Preparing for Peaceful Christmas – Week 10

Preparing for a Peaceful Christmas:  Week 10 - Meal Making & Decorating Week |

Follow along with the series!

How did you do with the Week 9 To Do List? Hopefully all the items have been completed and you are now ready for Week 10!

(affiliate links included)

Just a quick reminder before we get started: These Weekly To Do lists are directly from The 12-Week Holiday Planner. Those of you who have purchased The Holiday Planner will have all the forms that go along with the To Do Lists. If you have not purchased the planner, then you will need to make your own forms or buy your own copy!


This week we will be getting some freezer cooking, holiday baking, and some decorating done! Fun!

Note from Amy:  This is a very fun week!  Try to get at least one freezer meal prepared (check out my Freezer Meals Pinterest Board for ideas).  This is also a great time to put together cookie trays to share with neighbors and send to work with your husband.  And of course, we can’t forget the decorating!  Make it special with a Decorating Party!

Week 10: Meal Making & Decorating Week

[ ] Prepare Some Freezer Meals! Prepare some favorite meals to put in the freezer for the hectic days ahead. Turn to your Freezer Meals list & Recipe Cards (filed under the Holiday Menus & Recipes section) and use it to check off as you complete dishes and put them in the freezer. Keep this list handy so you know what dishes you have in the freezer. Cross them off as you use them during the holiday season.

[ ] Holiday Baking! Turn to your List of Baked Items to Share/Give Away and the Holiday Baking Recipes (filed under the Holiday Baking section) and use to check off as you complete baked goods and put them in the freezer. Note: You already had one Holiday Baking Day, so take note of what you have in the freezer already! You may not want all your baked goods to go in the freezer now. Make sure you do some holiday baking for your own family to enjoy, as well as finishing up baking for others.

[ ] Decorate for Christmas! Involve children in memory making! Use the calendar page provided to plan some special things to do with your children this week. See my list for some ideas!


Once you have completed this list, come back here and tell us about it! Let’s encourage each other to plug away at these “to do’s” now so that our holidays can be less stressful and more focused on Jesus!

How One Reader is Preparing for a Peaceful Christmas

Preparing for a Peaceful Advent & a Joyful Christmas {guest post on}

Today, Rebecca from Real Mama Joy is sharing how she is
Preparing for a Peaceful Christmas!

It seems as though time keeps melding the days, seasons and years together, slipping by at a faster and faster pace, doesn’t it? Sometimes this is a comforting phenomenon; when one fun event passes, it won’t be too long until the next one. Also, each challenge is only a phase that will transform with the color of the leaves. However, for many of us moms, the quick pace of time can be overwhelming, with too much to do and not enough time to do it. Halloween has passed and Thanksgiving is practically upon us.

Just beyond the turkey dinner lies the Christmas season! Each year, it seems to sneak up on me sooner.

As many of you know, in October Amy at Raising Arrows shared about the 12 Week Christmas Planner {affiliate}, discussing how she will be using it this year and suggesting her readers to do the same. I was immediately intrigued. I admire Amy, and if a homeschooling mama of a large family gives me a tip on how she does it all, I€™m going to take it! I have never begun planning for Christmas in October, but the idea of getting a head start sounded wonderful.

We have all heard that “Jesus is the reason for the season,” and of course that is true. However, that phrase can easily become a cliché lost in the midst of receipts, groceries, silver bells, cookie recipes and tinsel.

20141104_185807I yearn for a peaceful Advent;
full of time reading and praying with my husband and children;
full of candles lit around the Advent wreath while we enjoy a hot dinner together;
full of snuggling on the couch and singing Christmas carols.
I long for an Advent that isn’t so full.


In order to create a more peaceful Advent, planning earlier has been immensely helpful. By the end of October, I had wrapped my first Christmas present, ordered Christmas cards, designed and ordered photo gifts, bought my craft supplies (I was actually going to have time for some Christmas crafts!), planned my four children’s holiday outfits, ordered a few other gifts, made my Advent wreath, and found the recipes for several things I wanted to bake! In past years, each of these tasks would have been completed in November and December, some not at all. What an improvement!

