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Ah, the holiday season.
Most of the time, when we think of the holidays, it should be a season of happiness and excitement.
A time for families to come together and share in the holiday spirit.
Unfortunately, for some people, this time of year can also quickly become a source of stress and overwhelm.
However, it truly doesn’t have to be this way.
With some practical tips, you can simplify the holidays, reduce your holiday stress and actually enjoy the holidays more.
Here are 8 tips to help you better manage the holidays, start new traditions, and enjoy them more than ever.
8 Care Free Tips To Simplify The Holidays
Why Do We Experience Holiday Stress?
Holiday seasons are usually periods we plan to make the most of when it comes to visiting our loved ones, exchanging gifts, partying hard, and getting to express love and kindness to our friends and relatives.
However, things aren’t always that simple.
According to Harvard Medical School, the holidays can be both a source of joy as well as stress for most people.
For instance, many people might already be so busy with their daily responsibilities, that they hardly have time to plan and take part in holiday activities.
The additional expectations that usually come with the season can quickly build up and become overwhelming.
This includes social gatherings, shopping for and exchanging of gifts, cooking, and everything else that usually goes along with this time of year.
Now, instead of the holidays being more about having fun and relaxing, they’re more overwhelming than ever, with too many activities taking place within a short span of time.
Similarly, the holidays can easily become the most expensive time of the year.
After you’ve paid for gifts, you’re definitely going to feel a void in your bank account, or rather, a massive dent.
The truth is, your holidays can and should be less stressful and even less expensive if you want it to be.
It all depends on the intentional steps you take to simplify things and manage your holiday stress effectively.
The holidays, as we all know, are that special time of the year that we get to spend with the people we love most.
However, once it begins to feel like an obligation, a task, or a chore, then it’s a sign you are complicating things for yourself.
By being purposeful and calculated, you can simplify your holidays, and as a result, add more spark and excitement back into the season and enjoy the holidays a lot more.
Here are some real and practical tips to simplify the holidays.
#1. Define What The Holidays Mean To You
The first step you should take if you want to be in control this season is to give it a definition.
In other words, know exactly what the holidays mean to you.
What is most important to you during this season?
Before anything else, you should understand your perception of the holidays.
Then you will know what steps to take to simplify it.
For instance, if you feel that the holidays should be a period for you to relax and recover from your work stress, then you should be able to channel most of your activities in that line.
Don’t go about attaching extra to-do lists to the holiday season.
Simplify Christmas and create more time for relaxation!
#2. Let Your Priorities Be Your Priorities
There is no better way to make things easier and more straightforward than to prioritize your priorities.
Take your time and find out what your holiday priorities are.
Get clear on the tasks, chores, or activities that matter most to you during this time of year, not others.
If possible, rank them according to their order of importance, then start prioritizing them.
It’s important to know your priorities so you can be deliberate about sticking to the things that truly matter.
The whole idea, of course, is to help you concentrate on a few important commitments instead of making your holidays really stressful and overwhelming by heaping lots of responsibilities on yourself.
Just so you know, being deliberate about your holiday commitments has a lot to do with accepting that you can’t do everything.
Say, for example, you prioritize enjoying quality time at home on Christmas day.
It makes no sense then spending all your time visiting your neighbors, friends, or co-workers.
You don’t have to say yes to every invite and attend every social gathering.
Rather, put more emphasis on doing the things that are truly important to you.
#3. Simplify Your Expectations
More often than not, we subconsciously complicate the holidays by ourselves, making them unnecessarily stressful.
Our expectations are sometimes so high that at the end of the day, we work ourselves into exhaustion for something that should be very simple and straightforward.
Revisiting your expectations and viewpoint is crucial to simplify the holidays.
You don’t need to have a social media-perfect Christmas!
Such expectations are unrealistic and will only leave you drained, exhausted, and disappointed.
Stress aside, what about the financial demands of such a picture-perfect holiday?
Even if you’re willing and able to spend that much, does it truly matter?
Do away with those unrealistic expectations and concentrate more on the commitments that matter most to you.
It will be far more enjoyable for you to have an “imperfect” holiday season than having a perfect one that amounts to piled up debts and exhaustion.
The weariness that comes with working so hard to create the perfect holiday might end up stealing the moment of magic you’re striving so hard to create.
The truth is, your friends and well-wishers won’t exactly recall or mind if you offered them five different brands of expensive red wine.
But they will always remember you keeping the holidays simply by spending a memorable night with you, talking, laughing, and enjoying themselves while drinking that wine.
Even if the wine you offered is pretty low-budget.
Do away with the unrealistic notion of a “perfect” holiday because perfection doesn’t exist anyway.
Rather, change your perspective by laying more emphasis on your priorities.
This way, you’ll enjoy the holidays much more.
#4. Focus On The Things You Should Be Grateful For
Concentrating on the things that you already have in life that you are grateful for can help you reflect and change your perception of what this time of year is all about.
As a result, instead of worrying about having the perfect holiday season, you will be more concerned about exploring and appreciating those simple things that bring happiness to your life.
After all, having fun is not all about how expensive or valuable it is, but mainly about how much satisfaction and joy it brings to your life!
#5. Simplify Your Holiday Decorations
One of the best ways to simplify the holiday is by making your festive decorations quite simple.
Many people unintentionally worsen holiday stress by putting in a lot of effort into extensive decorations.
Remember, it doesn’t have to look exotic and flamboyant for it to be attractive and show your holiday cheer.
Aside from the huge financial demands, extensive decorations can consume a lot of time and energy to either arrange or dismantle.
It can also cause your home to feel cluttered and stuffy.
Truth is, although holiday decorations are lovely, too many items and decorations can result in more stress than enjoyment.
