Simple Holiday Meal Ideas

With the holidays next week, it’s time to start thinking about the food.  No holiday is complete without a delicious spread of sweet and savory foods. However, if you are hosting it can be daunting planning out several days of food. So, what are some simple holiday meal ideas?

How I Holiday Meal Plan – 

First things first, it’s important to have a plan.  Your sanity will thank you for taking a little time upfront.  Grab your Simple Purposeful Living Meal Planner (shop here) and get to work.  

Usually, I just meal plan dinners a week at a time (check out these 7 tips to meal plan) but when I host guests I like to meal plan all 3 meals.  That way so I can make sure to get all the necessary groceries and so I can enjoy them without having to think about what to cook.  It’s all planned and ready to go.

You know me though I am keeping things very simple.  So, I rarely try new recipes when I am hosting guests.  I don’t want to be stressed if it turns out and I also buy lots of store-bought items to help lower the stress.  You can always unwrap something and put it on a platter ;).

So What’s On My Holiday Menu?

Christmas Eve Menu

On Christmas Eve, we normally go to church and then come home and enjoy appetizers while we open gifts.  The great thing about appetizers is they can be made ahead and warm in the slow cooker or oven until you are ready to eat them.  

Try these simple appetizer recipes – 

Baked Mexican Dip

Slow Cooker Sweet BBQ Meatballs

Spinach Artichoke Dip

Along with these delicious homemade dips, you can also serve veggies and dip, fruit and cheese, cured meats and crackers.  We also love serving chips, salsa, and guacamole.  I usually buy all of these items from the store.  Add in some delicious Christmas cookies and some store-bought candies for a little sweet treat.

Christmas Day Menu

We have little kids so we spend the bulk of our morning cozying up by the Christmas tree playing and assembling all the fun presents Santa brought.  I whip up some super simple reindeer doughnuts for an early breakfast before we pause for a larger brunch later.

woman holding reindeer doughnut

Reindeer Doughnuts

I just put a red m&m in the middle of a mini chocolate doughnut and add two broken pretzels to the top to resemble antlers.  The kids love them, they are yummy and don’t take any time at all.  They might even like to make them.

Christmas Brunch Menu

Then, for brunch, I will make a few quiches ahead of time to reheat in the oven.  Check out this simple quiche recipe.  I serve alongside refrigerated cinnamon rolls that I shape into Christmas trees.  Add a little bit of green food dye to the frosting for a festive tree-shaped cinnamon “roll”.

Christmas tree refrigerated cinnamon roll

Christmas Dinner

Since we set out a tray of cookies and have brunch.  We normally forego lunch and just have an early dinner.  This year we will just have our family of 6 so instead of a whole turkey, I just plan to make a turkey breast in the slow cooker.  I will use this recipe.

While the turkey is cooking, I will boil up some red-skinned potatoes.  I love using those because I don’t have to peel them.  I just use my mixer to mash them up, skin and all.  I add a little milk and butter until I get the right consistency.

Last but not least, you can serve it up with some package gravy, steamed vegetables, rolls and any leftover appetizers you might have.  If you want a delicious dessert besides cookies, you could try this simple no-bake oreo pie or simple ice cream pie recipe.

Need More Simple Holiday Meal Ideas?

With guests in town, we often go out to dinner one night and order pizza another night.  I also love to serve a soup or something made in the slow cooker.  I have listed some simple recipes below so you can add one of those to your meal plan.

Try these simple recipes for the other nights – 

Leftover Turkey Pot Pie Recipe

Simple Classic Chili Recipe

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe

Simple Chicken Enchiladas Recipe

Walking Tacos Recipe (perfect for a large crowd)


Just Remember…

I can get stressed about the food and what to make but remember at the end of the day it’s about who’s gathered around the table.  The first year I hosted a major holiday meal at my house, the ham went up in smoke literally.  I served charred ham and you know what it makes a great story now!  Enjoy the season and remember to keep it simple on purpose, you will thank yourself later!

