The holiday season can be both joyful and stressful, and magical and overwhelming. Creating a simplicity-inspired holiday roadmap will give you the freedom and resilience to trade holiday stress and anxiety for more love, peace, comfort and joy. Spend a little time now deciding how you want to experience the holiday season. Use the recommendations below to create a roadmap. Include what’s meaningful to you during the holidays, what’s been overwhelming in the past and a few rules that will help you navigate the holiday season in a way that resonates with your heart (even if that means doing things differently). Hold onto the traditions that warm your heart, but let go of the others, especially the ones you resent or find exhausting.
As you are making your roadmap and considering what you want to include, ask yourself, “Does this fill my heart or empty it?” Give yourself permission to engage in the holidays in ways that fill your heart and soul.
Here are a few things you may want to include on your path to a season filled with things that matter most.
Cuddle up. Light candles. Make playlists full of your holiday favorites and other music that soothes your soul. This is the time of year to get cozy. For more inspiration, Read The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living and Myquillyn Smith’s new book, Cozy Minimalist Home: More Style, Less Stuff. Dig in to cozy.
Choose a holiday uniform.
If you attend dressy events during the holidays, shop your closet now. Find something that works and then stop thinking about it. Wear it to all the dressy events and don’t pay attention to holiday sales, or worry about what you are going to wear. Choose a second, less formal look that you can wear to all other holiday related events. Prove to yourself that you don’t need anything new to wear over the holidays. I can almost guarantee that this time next year, no one will remember what you wore through the holiday season (they probably won’t even remember the next day).
Opt out of gift swaps.
Most gift swaps (white elephant, secret Santa …) are optional. If you don’t want to spend time looking for the perfect gift under $20 or wonder what special item you’ll get to go home with after the swap, opt out. You can still show up and laugh at the silly gifts and enjoy spending time with people without going through the motions of something you really don’t care about. Another option is to shift the whole swap into a more meaningful event, like bringing gifts for a homeless shelter or working together for a cause you all care about. Then everyone leaves with a full heart instead of a gift they probably don’t want.
Quit your job.
If you get stressed out about managing other people’s expectations, remind yourself that you are not the expectations manager. Resign. Quit your job. If you really think about it, you’ve never been very good at that job anyway and here’s why: The only expectations you ever get a chance to manage are your own. You don’t get to decide or manage how other people react, or how they feel or deal with things. That’s not your job. You can stop now.
Don’t apologize for crooked stars, messy wrapping, burnt cookies, or a home that looks lived in instead of picture perfect. We are in all of those things. Our imperfections make us perfect for each other. Use this as inspiration to stop apologizing for other things you aren’t sorry for too.
We don’t need to go full on bah humbug, but creating boundaries with holiday budgets will allow us to engage in the best parts of the season. Those best parts look different for everyone, but moving through the end of the year with more intention will allow us to be healthier, happier and more loving to ourselves and everyone around us. Here’s how to create holiday budgets for your money, time and attention.
Choose presence over presents.
I’m not opposed to exchanging gifts, but I am opposed to the attempt of buying or proving love with gifts. I’m opposed to compromising our budgets, schedules, and well-being in search of the perfect presents. I know there is nothing I can buy to show someone how much I love them. Love doesn’t work like that. Give and receive gifts with love and gratitude but remember that love isn’t inside the box. You can’t prove how much you love someone by giving them a present.
Protect yourself from getting sick and rundown over the holidays by building resilience now. Double down on your self-care practices. Stop eating things that make you feel crappy and sleep. Please, sleep all the sleep.
Don’t try to cram it all in. You don’t have to bake all the cookies, buy all the things, go to all the events or even see all the people you want to see over the holidays. When you try to do everything, you don’t enjoy anything and when everything is important, nothing is.
Be lovingly selective. Choose less. Give your time, energy, dollars and love to what matters most to you.
We often sacrifice delight as we check off the boxes on our to-do list and fill our calendars with obligations and events in the name of holiday joy. But what really brings you joy? What makes your holidays magical? Put delight first for a change.
The most meaningful holiday seasons aren’t the ones with the most presents, the best meals, the craziest parties and the least amount of sleep. We find meaning in the holidays and all of our days when we create space to listen to our hearts, time to believe in magic, and the love, health and presence to show all the way up for our lives.
Let your roadmap be a guide and reminder to slow down when you need to slow down, say no when you need to say no and to be open to finding peace, comfort and joy in a way that works best for you.