What’s the Most Important Preparation Step for a Peaceful Christmas?

What’s the Most Important Preparation Step for a Peaceful Christmas?

After my panic-mode Christmas prep drained my husband and me for years, I learned the most important preparation step for a peaceful Christmas. Simple is best for me. I’ve included an easy but delicious dessert recipe at the end of the post. Enjoy!

Clean and Christmas go together, don’t they?

  • We clean so that we can decorate. Then we put away containers.  
  • We clean off counters, bake, and cook delicious meals. Then we wash the pots and pans until our fingertips look like raisins.
  • We clean before company comes and then vacuum and straighten the house when they leave.

So much cleaning!  Our homes should be diamond-sparkly this time of year.

Although our homes where people and pets live are rarely—if ever—spotless, we do like tidiness at holiday time. Before we decorate, cook, or entertain, we prefer cleanliness and order as a backdrop for our celebration, and we want our time with family and friends to be the best possible.

What makes Christmas time “the best possible?” An immaculate house with gourmet meals and beautifully wrapped gifts? Attendance at every party and function? All the favorite cookies and cakes baked and ready to serve? Nope, nope, and nope.

I learned this lesson the hard way. After years of worrying about every detail and racing around in panic mode to have our home “ready,” I realized my husband and I dreaded the endless to-do list. We spent too much time on preparation and too little time on celebration.

Had the luminaries on the driveway become more important to me than the light of Jesus shining from my heart?

This year we won’t have luminaries, and we didn’t finish the outside lights. I’ll help prepare Christmas dinner with family, but guess what I served friends this week. Chili, salad, and a special but easy dessert. (See the recipe below.) What blessed fellowship we enjoyed, and I wasn’t too exhausted to enjoy it.

My new motto is “Easy is better because fellowship matters more than fancy.”

Perfection is not an ingredient in the recipe for Christmas joy. In fact, perfectionism mixed with holiday prep can yield frustration, short tempers, and fatigue.

The most important ingredient for Christmas joy is a clean heart focused on Immanuel, God with us.

Unforgiveness, self-pity, selfishness, a critical attitude, and other sins clutter our hearts and occupy space God designed for the peace and joy of Jesus. I’m thankful He forgives us when we confess our sin.

Perfection is not an ingredient in the recipe for Christmas joy. In fact, perfectionism mixed with holiday prep can yield frustration, short tempers, and fatigue.The most important ingredient for Christmas joy is a clean heart… Click To Tweet

At our house, we still work hard to clean, decorate, and cook, but we’re enjoying the time more and reducing excessive planning in favor of focusing on the true meaning of Christmas, family, and friendship.

As we clean and prepare our homes, let’s ask God to create a clean heart in us that we may celebrate His coming and the abundant life He offers to those who surrender to Him as Savior and Lord. Undesirable circumstances and difficult relationships may not change, but a clean heart promotes the celebration of His birth and and permeates homes at Christmas.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

Psalm 51:10 ESV


May the peace and joy of Jesus fill our hearts and homes as we prepare room for Him.

How do you prepare for Christmas? Please share your hints.

Here’s a simple, but delicious dessert recipe from a book my mom gave me. Merry Christmas!

Toffee Crunch Ice Cream Bowls

2 cups coffee ice cream

3 (1.4-ounce) English toffee-flavored candy bars, crushed (Note: I used a bag of crushed toffee bits, Heath brand.)

4 waffle cone bowls

Scoop ice cream into 4 balls; freeze until firm.

Roll ice cream balls in crushed toffee bars; freeze until firm.

To serve, place ice cream balls in waffle bowls. Drizzle topping over ice cream. Yield: 4 servings

(Note: I use caramel or chocolate.)

Source: Brennan, Rebecca & Pickering, Whitney Wheeler, editors. Christmas with Southern Living 1999. Birmingham, Alabama: Oxmoor House, Inc., 1999.

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34 thoughts on “What’s the Most Important Preparation Step for a Peaceful Christmas?

  1. Great words of wisdom and food for thought!

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Thank you. I’m glad I finally learned this lesson. I don’t think the Prince of Peace wants us to miss His presence at Christmas or anytime. Merry Christmas!

  2. Thank you Jeannie- let’s move away from
    Perfection and focus on the Perfect One.

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      I like the way you phrased that, Marilyn. Thank you for reading and leaving a comment. Perfection was my enemy for too long. I want to focus on the peace and joy of Jesus.

  3. The older I get I realize more than ever to be happy with the little things that make precious memories. Family togetherness and health are at the top.
    Merry Christmas Jeannie!!

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Merry Christmas to you, Lynn. Your comments brought a smile because, like you, I love precious memories from little things, and I’m grateful for family, health, and opportunities to serve others.

  4. Wise and peaceful advice, Jeannie. The recipe sounds awesome too. Thanks for sharing. May you have a Merry Christmas!

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Merry Christmas to you, Barbara! We love the dessert I shared. It’s so easy to prepare ahead of time. I’m thankful God taught and continues to teach me the importance of focusing on Him and the peace and joy He gives.

  5. Amen and amen, Jeannie! Thank you for your honesty about how most of us go into panic mode at this time of year! Let us not forget the light of Jesus in our hearts and homes! Merry CHRISTmas!

