CM: What prompted you to write
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
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
* 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
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 –
www.countingthecost.com ) 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 CatholicMom.com 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:
www.countingthecost.com/index1.htm ). 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
Celebrate Simply: Your Guide to Simpler, More Meaningful Holidays and
Special Occasions - click here. Remember your purchase of this
book through CatholicMom.com helps support this site.