Take some time to sit down and plan out your meals, make a grocery list and order your groceries online.  You will avoid the crowds and added stress and have everything ready so you can enjoy your guests when they arrive.  Oh, and grab some paper plates while you are at it so you don’t have to dishes for every meal!

Check out the meal grocery list and meal planner here.


Until next time keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life!

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Advent Calendar Gift Guide + More

Tis’ the season to start thinking about Christmas!  Today, I wanted to share a fun tradition we love, advent calendars.  Every year my mom gets each of my kids an advent calendar based on their interests.  Luckily, retailers have caught on to advent calendars and there are more options than ever.  Now’s the time to pick some up and they have some great options on Amazon!


Advent Activities for the Whole Family

If you are looking for an advent calendar for the whole family, try the Simple Purposeful Living Advent Activities Kit.  The kit comes with 43 pre-printed, perforated ideas for you to stick in a jar or your own felt advent calendar.  Enjoy the holiday season one day and one activity at a time with your family.  Buy yours here.


Advent Calendars for Toddlers

Little People Advent Calendar (find it here)

Playmobil 1, 2, 3 Christmas on the Farm Advent Calendar (find it here)

VTech Go! Go! Smart Wheels Advent Calendar (find it here)

Schleich Farm Animal Advent Calendar (find it here)

Advent Calendars for Preschoolers

Paw Patrol Advent Calendar (find it here)

Disney Jr. & Friends Advent Calendar (find it here)

Thomas & Friends Fisher-Price Advent Calendar (find it here)

Hot Wheels Advent Calendar (find it here)

Melissa & Doug Countdown to Christmas Wooden Advent Calendar Tree (find it here)

Barbie Dreamtopia Advent Calendar (find it here)

Play-Doh Advent Calendar (find it here)

Crayola Countdown to Christmas Activity Advent Calendar (find it here)

Cry Babies Magic Tears Ruthie Advent Calendar (find it here)

Dinosaur Figurines Advent Calendar (find it here)


Advent Calendars for School-Aged Children

Lego City Advent Calendar (find it here)

Playmobil Royal Ball Advent Calendar (find it here)

Playmobil Santa’s Workshop Advent Calendar (find it here)

Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar (find it here)

Lego Friends Advent Calendar (find it here)

Lego Harry Potter Advent Calendar (find it here)

Squishy Advent Calendar (find it here)

Charm Bracelet Advent Calendar (find it here)



Deliver Your Advent Calendar in a Special Way

If you have an Elf on the Shelf, your elf could bring an advent calendar on December 1st!  Advent Calendars make great gifts and help you enjoy and celebrate the Christmas season every single day!

Need Help Organizing Your Christmas Lists?


Before you go, here are a few posts I have shared to help you prepare for the Holidays –

10 Things To Do Now For Christmas

5 Tips To Keep You Sane This Christmas

Best Toddler and Preschool Toys Gift Guide



Until next time keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life!

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**This post contains affiliate links**


When Christmas Gets Overwhelming

It was my first time hosting a holiday.  Scott and I had been married 2 years and I was 5 months pregnant with our first child. It was the time to show my domestic-ness (you know what I mean).  I decided not to ease into hosting, my first mistake.   I went big like Clark from Christmas Vacation and hosted both of our families.  It was going to be great.

I decided to cook the ham in an electric roaster oven while we were at church.  When we got home I opened the door and was hit in the face with smoke.  My ham was now a brickette and I had a moment.

My husband and mom tried to comfort me but I would not have it.  I was a hormonal mess and my first Easter was ruined for sure, there was no protein for my meal.  What would I do?  They dashed off to the only store open on a holiday and found canned ham. I served canned ham on my first holiday.

I got overwhelmed and the burnt ham and forgot what mattered.