With this improvement comes the temptation to fill December with more. It’s easy to begin thinking,

Since I’ve gotten so much done,
I can now create every Christmas craft on Pinterest!

I have to remind myself that I am trying to SIMPLIFY December in order to have a more peaceful Advent and joyful Christmas, keeping my heart on Jesus.

I have not been able to follow the 12 Week Christmas Planner exactly the way it is outlined. Because I purchased it about a week late, I had to try and make up for that. Also, life goes on and is quite full without early Christmas planning! October and November have been busy months, with out-of-town guests, an ongoing remodel, a special weekend with my husband without children (yay!), and then all of the regular homeschooling, laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning, cooking, etc, etc. Preparing for Christmas amidst all of this has been a challenge!20141029_181236

But it has been SO worth it.

While precisely following the 12 Week Christmas Planner has not been realistic for me, I am still leaps and bounds better off than I would be without the planner. Furthermore, next year will be even more organized! All of the forms I have filled out will be there for reference in upcoming years, streamlining the preparation process even more.

If you haven’t started preparing for Christmas, I encourage you to begin as soon as you can. The sooner you get each task done, the less chaos you will have this Advent. Imagine a Christmas without stress! It is definitely worth the organization you could be doing now. Begin checking items off of your Christmas to-do list. It would still be worthwhile to buy the planner, even though there are only five weeks left before Christmas. Did you hear that? Only five weeks!


At Real Mama Joy, I€™m all about being real and I€™m all about joy. I strive to discover and choose joy amidst the everyday chaos of motherhood. We all want to live our lives joyfully for our children, especially during the Christmas season. Being more prepared and planning ahead of time will reduce your stress this Christmas season, allowing you to experience and share more joy.

Once your planning is underway, you can enjoy your Advent! Drink hot cocoa with your kids. Read the story of the Nativity with them. Make paper snowflakes together. Bake cookies. Hold them and cherish them.

Your children are the joy of Christmas come to life!

May your Advent be full of peace and your Christmas full of joy!

Real Mama Joy Portrait ImageRebecca is a writer at her blog, Real Mama Joy, where she focuses on discovering joy in motherhood, homeschooling and everyday life with the help of her Catholic faith. She is a homeschooling mother of four children. She believes that most often in the everyday life of motherhood, joy is a choice. With diapers and boogers and whining and disobedience and the hundredth spill in one day, that choice can be hard! It is Rebecca€™s hope and prayer that by sharing her journey with readers, she will help to spread Jesus€™ message of joy to other moms.

Preparing for a Peaceful Christmas – Week 2

Preparing for a Peaceful Christmas:  Week 2 - Browse Week | RaisingArrows.netHow did you do with the Week 1 To Do List? Hopefully all the items have been completed and you are now ready for Week 2!

Just a quick reminder before we get started: These Weekly To Do lists are directly from The 12-Week Holiday Planner. (affiliate link)  Those of you who have purchased The Holiday Planner will have all the forms that go along with the To Do Lists. If you have not purchased the planner, then you will need to make your own forms or buy your own copy!

This week’s list is short, but it is very important! You will be making lists of gifts that you want to buy or make yourself, as well as jotting down some decorating ideas. You may be tempted to skip over these this week, but don’t!  Remember, baby steps each week will make for a much more peaceful Christmas later!

Week 2: Browse Week

[ ] Develop gift ideas! Turn to your Christmas Gift Shopping List and Gift Making Checklist that are filed under the Christmas Gifts section. Develop and record ideas for gifts that you want to buy and gifts that you want to make yourself. We have included a wealth of gift ideas for you to choose from to get you started (in the Holiday Planner). You can also find some great gift ideas in Sheri’s Homemade for the Holidays series on Sheri’s blog or check out her Gifts Kids Can Make Pinterest board or Amy’s post on Meaningful Christmas Gifts.

