5 Essentialist tips to stress less leading up to the holidays

PS. Anything can be a Christmas tree.

Markus and I enjoy Christmas. It is probably our favorite holiday. However, as fun as it is, the season tends to get crazy busy with preparations, projects, and socializing that it can also be draining. Do you agree?

So before things peak this year, here are five simple tips on how to approach Christmas in a more mindful and intentional way to stress less and enjoy more. Because we all deserve better!

1. Celebrate mindfully.

How are you going to adapt following COVID-19 restrictions? Will you have guests over? Are you attending Christmas parties? How will you shop? These are important questions to consider. Do not just dive headfirst. A safe Christmas will create the happiest holidays.

2. Make a list.

We are big fans of lists because they streamline and simplify everything. They are particularly good for me because I am easily overwhelmed and forgetful sometimes! Markus is an infinite balm, I can tell you that.

Helpful lists to write include tasks for winterizing your home, scheduling calls with your family and friends, and shopping for presents, Christmas meal, and decorations. Lists are simple enough but they are life-changing.

3. Set up a Christmas budget.

When I was younger, I have experienced starting a new year broke because I spent all my money over the holidays. I was never in debt, but still, it would have been nicer not to empty my bank account.

Since then, I have learned to put together a Christmas budget. I identify my projected expenses and save up for the total months in advance. It is less stressful and more attainable.

Bonus tip: Show some discipline when shopping. I find that instead of getting gifts for my family and friends, I end up looking for stuff that I would like! Stay focused and only get what you need.

4. Think about what you are buying.

Shopping early is great, not just because there is time to look for deals, but also because there is space to be more discerning about our purchases.

Whenever possible, let us buy local, support small businesses, and make sustainable and green choices.

It is really not hard because there are plenty of adorable and useful environmentally friendly products out there. Even better, we can make presents – food, candles, soaps, and body scrubs, and plants all make lovely gifts!

5. Have non-negotiables.

Due to coronavirus restrictions, there is a big chance the holidays will not be as crazy this year, but who knows how it will play out? What matters is that we always set our priorities and take time to take care of ourselves.

Think about what is most important to you and set it as a non-negotiable. For example, no matter how crazy it gets, I would always practice yoga and take time for my relationships every day. This is non-negotiable. Focusing on what matters will help us stay grounded and definitely stress less this season.

Are you excited for the holidays? How are your preparations going? Please share other tips you are practicing for a healthier and more mindful holiday. We always learn something new from all of you. Thank you!

69 thoughts on “5 Essentialist tips to stress less leading up to the holidays

  1. Great tips!! No parties for us this year but i have been busy shipping out gifts for friends and family. It’s not as fun but it’s still filled with love and affection, and that’s the most important part of the season for me anyway πŸ’—

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  2. We are so lucky in Western Australia. it is life as normal for us due to what we have done to get through this year. So, Christmas is full on. For us, I have managed to work four days a week during the lead up to Christmas (although I might do some stuff on the weekend – but not too much) – so it means I have been able to do Christmasy this and that. We will be timing things right down to the last second in terms of having everything in place for Christmas. I once had this amazing job where we were real trendsetters and it was Christmas parties and lunches non-stop for about a month before Christmas. By the time I got to Christmas, I was over it. So, it is very much things in moderation these days. There are other places I have worked and they didn’t have the Christmas spirit at all – but I fixed that on each occasion πŸŽ…We do have a Christmas budget. Linda shops all year round for Christmas, so she always has an eye out for a bargain. My kids cringe when they see me bring out the whiteboard – its time to brainstorm Christmas – but it works πŸ˜‚πŸ€£πŸ˜‚

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    1. I think having the whiteboard is cute. When the children grow up, I am sure they will see the wisdom in it. Sounds like you are a big Christmas bear! I am happy you are able to enjoy Christmas and everything that comes along with it. Not everyone is as lucky. And I support Linda’s whole-year effort. It is a smart thing to do!

