”I’m participating in the Spend-Less Holidays: Saving While Savoring the Season Blog Carnival, hosted by The Frugal Fil-Am and Dainty Mom. We’ll be sharing our tips on how to spend less this holiday season, so that we can have a more meaningful Christmas. Please scroll down to the end of the post to see the list of carnival entries.”

As I had written in my post last November 5, my family will be having a  K.I.S.S. Christmas this 2012.   There, first on my list on how we intend to celebrate this season in a simple yet significant and meaningful way is (drum roll please)…No more Christmas tree!  Call me a Scrooge but I gave it some deep thought and my inner voice told me that  if I really want a K.I.S.S. Christmas, then focus on the real reason for this season.  Is it the Christmas tree which we tend to elaborately decorate or the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ?  So…no Christmas tree!  We’ll just have our Nativity or Belen, in Filipino.

Our Belen at the corner of our living room…
The Christmas tree usually stands beside it.
Now, the ‘spotlight’ is all focused on Baby Jesus.

This is actually going to be my first Christmas, in my 43 years, that I won’t have any Christmas tree!  Am I being a mean mom to our 14- and 11-year old daughters?

To make up for this quite radical decision I’ve made,  I wanted to do something that our girls would still enjoy (and not hate me for me and my crazy idea!) and hopefully, even remember more.  I’ve come across projects like a Jesse Tree and different versions of an Advent Calendar but the printables were too kiddie for our teen and pre-teen girls.  So, I searched and searched for free downloads and printables that would be easy and fast to do.  I even prayed hard about it, asking our Lord to show me that specific link on a DIY project for this Christmas, if He would really want me to do something meaningful with and intentional for our girls.  My prayer was answered.  In my mind, I wanted to try doing an Advent Calendar, which is really a Countdown to Christmas kind of calendar.  It was going to be my first time to try making one, if ever.  Search after search, and after feasting on eye-candy pins on Pinterest, I landed on this pdf file which I then immediately printed out and started to follow its step-by-step instructions (It’s easy!):



It’s a good thing that I already had all the materials needed and I didn’t have to spend a single centavo for anything! Nada! Talk about spend-less! Everything on the materials list were common art supplies I had in stock, all ready to be used.   (If you don’t have scrapbook paper, like the 12×12 size, you can definitely make do with other materials available locally or whatever you may have in the house. For the 8.5×11 size, I simply printed out on board or cardstock paper Christmas scrapbook designs and they’re for free! All you need to do is input the password given then print away!  You can even just use leftover or scrap Christmas wrappers and paste them at the reverse side of your activities printouts, to give the cards that Christmas Holiday theme.  A great way to recycle those gift wrappers, too! Sticker paper can also just be substituted with ordinary blank paper and glue.)

What I really had to spend quite some time on was the 24 activities for the 24 countdown cards.  I didn’t want to do the a-treat-or-candy-a-day kind of calendar, so I had to think of activities that I know we would all enjoy and not be stressed about!  I also made sure that what we’d be doing would (1) require no or frugal spending, (2) allow us to do those simple things we are not able to do on our regular homeschooling days because of our busy schedules, and more importantly, (3) would mean spending more quality time together, as a family or on a one-on-one basis.

So, for our teen and pre-teen girls, Arielle and Kayla, here are a few samples of the activities on our 2012 Countdown to Christmas Calendar.  (The pages on the pdf file for this would allow you to type your own):

  • Choose your dessert!
  • Movie or tv night!
  • Make someone smile (happy) with your words!
  • Make someone smile (happy) with your actions!
  • You can stay up to 10:30 pm tonight!
  • Watch a cartoon or kiddie show on tv!
  • Visit the Blessed Sacrament and have a quiet time with God!
  • Look at old photos together (If old videos would play, watch them too!)
  • Let’s take a walk outside!
  • Surprise Lolo and Lola with a phone call!

It was actually fun and easy to put everything together.  It just took me around a day and a half to complete ours.  Just in time for the countdown to begin on December 1.

Calendar activity cards and countdown number stickers


I made sure that the card activities were in sync with our activities
already written down on my planner, especially those falling on weekends,
when we’re out of the house, most of the time.


I used my craft scissors to trim the countdown number stickers,
printed on sticker paper.


I changed my mind. I decided to use my 2 sheets of 12×12 scrapbook paper,
even if they were lavender and yellow, instead of the first set of materials
I used which came out a bit narrower and longer.


I then laid out each card on the 12×12 scrapbook paper to make sure that all 24 cards would fit. I stuck the cards on the perimeter first to be able to give some sort of frame or right spacing to the rest of the cards. I used double adhesive tape on the undersides of each card
(As you can see, some cards are upside down here).


And our Countdown to Christmas Calendar is finished!

I’m really thankful that, in the nick of time, I was able to come up with something as meaningful (or maybe even more?) as the symbol and tradition we’ve had for years…the Christmas tree.  I am excited and am looking forward to doing this!  I’m also hoping that this Calendar would be something our family, most especially our girls, would enjoy, treasure, and keep in their memories of Christmas.  Who knows?  This might be the start of a new Christmas tradition for us 🙂

Let the countdown begin!

Do check out the rest of our Spend-less Christmas Carnival participants!

The Learning Basket 

Apple’s World 

A WAHM’s Life 

Changing Nappies in High Heels 

Savvy Saving Couple 

Kids Party Hub 

My Life in Letters 

Super Mommy Wannabe 

The Frugal Fil-Am 

Mrs. C’s Sugar-Coated Life 

Henry’s Mom 

Roller Coaster Mom 

Saved By the Miracle of Baked Mac 

Mommy Journey 

City Girl, Country Home 

Ate Maui 

The World is Our Classroom 

Lique’s Antics 

Mommy Bares All 

Consumer Queen 

Truly Rich Mom 

Saving Well, Spending Less 

Dainty Mom

Wow, I can’t believe that it’s the last week of November already!  That only means that Christmas is indeed just around the corner.  Have you started or are you done with your Christmas shopping?  We actually still have a few more gift-shopping to do but the girls and I are really bent on making this Christmas a K.I.S.S. one.  K.I.S.S…meaning, Keep It Simple Yet Significant. 

