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Category: Living Simply

How Much Should You Spend on Groceries?

This is Day 2 of the 5 Days to a Better Grocery Budget series. If you missed Day 1, read it here.

One of the questions I get asked all the time is, “How much should I spend on groceries?”

I wish that there was a simple one-size-fits-all answer to this question. But like I said yesterday, what works for one family won’t work for another family.

We all have so many different variables that play into what a good grocery budget amount is for us. I really encourage you not to just pick some grocery budget number out of thin air because it “sounds good” or you “think it’s doable” or you “know someone who has a budget that low”.

That’s a surefire way to set yourself up for grocery budget failure or at least a whole lot of stress trying to stick with a grocery budget that wasn’t designed with your family’s needs in mind.

What To Consider When Determining Your Grocery Budget:

  • Your own situation: Do you have young kids or a crazy work schedule which means you need to buy more convenience foods/products?
  • Your family’s dietary needs: Are you gluten-free, dairy-free, or eating according to a nutritional plan that might cost more money?
  • Your family’s priorities: Do you like to host lots of people into your home or bake/cook for others?
  • Your family’s preferences: Do you like certain foods that are more expensive or like to have more meat and less beans and rice?
  • What you’ll include in your grocery budget: Will you include hygiene products/pet products/diapers, etc. in the grocery budget?

There are no right or wrong answers to the above questions. Well, okay, I take that back. There ARE right answers and wrong answers! The right answers are what is best for you and your own family. The wrong answers are trying to do what you think works well for another family.

How to Determine a Reasonable Grocery Budget

After taking all of these things into consideration, also look at your recent grocery receipts to get an idea of how much you have typically spent on groceries over the past few months. I encourage you to come up with a weekly amount that you think is very doable to start with.

If you have the wiggle room in your budget, choose a number that feels somewhat high. Why? Because I want you to set yourself up for success from the get-go.

And remember this: Success in the beginning is just setting up a budget and following it. As you get better at it and more comfortable with it, then you can work on lowering it. But for now, just focus on picking a number that you feel is a reasonable number that will not make you feel stressed or frustrated to try to stick with.

If you need a ballpark idea to go off of, I’d say anywhere between $25 to $40 per person is usually a good figure to start with. (But don’t stress if that feels too low for you right now! It’s better to start somewhere and choose a higher number and stick with it, than to just give up because you can’t get it as low as you’d like to get it.)

Our Grocery Budget Evolution

For the first 8 years of our marriage, our grocery budget was in the $10-$15 per person range. That’s really low, I know, but we were barely eeking by some of those years and I knew that our grocery budget was one area where I could really save a lot of money since I had the time, the know-how, and I found it a fun “hobby” to see how far I could stretch every grocery budget dollar.

I was a hardcore couponer and drugstore game shopper + I planned super simple menus that were based almost entirely around what I could get on a really great deal at the store. This worked well for us and saved us thousands of dollars over those eight years.

However, as our kids came along and got older and our season of life changed, we’ve slowly raised the budget to allow more breathing room. I still LOVE finding a great grocery bargain and am always on the lookout for them when I’m shopping, but I’ve given myself grace to not feel like I need to have the grocery budget super, super low or spend a few additional hours of my week going to multiple stores in order to cut my grocery bill by $50 to $75.

A reasonable amount for our family at this season of life is allotting about $25 per person per week. This allows us to eat higher quality foods, purchase a few convenience foods, have more meat, and keep our menus simple and nutritious.

I could still keep our grocery budget really, really low and I could still enjoy doing it. However, it would take me an additional 2-3 hours per week to realistically make that happen. Right now, because we have the wiggle room in the budget, I’ve chosen to spend those hours on the business where I can make significantly more per hour than I could ever save by using coupons.

For me, that’s what wise financial management is. It’s about weight the return on your investment of time versus your priorities and deciding what are the best use of your limited resources in that season of life.

Your turn: What is your grocery budget, where do you live, and how many people are you feeding? Has it changed over the years? I’d love to hear!

Related: 6 Ways We’re Keeping Our Grocery Budget Low — Without Using Coupons!

5 Days to a Better Grocery Budget (new series!)

Note: I’d been planning this series for a few months, so I had to laugh when I had scheduled the first post for today and then saw that my friend, Laurie, from Passionate Penny Pincher just started her own series called The Ultimate Guide to a Better Grocery Budget. She does such a great job of sharing things and is so inspiring, so if you want some different ideas on how to cut your grocery budget, be sure to check out her series, too!