Start by determining the kind of decorations you like. Stick to the ones you want, and let go of the others.
For a lot of people, they feel the following decorations are mandatory.
- Putting up a Christmas tree
- Hanging a Christmas bouquet on the wall or above the door
- Lighting up some beautiful multicolored candles
- Carefully arranging some holiday throw pillows
- Creating some special holiday-inspired vignettes
- Arranging the dining room and getting it specially set for the celebration
- Adding some holiday decorations outside or on the front porch
However, none of these things are necessary.
You should only display the things you truly love and enjoy looking at.
Any decorations you put up should be for yourself, not to impress other people.
Also bear in mind that sometimes, the less complicated your holiday decorations are, the more attractive they become.
You don’t need to clutter every space in your home all in the name of decorations.
Using natural elements and focusing on creating a befitting atmosphere can go a long way to help reduce the excesses of decorations.
For Christmas, employing natural items, fresh leafage, flicker lights, multicolored candles, and a few Christmas songs can create a beautiful and attractive environment for the entire season.
It is also worthy to note that you can achieve all these things without having to break the bank or fill your home with unnecessary clutter.
#6. Keep Simple Holiday Traditions
Another great way to simplify the holidays is by creating time to communicate with your entire household about the traditions you all deem fit to continue and the ones you feel it’s time to let go of.
Then try working with the ones you’ve finally chosen.
But why is it important to choose some traditions over others?
Well, if some of these holiday traditions are no longer necessary and are actually more stressful than fun to keep up with, it makes sense to simply drop them.
Keeping with traditions that no longer serve you and your family is simply adding more stress and obligations on to yourself.
For instance, if you take your children to a busy mall, and in line for hours, only for your kids to cry when they finally set their eyes on Santa, then there’s really no need to continue this even if everyone else is doing it.
If sharing those holiday gifts and cards is becoming overwhelmingly expensive or too much of a hassle, then you can just stop altogether or explore alternative ideas to enjoy Christmas on a budget.
One simple way to replace this particular tradition is by sending Christmas picture cards, GIFs, texts, and goodwill messages through WhatsApp or similar services.
Honestly, your true friends will still appreciate these little acts of kindness.
And at the same time, you’ll save yourself from the extra holiday stress and expenses.
At the end of the day, the world will not come to an end if you fail to fulfill some of the traditions you’ve always been committed to in the past.
If it’s a tradition that is too stressful or has no relevant impact on people’s lives, then why continue?
#7. Simplify Your Kitchen Activities
For some, cooking and baking goes hand in hand with the holidays.
However, not everyone enjoys being stuck in the kitchen for hours, cooking and baking lots of appetizers, meals and desserts that involve complicated recipes.
One practical way to make things a little easy is by simplifying your kitchen activities.
How do you go about this?
Start by cooking quick and simple meals.
This will reduce the holiday’s stress-factor. Moreover, simplifying your cooking will also create more time for you to spend with your family, friends, and loved ones.
The same thing applies to baking.
Actually, it’s funny how people bake different kinds of cakes, biscuits, and cookies for Christmas, irrespective of the burden it causes them.
Perhaps you shouldn’t be pressured to bake every single type of confectionery.
Always keep it simple so you have enough time to actually enjoy the holidays.
#8. Simplify Your Gifts
As we all know, the Christmas season is a period where we exchange gifts to express love, kindness and consideration towards others.
Unfortunately, gifting remains one major challenge most people face during the holidays because both giving and receiving gifts can be really stressful.
First, it’s mentally tasking to select the right gift that will resonate with every single person in your family and circle of friends.
Each gift requires you to think it through carefully, not to mention the financial burden attached to buying gifts.
Similarly, receiving gifts doesn’t make things any easier because the more gifts you accept, the more clutter you gather in and around your home.
Not to mention the stress and sometimes embarrassment people feel when they unexpectedly receive a gift from someone when they’ve prepared no gift in return.
So, how do you simplify your gifts?
One thing you can do is talk to your family ahead of time and decide on some gift giving rules.
You can decide to do no gifts at all or to only buy gifts for the kids.
If you do decide to exchange gifts, here are some tips to keep it easy.
- Set a budget and stick to it
- Only buy useful gifts. When considering an item, think about if the person will actually use it or whether it will just go in a drawer never to be seen again
- Buy smaller (clutter-free) gifts to avoid cluttering other people’s homes
- Go gift shopping earlier in the season to escape being trapped in the holiday shopping crowds and unrest
- Above all, remember to buy less expensive (but relevant) gifts
If you can follow these tips, then not only will you better manage your time and stress, but also your finances as well.
Holiday Stress Checklist
Self care during the holidays is of the upmost importance.
Here is a quick summary of the holiday stress tips outlined in this post to help you feel good and enjoy the holiday season.
#1. Define what this time of year means to you, not others
#2. Know your priorities
#3. Redefine expectations
#4. Be grateful and focus on these things
#5. Don’t go overboard decorating, cooking, and buying gifts
#6. Create new meaningful traditions
#7. Take time for yourself
If you can follow these tips, you will be well on your way to making this favorite time of year better than it has ever been before.
The yule season doesn’t have to be a time of chaos and overwhelm.
You can enjoy the holidays without all the drama, stress and panic.
Focus on cherishing the meaningful time you get to spend with family and friends instead of worrying about all the materialistic things.
Always bear in mind that you owe nobody a “picture-perfect holiday”.
The best way to simplify the holidays is by doing exactly what works for you and eliminating what doesn’t.
Lish is a personal development enthusiast who wants to help people of all ages uplevel their lives. She is of the opinion that we are only limited by our beliefs and that once we overcome our limiting beliefs, we can truly live a life without regrets. She is the author behind Mind Her Way where she shares her thoughts on personal growth and relationships.