Note from Amy:  If you are feeling a little stumped this early in the season, use an extra Gift List to write down each name and a brainstorming list of their interests, passions, goals, etc to help you think in the direction of what they might like or need as a gift.

[ ] Brainstorm decoration ideas! Using the Decoration Ideas form provided, begin to jot down decoration ideas for each room of your home, along with supplies that you will need. File this form under the Holiday Decorations section when completed.

Note from Amy:  I really love the Decorating Ideas print out!  I print one for Fall Decor and one for Christmas Decor.  I am able to look back from year to year to see how I decorated in previous years.  I even include a note about where we put the Christmas tree.


Once you have completed this list, come back here and tell us about it! Let’s encourage each other to plug away at these “to do’s” now so that our holidays can be less stressful and more focused on Jesus!


Preparing for a Peaceful Christmas - a 12 week series from and

Getting My Household Back on Track

I’m going to share something that is pretty raw.  Something I really don’t like people to see…at least not like this.  These are photos of our house just a few weeks ago.

WARNING:  These photos are scary.

Girls RoomBoys Roomhomeschool closetThese were taken all on the same day with my iPhone as I was explaining to my husband (who was at work) that life here at home had taken a huge step backward and I wasn’t sure how to fix it.

I was feeling like I had gone back in time about 8 years when I had only littles and my life felt very chaotic.  Our move to this house in February, followed by several speaking engagements, followed by morning sickness had created a household that was barely functioning.

The kids’ rooms were always a mess.  Laundry was never under control.  The homeschool closet (shown above) was a colossal mess.  And then the basement flooded…

flooded basement

I couldn’t even begin to concern myself with what was down there when what was upstairs was nowhere near where it should be.

And who did I think I was, standing before a crowd of homeschool moms, telling them how to have a well-ordered household?!

I found myself at a place where I was completely incapacitated by the sheer volume of things that NEEDED to be accomplished, and I was begging God for an answer…a place to begin and get back to the way of life I knew I needed to have in order make our home run well.

The very next day, Mystie Winckler contacted me about her new ecourse, Simplified Organization.  I knew she had some things in the works, but I had no idea how much I was going to need exactly what she was working on.

How I and Getting my Household Back on Track with Simplified Organization ecourse |

Simplified Organization has been a breath of fresh air in our home.  It is a go-at-your-own-pace online course, so there is no pressure to have A, B, and C done by Friday, and the information is not going to disappear if you don’t get it done by Friday.  Mystie is even quite candid about the fact that some of these “habits” will take years to fully flesh out, and rather than that being a negative thing, she teaches you to see the process and system of ordering your household as the goal, rather than some arbitrary “by-September-I’ll-have-an-organized-home” goal.  

And everything is from a solid Christian perspective.  This isn’t about digging deeper within yourself…it’s about reaching out to the Lord and working with His plan for your life here on earth.

I’ve gone through 3 of the learning modules already, and I am so excited by the progress I’ve seen that I have to force myself to shut the computer down at night and go to bed!  I have finally learned to use my Google Calendar to its fullest capacity (and I’ve shared it with my oldest two children so they are “in the know” about what is going on around here).  I am learning to immediately get things out of the labyrinth of my brain and onto paper so that I don’t have to try to recall everything.  (This is going to be a steep learning curve!)  I have the beginnings of a command center.  I am finally working on a laundry system for this house, and I am seeing real progress as opposed to hamster-wheel days, weeks, and months.
Learn how to bring order from your chaos

Today, is the official launch of Simplified Organization.  The price of membership and access to all the videos, audios, articles, and step-by-step instruction is $99; HOWEVER, if you use the code


the Simplified Organization course is only $45!
You will not see this price anywhere else, so don’t delay!
(Offer ends AUGUST 30!)


So, if you are feeling overwhelmed by the state of your household, if you need some prodding and purpose to get back on track, if you need a place to begin and the focus to continue, this online course may very well be the answer for you in the way that it was for our household!