Are you wishing that you could find a way to get a better handle on your grocery budget? Welcome to a brand-new series I’m running here over the next week called 5 Days to a Better Grocery Budget. It’s been awhile since we’ve talked about grocery budgets and I thought it was high time for a refresher!

As we begin this series on setting up a better grocery budget, I want to start by giving you three important reminders:   

1. There is no right way to set up a grocery budget.

I think one of the big reasons people don’t create a budget in the first place is because they are worried they will “do it wrong”.

Here’s what you need to hear loud and clear: there is no right or wrong way to set up a grocery budget. All that matters is that you set one up that works for you and then stick with it.

Yes, I know, I’m sharing such amazingly, incredible stuff here today. {Insert sarcasm.}

But seriously, if you set up a grocery budget and stick with it, you have yourself a successful grocery budget. You are a success!

So stop stressing over the how of setting up a grocery budget. Stop feeling frustrated that you don’t think you’re going to do it right. Just get up and do it and follow through with it. I know you can!

2. There is no magic number that is the “perfect grocery budget amount”.

I promise. I know that you can read other blogs — or even this blog! — and feel like you need to have a grocery budget that is lower than XX amount or you are failing at the whole grocery budgeting thing.

There is no way to fail at your grocery budget except for not having a grocery budget at all. ANY grocery budget that you set up and stick with is a successful grocery budget. And ANY amount you choose that works with your income and takes care of your family’s needs and doesn’t make you miserable is a great amount.

3. There is no grocery budget competition.

Spending less or spending more doesn’t make you less or more of a success or failure. It just makes you uniquely you.

Pick a number that works for YOUR family. For YOUR own needs. For YOUR own season of life. And don’t apologize for it or feel that you need to explain it.

Trust me, I get how easy it is to do both of those things — especially if you have a frugal blog or lots of frugal friends! But this past year, I’m really stepping into the freedom that comes from being okay with doing what’s best for our own family — even if other people don’t agree, don’t approve, or don’t get it. 

So breathe a big sigh of relief. You can do this!

Tomorrow, we’ll talk about how to actually start setting up a successful grocery budget!

Related: Why We More Than Doubled Our Grocery Budget

My #1 Tip for Finding Frugal Friends

It can be discouraging to be surrounded by people who are not budget conscious. You can feel weird, crazy, and little “on the outside.”

I well remember the days when Jesse was in law school and it seemed like we couldn’t go to so many different social outings because we didn’t have any money to spend. It was discouraging — and sometimes embarrassing!

We wanted to be able to make friends and hang out with people, but it felt like every invite was to some place that cost money. And in those days, we literally had to use every single dollar to put food on the table and to pay our bills.

The balance in our entertainment category of our budget was a big fat zero almost all of the time!

Occasionally, we’d save up all our extra pennies, nickels, dimes, and would cash in the few extra dollars we’d saved over six months for a $0.50 movie from Family Video + a few items off of the dollar menu! Seriously, that was about the extent of our very rare splurging in those early years of marriage.

Over time, I learned to get really creative and to think outside the box. For instance, when Jesse was in law school and some of his friends were having a party, the host asked if everyone could pay $4 each to cover the costs of the party.

We didn’t have $8 extra in our budget for both of us to attend, so I emailed the host to ask if I could bring snacks and drinks (that I’d gotten for free or almost-free with coupons using money from our grocery budget) instead. She was so gracious to say “yes” to my offer — and we had a fantastic time at the party!

You are Influenced By What You Surround Yourself With

You often are very influenced by the people you surround yourself with. If everyone you associate with is spending money pretty extravagantly and telling you that you “deserve” this, that, and the other — even if you can’t afford it — it’s going to be hard to stick with your resolve to live frugally.

On the other hand, if many of your friends are living frugally and simply, if they are content and totally “get” you when talk about buying something secondhand or saving up to pay cash for things, it will be a lot easier to keep on your slow and steady journey toward debt-freedom or achieving your other financial goals.

This is why I can’t encourage you enough to make the effort to surround yourself with friends who don’t think you’re crazy for being so frugal. And not just friends who don’t think you’re crazy, but friends who are just as frugal — or more frugal! — than you are!

The Benefits of Having Frugal Friends

It’s much more fun when you don’t go it alone. Here’s how having frugal friends will benefit your life:

1. You’ll Be Able to Swap Skills

Your frugal friends will more than likely be glad to barter skills and talents. It saves everyone money — and it saves you all a lot of frustration, too.

