Taking Back Your Holiday

Simplifying your Holidays

We all know how intimidating and stressful the holiday season can be and yet we continually put ourselves back into this situation year after year.  To make changes we must identify what does and does not need to be changed to create new habits to find a new peace and routine during this time of year that gives us a calm and hopefully a stress free holiday season.  

Take Inventory on your Holiday To Do List:

As we head into the season think about how you have felt and how your family feels each holiday.  What makes you feel fulfilled, what meets your personal and family’s values?  Are there things that you are doing that cause you stress and don’t guide you in the right direction? Are there things that you can change this season so make it more fulfilling and less stressful?

Here are some ideas of a typical holiday to do list.  Will you add or delete from this list?

Shopping/making gifts

Decorating outdoors/indoors

Purchasing a tree

Wrapping gifts

Holiday cards

Hosting/Attending parties

Hosting overnight guests

Extra grocery shopping

Helping with school holiday activities

Elf on the Shelf

Cooking and baking



Now spend some time thinking about how you felt last year while you were doing all of the tasks that you checked off.  What did you enjoy? What caused you more stress? What didn’t you do that would bring you joy? Can you delete or delegate those things that made you stressed?  Can you simplify those tasks? Can you eliminate any of the tasks?

If you are having trouble letting go of those things that cause you stress think about the traditions and activities that DO make you feel good.  Ask your partner or children what makes them feel good and what they enjoy/don’t enjoy in the holiday season.  You may be surprised by the response and may be the beginning to letting go or changes some of those tasks that are unpleasant.  

Racing the Clock:

Where do you spend the majority of your time during the holiday season? Do your actions and time spent reflect what your values and intentions? Think about the hours spent during the holidays doing the following….



Spending time with friends and family




What would you do if we could tell you there is a way to help you feel like you have more time and would make your holiday season feel more fulfilling and decrease stress? A study from Wharton Business School and the University of Pennsylvania found that when people volunteered, carving out even small amounts of time in their day to help someone else, they experienced feelings of efficiency and competence.  These feelings gave people the sense that they could do more with their limited time.  Giving your time can make you feel like you have even more time.

Choosing something that is important to you and to your family can help the feeling of meeting your values for the season.  There are so many ways to help out there, both small and big.  Make it work for you and your family.  Take a meal to someone that lives alone, take some dog toys to the local shelter, shovel a neighbors walk, take extra blankets or coats to a local shelter.  There are so many ways to give and as we all know the feeling that we get from giving to those in need is so much more fulfilling than receiving.  

Let Me Entertain You:

We all love to get together during the holiday season to spend time with family and friends.  However scheduling and carving the time to host or attend events can make us feel crunched for time and energy.  

When we host parties we want to create the most festive environment possible from the food to the decor, to the entertainment.  This can create a never ending to-do-lists that would usually takes weeks and months to get done immediately.  Cleaning the floors and sending out invites turns quickly into rearranging closest and getting a new end table, and the list goes on and on to become overwhelming!

  1. First you must decide that perfection is not the goal.  Think about your values that you determined where most important to you when you took inventory and realign your goal to match those values.  
  2. Maybe look outside your own home and host a party elsewhere.  You don’t have to spend a ton of money.  Organize a sledding party, invite friends to go on a hike and have a hot chocolate party.  Maybe invite friend over for a dessert party instead of a full meal.  Set up and organize a service project.  Invite friend over to watch a holiday movie with popcorn and include the kids! You can be a generous host without having to get new carpet for your house!

Who am I?:  

We often forget ourselves and what we have worked so hard to create throughout the year.  Daily we work on sustaining habits that are essential in living a healthy and full life.  Often when the season hits we start dropping those habits to create space for those tasks evaluated above.  This year don’t. Make space and give yourself time to make sure you can go on a walk, make it to your classes, drink your water, eat vegetables, and most importantly get enough sleep.  Keeping your routines and habits makes us look internally and reminds us that we are to be valued as well.  

One Step at a Time:

We talk a lot about creating new habits one at a time.  Don’t feel like you need to change your entire holiday routine this year.  Discuss this with your family and together make a couple of small changes and evaluate their impact.  You may find that even the smallest of changes make a big enough impact to make your season more simplified and something you look forward to instead of dread.  

author: Cara Flynn


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