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  3. Great tips! I think having “non-negotiables” (I refer to mine as “boundaries” 😊) is absolutely essential for every-day life. Or at least, it makes mine easier and I don’t feel like I need ot apologise to people for it ahah!
    For me this season will be much quieter than usual as it will only be me and my mum, tthough I have to say I am quite excited to have some relaxing time, far away from obligations and busy days 😊

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  4. Make a list (calendar) is something I always do. Big part of stress is “Have I remembered all my appointments or other deadliness?” Check off when completed task gives sense of accomplishment and self management which improves confidence and reduces stress. So much to keep track of even now in retirement I wonder I I did it all when working.

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  5. A holiday budget is a smart and good idea. I’m not sure if folks do this. And staying focus during gift buying. Often I feel like I end up with great gifts for the person who gifted me. Hahahhaa.

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  6. No holiday excitement or prep for me! When I can, I give to charity… no gift exchanging, it’s wasteful and people rarely appreciate what they get. Plus everyone I know has enough… give to those who don’t!!!

    Alternately, I continue to try to get people to but into my idea for gift exchanges: Besides happening after Xmas, to take advantage of sales, you get gifts for yourself. To continue the element of surprise, you wrap and label who they’re FROM. That person unwraps and finds out what they gave you!! If you go over budget, at least it was all on yourself and you won’t feel guilty returning things! And imagine finding out you “gave” someone expensive jewelry or expressions of romantic love.

    I seem to be the only person who thinks that would be fun. But I’m also the only person who thinks it would be fun to have a party where everyone goes by the name of Fred (nametags included), never uttering real names.

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    1. Charity work is important, I agree. We do social work around this time, every year, too. And yes, shopping post holidays is a treat. Before, my sisters and I would look for clothes after Christmas or New Year because they cost next to nothing and was once pricey. The price difference is crazy. I find your ideas interesting. Novelty is always fun!

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      1. I came up with the post xmas idea in my 20s because I returned an outfit, shopped for an hour or 2, gave up and bought the exact outfit back – at half price!!

        I’m hoping to be in a position to take advantage of post xmas sales but I don’t know when I’ll get my first paycheck.

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  7. I like the idea of having non-negotiables. Doing what soothes and helps us no matter how crazy the holidays get. I don’t think they’re going to get too nuts around here this year, though. We wrapped and packaged our kids gifties today. They get organic treats every year from our little co-op.

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    1. That is so lovely! Your co-op must be filled with super nice stuff. I wish there are sources like that here, too. Are you just sending these presents to your children or are they visiting? I hope the people there take the restrictions seriously and find meaningful ways to celebrate the holidays. What are some of your non-negotiables?

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  8. I like this idea although I am not one to get stressed about Christmas. I wasn’t even stressed before my wedding which was quite large and glamorous by my standards. I’d never planned an event like a wedding before so it didn’t occur to me that anything could go wrong. I never make lists but perhaps I should. I’ve never needed to because I have a very good memory and can remember everything. We are having a large Christmas gathering of family this year, but everyone is being very careful all the time so it should be fine. I am making gifts for everyone. I do that every year and they are, of course, all edible.

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    1. You seem like a formidable woman, Robbie. Your family is very lucky. How did your wedding play out? Was it fancy-schmancy or? Oh wow, all the best with the large Christmas gathering. I hope everyone enjoys and stays safe and healthy!

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  9. The biggest Christmas list over the last few years has been the one for Christmas cards, often adding a short letter to old friends. Obviously family are at the top of that list but I still keep in touch with some friends and also work colleagues going back over 20 years! There will be no travelling this year because of the pandemic and no presents! There will be phone calls and video calls and since we are both retired from work no holidays (every day is a holiday 🀣).

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    1. Every day is a holiday, as it should be! You are so thoughtful, to stay connected, and write all these cards and letters. I really appreciate such things, especially during this digital time.

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    1. Yes, it is a nice skill to practice, since Christmas happens every year. I agree with not overdoing it. It is surprising how simple things make an impact, and as we always advocate, when we are intentional, we hit the mark with just the essentials. There is less consuming and waste and that is super refreshing.

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  10. These are excellent tips! The most important thing is to stay safe, so we can all celebrate more Christmases in the future. Lists really help me. I like so many Christmas projects, but I made a list of 5. That has helped me to stay focused. I can make another list next year. I also make a daily list, so I can accomplish what I want to accomplish. Christmas will be different this year, but it can still be full of spirit and love. Every tip in your post make such good sense! Enjoy your day!