Your frugal friends might also be interested in having regular swap parties where you swap clothes or toys your kids no longer need or even items you got for free with coupons.

2. You’ll Learn New Skills and Money-Saving Tactics

Your frugal friends will teach you new money-saving skills and techniques you would have never thought of or tried on your own. Pretty much every frugal idea I know of is something I’ve learned from another frugal friend.

In addition, my frugal friends have challenged me to try things I probably wouldn’t have tried on my own — like making homemade soap!

3. You’ll Stay Inspired

Whenever you’re feeling burnt out on sticking with a budget, just call or email one of your frugal friends and she’ll be sure to listen and then remind you of why you’re doing what you’re doing — and that it will be worth it.

4. You’ll Have Fun

It’s a lot more fun to save money when you’re among friends who are also committed to living frugally. Plus, they’ll laugh at your crazy thrift store experiences or used car adventures.

Where To Find Frugal Friends: My #1 Tip

If you want to find frugal friends, go hang out where frugal people would hang out. Here are some ideas of where frugal people hang out:

  • Yard Sales
  • Consignment Sales
  • Your Local Library
  • Thrift Stores
  • Used Book Sales
  • Swap Meets
  • Frugal Websites/Message Boards
  • Local Facebook Yard Sale Groups
  • Freecycle
  • Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University Classes

Start looking around in your area for opportunities, events, and classes that would attract frugal people and then:

Show Up — This is the most important step! Get brave and just show up! If you don’t ever take the first step, no one is likely going to just randomly show up on your doorstep wanting to be your new frugal friend!

Meet People — Talk to people at these events. Ask questions. Find out their stories. See if there is camaraderie. Don’t be discouraged if not everyone you meet becomes your fast friend. But keep putting yourself out there and showing up and asking questions and building relationships.

Volunteer — One of the best ways to really develop deeper relationships is to volunteer your time. Many consignment sales offer the opportunity to help at the sale in exchange for first dibs on the items in the sale or extra discounts. This would be a great way to get to know people better and maybe find a new frugal friend or two!

Teach a Class — Do you have a frugal skill such as cutting your grocery bill with coupons? Consider offering to teach a class at your local library or community center. This one-time class might turn into some lifelong friendships!

Invite People to Join a Frugal Friends Club — Once you start to discover some frugal people in your area, you could invite them to join a frugal friends club. Not only would this be a lot of fun, but it would be a great way to really be inspired by others and to learn new money-saving skills! For more information on starting a frugal friends club, read this post.

You just never know where you’ll find an amazing frugal friend, but if you keep your eyes open, I can almost guarantee that you’ll find some other frugal folks who live in your area!

Where would YOU go to find frugal friends? Tell us your ideas in the comments!


Why Our 3 Kids Share a Bedroom

A number of months ago, I mentioned online that our three kids share a bedroom. A lot of people were shocked, surprised, or even bothered by our decision to have all three of our kids in the same bedroom. 

I personally was surprised at how many people said the picture made them feel so much better. Many people wrote in and told me that they had no idea that our house wasn’t huge and spacious and perfect. They said that seeing that picture helped them to realize that just because we do have a really spacious kitchen and living area, that doesn’t mean that our entire house is huge and perfect!

Let me be clear: We do have a great rental house — it does have a great kitchen, it has a wonderful backyard, it’s in a really convenient location, and our rent is very low for this area.

Compared to many places we’ve lived, this is a really nice house. But it pales in comparison to our previous house. The floor plan is not set up well for our family, it doesn’t have a basement, it’s not conducive for hosting big groups, and we’ve had leaks and termites and A/C problems and ear wigs and a host of other issues while living here.

We rented this house sight unseen because we were living in Kansas when it was available and there was no way we could make it to TN to check it out with Jesse’s work schedule. Plus, it just didn’t feel like a wise use of time or money to drive or fly out to check out a house before we signed a contract on it.

So we asked some of our TN friends if they’d go look at it for us and make sure they felt it was okay to rent. They graciously agreed to do a walk-through and sent us a video tour of it and said they thought it would be good to rent.

We talked to the landlords at length, did as much research and investigation as we could from afar, and both felt this was the house we should go with. So we signed a two-year lease on it, because that was what the landlords were offering.

It was a little crazy to pull up to the house the day we moved and see the area and neighborhood and house for the very first time knowing that we’d signed a contract to live here for two years!

Many people have suggested that we should have purchase a house here when we moved instead of renting. We only briefly considered that option, but we knew that it wasn’t a good option for us for a few different reasons.

