A stress-free Christmas may seem like an impossibility. But you CAN thrive through the holidays, thanks to these 6 secrets!
Image courtesy of MrSickboy50
By Danielle Tate, Contributing Writer
I never thought I’d enjoy a stress-free Christmas. Year after year I would try to be as organized as possible yet, somehow I always ended up stressed out. The Christmas season is a time of giving, rejoicing and celebration. A time to remember how Peace came to Earth. Yet for many of us, Christmas is a time of stress, short tempers, busy schedules, and family feuds refueled. A stress-free Christmas seems like a Hollywood fantasy.
It does not have to be this way.
Extra Duties, Extra Stress
A sense of urgency and pressure often accompany extra holiday responsibilities, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your holidays. No matter how busy your schedule, there are simple things you can do to keep life stress-free.
Here’s my schedule of events over the four-week holiday season (aside from fundraising coordination, being a teacher’s aide and budget coach and my home management responsibilities):
- Host Thanksgiving
- Organize a ladies event at church
- Organize a fundraising tree and bake sale for the Christian school
- Plan the extended family Christmas
- Host Christmas Eve
- Travel on Christmas Day
Maybe this is mild, or maybe this seems crazy. No matter what your schedule looks like you can T.H.R.I.V.E. this Christmas season. Here’s how:
Managing your time is both broad and narrow. Broadly, you need to keep a monthly calendar handy so you know what is happening and when to say “no.”
You can’t do it all on the same day. Sometimes you must pass on a party or decline a dinner to keep your sanity.
In the narrow sense, be sure you are handling the hours of your day properly. Ask yourself, did I:
- spend time with the Lord?
- have quality family time?
- accomplish the top priority items on my to-do list?
Key 1 to stress-free Christmas, manage your time!
When I began hosting events, I did not want anyone to help me. I took on the entire responsibility myself. From appetizers to desserts, I did all the work. I love creating in the kitchen so I figured it should be my responsibility to prepare all of the foods. I didn’t want to be a bad hostess who asked for help.
No help left me stressed out and so busy I rarely enjoyed myself. After a few years the Lord revealed to me that pride and ignorance were at fault. I was ignorant of the idea that people enjoy contributing. My pride in wanting to be the perfect wife and hostess shadowed the truth.
Now, I allow those who offer to contribute and I don’t hesitate to respectfully ask for help from my son or my husband. Even your smaller children can help you, so don’t be afraid to ask or assign duties to the kids.
Key 2 to a stress-free Christmas, ask for and accept help.
It’s hard to have a giving spirit when you’re empty inside. Rest and find refreshment for yourself. What fills you up? What helps your cup to overflow so that you can give to those around you?
- A walk in the woods or downtown?
- An hour or so of your favorite hobby?
- Playing an instrument in worship to the Lord?
- An extended time or prayer or reading?
In order to pour out, we must first be filled up. Receiving means we must quite ourselves and rest long enough to be fueled up.
Even on the busy mornings, I make time for worship, reading or prayer. Sometimes I do it right away, other times I get breakfast in the oven or start the slow cooker. When doesn’t matter, it’s making the time to keep God in the mix that’s important.
Key #3 to a stress-free Christmas, rest in Him.
Growing up we didn’t have Pinterest, but we had Country Living magazine. Oh how I dreamed of one day having a home worthy of the pages of Country Living! My mom’s eye for decorating gave us an almost Pinterest Perfect home.
This apparently skips a generation. I have some seasonal décor … but I also have dog hair, toys, clothing and various fermented foods sitting around. No matter how much we admire what others have or create, we must not allow the nagging voices to tell us we don’t measure up.
Your home is not defined by decor but by the love and light that shines forth from it. Less time on Pinterest and more time with God is an easy way to a stress-free Christmas. It’s so easy to compare yourself to everyone around you and the mystery people of Pinterest. Don’t do it. Don’t let perfection be your idol.
Key #4 to a stress-free Christmas, ignore the image of perfection.
As I write this, a friend is burying her husband who died in a motorcycle accident. Her Christmas will not be the same. Earlier this week I spent some time with cousins sharing memories from our childhood. It was a rare and valuable time together. See the value in your family’s Christmas traditions, or make new ones this year. Keep Christ the center of your Christmas and give gifts that have eternal meaning.
Value the time you get with those you love. There might not be next year. There may not even be tomorrow.
Key #5 to a stress-free Christmas, value what is important.
One year, after a lengthy illness, my grandfather lost his balance and toppled into the Christmas tree. It was a scary and sad moment. Fifteen years later, we look back and laugh remembering how the tree flew and Pap tried to catch ornaments as he fell. He was a light-hearted man and he wouldn’t want us to remember it any other way than with laughter, even though the tears.
Even stressful, sad or silly times will make memories to cherish. Take pictures, but live in the moment, not behind your phone. Check in on Facebook, post a silly Instagram selfie, and then put your phone on silent and enjoy what is before you.
Drink in the beauty of family, friends, and Christ. Enjoy them. Enjoy the décor, even if it’s from the Dollar Store. Thank God for His greatest gift and have a stress-free Christmas.
Key #5 to a stress-free Christmas, enjoy the moments – they last longer than the gifts.
Image by: Earl3
Don’t survive the Christmas season, THRIVE in it by keeping your focus on what really matters and be humble enough to ask for help. Make memories with those you love and never feel you are less than because you don’t have the perfect home.
I love your reminders to T.H.R.I.V.E. through the holidays. For me, I start early and do a little each day so that I don’t feel overwhelmed. It also helps me to savor the little joys that come along with the season 🙂
Lisa @ This Pilgrim Life
Love that acrostic! What a great way to remember to put what matters first. I was just talking to a friend yesterday about how no matter how much I intend to keep things slow and unhurried during this season, the time just seems to fly by. I think it’s so important to prioritize traditions and get-togethers so you aren’t trying to do it all. I agree, too, that accepting help makes a big difference. It’s a gift to you and to the people helping to all work together, even if it’s just hanging out washing dishes.
It’s a nice reminder to lovingly accept the reality of what the holidays are instead of the picture of what you think it should be in your head. I get so caught up wanting my home and all domestic activity to look like its fit for the pages of a magazine, but it isn’t real… What’s real is God, love, family, mess, dust, toys, clutter. Thanks your sharing your thoughts on this; it brightened my evening!
Nicole Underwood Gonzalez
YES! All of these are so important to remember! The hardest one for me is declining invites. I want to do everything but forget that there are on 24 hours in a day!
Weird, we don’t have money for presents this year and it is somehow so much less stressful, even though I LOVE presents. I know God has my children in His heart and He will do something to delight them. And I get to focus on baking with them and doing puzzles and reading and singing together. Praise. I am going to remember this when I have a bunch of money for presents in the future: Presents can be stressful. Go simple. Play.