There isn’t a time I love more than when the temperature starts dropping, everything starts to feel cozier, and I know that the holidays are right around the corner. I love giving gifts, enjoying the simple decorations & treats, and spending time with family. But if your family is like mine, the time starting with Thanksgiving, through Christmas, and ending with New Years can truly fly by if we’re not careful!
Whatever holidays and traditions your family celebrates, I think we all can associate this season with stress and obligations, stretched schedules, frenzied cooking or baking, and late-night shopping or wrapping – but this really breaks my heart because we miss out on all the magic & meaning of the season. And really, no perfect Christmas tree, tablescape, or meal is worth that.
I reached out to the blog-o-sphere to pick their brains on how to avoid the chaos, minimize expectations, and create a holiday season that actually means something. Their best stress-free holiday tips fell naturally into 5 important areas that I think are so practical, and I’m excited to share them with you!
1. Keep your gifts and wrapping simple.
Starting off with my #1 tip for holiday shopping – When purchasing gifts, focus on what is meaningful for the recipient, not necessarily what you feel is “big enough” or “costs enough”. So often, we just buy something that fits our budget and we miss out on an opportunity to encourage our friends & family through gifting. When we take just a little time to buy more intentionally, the spirit of the holiday season is much more present and the process becomes meaningful to us, too! I often use this Gift Brainstorming Worksheet to guide my thoughts and am always surprised by how quickly I can think of something for everyone on my list. 😊
(I also put together a 5-day Meaningful Gifting Course to help you build a whole system around this approach!)
Plus, Naomi from Happily Dwell reminds us, “it is possible to create simple yet beautiful holiday wrapping using simple materials, such as greenery!” Check out her post here for great ideas.
2. Create & stick to a budget.
Carly from The Mamma’s List shares her approach for knowing her financial boundaries during the holidays and how that can eliminate the stress of unexpected expenses: “To stay on budget requires a lot of planning and discipline. First, create a gift list for every person you need to buy for. Then create another list with all your holiday parties and obligations. Include hostess gifts for each of these parties on your master gift list. Don’t forget to add teachers, mailmen, babysitters, etc. Finally, add a couple of “extra” small items for children or friends you can have on hand through the Season. Then take your total holiday budget and allocate it across ALL the people you need to purchase for. It’s important you make a comprehensive list early on so you don’t have extras creep up late in the season. Once you know your limits, it’s easier to go find gifts in your price range for each person and you don’t wind up overspending without a plan.”
Sherrie from Money Inside and Out agrees and offers advice on what can be an emotional process: “Start by making a realistic budget. Stick to it by recognizing your danger zones, planning strategies to manage them on your own and enlisting support from friends and family. Put up behavior barriers to make it difficult to spend outside your budget. Recognize that negative feelings are normal during the holidays and plan self-care activities to help you manage the stress and anxiety you may feel about gifts or celebrations.” Check out her further recommendations here!
3. Minimize other responsibilities.
For example, Rachel from Joyful Derivatives shares, “Don’t worry about deep cleaning for holiday guests! Only clean the surfaces or spaces they’ll touch and spend the extra time prepping in other ways.” She has a great resource on cleaning your home quickly in 30 minutes that is sure to help you make the most of your time!
You may also want to make a simpler meal plan in advance, and batch & freeze items ahead of time. Every little bit helps!
4. Manage expectations with family.
Julie from The Bossy House has some great advice when it comes to tricky or busy holiday plans with family. She says, “Set expectations early when traveling to be with family. Well before the trip, let them know your ideas and priorities. Try “my big priority this year is to attend Christmas Eve mass rather than get to the party early,” or “I’ll want to take the car for the day on Saturday” and give them time to work that priority into their plans. If priorities don’t line up, no hard feelings. Being very clear up front allows your family a chance to try to meet your needs and gives you cover when you rent that car or move to a hotel.”
While it may feel awkward in the beginning, setting healthy boundaries sets yourself up for a holiday season you can enjoy and thrive in – not one filled with resentment, obligation, or over-extending yourself.
5. Prioritize time to take care of yourself!
Alex from Schimiggy Reviews says, “My best tip for the holiday season is to not forget that health is important. Make time to stay active. I usually schedule my fitness classes each week so that I hold myself accountable for what needs to be completed on my busy itinerary.”
Whether it’s exercise, meditation, or just some alone-time, carve out time in your schedule for things that keep you feeling good, both mentally and physically!
I don’t know about you, but I feel encouraged and challenged to be more intentional this year in these areas! From your own experience, what would you add to these tips?
And while you’re focusing on making things easier, be sure to check out my other holiday resources!
Meaningful Gift Guides:
- 10 practical & meaningful gift ideas for grandparents and the elderly (from adults)
- 8 mix-and-match ideas for newly engaged friends or family members
- 8 handmade & homemade gifts that anyone can DIY
- 6 clutter-free gift ideas to give more with less
- Best gifts on Amazon – a little something for everyone, all with free shipping 😊