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Kathy, I love the way you said, “Let us not forget the light of Jesus in our hearts and homes!” Your statement sums up what I’ve been thinking. I’m grateful God continues to teach us (Philippians 1:6). Merry Christmas!

  6. Hi Jeannie. You have gifted us with a great sense of how to maintain “balance” for all seasons. God bless you my friend!

  7. Jeannie, thanks for this much needed message. It’s very easy to slip into panic mode when Christmas time comes our way. I’m sure we all need to slow down and receive the light of Jesus not just at Christmas, but everyday all year long. Much love and Merry Christmas.

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      You’re right, Wanda, that we need to have the light of Jesus shining from our lives all year long. Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting. Merry Christmas!

  8. Thanks for sharing Jeannie. This is so true and timely for me.

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      I needed this message, too, Pam. I’m glad it blessed you. We’re still learning, aren’t we? I’m glad God is willing to continue teaching us (Philippians 1:6).

  9. Amen Ms. Jeannie! With a “one doer” house right now, lots of those things we used to worry about for Thanksgiving and CHRISTmas have fallen by the wayside. Ms. Diane and I have, for the past few years, worried less about how perfect the house looked and more about how “Our House” (What God sees) looks. A few less decorations, a few less desserts, and a lot less worry that everything is pristine and in its place certainly does make for a more joy-filled and enjoyable celebration. Wise words ma’am.

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      J. D., it sounds like you and Diane have a wise approach for a time we honor the Incarnation and now indwelling Christ of our hearts. Thank you for reminding us what God sees in our heart is far more important than our homes and activities. Merry Christmas!

  10. I loved your message and perfect timing with the final push towards Christmas. Merry Christmas Jeannie

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Yvonne, I’m thankful you liked the post. I’m still learning this lesson God planned for me. Merry Christmas and thanks so much for reading and adding a comment.

  11. Amen, Jeannie, you captured well the reason for Christmas joy. We allow an ideal to rob us if we’re not careful. The most fun fellowships I’ve hosted are the ones where I didn’t have everything ready when my first guests arrived and I said, “Ok, you’re early, now you have to help me.” As people arrived they joined in too. There’s something about asking good friends to pitch in that helps them feel welcomed and at home. It fills our hearts with joy.

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      I love the idea of friends and guests pitching in to finish preparations. I think they feel even more welcome that way. Thanks so much, Carla, for reminding us Christian fellowship is far preferred to panic and perfectionism. Merry Christmas.

  12. Insightful and helpful, Jeannie. I decided years ago that easy is the way to go–my microwave gets lots of use!–but, somehow, I never manage to remember that at holiday time. Thanks for the reminder!

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Peggy, like you, I forget the importance of “easy is better” for Christmas prep. We’re still learning, aren’t we? I’m grateful God is willing to continue teaching us as He tells us in Philippians 1:6. Merry Christmas, and thank you so much for your faithful comments.

  13. Evelyn Mason Wells

    Thank you for the reminder to not let the stress, which is related to celebrating Christ’s birth through perfection,ruin our Christmas. I’ve really toned things down a lot. I don’t have a regular Christmas tree this year. I have two artificial trees side by side (one is three feet tall, the other four). They both have white fairy lights, and handmade ornaments. I cherish them, because they are priceless. They were designed and made by my grandson, eight year old Mason and by my six year old granddaughter Lilly. They drew, colored, and cut out crosses, candy canes, stars, dogs, cats, and other delightful ornaments and hanged them on my little trees. Oh, life is good indeed as we simplify Christmas!

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Your Christmas celebration sounds delightful, Evelyn. I agree perfection can ruin our Christmas celebration of the birth of Jesus. When we focus on Him, our priorities fall into place. Thank you so much for contributing to our conversation.

  14. Yes, yes, and amen! Jeannie, you’ve written a grace-filled challenge to each of us to focus on the best things this Christmas. I’ve had to learn this through hard experiences too. I wish you a beautiful Christmas!

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Annie, I’m glad you described the challenge as grace-filled because that’s how God equips us to celebrate although there are so many demands for our attention. Enjoy your family time. See you next year.

  15. The last few years my husband and I have been learning about simplifying Christmas and we have planned an even simpler Christmas this year so that we can better enjoy Christmas and time with family.

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Vicki, I’m happy you can simplify and enjoy the celebration of the birth of Christ with your family. I tend to aim for less complication each year and find Christmas much more joyful. Your comments mean a lot. Thanks so much.

  16. Lyme Disease forced me to slow down and focus on what is important in everything. I would rather make memories with family than how much I prepared. Thank you for this reminder.

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Jennifer, you’ve used your battle with Lyme Disease to share so much with all of us. Thank you once again for using trials to share wisdom with us. Sometimes they teach us lessons we might not learn otherwise. Appreciate you!

  17. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way too, Jeannie. Simplicity really is the secret to the best Christmas ever. It helps me keep the main thing the main thing!

    God bless you!

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      I love that phrase, Candyce, “to keep the main thing the main thing.” Simplicity seems to be a secret, doesn’t it, until we catch on to wiser ways. Thank you for stopping by to read.

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