1) Housing prices are MUCH higher here — so there was no way we could afford to pay cash for a house at the time.

2) We didn’t want to mess with having to try to sell our house + find a new house + pack up everything and move our family across the country all at the time same.

3) We didn’t know if we were even going to stay in TN long-term.

So we decided renting was our best option — and it’s been a great option for us, despite the drawbacks of the current home we’re in.

One of the biggest drawbacks is that, due to the limited bedroom space, all three kids are in one bedroom. Some people would say we are terrible parents for living in a house where they all have to share a room and don’t have a lot of their “own space”.

Honestly, even though they are 11, 9, and 7, we see so many blessings and benefits for the three of them sharing a bedroom. Here are 3 of those blessings and benefits:

1. It Helps Them Learn to Get Along With Each Other

I grew up in a family of 9 and I remember my mom always telling me that if we can learn to get along with our siblings, we could probably get along with just about anyone. We like to remind our kids that sharing a bedroom with two other people who are very different than you is a valuable life skill!

You get to learn how to be gracious when other people are “in your space”, you get to learn how to keep your area more clean, you get to learn to work together to keep the room clean, and you learn to share your space well with others. 

(And honestly, most of the time, they really love being together. Last night, they were all in their room talking and laughing together for at least 30-45 minutes before they fell asleep. It’s not always like that and there is plenty of arguing that goes on, too, but I think they actually do really enjoy the closeness that sharing a room provides!)

2. It Teaches Them Contentment

When Jesse and I were first married, we lived in a basement apartment. Our budget was very tight and we did everything we could to stay out of debt. Those sacrifices are — in big part — what has allowed us to be where we are today.

But here’s the truth: Our kids were little when we made a lot of financial and personal sacrifices to get to the place where we are now. They don’t remember those days.

We want our kids to have the same opportunity we had to learn that happiness is not based upon where you live, the car you drive, or the room you have. You can be content no matter what because contentment isn’t based upon your circumstances, it’s a state of your heart.

3. It Helps to Prevent an Entitlement Mentality

We now have a lot more wiggle room in our budget than we had 10 years ago when the kids were little (or not even born yet!) They get to enjoy things we never imagined we’d be able to afford for them — like swim team and figure skating and even an international trip to South Africa. However, we don’t want them to grow up thinking that everything will be handed to them. We want them to experience short-term sacrifices for long-term benefits.

One simple way we’re teaching them this is through having them share a room right now. We don’t want them to grow up thinking that they can just get whatever they want without having to work for it, save for it, and/or make sacrifices for it.

So we’ve chosen to continue to rent a house that has less than ideal sleeping arrangements (along with a long list of other “less than ideal” things) because it is not only teaching us all good lessons, but it’s allowing us to be able to save more aggressively and give more generously.

By the end of this year, our goal is to have saved enough to pay cash for a house here in TN and we would like to buy a house that has enough space for them to each have their own room (especially since they are getting older), but in the mean time, we’re learning contentment in the house that we’re in and are choosing to be grateful for the many things about it that we love — like the wonderful neighbors, a beautiful kitchen, and a great backyard.

Our hope is that these lessons in contentment will be something our kids will carry with them for the rest of their lives — no matter where they live.

Please note: Do what is best for your family and please be careful if you are putting boys and girls in the same room. This is something we have seriously considered and it is the reason we are planning to move in the next year. We know that these types of sleeping arrangements will not work long-term — especially as our children reach pre-teen age.

However, we have strict modesty rules at our house (Such as: Never change in front of another person. Bathrooms are for changing in, not bedrooms. Always knock on a closed door. Always leave the door open when you are in the room playing with another child. Etc.) and our children have always been very respectful of each other’s privacy and respectful of our modesty rules. I think it’s important to have these types of rules and precautions in place no matter what the sleeping arrangements are at your house.

Ultimately, when it comes to sleeping arrangements, you know your own children and what would best best in your own family. As I always say, it’s so important to do what is best for your own family and your own children!

A Peek into My Life This Week (new feature!)

Welcome to a brand-new feature I’ll be running here every Sunday called a A Peek Into My Life This Week.

Starting today, the rest of the content on the blog throughout the week is now going to be focused on where to find great deals, money-saving tips, and content that has a frugal focus (look for my post tomorrow where I share all the details on the big changes that are coming for me as a blogger in 2017), this weekly post will be our place to just chat and for me to share things I’m loving right now and give you a little peek into our life from the past week.

