We have definitely entered the holiday season. I can tell because traffic is terrible, tempers are short, people are broke, and everyone is stressed. I don’t think I have talked to anyone who is truly enjoying the season. Most are stressed to their limit.
Several years ago I made the decision to start living intentionally. This decision radically reshaped how I celebrate holidays, and has virtually eliminated the typical holiday stresses. While your journey may not mimic mine, I hope you can find some inspiration to slow down and savor the season without the stress from my tips.
Slow Down and Savor the Season
5 Tips To Minimize Holiday Stress
Remember What Is Important
Sometimes I get a little crazy when people come over. I LOVE entertaining, but all of the cooking and cleaning and presenting can be overwhelming. I place very high standards for myself and I don’t want anyone else to see me fall short. My husband
told me to stop acting like a lunatic gently reminded me that I was freaking out every time we had people over. I was yelling at him to hurry up and vacuum before the doorbell rang. I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to present an image. While I can’t claim to have completely mastered this stressful aspect of the holidays, I feel like I am getting there.
First of all I realized that this is not an episode of Beat Bobby Flay. The potatoes are a little lumpy? Big deal. It’s not like my guests are going to be leaving a Yelp review. Instead of agonizing over the perfect place settings, I serve my guests on paper plates. That’s right, the finest redneck china. The point is, it’s not about the place settings or food, it’s about spending time with friends and family.
It’s Ok To Say No
A huge source of stress and drama for me at the holidays are family get togethers. Maybe my family is more dramatic than yours, but I suspect we all deal with this to some degree. Arguments over who is hosting, events planned when “more important” family members can attend while leaving others out, navigating family get togethers when you aren’t speaking to certainly family members – family Christmases can be an extreme sport.
One of my personal convictions is that I do not purposely place myself in miserable situations. Life is too short! So a few years ago I quit going to the vast majority of our family get togethers. I already make it a point to see the family members I want to see, like my grandparents, on a regular basis. By staying home for the holidays I have not only eliminated a huge source of stress, I have been able to establish traditions and rituals with my kids. God forbid that they grow up to dread the holidays because of the drama like I did. It’s ok to say no. It’s ok to stay home. It’s ok to only celebrate with your immediate family. That doesn’t mean you don’t love your extended family, but it does mean that you are going to enforce boundaries with them.
I think most of us have some added financial stress around the holidays. We save a little money every month for Christmas, but there is something about the holiday season that makes all of my financial sense fly out the window. I LOVE giving gifts, so it’s hard for me not to blow the budget and go all out. A few things have helped me reign it in.
One, I shop early. Letting a shopaholic browse Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals is like eating Pringles. You can’t stop with just one deal! Two, unsubscribe from all the store and sale emails. I have serious FOMO over sale ads. There are so many things I didn’t know I NEEDED until I saw them on sale! Three, have a plan. Decide what you want to gift to someone before you start shopping. Randomly browsing trying to find a gift for someone generally ends in me buying a lot more than what I originally intended.
Whether you are religious or not, I think we can all agree that consumerism and debt is NOT what the holidays should be about. Americans spend about $465 BILLLION on Christmas every year. $116 billion would wipe out world hunger. Let that sink in for a minute.
One side effect of not shopping as much means I am not out and about as much. This simple act alone drastically reduces my holiday stress levels. Hell hath no fury like someone trying to get to the mall in the month of December. If you ARE out driving during the holiday season, chill out! My daughter works in a grocery store, but it is near the biggest shopping centers in my city. When I took her to work last night I saw two fender benders, was flipped off, and was literally gritting my teeth by the time I got back home. Staying home and being more intentional when you do leave is an easy way to cull a lot of stress from the season.
Keep It Simple
From food to decor to traditions, keep it simple. Some people actually enjoy setting their house up like Santa’s castle, but for most of us the idea of dragging that tree upstairs and wrestling with the lights again is far from peaceful. It’s ok to pare down the decorations! I have a few knickknacks sitting around, but the bulk pf my Christmas decor is the tree and the stockings I hang on our railing. This year I went crazy and flocked my tree, but I resisted the urge to buy all new decor and just kept it simple. And guess what, I love it!
My stepsons are only here for every other Christmas. And most of our Christmases past have been spent driving from one family Christmas to the next. I really want to establish some family traditions before my daughter is out of the house in a couple of years and I was getting overwhelmed trying to come up with something. I ended up finding them matching pajamas, and I got them each a DVD for their stocking. On Christmas Eve they will open the pajamas and we will make hot chocolate and watch movies. It cost me very little, and isn’t that much different than what we do on any other night, but it’s something they will probably always remember.
Do The Holidays On Your Own Terms
The key to minimizing stress this holiday season is to do the holidays on your own terms. You don’t HAVE to spend a certain amount, or go to parties you don’t want to, or live up to anyone’s expectations but your own. Christmas is supposed to be about celebrating the birth of the Savior, not stress and consumerism. I want my kids to have wonderful memories of the holidays, and not just remember the family drama, mom stressed out and yelling, and a bunch of cheap plastic toys. Join me in slowing down and doing the holidays with intention this year.