CatholicMom Book Spotlight

Nancy Twigg

Celebrate Simply: Your Guide to Simpler, More Meaningful Holidays and Special Occasions is pleased to share the following interview with author Nancy Twigg.  Her new book,
Celebrate Simply: Your Guide to Simpler, More Meaningful Holidays and Special Occasions, offers Simple, effective strategies for spending less, experiencing less stress, but increasing the spiritual and personal significance of special occasions. Not just about Christmas, this book helps readers simplify all major occasions including Easter, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, as well as weddings, birthdays and anniversaries.

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Celebrate Simply: Your Guide to Simpler, More Meaningful Holidays and Special Occasions
by Nancy Twigg
208 pages, August 2003


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CM:  What prompted you to write Celebrate Simply?

Several years ago I had a horrible holiday experience that I will never forget. To make a long story short, I almost ruined Christmas for my husband and myself that year. My intentions were good; I was trying to create a magical, meaningful, memorable celebration for my family. The problem was that I thought the only way to make the holidays meaningful was to single-handedly orchestrate an old fashioned Norman Rockwell/Martha Stewart kind of affair. I decided I would make several homemade presents for each person on gift list and cook elaborate meals that would put even Julia Child to shame. I basically made Christmas my full-time job. The problem was that I already had a full-time job and didn’t need any extra stress in my life. December 25th became a deadline I had to meet regardless of the consequences to my health, sanity, or marriage.

The result was a total disaster. I ended up totally frazzled and on the verge of exhaustion. My poor husband was afraid to even talk to me and we got in the worst fight ever. Our own family Christmas tree didn’t even get decorated until a few days before Christmas because I was so busy will all the other stuff that I didn’t have time for that. To top it all off, it seemed that all my efforts to create an unforgettable celebration were for naught—no one even noticed a difference. My friends and family appreciated the gifts I gave and the meals I cooked, but other than that, it was Christmas as usual to them.

After this horrible experience, I swore that we’d never go through another holiday season like that again. I knew that no matter what it took, I had to find a better way to celebrate. Right after the holidays were over that year, I began reading everything I could find on the topic of simple celebrations. As I learned about simplifying and began putting what I learned into practice, I began writing about what I learned. I was sure that others had experienced similar frustrations; I hoped that maybe they could learn from my mistakes. Those early writings formed the foundations of my book.

CM: How would you summarize the book?

Celebrate Simply is a practical guidebook for simplifying the way you celebrate holidays and occasions. It is filled with creative ideas and realistic strategies for making celebrations more meaningful and more manageable. All major holidays are addressed as well as birthdays, anniversaries, weddings and gift-giving in general. Celebrate Simply has something for everyone, no matter what your need—whether you want to reduce holiday stress or expense or you just want to make occasions more memorable and spiritually significant.

CM:  How can today's Moms create more simple celebrations for family holidays and parties?

Here are some guidelines that we’ve used in our home for creating simple Christmas celebrations, but they can be applied to all kinds of occasions.

* Scale Back – If the thought of a particular celebration gives you cold chills, you probably feel overwhelmed and overloaded because you are trying to do too much. Look for ways to keep the celebration simple, yet significant.

* Start Early – Whether the celebration is a birthday, Thanksgiving feast, wedding, whatever—don’t wait until the last minute to prepare for it. If you know the celebration will involve a lot of effort on your part, give yourself lots of lead-time.

* Say "No" Sometimes – Don’t feel you have to do everything. The world won’t come to an end if you don’t cook a lavish holiday meal each Christmas or if your child doesn’t have a bodacious bash for every birthday. Give yourself permission to have a "Not to Do" list as well as a "To Do" list.

* Plan Meaningful Activities – Usually the most special holiday memories are the ones that don’t involve money, but rather time together as a family. As you plan your celebrations, be sure to include time for activities that promote family fellowship and times of bonding.

CM:  What are some of your favorite simple tips?

One of my all-time favorite time- and money-saving idea is the concept of maintaining a gift shelf. When it comes to gift giving, most people wait until the last minute to go shopping and then they search frantically for a gift. Often they end up overspending because they purchased under pressure. But there is another approach to the gift giving—one that save a lot of money and time. In our family, we call it the "Gift Shelf." A gift shelf is nothing more than a stash of gift items. Rather than waiting to shop until an occasion arises, we acquire gifts all year long, storing them in a designated place until the special occasion arrives. One of the biggest benefits of this style of shopping is that because we prepare in advance for gift giving, we can actually relax and enjoy special occasions without worrying about last minute shopping. The expenditure of time and money involved in gift giving is also spread out over the entire year. This benefit is especially important around the Christmas holidays when we have so many gifts to give within such a short time period. Gift giving becomes more manageable because we prepare for it a little at a time rather than all at once. With this system, we have the option of taking our time in locating a perfectly suited item at a good price rather than frantically buying whatever we can find at the last minute.

CM:  As a busy wife and mother, how did you accomplish your goal of publishing a book?

I could never have done it without God’s help and also the support of my loving husband, Michael. He put in many hours of watching our daughter and cooking dinner so that I could work. Also, I found it necessary to readjust my sleeping patterns. During the most intense time of writing, I typically got out of bed around 3am so that I had several hours to work before my daughter woke up. I made up for the lack of sleep at night by taking a nap with Lydia each afternoon.

CM:  How has your Christian faith impacted your writing and the way you have chosen to live your life?

My faith means everything to me, so it is hard to imagine what my writing would be like without mentioning my faith in some way. When I first started my newsletter (Counting the Cost – ) many years ago, several people told me that I shouldn’t mention anything about God in my newsletter. These people suggested that to appeal to the widest audience, I should leave my faith out of it. I just couldn’t do that. At that time there were already many other newsletters out there about frugal living; what would make mine any different from the others if I didn’t mention the spiritual aspects of why I feel it is important to live simply?

CM:  Are there any additional questions or comments you'd like to share with our readers?

If you are always looking for ways to save money, use your time wisely, grow spiritually, or enrich family time, I invite you to visit the website for my email newsletter, Counting the Cost (homepage: ). Counting the Cost comes out twice a month and is free. It’s filled with loads of good ideas from our readers about how to live more simply and more frugally. The website also has a wealth of information on a variety of topics. Stop by to sign up for the newsletter or just to browse.


For more information on purchasing Nancy Twigg's book, Celebrate Simply: Your Guide to Simpler, More Meaningful Holidays and Special Occasions - click here.  Remember your purchase of this book through helps support this site.