Three Steps to a Simpler Saner Christmas

Today’s the day to give myself a simpler saner Christmas! It’s Sharpie Day!

This is my fifteenth Sharpie Day, so you would think I’d have it all figured out by now.  I thought I did.  I really thought there was nothing about Sharpie Day that would surprise me.

But this year, things are a little different.

What is Sharpie Day?  (You mean you haven’t heard of this awesome day? It should be a National Holiday and you’ve never heard of it?)

Sharpie Day is a simple, 3 step process that simplifies Christmas and restores my sanity (and quite possibly saves my marriage).

3 steps to a saner and simpler Christmas

Sharpie Day explained

It started 15 years ago when I was a newlywed.

A brand new newlywed.

We got married Thanksgiving weekend, went on a two week honeymoon, and then came home. I took all that Bridezilla energy and applied it to making our first Christmas be “THE perfect Christmas.”

When he was tired of my nonsense, my husband grabbed my to do list and a big thick black Sharpie Marker and edited my life down to reality.

You can read about it the whole gruesome story in this guest post on Mothering From Scratch. (love them!)

I’ve written about Sharpie Day every Christmas.

Sharpie Day 2012

Sharpie Day 2013

I’ve had December 15th penciled on my calendar as “Sharpie Day” for months. I look forward to my pre-Christmas ritual of simplification.   I take this thing seriously.

But this year, things are a little different.  (No wait. Strike that – with a big Sharpie marker)

This year, things are really different.

My husband isn’t here.

(Stop worrying. He’s on a business trip.)

I’ve known since September that he’d be gone this week. I’ve known since Thanksgiving that I’d be hosting my in laws for Christmas.

(Yep. He gets home next Saturday. Two days later, I make a six hour round trip to pick up his parents and bring them to our house. Two days after that, Christmas.)

This year, I never even bothered to make a ridiculous list. There’s not a single Christmas craft on my list. No homemade gifts. No new recipes to test. No stockpile of flour and sugar waiting for a holiday baking spree. No big pile of gifts to wrap.


(See? I told you this year was different. Remember my big craft list from last year? Remember the pants of shame?)

It’s 10 days before Christmas. I have a clean and decorated house. I’m “guest ready.” But I’m out of food, have no menu plan, and haven’t bought a single present.

You’d think I’d be worried.


three steps to a simpler and saner Christmas

It’s Sharpie Day!

3 Steps to a Simpler Saner Christmas

Step One: Make a list.

The goal is to dump all the thoughts in your head onto a single sheet of paper (assuming you write really small.)  If it’s about Christmas and starts with any of the following phrases, jot it down.

  • I want to…
  • I need to…
  • I ought to…
  • I hope I have time to…
  • I saw this thing on Pinterest and….
  • We’ve always…
  • The kids are hoping that….
  • I was planning to…
  • I forgot about…

Step Two: Take a deep breath and grab a thick black Sharpie marker.

Step Three: Edit.

Cross off anything that you will not have time for. Cross off anything that isn’t in the budget. Cross off what makes you break out in a cold sweat. Cross off what your spouse laughed at.

The things that are left are the ones to do.

Sharpie Day is giving yourself permission to NOT do what you can’t get done. It’s about letting yourself be realistic about your time and resources. It’s about letting go of the crazies.

Join me in a Simpler Saner Christmas.

Join in the fun of Sharpie Day. If you can’t edit your own list, ask a trusted friend or relative. Find someone who knows you well enough to look you straight in the eye and remind you that you don’t even know HOW to knit (or sew or bake or whatever).

I’d love to know the most ridiculous thing you edit off your list. 

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Susan Baker
I have a passion for encouraging weary worn out mothers to find joy in everyday motherhood and peace in unlikely places. I have two elementary school boys, one nerdy husband, and two cats. I have a strange fascination for bad puns, the color pink, socks, and books. I worry about running out of toilet paper, wine, and chocolate.. I serve an amazing God. I live an ordinary life filled with wonder.
Susan Baker
Susan Baker

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  1. I love “Sharpie Day”!!! We’re going to have a crazy time until the 23rd and I had all these hopes and dreams of what our Christmas should and would look like…life had basically acted as a sharpie to those!!! I’m going for simple this year 🙂

  2. I don’t have a list! My mantra: “less in more.” xo

    • My two sons would disagree with you – particularly when it comes to how many gifts they have under the tree. 😉

      Less is more. I do less every year. But I still find the act of intentionally letting go of “I shoulds” can help my stress level.

  3. What a great idea! I think I love Sharpie day already. It really is about simplifying and remembering what the true reason for the season is.

    • Yes! To quote a favorite movie “He puzzled and puzzed till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. Maybe Christmas, he thought… doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps… means a little bit more!”

  4. Oh my goodness I love Sharpie Day!!! I need to place this day on my calendar at least once a month.

    • You can declare Sharpie Day any time you need one. There have been seasons of life where I had one a week. There’s something empowering about just deciding NOT to do stuff instead of leaving it on the list for week after week. It really does help!

  5. I think I could apply Sharpie Day to soooo many areas of my life. And I love myself a good Sharpie too. Will so be using this concept to remind myself to intentionally simplify.

    • I might have a Sharpie addiction. I know I’m hoarding several dozen of them right next to the secret stash of good chocolate. My favorite Sharpie is the one I use on my to-do list.

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