When Less is More: Holiday Edition


The most wonderful time of the year is upon us, and for moms, it often results in overabundance. I feel like I’ve complained about this for the past several years, and yet I always find myself adding more and more to my list.

In a world where most of us document everything on the internet and spend an inordinate amount of time looking at what others are documenting on the internet, we’re left with stress coming from a lot of different angles. As it goes, there is a tipping point where a once joyous event can become burdensome. 

If you find yourself dreading all or part of the season, bear no shame in scaling back for the holidays! 

Gift Giving

Whether it’s coming up with the money or coming up with the ideas, gift-giving can easily turn into an overwhelming task. Here are a few tricks of the trade: 

Decide Once

Giving the perfect gift feels great – but who has hours to debate the different options for each giftee? For certain people in your life (perhaps teachers and community helpers), it’s easy to decide once what the gift will be and give that gift to everyone every year. 

Implement the Rule of Five for Christmas Gifts

Limit each child’s gifts to five things: something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read. You can either ask Santa to bring these four gifts and then give one surprise gift from you or vice versa. Having set parameters can make it easier to stick to a limited number of gifts while keeping them relatively similar to sibling requests. 

Opt for a Gift Exchange 

If you and your immediate adult family (think siblings and in-laws) still exchange gifts and each year you find yourself scratching your head for ideas – consider switching to a secret or dirty Santa operation. You’ll only have to come up with one gift (perhaps with a higher price point since you’re not buying for everyone), and there’s a much higher chance of everyone leaving with something they actually like. 

Ditch the Tangible 

If you really want to cut back, consider ending exchanges altogether! You could just enjoy the time together, spend the money on an experience or a nice dinner out, or give back to a family in need.  

Purge the Decorations

I have several friends who live and die by their holiday decorations. It brings an immense amount of joy for them to put up and show off their treasured heirlooms and transform their home into a winter wonderland. But this isn’t for everyone, and that’s OK! It’s time-consuming and requires a lot of off-season storage. If it brings you more heartache than happiness, it’s time to let it go. Keep it simple by focusing on one small area of your home. And there’s nothing more adorable than a Charlie Brown tree. 

Master the Art of Saying Nah

You wouldn’t guess that the holiday season is less than six weeks long with the number of activities and errands we try to pack in. I have a list I keep on my phone of things I hope to accomplish: family pictures and cards, present ideas (also great to have handy for when sales occur earlier in the year), gifts of thanks, and a holiday outing or two. Figure out what your limit is for each week (maybe it’s zero!), and once it’s hit, say “nah” with no regrets. 

Outsource for Gatherings

Cooking big meals for a crowd can be stressful. Don’t be afraid to switch holiday dinners to a potluck! Or better yet, order some or all of your meal from a local restaurant. And the tried and true cookie swap can give you all the goodies with only one batch of effort – plus some quality time with your favorite people. 

Don’t Scroll to Make Yourself Whole

Most of us grew up during a time when there were no picture-perfect social media posts to make us feel less than adequate – and most of us STILL had wonderful holiday experiences. Comparison is a thief of joy. Scrolling through pins and pages filled with potential fails can leave me feeling like I’m not doing enough. If you’re looking for a new creative way to mix things up in your house, scroll away! But if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed at what everyone else seems to be accomplishing, ditch the perusing and look inside – there is no greater expert on how to fill your family’s cup than you! 

Finding the Balance

Still having trouble finding the balance between magic and mayhem? Before you add yet another something to your plate or wrangle your family into another activity, answer the “why?”

Because if you don’t care to immortalize pictures of your loved ones donning matching holiday pjs, then neither does anyone else.

Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season filled with the perfect amount of whatever makes your heart sing! 


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