When Life Gets Overwhelming

Don’t we all get overwhelmed? Especially at Christmas with the presents, the menu, getting everyone to agree on matching pajamas, find the perfect Christmas outfit and wondering if everyone is going to get along around the dinner table.  If you are overwhelmed, you aren’t alone.  I have too.  So did Martha!  Do you remember Martha from Luke 10:38-42?

Martha got overwhelmed hosting Jesus and had a moment!  She confronted Jesus! Say what?  Now, Jesus in all his wisdom did not fire back a snarky response when she asked if he cared about her.  Instead, He said she was worried and upset over many things but few were needed.  Indeed only one and that Mary (her sister) had chosen what was better.

Jesus wanted Martha to know that although her heart was in the right place and she was doing all these things to serve him that she missed out on being with him.

What Really Matters

The lesson, we can learn from Martha is remember that although the details are good, there is something greater.  All Jesus wants for his big birthday bash is our presence with Him.  When was the last time this season you sat down and talked to Him?  Laid your burdens, woes of family drama and burnt ham at his feet?

It’s so easy to get overwhelmed but Jesus reminded Martha to let your worship inform your work.  Give the gift of your presence to Jesus.

When I ask my dad what he wants for Christmas, he always says the same thing – time with us.  Jesus, our heavenly father, wants the same thing.  Although we can never repay him for his great gift of salvation, all he wants from you this Christmas is the gift of your time. He will give peace to your overwhelmed soul.

praying hands and bible

Christmas Encouragement

Here’s some Christmas encouragement.  God’s word says He will refresh your soul, order your day and give you a heavenly perspective that we desperately need when we get lost in the details.  We all get overwhelmed but turn to Jesus and give him your cares and let his peace wash over you.

Watch the Full Message

I shared this message at a recent women’s event.  You can watch it on Simple Purposeful Living’s YouTube channel.  Don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss future videos!  Watch here.

You Might Also Like

Have You Lost Your Christmas Spirit?

5 Simple Christmas Tips to Keep You Sane


Until next time keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life!

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Linking up with BeckyAndrea

10 Fun and Easy Advent Activities for Families

Every morning during Advent my kids’ dash down the stairs to see what our special daily activity is in our little advent calendar hanging in the kitchen.  I love it too, I won’t lie.  Come Christmas day I am a little sad it’s all over.  So, I rounded up 10 of my favorite fun and easy Advent Activities for families so we could all enjoy the entire advent season with our families simply on purpose.

Don’t forget to pin this!

1.  Jesus Storybook Bible Advent Reading

We love the Jesus Storybook Bible!  If you don’t have it, you need to get it!  You can also get free printable cards with a daily reading from the bible that shares the reason for the season.   You can print off a set, laminate them so you can use them year after year and put them on a little ring.  Do a card nightly.  You can download your set here.

2.  Christmas Hymn Advent Calendar

Kristin at Maximizing Days created a Christmas Hymn advent calendar for her family.  She found a Christmas hymn for all 25 days and then every day they look up the song on Youtube and enjoy worshipping as a family.  You can read more about this activity here.

3.  Christmas Book Countdown

Amanda at Miss Sue Living wraps up 25 Christmas books for her family to open and read every evening.  She even shared how she simplified the wrapping process.  You can read more here.

4.  Shepherd on a Search

This box set comes with an illustrated storybook about the shepherd’s journey to find baby Jesus.  Hide the shepherd every day and the kids can have fun finding him.  Finally, on Christmas Day the shepherd finds baby Jesus in the manger.  You can get your set here.

25 Days of Christmas activities printable with advent calendar

5.  25 Days of Simple Family Christmas Activities

Spending time as a family enjoying the season is so important.  Download the printable 25 days of Christmas activities.  Some activities are bigger and better suited for the weekend like visiting Santa, driving through a light display or going to get hot cocoa in your jammies.  While there are plenty of small activities perfect for a busy weeknight.

At the beginning of the month, look at your calendar and plan out each day’s activities.  Place an activity in each little pocket of an advent calendar.  Here is a similar one.  You can get the 25 days of activities printable to do with your family by signing up here.