So many of you have asked for me to share these things on a regular basis and I thought this would be a fun way for me to do this every week in one place. Plus, it will be fun for me to keep track of these types of things for myself, too. 🙂

What I’m Reading

This week, I finished reading Looking for Lovely. There wasn’t anything earth-shattering in it, but I enjoyed it and it inspired me in my Year of Yes.

This week, I’m reading books from my shelf from the four different categories I chose for 2017: Candles in the Dark (an old Christian reprint), A Portrait of Emily Price (a story-driven book), A Trip Around the Sun, and The Year of Yes (a book on life improvement).

I’m hoping to finish both The Year of Yes and A Portrait of Emily Price this week. I’ll let you know how that goes next week! {See my Reading Goals for 2017 if you missed them yesterday.}

What I’m Listening To

I love to listen to music while I’m working on the computer. But I’m picky about what music I listen to while working because I can get easily distracted by music and instead of it enhancing my productivity, I’m so into the music and the lyrics that I forget I’m supposed to be writing or answering emails or working altogether!

I found this playlist on YouTube this week and I’ve loved using it as background music while working. There are only a few songs on it that I don’t really like — which is saying a lot because I typically like about 15% of songs in playlists I find! 😉

Do you listen to music while working? Do you have any recommendations for me? I’d love to know because I’m always looking for new playlists to try out!

What I’m Watching

Jesse and I are slowly working through Season 2 of Poldark. While there are a few edge-y parts of the show, we overall really love it. It’s engaging, interesting, and we love the depth of the character development.

We also watched The Secret Life of Pets for family movie night this week. I’d give it a meh rating. Not great, not bad.

{Any family movie recommendations for us? We’re always looking for new ones. Or, any other shows you’ve loved that you think Jesse and I would love, too?}

What I’m Working On

I’ve not been a Planner Girl for a long time because I’ve fallen in love with Google Calendar. However, when I saw Beth Anne’s beautiful planner, I knew I wanted to support her Kickstarter and also try to experiment with becoming a Planner Girl again. I honestly think there’s a good chance I’m going to really, really love using a planner again. (See lots of pictures of the inside of my planner here.)

I can already see the benefits of sitting down and really mapping out the week. I’m still using Google Calendar for business stuff and my editorial calendar, etc. but I think having a place to plan goals for the week and write down successes and blessings and projects is going to be a really valuable exercise for my life overall.

Plus, I LOVE the feature to track habits!

What I’m Pondering

I posted the above picture on Instagram last night and said:

What are you filling your mind with? Are you letting it be filled with negativity, with worry, and/or with made up stories about situations based upon what something might “seem” instead of going to the source and finding out the truth?

Or, are you choosing to believe the best, focus on uplifting and positive things, and cultivate a grateful spirit?
You get to choose what you fill your mind with and what you let stay there. Choose wisely!

What you think about dictates how you live.

What are you reading, watching, listening to, working on, and/or pondering? I’d love to hear!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

For the mom who feels guilty that she’s not doing Elf on the Shelf

A few weeks ago, I was talking with a friend about our Christmas plans. I was sharing how we like to keep Christmas simple and that we don’t do things like give our kids a lot of gifts, go to a lot of Christmas events, give gifts to almost everyone we know, make lots and lots of Christmas treats, send out Christmas cards, or do Elf on the Shelf.

This friend was pretty shocked and almost immediately responded, “You’re such a SCROOGE!!”

Yes, maybe I am. But the truth is, the thought of running ourselves like crazy all during December just so we can “make more memories” feels like the exact opposite of making this “the most wonderful time of the year!”

I know that this friend was mostly just joking, but I have to admit that the comment made me want to defend myself. I wanted to say things like, “But you don’t understand! We DO celebrate Christmas! We really do! And it’s fun and memory-filled and wonderful!”

But for the next few days, instead of just brushing off the Scrooge comment and going back to my simple December, the conversation haunted me.

I started to feel guilt seeping in.

Maybe I’m not doing enough.

Maybe we’re not celebrating Christmas right.

Maybe we should add some more activities or events or gifts or decorations to our to do list.

Maybe I’m saying I want to celebrate a simple Christmas but it’s really just because I’m sort of lazy.

And on and on the thoughts in my brain went.

Instead of staying there stuck in Mommy Guilt, I decided to ask my family for their perspective. So, while driving in the car together one night right after Thanksgiving, I broached the subject:

“Hey guys! I wanted to ask for your opinion on something. Can you tell me honestly what you think about how we celebrated Christmas? What are some traditions you love? Are there things you wish we would do that we don’t do?”

