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Tips to stay sane during the holidays this year


Pin for "tips to stay sane during the holidays" with two cups of hot coco and a cozy fire in a fireplace.

If you’re looking for a few tips to stay sane during the holidays this year, then let’s discuss a few ideas here.

We will talk about making a plan, having a budget, staying on track, and how to still find joy this holiday season. 

Confession… I LOVE Christmas. I use Christmas dishes year round. I start celebrating way too early, and I bake way too many cookies. It’s my favorite time of year. 

frosted gingerbread cookies in a box.

Hang on, hear me out. The things I enjoy about Christmas are the “fun” things that can only happen after the “work” things are complete.

There’s no relaxing on the couch with my family members on Christmas morning, snacking while opening gifts, if no one orchestrated it all beforehand. 

Over the years I’ve been finding little tricks to get all the “work” of Christmas done, so we can fully immerse ourselves in the pure joy of Christmas. 

I hope some of these tips can help you have a little more joy, and less stress this holiday season.

Tip #1… Make a plan!

The best way to find holiday cheer is to know what you need to accomplish.

green coffee cup, pink reading glasses, notebook and corner of laptop computer on a gray wood desk.

This doesn’t have to be fancy, and it probably shouldn’t be. You have enough going on without trying to find a “perfect holiday planner”.

Just slap a cute decal on a cheap notebook and run with it. (You can get fancy if you really want to. Who am I to stand in your way?!)

I recommend keeping this notebook from year to year, so you can reference what you did in years’ past to make planning even simpler.

Start your “holiday planning” for whenever you start getting overwhelmed in the fall.

For me, this is just before Thanksgiving. We have a few family birthdays and a yearly trip that tend to happen then.  This just helps me feel ahead of the game, rather than always trying to catch up until the new year.

Maybe you like to start even earlier in the fall, or maybe you don’t feel the need to start this until the middle of December. Make this work for you, however that looks.

In your master list, you should include a gift list.

Write out a meal plan for the holiday parties you will be hosting, and any side dishes you are bringing to any other gatherings. Include your list of baked goods you like to do each holiday (If you enjoy baking for the holidays).

Will you do holiday cards? Will you do smaller gifts for Sunday school teachers and mailmen? Don’t forget to list any hostess gifts or any other personal gift you want to include. 

Usually, once you see it all written down, you feel a bit relieved to see it’s not as crazy as you had envisioned it to be. 

But maybe it’s even crazier than you thought it would be! If it looks too overwhelming, then please consider removing a few obligations from your to-do list.

Saving your sanity this holiday season by reassessing obligations.

small pine tree decorations with tiny house figurines.

If you are dreading the holiday parties that come around at the end of the year, I want to encourage you to see how you can change things up.

We want to remember all of the positive experiences we had over the holidays, not feel like we’ve crossed the finish line of a race with the wheels falling off. 

We need to be conscionable of how these things will affect our immediate family. If you’re a ball of stress every Christmas eve, because you don’t enjoy going to your great-aunt’s cousin’s annual Christmas cookie exchange, then maybe this is the year to excuse yourself.

Maybe we don’t have to attend all of the family gatherings. Some people forego the big family gatherings, and opt for a more intimate option of fellowship at a later time. 

Sit down with your spouse and discuss what is truly important to each of you, and what things you want to let go of. Don’t forget to act in love with tenderness toward one another.  

I understand how important extended family can be, and I LOVE getting to see extended family during the holidays. But if your first reaction to “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” is a gut full of dread… then please do what you can to make it a time of joy.

glass of milk with a candy cane and dried orange in it with Christmas trappings in the background.

Celebrating the birth of Christ is meant to be a joyous time for His people. That’s what holiday spirit is all about.

Adding in some festivities this Christmas

On the flip side, there may be things you want to start adding in for your family! Maybe you’ve always wanted to volunteer at a local charity in your community, but have never been able to make it happen.

This may be the perfect year to start doing that! 

Last year, we really enjoyed some Christmas “minute-to-win-it” games with the kids. It was something they talked about all year. Don’t hesitate to adjust your holiday celebrations to fit the desires of your family. 

Ponder what you are hoping for this holiday season. 

woman deep in thought sitting on a couch in front of a decorated Christmas tree.

I’d bet we’ve all been there… cleaning up torn wrapping paper and crushed cardboard, thinking… was that it? All this frenzied preparations and it’s all over. 

It can feel a bit like a let-down sometimes.