The tasks have not interfered with our homeschooling.  The lessons are all in bite-sized pieces so I don’t feel like I have to carve out huge sections of time to work through the course.  The encouragement and Biblical advice has given me a whole new perspective on where I am right now.

I am absolutely thrilled that Mystie followed the Lord’s leading and went to the effort to create this course to help other homemakers and mommies learn to love what must be done in our homes.

Learn to love what must be done

Want A Home Management System That Doesn’t Add to Your Clutter?

Want a Home Management System That Doesn't Add to Your Clutter? {review of Paperless Home Organization by Mystie Winckler} |

I wish I could find the words to tell you just how much reading Paperless Home Organization by Mystie Winckler has changed my life and household management!  It has been such an exciting transformation and came at a time when simplifying was much needed.

I knew I needed to do something different because the clutter of my notes and binders was overwhelming and not functional in the least, but I had no idea how to make it work any better.  In fact, my binders were literally collecting dust on top of the refrigerator.  The only household binder that saw regular use was my Blogging Notebook, and even that I was finding increasingly useless.

When Mystie contacted me about reviewing her ebook Paperless Home Organization, I thought it was definitely worth it to look into something else.  Little did I know how much it would revolutionize the way I manage my home!

The ebook opens with these words:

“I have put together at least three household management binders in my 11-year career as a homemaker to date.  All three times I thought it through, made it well, and used it
for about 2 weeks.”

Mystie goes on to say how paper never stays pretty in her home and she hated to give up space to a binder (in my case, several binders).  She had me nodding my head and anxious to keep reading to learn the secret of making a functional binder.

Paperless Home Organization Review |

Before I go any further, I want to be completely upfront and honest.  I did not implement everything Mystie suggested nor did I end up using every program she used.  What Paperless Home Organization taught me were the skills I needed to take her method and make it my own.

For instance, it taught me how to make Gmail work more efficiently.  For years, I’ve had people tell me I needed to set up filters, mark my emails, and organize them accordingly, but no one told me how, and no one had instructions and specific steps I needed to take to make this work as a homemaker.  With Mystie’s guidance, I finally got my email under control!

She also taught me how to organize Evernote so it made sense and worked for my homemaking needs.  I’ve been using Evernote for quite a while, but I wasn’t proficient at it.  I knew I was missing a big chunk of what it could do, but I didn’t know how to remedy that.  Paperless Home Organization answered that for me!

It also made sense of Google Calendar.  I was randomly inputting things in my calendar, but once again, never using it the way it was meant to be used.  Boy, was I missing the amazing power of this tool!

And finally, it gave me the confidence to step out on my own and make these online tools work for me as a streamlined home management system!  I made meal plans that can be archived and revisited instead of the endless pieces of paper I was throwing away week after week.  I link my menus to the actual websites where the recipes are and have those menus available from my computer, iPad, and phone.  I set up folders for all the Trim Healthy Mama recipes I find on Facebook and through friends that are not pinnable to Pinterest.  When we were house hunting, I compiled everything in Evernote as I browsed from my computer at home and made them available to my husband on his phone via the Evernote app.  I share my calendar with my husband and kids, and I have created reminders to keep me on track.

I am still tweaking and I have revisited Mystie’s ebook several times along the way, but I finally feel like I have a system that works for me.  Mystie is the first one to admit this way of managing your home isn’t frilly and pretty, but it also isn’t collecting dust the way my frilly and pretty binders were.  I’d encourage you to check out Paperless Home Organization today and consider if this is something that would help out your homemaking!

If you decide to buy a copy, I have a great deal for you!

Get 30% off with coupon code:

And, even better news!

I’m giving away 1 copy of Paperless Home Organization along with GTD for Homemakers (see it HERE)!  Enter to win below!  {If reading via email, click HERE and scroll down to find the giveaway!

Looking for more Homemaking strategies?
Visit my Homemaking Basics series!

