How to Simplify Christmas?

Christmas or any other celebration can be an overwhelming time.

We are caught in a spiral of must do and we want to create a magical time for our children, sometimes at great costs: energy costs, money costs, and calmness costs.

Our children, in fact, don’t need much.


Children see magic everywhere.

The real world is magical and new and full of wonders for children.

Children will marvel at the Christmas lights, will be delighted to smell the new Christmas aromas.

They will be thrilled to go for a walk in the first snow. They will love to connect with you through everyday mundane activities with or without a Christmas twist.

Children under 6 don’t need fantasy but it’s not a big deal to be exposed and fantasy is something different than pretend play.

Christmas can be simple, Christmas without imposed fantasy can be magical.

We have made Christmas magical for our children without commercially imposed traditions.

We intend to keep it that way and we enjoy this time of the year tremendously.

We pick and choose what fits our values and our Montessori lifestyle.

I wanted to inspire you to do the same so here are some resources and ideas for you.

In the book “Simplicity Parenting”, Kim John Payne talks about “soul fever”.

So how to avoid soul fever this Christmas?

For children and for us the adults!

The Simplicity parenting way would be to take into account the 4 pillars of Simplicity:

  • Simplify your environment: reduce the decorations. The same way a Montessori classroom has bare and neutral walls, you can reduce the overwhelm by keeping your decorations simple. I have sorted through my decorations in the middle of July. That way, I had a clear head to make some decisions about what to keep or not. I knew also if some decorations were needed. In my case, I needed more garlands as we always have a big real Christmas tree. I, therefore, bought them in Charity shops in the middle of November.
  • Rhythm: Children thrive on routine. It might be overwhelming for them to have a complete overhaul of their routine to fit in many Christmas activities. Take the time to reflect if the activities you want to offer are suitable for their age, development and are they necessary? My daughter went once to see Santa when she was 7. We didn’t miss that tradition at all and our Christmas time is well-loved every year. Children love to repeat the same activities every year. It is us, the adults, who need extra stimulation so just join your child in their joy to make the same Reindeer crafts as last year. That gives an understanding of time and of the passing of the seasons to repeat some activities and traditions. Outside the specific activities, keep your family life simple and predictable. Keep your sleep routine the same even if you sleep elsewhere. Schedule some downtime and slow days at home to rest after an overwhelming visit.
  • Schedule mindfully the extra activities and keep the schedule as flexible as possible. I personally respect the Montessori principles during the first 6 years and avoid too many fantasy-based activities as it can be “frightening” for some children.
  • Filter out the Adult world: In our family, we don’t listen to the news as we don’t want our children to be exposed to information that they cannot understand without support. In the holidays time, we receive many solicitations to help charities. We make some choices as adults and introduce the charity of our choice to our children. That way we can answer their questions. During family events, be mindful of the adult’s conversations and redirect the conversation if needed. My dad has a tendency to chat about politics and horrible news, aka inappropriate topics for our children. I have learned to ask about the weather in the middle of the conversation. It is a code between me and my husband to step in and redirect the conversation towards the more age-appropriate conversation.

Tips for you, the parent:

  • allow yourself to say no: you don’t need to do everything, you don’t need to help everyone. You don’t need to keep up with the traditions if they don’t serve you.
  • don’t compare yourself to others on social media: maybe, it’s a good time to take a break from social media. It is too easy to be caught up in an “I’m not enough, I don’t do enough or I am not a good mother” because you don’t offer that magical experience, that wonderful craft, or that amazing Christmas book collection.
  • keep your self-care routine: if you don’t have one, start one now! For me, it is a bath every couple of days with essential oil and Epsom salt. Read here for 100 ideas of self-care (that you can do with the children)
  • ask for support: you don’t have to do it all by yourself! Share the load with your partner and extended family and friends.
  • have a chat with your co-parent: what traditions are important for you? Why do you want those traditions?
  • plan for January: plan activities, plan your budget, plan some family time, and connection activities. January is a risky month for everyone after a busy, exciting December. If you are looking forward to January, you will enjoy that month too!