Instead: this year we are going to be grinning our faces off and high-fiving ourselves thinking “YES! This Christmas was awesome!”  

A completely amazing quote says

“Begin with the end in mind.”

Stephen Covey in The 7 Habits of highly effective people

If we don’t have a clear goal in mind, we will never accomplish it.

Have some quiet time with your “perfect holiday planning notebook” and write down a few hopes you specifically have. 

This can be simple, but give yourself the space to at least solidify some of these wishes. 

Sometimes we can feel disappointed without ever knowing what it was we had hoped for in the first place.

For me, I want to be creating some family traditions within our family. I want to enjoy a day relaxing with just my immediate family before we spend all our bandwidth running to and fro to everyone else’s holiday gatherings.

(I do LOVE those other holiday gatherings, I just want to make sure our family isn’t forgotten in the process.)

Have a holiday budget. (For time and money)

Now, sometimes our time is more precious than money. *They’re both precious and must be stewarded wisely.

But if you’re a crunchy mom that refuses to use any ready-made items in the kitchen, this may be the time to let a few things slide.

a gift wrapped in beige paper wrapped in red and white twine, with pine sprigs placed under the blank tag.

If you wish to make every gift by hand, you may need to consider how much time that will actually take. This isn’t the time to have unrealistic expectations.

I know I’m not the only one that has WAY too many elaborate plans for the holidays, only to be completely pummeled by the tidal wave of holiday madness.

Everything adds up so quickly during the holidays. Make a plan, and stick to your plan.

Write out what you hope to spend on the food for the celebrations (Include special drinks as well.)

Decide what to spend on every person for gifts. Aren’t you glad you made that list of all your gifts you want to give? 

*Also, don’t be afraid to consider second-hand Christmas gifts for some of your recipients. Some of our favorite items have been thrifted. 

Stick to your plan! 

middle aged man and woman in nice coats checking their Christmas list with bustling Christmas festivities outside behind them.

Some of us just do a little planning, and some will plan every detail.

It’s important to be flexible, but make sure you actually use the plan you so carefully crafted!

It can be really tempting to go overboard with last-minute holiday shopping and ruin all your wonderful progress you’d made thus far. Try to resist that urge.

The trappings are not what make Christmas magical. Christmas is wonderful because of what we are celebrating. 

Enjoying Christmas by caring for our bodies well.

This is such a hard thing to do when we’re busy.

Continue to carve out time to be in God’s Word. If we stay anchored, we will be so much more at peace, no matter what crazy things come our way. (And come they shall.)

Try to find opportunities to be active, and eat somewhat healthy. It’s a good idea to keep some healthy snacks on hand for everyone, so they’re not eating way too much sugar. 

It seems like people are often sick during the winter months. Help out the immune system with some good vitamins as well. 

We want to set ourselves up for success! 

Related: self-care for homemakers

Make sure you build in moments to enjoy along the way.

an open book with a tea candle on top and a cup of coffee to the side and fairy lights in the background.

This touches back to pondering what you hope to enjoy about this Christmas.

If you hate baking, then do not plan out a big cookie baking day.

Maybe you have always wanted to drive around and look at the Christmas lights, but never have made it happen. Put it on the calendar!

This is your Christmas too. Trust me, your family will have the most fun when you’re also enjoying yourself. If you’re running yourself ragged trying to accomplish an impossible to-do list, they’re going to pick up on that stress. 

Enjoy the moments.

hot coco and marshmallows in a mug with an owl on it with Christmas lights around it.

Take some deep breaths and smell the wonderful Christmas aroma of pine and cinnamon. Feel free to create a new tradition just for your family this year. 

The month of December doesn’t have to be the most stressful time of the year. By embracing what we love about Christmas, and letting go of the rest, we can truly have happy holidays like never before. 

Christmas doesn’t just happen on one big day, it happens over the course of a few days containing small moments to slow down and take in. It’s any number of things that bring us holiday cheer. 

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

Luke 2:11

Celebrating the birth of Christ is an immense blessing and joy. Don’t let your joy be stolen by the chaos of the worldly things.

Stay focused on Who is being celebrated. 

God bless you!

Thank you “Outside The Box Creation” for being such a fun part of our homeschool! Get $20 off your first box with the link above.

Hi, I’m Stephanie! I’m a Christian wife, mom of 4, homeschooler, and a technically trained chef. I love creating a simple, beautiful life with our sweet family.

I’m so glad you’re here!

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