Homemaking Basics plain 500

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Mom’s Command Central {why I decided to create my own office space}

Mom's Command Central {why I decided to create my own office space} |

It started with a meltdown.

Most of my good ideas start that way.

I was overwhelmed.  Beyond overwhelmed.  I couldn’t seem to put two thoughts together and I was getting nothing done.  All of my home chores were either not getting completed on time or being left undone entirely.  Many times this was happening because I couldn’t even remember what it was I was supposed to be doing.  And then there was my blog.  I had so much stacked up and digging out seemed impossible.

I felt completely incompetent.  How in the world did I get here?

I went to my husband, asking him to excuse the mess I was making and begging him to help me figure out what to do to regain control of the chaos.

His answer was to compartmentalize.

We all know I’m a list maker, but this sort of list-making is different.  This is how my executive-husband runs his office – lists that are specific to a certain task or area of his job.  He suggested I do the same and get my list under control by dividing it up into a more manageable grouping.  

After talking it through, I decided to divide between 2 lists –

Home & Blog

I decided against Offline and Online because the things that involve my blog online are very different from the things I do for our home online and vice-versa.  I also did not think I could handle more than 2 lists, so I took the two things that take up the vast majority of my brainpower and focused on separating them out.  (For you, this might look like Homeschool & Homemaking or Home Business & Family Life – you get the idea – and YOU  might even be able to handle more than 2 lists, unlike me!)

However, as I was talking through all of this with my husband, I began to realize that compartmentalizing into lists was not going to help me if I didn’t actually look at those lists throughout the day.  I had become notorious for making lists and LOSING lists.

I decided right then and there, I needed a Command Central.

For the 2 years we have lived here, I have been without a real landing place for all my stuff.  I had a crate of homeschool things by my chair, a pile of lists on the kitchen island, a desk in my bedroom I never used.

There really wasn’t any one good place for me to set up shop.  Our living room and kitchen are small, our dining room is a strange shape, and the one wall I could have a desk on doesn’t have an outlet.  The printer was in my bedroom (you know, on that desk I never use), but guess what else is in the bedroom€¦my little guy!  And we all know that baby’s nap time is prime to time to actually get things done€¦and printed off!

I felt a little doomed, but I knew I somehow had to pull this off because I needed to run this household effectively and efficiently and that wasn’t going to happen as long as my brain was strewn about the house on tiny bits of paper.

What I finally decided to do was carve out a bit of space in a corner of the living room next to my chair and partially hidden by the piano.  It was out of the way, but super convenient.
{affiliate links included}

Mom's Command Central (control the chaos) |

I used an end table from my bedroom as a “desk”.  Here, I placed my printer and pens and my compartmentalized lists.  Underneath were school books and more paper.  In the crate beside it were homeschool materials and binders I use on a daily basis.  I bought a LapDesk (see it up against the wall?) and used that for sitting in my chair and typing on my laptop.  I keep the laptop on top of my printer and charge it right there as needed.

(And yes, that is a DOOR behind my chair.  We rarely use that door, so it made sense to put a chair in front of it.)

I had created an office space for myself.  It wasn’t fancy, and it sure didn’t look like an office, but it was in a location centralized and convenient location.  It gave me a landing place for all those things I needed in order to run this home of mine.

I have to realize that all good leaders have a Headquarters.

I manage a home.  I manage a blog.

This is my HQ.  This is my Command Central.  I do this because it makes me a better home manager, a better homeschool teacher, a better wife, a better mother.

Homemaking Tips & Inspiration Pinterest board - Amy Roberts

Here are some other Command Central ideas for moms from my Homemaking Tips & Inspiration Pinterest board:


Don’t have a desk?  Put everything on clipboards and hang on the wall!

cart from a changing table

Forget the bar!
Makeover an old changing table into a rolling desk you can roll out of the way!

wall folders

Files and chalkboard (or white board) all in one place!

Another way to compartmentalize

Another way to compartmentalize!

So, tell me€¦do you have a Command Central?  What are the things you HAVE to have there to keep your home in good running order?