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10 Ways to Simplify Christmas & Speechless

It has begun: The fun, awesome, exciting Christmas season! It can also be the chaotic, noisy, overwhelming Christmas season for my kids with special needs.

Credit: The Momma Knows

Lights and bells can easily overload the senses, even when the sensory seeker is the one turning them on. And off. And on. And off. And ON. Christmas shopping can be fun, or the crowds, noise, and all of the choices can be the perfect recipe for the meltdown of the year. Right there in the middle of the department store.

If your kids are like mine, I would like to issue you a challenge:  Simplify this Christmas season.

Ten ways to simplify Christmas for your kids:

1. Pray for it. It is so easy to let the little things become THE THINGS of Christmas. It is Christ’s birth we are celebrating, so be sure to pray that you will keep that focus.

2. Plan ahead. Sit down with your husband and plan out your gifts, baking, and decorating. Knowing these things in advance will eliminate split second decisions that may cause stress for a child who isn’t prepared.

3. Schedule your visiting. The holidays always bring  about extra visits from friends, and extra trips to see friends or go to holiday parties. Make sure you know what you’re saying “yes” to.

4. Use a calendar. Put the baking days, decorating, visiting and parties on your calendar. Better yet, if you have a child who is a planner like I do, have him do it. My son feels ownership of the items that he puts on the calendar. Just don’t let him use a Sharpie marker to do it, like mine often does. 😉

5. Keep those traditions. Kids count on them, look forward to them, and once you do them they will just feel better about how things are going. For us, it is putting up the tree and decorating the house on the weekend after Thanksgiving and baking Candy Cane Cookies.

6. Go with their ideas. I often find myself with to-do list and my focus will be off, until one of my boys suggests something they are interested in trying. It often turns out that his idea is better than my to-do list.

7. Monitor the “health” of your family. Is stress beginning to show? Are you so busy driving them places that you haven’t been doing much at home? Are they staying up too late? Don’t let the busy-ness take over. This is supposed to be a season of PEACE.

8. Choose to bless someone else. Have your kids help you choose some small ways to bless others. Older kids who enjoy sensory input can shovel the neighbors’ walkway. You can bake bread for grandparents, take a meal to a shut-in, or pick someone’s kids up for a visit while their parents go Christmas shopping.

9. Let them use their strengths. If your noise-avoider has nice handwriting, she could address envelopes instead of wrap presents. If your busy boy loves to help carry and set things up, you’ve got your Christmas tree helper and present carryer. If your artist keeps adding her opinion (ahem!) about the decorations, put her in charge of the tree and house decoration process. Letting them operate in their giftings gives them a purpose and lessens frustration.

10. Keep it simple. Only plan and do what your kids can tolerate. Your whole family will be a lot happier and you’ll have a more peaceful Christmas.

 ** Dawn shares more valuable information at her blog, The Momma Knows. **


This giveaway is now closed, Congrats comment #1 – Lisa!

Giveaway: one winner will win one (1) ebook from Sandra Peoples, Speechless: Finding God’s Grace in My Son’s Autism and one (1) necklace from Grace Tags! (necklace of winner’s choice – this is a package giveaway we will not split).

When Lee and Sandra Peoples took their son James in for his three-year well-visit, they knew something was wrong. He was literally speechless—unable to say even basic words. A few months later when he was diagnosed with autism, Lee and Sandra were speechless—unable to articulate all the emotions they wrestled with. Speechless is Sandra’s story of the first year of their journey as special needs parents. It’s also God’s story of grace in their journey.  See and read more about Speechless: Finding God’s Grace in My Son’s Autism , by Sandra Peoples.

Simply leave a comment to enter this giveaway.

Grace Tags is offering 20% off her entire Etsy store – use coupon code “homeschool” !
Janelle is a Kansas City gal “I’m radically in love with Jesus, sold out for God, bold and a believer of His Word. I know I’m not the only one out there that is this wild about Jesus. Thus, GraceTags was born. I make special little hand stamped pieces of jewelry declaring the goodness of our Lord!” 

Did you miss Monday’s giveaway?!  Still time to enter – winners will be announced Friday.

*contest rules 


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  • These are good tips. My son is 6 1/2, and I feel like we’ve finally worked out the dos and dont’s of celebrating with our special needs child. One thing that has helped us is that we’ve started hosting the big family get together at our house. My son does better on his own territory, and he’s able to retreat to his room if it gets to be too much for him.

    • YES Lisa! We do Christmas at home because our boys do best on their own territory too. (Also, I think we all prefer just being here to the hectic travel routine.) We do a big Christmas Eve dinner with my inlaws, my dad, and all of our kids and it’s always crazy fun!

  • Wonderful tips! We are using Google Calendar this year for scheduling, which has helped with over-booking 🙂

    • THAT is a very good idea Aurie! I use Google Calendar for a lot of things including keeping track of my scheduled posts, but I don’t have our holiday things on it. Hmm… now you’ve got me thinking….

  • Great tips, I need these reminders. I have a three-ring binder that I started 8 years ago. It has all my favorite Christmas recipes along with lists of groceries I usually by, to-do lists, etc. It’s helpful to pull it out and have everything in one place. It has a big manila envelope taped to the back where I stick all receipts.

    • The notebook is a great idea! I have a 3″ notebook full of our recipes and things but I don’t have one for Christmas. For Christmas, I have a FILE on my computer where I put recipes, menu plans, planning and gift ideas, etc.

  • Mozi Esme says:

    I love the “plan ahead” and then “go with their ideas”! It’s nice to have a plan, but even more to be flexible as you go along, I think. I know my daughter’s ideas are often way better than mine…

  • Some wonderful tips, Dawn. I may have a helper to address Christmas cards this year…

  • it would be a pleasure to read your book Sandra, thanks for tweeting about this!

    Christine @LifeVerse

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