Make this cute advent calendar to house your activities.

6. Jesse Tree Activity

A Jesse Tree is an old tradition that is used to help tell the story of the Bible from creation to the Christmas story.  Each day there is a daily Bible reading and you can hang an ornament that corresponds with the reading.  The first day talks about creation and you could hang an earth ornament on a little tree.

Ann Voskamp has a Jesse Tree interactive book.  Check out Wonder of the Greatest Gift.  Get your copy here.

7.  The Giving Manger

Celebrate the birth of Jesus by sparking the spirit of service this Christmas.  Every time someone in your family does an act of service or extends kindness, add another piece of straw to Jesus’ manger.  On Christmas day baby Jesus is placed in the manger full of love and service.  Get yours here.

8.  Advent Cards

All Good Things Collective has a set of 25 colorfully decorated cards with prompt or activity.  Each of the cards promotes connecting with others and with Christ.  You can get your set here.

The Kids Read Truth Advent Cards provide a short Scripture reading, questions, and illustrations. A perfect activity for dinner-time or bedtime.  Get your set here.

9.  Advent Wreath

Light the 4 candles of the advent wreath and usher in the light of the world, Jesus.  Check out this magnetic Advent wreath, it’s perfect for kids.  This post shares how you can make an easy advent wreath with your kids.

10. Knowing Him By Name Advent Calendar

Focus on the Family’s 2018 free advent devotional for families focuses on the names of Jesus and corresponding scriptures. The calendar also includes faith-based activities that will help kids develop understand who Jesus is.  Download your copy here.


Now, it’s time to enjoy the Advent season with your family and make sweet memories.  Remember, to avoid the inclination to try all these ideas.   This Christmas choose one simple, purposeful activity and remember the reason for the season with your family.  How do you celebrate the Advent season with your family?

You Might Also Like –

Advent Calendars for Kids Gift Guide

25 Days of Christmas Activities Printable


Until next time keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life!

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**This post contains affiliate links**

Linking up with LindsayBecky

Have You Lost Your Christmas Spirit?

This time of year conjures up all sorts of feelings.  You may be grieving the loss of a loved one, experiencing financial stress, feeling over-tired or over-worked and the list goes on and on.  You may be overwhelmed by the to-do list that’s nearly as long as Santa’s and your little ones aren’t nearly as helpful as his elves.

Have you lost your Christmas spirit? with holly

Have you lost your spirit?

Whatever the cause, you really just want to know how to go about finding some joy.  Where is that joy hiding?  Is it at the bottom of the 3rd cup of coffee?  It’s not, I already looked there.

To top off the long list of stuff that is added to your plate, you have the stuff that was already on your plate.  You know the feeding, clothing, laundering, shuttling and loving you do all year through.  Most of the work associated with Christmas preparation falls on your shoulders and no one needs to tell you, your shoulders are looking slumped.

They might say: “This season will pass, they are only young once, let the wonder of Christmas in your children fill your heart.” None of that really works.  No amount of close proximity to your children (and there is a lot of that) will rub the Christmas spirit on to you.

So what’s a person to do?

Come to me all who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest.  Matthew 11:28

From the lips of Jesus himself.  The very man who came into the world as a tiny infant, the very reason we celebrate Christmas.  He never meant for Christmas to become what it is today.  He didn’t mean it to be about presents, parties, cards, carols, cookies, trees and stockings.

He meant Christmas to be about peace, joy, redemption, restoration and healing.

But he can’t impart any of that on to unless we give him time and our heart.

Go to Him in your weariness, with your sorrow, your to do list, your financial burdens and your calendar.  Seek Him more in the chaos and craziness.  He can and will restore your weary soul.

In Him, we will find the Christmas spirit we are after.  It’s not in the best wrapped presents, Pinterest-worthy Christmas party, most delicious cookies, the joy in others, or a beautifully appointed tree.  Read my story here.  

Until next time keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life!

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