Family Organizing | General Organizing | Holidays | Living Simply

How to Reduce Holiday Stress & Simplify Christmas

Nov 09

About Me

I’m a West Coast girl turned small town, Midwest Mom. I love the outdoors, cooking, writing, and spending time with my family. I am dedicated to keeping my life as simple as possible.

With a B.A. degree in Psychology, I have several years experience working with families and seniors. I believe in a holistic view to organizing. Clearing our minds of the clutter and chaos in our lives is just as important as clearing our physical clutter. By taking a holistic approach to organizing, we can make lasting change.

I am a high energy person, and love to see a messy room transform into an organized space. My need for order and simplicity stems from my ADHD disability as a way to compensate for my short attention span. So my gifts and my challenges are all ironically tied together to create who I am, and I am miraculously able to help others as a result of this coping method that I have developed for myself.

It is my deepest hope that you will find resources here that will bring you closer to living a simpler, more intentional, and more peaceful life. 


With the holidays quickly approaching, it is the perfect time to consider how we can shop, live and entertain more simply to reduce holiday stress. 

Between the shopping, the baking, the card-sending, the parties, the decorating, and more, the holidays can go from merry and magical to chaotic and crazy quite fast. And if you are hosting, there is cooking, grocery shopping, and house cleaning to think about too. Make reducing holiday stress a priority and focus on ways to make the season simpler. These tips will also help you keep your priorities in check in regard to what really matters: 

Time Consuming and Elaborate Decorating Can Easily Contribute to Holiday Stress.

If you love to decorate for the holidays, have the time to do it, and enjoy the process, then go ahead and decorate to your heart’s desire.  

But if it causes you stress because it takes more time than what you have, or you don’t enjoy the process, consider scaling back and keeping your décor simple. Resist the temptation to compete with the neighbors or impress your guests with over-the-top decorating.  

You also don’t have to use every single item you used last year. Consider displaying only your favorites. Exclude things that have lost their shine over the years. Our homes can be beautiful and festive with a limited selection of simple but elegant décor. And it is actually possible to go overboard with indoor decorations to the point that your home starts to look cluttered. So, more does not always mean always better. 

Let Go of Idealistic Expectations 

Don’t let perfectionism get the best of you. It is so easy to get carried away and put unrealistic demands on yourself to ensure that everything is perfect. 

Use caution not to get carried away with too many Pinterest ideas. This can take you into exhausting territory if you are inspired to take on too many activities and projects. The ideas are unlimited, but your time and energy are not. 

Let go and decide that it is ok if everything does not meet the perfect picture of perfection that you have envisioned.  This is especially challenging for those who are perfectionists.

Focus instead on creating meaningful memories with family and friends. Your guests want this more than they will want to be impressed by how much you have decorated your home.  

Trim Your To-Do List To Reduce Holiday Stress

Take a look at your to-do list and decide which items are most important. See what you can either simplify or just remove from the list altogether. Also, consider if there are any tasks that you can delegate to other family members. 

What corners can you cut to make things easier for yourself?

Can you bake/cook some things from scratch but then purchase others to lighten the load? My sister-in-law used to do this, she would buy part of the meal and make some of it by scratch. This helped her not to get overwhelmed with too much cooking or baking to do. 

If you don’t already do so, consider using paper plates instead of china to cut down on work on Christmas day. If you don’t like to send out holiday cards, it is ok to either stop doing them or cut down on how many you send.  

If your calendar is chock full of holiday activities, events, and parties to go to, can you limit which ones you decide to attend? Choose the ones that are the most important and/or appealing and skip the others.   

Evaluate Your Traditions 

Family traditions are a good thing, and my children still look forward to them even as they are growing into adults. But it is okay not to continue them if they cause more work and stress than they are worth. 

See if there are any that might be either simplified or stopped completely. Are there any that are not appreciated like they used to be in the past?

Do not keep up with traditions that you don’t enjoy simply out of guilt. If your children are young, be careful not to introduce traditions that will be difficult to follow through with year after year. Simple traditions can be just as special as those that require a lot of work.

reduce holiday stress

Avoid Holiday Stress by Resisting The Temptation To Go Overboard With Gift Buying

Limit the number of gifts you buy for family members; it is not hard to go overboard with this one especially when it comes to buying for our children. Consumerism is at an all-time high and many kids these days have more toys than they really need. If you are struggling with ideas for gifts it might be because your children already have everything they want.  Set a limit for how much you plan to buy, and stick to it. 

Designate a Location For Already Purchased Gifts 

Be sure to keep all of your already purchased gifts together in the same spot (like a closet shelf designated for gifts) so that you can easily find them and stay on top of what you have purchased. This way you are less likely to lose a gift or forget what you have already purchased.

Find Ways to Make Gift Giving Simpler

If you have a large family, consider drawing names for a gift exchange if you don’t already do so. Don’t be afraid to make the suggestion to do so.  Other family members will likely be glad you spoke up because it will make shopping easier for them too.

If you have a lot of gifts to buy, see if you can simplify the process.  For example, if you have 10 grandchildren, can you buy the same thing for all of them? This makes shopping simple and ensures that each child is treated fairly without you having to put a lot of thought into it.

Larger families can also save time by using a free app called Giftster.  This is a family gift-giving app that allows each family member to add gift preferences to a central wish list that everyone can access.  No more wracking your brain over what to buy for your sister or grandma!

Gift Cards Are Another Great Way To Reduce Holiday Stress

I am a big fan of purchasing gift cards. For one thing, I love to receive them myself. Not only are they clutter-free, but they are easy to buy and nearly always appreciated by the receiver.  Gift cards or certificates for experiences like movie tickets, sports events, and dance lessons are creative ideas for those who might be hard to buy for.

To make a gift card more personal, add a card with a meaningful message written inside. Unless you happen to have the perfect give in mind for someone, a gift card is a better alternative to racking your brain over what to buy someone who seemingly already has everything. 

Let Others Lighten the Load  

Accept help from others when they offer, and resist being the martyr by trying to go it all yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you are feeling overwhelmed. Can you give yourself a break and pay someone for services like cleaning your house before hosting a holiday party? 

Allow your guests to bring dishes that you don’t want to mess with, etc. If you usually provide most of the meal, consider going potluck style instead. 

And one more thing…when you reach out for help, do it guilt-free.

Focus More on Memories and Meaningfulness

Focus less on everything else. By keeping your priorities in check, you will automatically be turning your attention to the things that really matter and away from the more superfluous things that overall matter less. 

The time spent with family and friends, the memories we make and the meaningfulness of the holiday itself is more important than cooking a laborious, elaborate meal and fussing over a crazy amount of holiday decorations.

reduce holiday stress

Taking Time to Declutter Before You Get Busy Can Prevent Holiday Stress.

If time permits, go through your home and declutter and donate the stuff your family no longer uses because more stuff will soon be arriving on Christmas morning. Have your children do the same thing with their toys and other belongings. 

By doing this, you will avoid the frustration of feeling overwhelmed with the amount of stuff in your home after the holidays have come and gone.  

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