11th Day of Christmas with Ruth Soukup {Living Well. Spending Less.}

chaos.calmFrom unrealistic expectations to traditions to your screaming schedule as well as those annual holiday encounters with the in-laws and outlaws, this free 5 Day challenge will allow your holidays to go from chaos to calm. Click HERE for the free 5 Day Challenge and they will automatically come to your inbox. Merry Christmas!


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IMPORTANT NOTE: Remember you may comment to win on all of the 12 Days of Christmas posts until Sunday night, December 15th at midnight EST so be sure to read through those you missed and catch up!

Welcome to the 11th Day of Christmas with my friend Ruth Soukup from Living Well. Spending Less.

Ruth_Profile_2013_SmallRuth is a writer, photographer, entrepreneur, wannabe DiYer, semi-frazzled mom to two beautiful girls,wife to her wonderful husband of eight years, and, above all, a child of a loving and gracious God. Her passion is her family, and creating a home filled with joy and purpose. She started writing Living Well Spending Less in July 2010 because her spending habits had become so out-of-control that her marriage was on the brink of collapse.  She needed to find a way to hold herself accountable, and writing about the challenge of living well on a budget helped.

Now, meet Ruth!

Our Favorite Christmas Traditions

When my husband and I first got married we talked a lot about how we wanted to create special Christmas traditions for our children.  He had grown up in a family with lots of traditions, while my own family seemed to do something new (though equally chaotic) each year.  It was important to me to give our kids the stability my own childhood had lacked, and it was important to both of us to create memories that they would cherish for a lifetime, as well as to teach our kids that Christmas is about something more than presents.

Our_Favorite_Holiday_TraditionsOur first year together, my husband gave me a beautiful hand-blown glass ornament and said, “we should do this for our kids each year, so that by the time they are ready for a tree of their own they will have their own special collection to start with.”  We have had so much fun each year picking out the ornaments that most represent an important milestone or passion from that year, and each year when we decorate our tree, the best part is opening the box of “special” ornaments and reminiscing over the years past.

We’ve added other special family traditions to our holiday lineup, including everything from a special Advent calendar filled with treats & treasures, collecting items to fill our Operation Christmas Child boxes, buying gifts for the local “angel” tree, eating Dutch Babies on Christmas morning, and ringing the Salvation Army bell outside the local Publix.

However, our very favorite tradition of all is delivering freshly baked & decorated cookies to the local fire station on Christmas Eve.  We’ve done this since our youngest was just a baby, and every year we stop by on our way home from church to hand out cookies and tell the firemen thank you for working to keep us safe when the rest of us get to be home with our families.

It is a very simple gesture, one that requires so little time or effort on our part, and yet those firemen are always so kind and appreciative.  In years past they have even treated us to a tour of the fire station and let the kids explore the engines and try on gear.  Honestly, I think we get far more out of it then the firemen do!

HolidayTraditions02There is a lot that we won’t do this year.   We won’t go see the Nutcracker or any other holiday show that one of our children is not performing in, and we won’t give either of our kids a pile of the latest must-have toys.  Our Elf on the Shelf won’t be the main character in a new elaborate scene each day—she’s happy enough just to remember to move to a new spot before the kids wake up—and I’m pretty sure our Christmas dinner will consist of frozen pizza and leftovers.

But that’s okay.  We’ve realized that it is easier to say no to the things that don’t matter—or to give ourselves grace for serving pizza for Christmas dinner—because ultimately it is the traditions and the love that gets remembered far after the holidays have come and gone.  Our simple family traditions remind us that the joy of Christmas comes not from the gifts we receive, but from the one precious Gift we have all been given.

For us that is the best Tradition of all.


Ruth is giving away a $50 Amazon gift card to one of you!!! To enter, simply leave us a comment with who you and your family or friends could bless at the holidays. One of my favorites was the year we gave the hard-working, mentally-challenge man at Target who rounds up all the shopping carts out in the snowy parking lot a twenty dollar bill on Christmas Eve. we told him it always inspires us what a hard worker and friendly person he is.

Now, your turn. Any ideas?


  1. We have some dear friends who we used to pay to watch our girls during the day, but we no longer can afford to pay them. They have no additional income now, and I would love to be able to bless them with some necessities for their home, food, and winter clothing.

  2. We always read the Christmas story on Christmas Eve. The little ones get to open 1 present. New pajamas are put on after baths and they are ready to be tucked in to “wait” for Santa. Funny, they all fall asleep before he get here.

  3. We volunteer at a local food shelter called God’s Pantry and would like to start helping make baskets for hospice since my dad passed away there last year.

  4. We have helped local families that we’ve heard need help several years. Last year I served at our Food Bank Christmas Dinner. It was nice to serve others.

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