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  11. I am excited for Christmas, although it will be very different than usual with just the four of us at home on Christmas Day. In a funny way, I’m kind of looking forward to a more low-key celebration. We can’t change it so we might as well make the best of it!

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    1. I love your attitude. Yes, being curious and making the most of it will definitely help us be happier and more festive. Michelle, did you know that when you leave a comment, your website is not linked to your name so people cannot just click on it to visit you? Or at least I do not see a link. Maybe you would like to link your username?

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha. I can be forgetful so lists help. I did the personality test you mentioned and the choices were not a fit for me because sometimes I agree with one clause or word on the choice but not on the other. I forgot the letters but the brief description said I am reserved and prefer small groups and that is true. There was no lengthy description actually, just a few sentences. Maybe I would have analyzed it more if there was extra information.

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      1. Really? Mine was really elaborate… Let me check what link did I use…

        I list work related stuff because I forget tasks too at times… but life related, I can be stubborn and tend to go as it occurs…

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        1. Not sure, I just Googled a free online DISC test. I suppose it can be normal, that we behave different in our professional lives. I can be the same. I am more planning and organized with work but not with my own stuff. So you are fine! Haha.

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          1. Sometimes… I do really question my being normal… because you’d see my husband in a grocery, he’s holding onto his ipad, with notes on what to buy..

            and there I was, picking and throwing stuff into the basket..

            He’s got travel checklist on what to bring… he’s got the itinerary all jotted down…

            And me? I wanna hop from one train to another… and the thing is, people expect that kind of organization from me… πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

            But you’re right.. I am doing good as it is… so yeah, it worked for me πŸ˜€

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  12. Christmas is going to be very low key for us. We had our family visit for the past two weeks. Daughter Lise flew back to Denmark yesterday. Our niece Chrissie came from Massachusetts for one full day, and grandson Nathaniel took several days off to be here. It was marvelous to have seven people under our roof. I’m looking forward to that quiet Christmas.

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    1. You have been busy, Cindy! Did you all just stay home during these visits or? But I am very happy you saw your family. Lucky they were all able to travel safely. Here in Asia, this is not the case. We are also having a quiet Christmas. I hope. It can get crazy in The Ph and I am curious how this year changes that.

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      1. We ran errands, but we didn’t go out for anything else. We love taking friends and family on the Blue Ridge Parkway, but it was closed because we had snow. That’s the best place to see our mountains. Just being together was marvelous.

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      1. It has me I know for sure! πŸ€”hmmmi think it’s forced people to stop running but if you race, you find other things to do and fill your time with, so I’m not really sure. Some for sure.

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        1. I suppose you are right. At one point, I saw posts about people coming together as a family, but as the year went on, I wonder if they just become housemates and cope individually and fill their time like usual, just in one place this time. It can be tricky, which is why being intentional and creating awareness always helps.

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  13. I love this list! Firstly, yes, anything can be a Christmas tree πŸ˜… and secondly, your non negotiables are really great! Your people are very lucky to have such a dedicated and loving person!

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      1. lol I guess I have been commenting too much that WordPress decided that it was enough πŸ˜›
        My non-negotiable is being with family. And not the extended family of fifth cousins twice removed, I’m talking small and intimate.

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        1. Not true. Maybe Akismet just gets confused sometimes. Agree with your non-negotiables. We are the same. I am also an intimate group kind of person. And I prefer one-on-one conversations actually so I can focus on the other person completely.

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  14. This year there will be no holidays for Italians as lockdown measures are getting tighter and tighter.
    No big deal for me because I try to enhance my spirituality every single day such that I don’t need to rely on a particular day of the year.
    But most people in this country will be rather frustrated.
    Love that waterfall, there is a similar one close to Rome where I love to take cold plunges in the winter

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    1. Is it bad again in Italy? Really happy you are taking good care of yourself. Your family life must benefit a lot from this. This waterfall is a hike near us. The water is cold but I am sure not as cold as yours!

      Liked by 1 person

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