on my blog today as well (great minds think alike, eh? Or maybe it’s just because today is the 25th…).

  3. Funny you should post this because just yesterday I sat down to make a few lists for the holidays. 🙂

    Normally I try to have all our shopping done and a plan for when other things will happen before Thanksgiving. Last year we decided not to do the shopping so early because there were tons of great toy deals on Amazon. (we bought extras to save for birthdays then promptly forgot about them, oops)

    The plan this year is to send New Year’s cards in January. My husband is a graphic designer so he’ll design them and we’re looking into printing options. My goal is to get them out the first week of January so there’s no rush to get them done now. I’m also considering doing teacher gifts for Thanksgiving to spread things out a bit. We’ll see how that works out.

  4. We are a family of three – Mom, Dad and toddler and all our family lives overseas. Most years we don’t spend Christmas with them and we are not religious. In past years, particularly before my son was born, Christmas became almost a non-event. I like Christmas – I see it as a time to celebrate life and I would like it to feel more special. I’m wondering if anyone has any ideas/experiences to make Christmas more fun when you don’t spend it with family.

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      We lived far away from family for a number of years. Typically, we don’t see family on Christmas Day anyway because we want our kids to enjoy the day at home.

      Over time, we’ve developed little traditions that are special and unique to our family. You don’t say how old your son is, but he will help you shape those.

  5. Thanks for the e-book!! We are really working to get out of debt hopefully the mid part of next year and part of plan includes a much simpler Christmas this year.

  6. Thanks for the Ebook! I kinda get crazy this time of year, its totally my favorite. This month (oct) includes both of my kids’ birthdays, so really the “Holiday Season” starts for us in October. My birthday is Nov. 4 and because I love Christmas so much, I am the crazy lady who decorates too early…. and my family lets me so, my birthday= christmas decor day! (I save the outside lights ’till Thanksgiving weekend) We also celebrate Sinterklaas, a dutch holiday Dec. 6 (simply put- Santa Clause day, they separate the day of gifts, and Christ’s birthday is more about family and church, etc) somewhere in there is “cookie-palooza” where my best friend and her mom and I get together and do countless batchess of cookies to give away. then comes Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Second Christmas day (another dutch holiday) and New Years! its a rush and takes a load of caffeine. but I love it! thanks for the planning guide…. this year won’t be more “simple” but at least more organized!!!!

  7. The photo cards are nice, my dd21 handles this one, she enjoys it so I let her. : ) Otherwise I would send traditional cards to special friends and replies to thoughtful folks who send us a Christmas card. I like to send replies, I try to be sensitive to that, in this way everyone feels loved and appreciated. Photo cards or traditional, it’s done and everybody loves everybody and feels appreciated. Just K.I.S.S. Keep it simple sweetie as Dr. and Mrs. Moore always said.

    I love Christmas time too and this year I’m trying to make more gifts, my hubby works commission only as a Realtor-broker plus we own our own company so we have bills to pay too for the office etc. This year’s budget is going to be extremely lean (so far) we’re talking at this point maybe $25.00 per daughter. I will be enjoying trying my hand at making some nice gifts this year. I love the quote I read from flylady the other day, ….”Do Christmas don’t buy it”.

    Great forum! Blessings!

  8. Thank you so much for this!

  9. Thanks for the inspiration. We would like to scale back this year with less emphasis on gifts and more on fun together. Any suggestions on how to ask a new “family” member (my dad’s girlfriend) to tone down the 15 gifts or so (most, small and not expensive, but still take space and energy) she gives each of our kids and 5 or more for each adult? It’s just too much and raise the kids expectation and also we wonder how to reciprocate with what we feel is appropriate.

  10. So last night I tweeted that in just 2 months it would be Christmas Eve – and people freaked out! I seriously had over 30 @ replies almost instantly and all of them hyperventilating.

    Off I go to share this with them- and print up a copy for myself. Thanks!

  11. Thank you so much for the ebook. So excited to see what you have coming. This is my favorite blog!

  12. Kathy Cain says:

    OH MY GOODNESS!!! I knew today was the 25th of Oct., but until I actually read the words “60 days” (til Christmas), in your blog it just didn’t register…only 60 days left to go! It’s a good thing I start with sales right after Christmas so I can pick up things all year long that remind me of something that ‘so and so’ collects, likes or reminds me of them. I try to never buy a gift–just because I need one more gift to even out my gift giving!

    This is the first time I have visited your blog, I have three children, and six grand-
    children, and I have enjoyed your blog.

    For those with small children, Lowes Hardware has the oldfashioned metal jack
    in-the-box with dif. themes…(I bought my 2- 1/2 year old grandson the Mickey Mouse one!) It is sooo cute! Also a good stocking stuffer are cookie cutters…as long as you use them!

    Be sure to include all your little ones in the chaos of wrapping gifts. We had a blast. I let the two year old help and he got right into the whole spirit of things, with “me help”. Tape pulled out three feet
    walked on paper, extra writing on the packages, and of course packages used as building blocks. Now he wants to wrap something everyday! 60 days left? or 60 days to fill up with as many memories as possible!

    Thanks for your thoughts on your blog. Me-ma Kathy

  13. Thanks for the free download Jessica!! I always love help with Christmas prep : )


  14. I love keeping the holidays simple and focused on important things. But I love Christmas cards, and to me they are important. I’ve been disappointed each of the past couple of years as I receive fewer and fewer cards. I do really love the pictures, but also just staying in touch with friends and family. Some friends I only hear from at Christmas because we are in the busy time of life with our kids. I know my great aunts and uncles also love to know how our family is doing. I think Christmas cards are an important part of loving others by reaching out at the holidays, especially to those that don’t live close. The cards make Christmas special for my Granny and others who aren’t online. I do understand why it’s easier to give up sending them, but I look at it as part of how we are giving during the holidays.

  15. Funny, we were just celebrating Christmas-In-Two-Months on Tuesday around here too. Now it’s time to buckle down and prepare.

  16. Thanksgiving evening each family member tells me two things I can do to make the holiday special. These become my priorities. Every thing else is fun but no pressure.

  17. Oh how I wish I had printed this out when you posted this a month ago! 🙂 But, better late then never! Thanks for sharing all your wisdom and experiences day after day!

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