Some resources:

Some super simple activities – Inspiration from Instagram


Easy Fire tree crafts from the Maker mum:


A simple Christmas tree craft from 2smallboys


View this post on Instagram


4th December, 21 sleeps til Christmas. Today’s Christmas Activity: We finished decorating yesterday’s cardboard trees, and have since strung them up in to bunting. We were also supposed to have made little decorative wreaths at a Home Ed group this afternoon, but the boys didn’t want to engage, and we’ve had a pretty tough afternoon in general, with lots of tears. Not every day is sunshine and roses, and sometimes I feel as if I can’t complain about the hard bits because people might throw back that I chose this path (both the stay-at-home mum bit, and the home ed bit). But everyone has sucky days at the office, that doesn’t make them failures or want to quit, and everyone has the right to vent sometimes! So yeah, we’ve had a sucky day, but we get the chance to press the reset button tomorrow. Thank goodness! #somedaysarehard #sendthealcohol #chocolatemighthelp

A post shared by Shelley Stubbington (@twosmallboys) on


Another craft by Chalkacademy


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Yarn-wrapped cardboard trees! <img draggable=” />Sharing these sparkly recycled trees (inspired by @imaginationtree) because it makes me think of my 2yo son who was proud of his choice of orange yarn <img draggable=” />. It’s 4am, and I cant sleep, because my son is getting re-tested for his food allergies today. He has had anaphylaxis to dairy and tree nuts and is also allergic to eggs, sesame, & peanuts. Fortunately, he has been reaction-free for a year because we have been extremely cautious, but it’s been quite restrictive. We have been praying that he might have a chance to outgrow at least some of his allergies, but we are ready for whatever results the tests show. . . #chalkacademy #chalkacademy_christmas

A post shared by Betty ☼ CHALK (@chalkacademy) on

A treasure hunt by @mavietrepidantedemaman



Super simple Counting activity by Killakuma

Orange and cloves to make your house smell so good from Earthschooling.

Tip: prick the skin with a pin punch to insert the cloves easily.


I see at least one post a day about these natural garlands. I love the one from herheartshomeschool


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Are you really even homeschooling if you aren’t planning to make this garland?!<img class=” /> (Kiddinggg, of course!<img class=” />) I seriously feel like, with all of this handmade goodness, all I need is a tiny country home blanketed with snow, and then all my Christmas dreams would come true! <img class=” /><img class=” /><img class=” /> We also crafted these tiny crown ornaments to celebrate the King of all the earth!<img class=” /> More in stories – plus a little sneak peak at a very special giveaway happening tomorrow! • • • • #sundayfunday #sunday #weekendidos #weekendtime #advent #adventactivities #merrychristmas #christmas #christmasdecor #homeschoolideas #activitiesforkids #familytime #intentionalliving #truthinthetinsel #slowandsacredadvent #handmadechristmas #homesweethome #simplechristmas #wildandfreemama #childrenareablessing #charlottemasoneducation #crafting #craftsforkids #handsonactivities #finemotorskills #blog #blogger #homeschoolblog #christmasdecorations

A post shared by a l l i s o n <img class=” /><img class=” /><img class=” /> (@herheartshomeschool) on

I wish you a simple and peaceful holidays seasons!

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About the Author Carine Robin

Carine Robin has a Master’s Degree in Psychology, specialising in child psychology. She worked for various social services in her home country of Belgium, before moving to Ireland in 2006. It was there that she started working in a nursery and discovered Montessori education. After having her first child, her passion for the philosophy grew and she qualified as a Montessori teacher and managed a preschool. Carine has been running a Montessori based parents and toddler group and coaching families for 9 years. She now also runs an online group for over 14000 parents, sharing her knowledge and passion with people from around the world. In 2018, Carine realised families needed more support and launched her popular online parenting courses and monthly subscription boxes, full of personally designed Montessori materials.

  • Jeni says:

    This is such an excellent reminder. “Children see magic everywhere.” Yes, yes, yes! 🙂

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