A few weeks ago, I posted about this K.I.S.S. intention but  I didn’t really have the specifics on how simple yet significant we can get when it comes to our gift-giving this year.  Well, I didn’t need to think hard after all!  Arielle and Kayla have each been working on crafts of their particular interests these past weeks and learned that what they’ve been doing would be their Christmas gifts to their friends.  Isn’t that nice?

So, this Christmas, we are K.I.S.S-celebrating it by doing handmade gifts!  What’s extra special about it, aside from being handmade and personal, is these are right-brain activities that come naturally for them.  Definitely something to balance their left-brain routines.
What’s keeping the hands of our girls busy these days?  I’m going to let you take a peek of what’s going to be wrapped this gift-giving season 🙂
Arielle just loooves pens and paper. Anything artsy! Last October, she joined a bookbinding workshop and is now very happy making her own notebooks.

Notebook on the left is what she did in the workshop.
She is currently working on the notebook on the right.

Punching and stitching

Painting a test design on one notebook
she’s going to keep for herself 🙂

Meanwhile, Kayla has been hooked on making friendship bracelets.  I’m amazed at how she can skillfully and intricately weave those threads into beautiful patterns!

She actually made friendship bracelet-making as one of her portfolio activities last quarter.  See how she was able to create an output for her Philippine Civics subject integrated with Character.

Lastly, we are also going to bake and give homemade goodies!   I can’t tell you yet what’s going to be swirled in our mixer and put inside the oven but oh, the kitchen is going to smell good this December 🙂

The Christmas rush is soon to be more felt by everyone and I wish you and your family your own K.I.S.S. celebrations and activities this December!

Hi, everyone!  This is going to be straightforward and I hope that you could spare a few minutes to answer this short survey of mine.  I would just like to ask you what kind of posts you would like to see here in my blog.  What topics would you be interested in reading?  Which of my past posts did you enjoy (or may have even bookmarked) and would like to see more of?  Your feedback, as specific as possible, would be a great help to me as I try to be more focused in my blogging.  Kindly post your comments here in my blogsite, please?

I would love to hear from you.  Thank you! 🙂 


I’ve always been the type who prefer simplicity over extravagance or boldness.  I don’t really like big parties and loud music (except when it’s my high school batch’s homecoming).  I prefer cafes over bars.  Cozy restos over gourmet and fancy ones.  Generic and yet personal over chic brands.

It’s November already and Christmas is just around the corner.  50 days to be exact!  Usually, by this time, I already have more or less some ideas on how to go about our Holiday season … different from last year’s.  What dishes to prepare for Noche Buena.  What kinds of gifts to buy for the persons in our Christmas list and where to, more or less, get them.  Where to have get-togethers with our different groups of friends.  What homemade Christmas tree decors to do this time (Oh! This has been quite a tradition in the past years!)  I don’t know, but I’m feeling a bit “more laid back” this year.  The Holidays has always been such a hectic season and I’m being reminded (again) that I shouldn’t make ourselves go with the mad rush and fall prey to commercialism that Christmas never fails to bring.  The reminder becomes stronger and stronger every year.  Is it because I’m getting older (a bit of denial here)?  Or is it because our girls are in their pre-teen and teen stage that they are no longer the toy stores’ main target market for the biggest toy sale season of the year?

It’s just making me think. HARDER. How should we celebrate Christmas this 2012?  It is quite a challenge now to think of more meaningful, concrete ways, most especially when everyone in the whole world seems to be synchronized and going through the same retail rush year after year. 

The mindmap, posted on the wall in front of me, which I did at the start of 2012, gave me the answer.  Simple yet Significant.  That was the theme/central image for my 2012 Goals mindmap and that’s how we’re going to do it this Christmas 2012!  Now, I’m inspired.  Here are six Simple yet Significant ways that I have in mind to celebrate our Christmas this year:

1.  No more Christmas tree.  We’ll just have The Nativity/Belen and focus more on it.  After all, Christmas is all about the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, and not about how many gifts we have under the tree or how many and what kind we’d be receiving.

2. More quality time to spend with family members and friends. Reunions and get-togethers need not be something obligatory.  Time to really engage in conversations and listen to what another person is saying, young or old.  Listen…Connect…Engage.

3.  Prepare/Eat more healthful dishes.  More greens, less of the sweets and bad calories.  And be thankful that we have something on the table! With all the get-togethers, we actually may be having more than what our digestive system can take 🙂

4.  Gifts need not be expensive.  The more personal it is, the better.  And we don’t have to force our budget to buying gifts we cannot afford for the people in our Christmas list.  Buy local, too!

5.  Schedule a Skype/Face Time/Magic Jack session with loved ones in another country or location.  (I’m sure Arielle and Kayla’s Lolo and Lola, Titos, Titas, Ninongs, Ninangs, and cousins in the U.S. would be excited to talk with and see them on the computer screen.)

6.  Include in our list, presents for our house helpers, drivers, laundry woman, and others.  It may even be good to allot a bigger budget for them for their year-round services.  Make it the other way around?  More budget for them than our family members, friends, colleagues who can well afford and are already blessed.  (Hmmm…this is something to discuss with my husband and girls.)

How about you?  Have you already thought of how you’ll be celebrating Christmas this year?