I braced myself for their responses. I was kind of scared as to what sort of Pandora’s Box I was opening, but I really wanted to know the truth.

And I knew that asking my kids was the best way to find out what they really think… because those of you who know my kids personally, you know that honesty is very important to them and they are not ones to sugarcoat how they actually feel about things (which I’m so grateful for — most of the time!!).

Well, their responses shocked me!

“Mom! I LOVE how we do Christmas!”

“I love our stocking tradition!”

“I love that we do things a little differently every year!”

“I love that we focus on making memories as a family!”

And on and on it went. I started to get a little braver and ask them specific questions about specific ways we could celebrate or other ideas of things we could do.

{Helping decorate the tree at Grandma & Grandpa’s house last year!}

I quickly realized that the events and activities and gifts weren’t what was important to them. Instead, they wanted to keep on with our few simple traditions:

  • The Kids Decorating the House — Yes, for the past two years, our kids have put up all the Christmas decorations. They think it is the coolest thing ever, they actually do a really good job of it, and they not letting us see things until it’s all finished and then getting to surprise us with the finished look.
  • Our Advent Countdowns — We have a few Advent Countdowns that they love to use — a chalkboard countdown and a felt wallhanging countdown. First thing in the morning, whoever gets up first gets to mark off the chalkboard and move the felt heart in the wallhanging countdown.
  • Christmas Movies — We love to watch Christmas movies as a family together. Each year, we try to find at least a few new ones and also enjoy a few of our old favorites, too. Their favorite thing is for us to all get on our PJs, make some hot cocoa, and snuggle up with blankets and watch a movie before bed.
  • Christmas Books From the Library — I already told you recently how much we love Christmas Picture books! This is one tradition I hope my kids never grow out of… though I’m guessing they eventually will! 🙁 (Here are some of our favorite Christmas picture books.)
  • Christmas Lights & Hot Cocoa — We research the best Christmas light displays and then take one evening to go check them out. This is best done with PJs on and warm cups of hot cocoa! (This year, we got matching footie PJs and the kids have already declared that everyone must wear theirs for our Christmas Lights viewing evening — including Mom & Dad!)
  • Gingerbread House — We always get a Gingerbread House kit and make it together. Some years are more successful than others. This year, the kit was kind of a bust. But the kids still had fun trying to put it together — even if it was not cooperating very well.
  • Ice Skating Show — Kaitlynn participates in a Christmas Ice Skating Show every year and it’s a big highlight. Not only is it so fun to get to see her performing on ice without the stress of a competition, but it’s an amazing opportunity to get to see other really talented figure skaters!
  • Dollar Store Stockings — This is one of our family’s favorite traditions! We all go to the Dollar Store right before Christmas and everyone gets $6 to spend to buy one item per person (+ tax) for their stocking. We have so much fun trying to split up, hide our purchases, find something creative that no one else would come up with, and pick gifts that people would really love.
  • One Big Giving Project — We choose a giving project to all raise money for during the month of December. The kids do this by doing extra chores or giving some of their money they’ve saved up throughout the year. And then we come up with other ideas of areas we can cut back on so we can add more money to the Giving Project bucket. It’s so much fun and it’s a great way to put our focus on other people rather than ourselves.

Each of these are very simple ideas. They don’t require a lot of extra effort ahead of time. They don’t cost much money. But they are things we all love to enjoy together.

This is the stuff that memories are made of in our house. It works for us. And I’m going to celebrate that — without any Mommy Guilt!

And I issue the same encouragement to you, mamas: You can celebrate however you want to celebrate.

This is not a post knocking doing Elf on the Shelf or sending Christmas Cards or making all handmade gifts or giving lots of gifts or putting up lots of decorations or participating in lots of activities in December. If those things are your jam, please, by all means, DO THEM.

But if you’re feeling guilty that you’re not doing enough, STOP.

Step back and really ask yourself, “Why am I feeling guilty?” Is it because I think we need to “do Christmas like other people do” or because you don’t want to be seen as the Slacker Mom?

Do what works for your own family. Do what is special and memorable for your own kids. Do what works for your schedule and capacity.

And don’t apologize if it looks very different from how another family celebrates Christmas.

After all, kids survived for hundreds of years without an Elf on the Shelf. I think you’ll be okay! 🙂

P.S. Read last year’s post on Why We Simplified Christmas.