Each year, almost immediately after Halloween, our calendars become full with holiday commitments, leaving hardly any time to stop and breathe until after the New Year.
Around this same time of year, thanks to social media, we fall into the comparison trap and evolve into a wannabe Pinterest perfect Christmas super mom.
You know her, and you may even become her when the end of November rolls around.
She wants to make meaningful holiday memories with her family in all the ways—baking cookies, crafting ornaments, taking Santa pictures, and hosting holiday parties, all while trying to budget and shop for the perfect gifts for loved ones and juggle her normal non-holiday related responsibilities. AND don’t forget to MOVE. THE. DANG. ELF.
We tend to put this immense pressure on ourselves to be the best hostess, gift giver, and memory creator to the point that we end the holiday season exhausted, stressed, and filled with resentment for a time that should be magical, fulfilling, and about celebrating the life of Jesus Christ.
But the good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. There are a few things that you can put into place now to simplify your holiday season and make space for what really matters: spending time with family, celebrating the birth of Jesus, and serving others.
Step 1: Simplify budgeting for holiday gifts by making a list of people to shop for.
In a Google Sheets document, make a list of all of the people that you plan to shop for and list out gift ideas, a budget for each, and how much you actually spent. This tool will help you keep track of who you’ve bought for, who still needs to be gifted, and how much you’re spending on each person.
Step 2: Simplify gifting for your children by only purchasing one gift for each of the following categories: want, need, wear, read.
Not only will this tip help you be more intentional in gifting for your child, but it will also help you stick to your budget and will eliminate unnecessary clutter from gifting too many “things.” Allow your children to give you a list, and use it to fill in the categories as you see fit. Take inventory of their toys and clothes and be intentional about purchasing quality items that are worth your investment.
Step 3: Simplify your schedule by committing to only your favorite holiday events.
Especially after last year, a holiday season with little to no in person events, it can be tempting to RSVP “yes” to every holiday event that you’re invited to this year. Instead, set boundaries and pick your favorite two or three events to attend, and commit to being more present at the events that matter the most to you. Don’t feel guilty for politely declining invites if it means that you’ll have peace of mind and less stress in doing so.
Step 4: Simplify your to-do list by outsourcing tasks that stress you out.
Leave room in your holiday budget to outsource tasks that stress you out, take more time than you have, or that you absolutely dread. Not only does this help you check items off of your to-do list, but it frees up mental space for you to enjoy the holidays and focus on the things that do bring you joy. A few examples of tasks for you to outsource include catering holiday dinners, hiring a house cleaner to prepare for holiday parties, or securing a babysitter for a few hours so that you can shop for and wrap Christmas gifts uninterrupted.
Step 5: Simplify holiday plans by establishing family traditions.
Decision fatigue during the holidays is problematic, and deciding what to do year after year only adds to your burden. Though it may seem counterintuitive to add something else to your list, establishing a tradition that is both fun and meaningful can eliminate the need to decide what to do year after year. This can be something like serving the same family meal each year on Christmas Eve, hosting an annual cookie decorating contest the Sunday before Christmas, or always having popcorn, hot chocolate, and watching the Polar Express on Christmas night.
Remember that this is the “season to be jolly,” but it’s impossible to do that if you are overwhelmed with an endless to-do list and a jam-packed schedule. Give yourself permission to slow down, to decline commitments that don’t bring you joy, and to truly focus on celebrating Jesus, serving others, and loving your family.
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