Holiday Stress and How to Avoid It
December 9, 2020
Woman in Santa hat full of Holiday stress

Holiday Stress and How to Avoid It

Does Holiday Stress hit you each year? There's just something about the lights, music, and cookies that truly makes the season bright. And while I hope you are enjoying the magic, what happens if you're not?

I know about the hustle and bustle of shopping and cooking and wrapping and keeping up with all the holiday traditions. Sound familiar? I often see shoppers more frazzled than dazzled. The pressure of a PERFECT holiday often puts undo Christmas stress on many of our shoulders.

With that I've created a list of things you MUST DO this season and a few things to CUT OUT to save your sanity.

You may feel like the holidays need to be extra special to make up for the craziness we're experiencing. BUT if the stress of Christmas ruins your joy, it's time to make a change. I was reminded recently that all our children {grandchildren, nieces or nephews} REALLY want from us is our time.

To that end here are my 13 favorite ideas on how to reduce that Christmas stress.

Tips for Holiday Stress Management

Say YES to the Fun Things

The things that don't take a lot of planning, preparation, or clean up.

  • Watch Movies
  • Bake or Cook as a family
  • Serve others
  • If possible, be charitable
  • Embrace family traditions, or create new ones

De-Stress With Holiday Movies

Our favorites include:

  • Elf {Amazon, Hulu, YouTube}
  • The Grinch Who Stole Christmas 2018 {Amazon, YouTube} 2000 Jim Carrey version {Netflix}
  • Miracle on 34th Street {Amazon, Hulu, Disney+}
  • It's a Wonderful Life {Amazon,YouTube, airs on E!}
  • A Christmas Story {Amazon, airs on TNT}
  • Home Alone {Amazon, YouTube, Disney+}
  • The Polar Express {Amazon, YouTube, airs on AMC}
  • Klaus {Netflix}
  • The Nutcracker Ballet {Amazon, YouTube, and many regional ballet productions will be available via their websites}
  • The classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer {Hulu, and I found this site .

Many of the classics will air for free on various television stations, do a search and set a date to make sure you see your favorites!

Stress Baking? …Together

Christmas Thumbprint cookies

Bake. Anything and everything. Whatever your holiday food traditions are. Mine include my Grandma's Thumbprint Cookies. But whatever you make, make it together. This is more about the process than the final product.

If baking stresses you out, which food items can you BUY to spark happy memories?

Give Service to Those in Need

Zippered bags with toiletry donations for a homeless shelter

Even if you feel like you are struggling this season, it's important to get outside your problems and try to alleviate someone else's. It's amazing how much lending a helping hand can make your own struggle feel more manageable and actually reduce holiday stress. But if YOU need help please reach out, there are so many ways to get assistance.

Some of our favorite holiday service activities include:

Doesn't Cost a Thing

  • Go through your household items to donate any clothing, toys, or furniture, in good condition, you no longer need.
  • Shovel an elderly neighbors walk if you have snow
  • Smile and thank everyone working hard at the stores, banks, gas stations, and post office.

Takes a Little Money

Feeling Generous

Embrace Family Traditions

Whether you have long held traditions or are making your very own this year. Decide what feels important to you and DO THEM.

  • We do a book advent each year and read a Christmas story each day in December.
  • Research your ancestors, where do your people come from? What are the traditions from that country? We've continued our virtual Around the World Tour from this summer and explored Christmas traditions from Germany and France.

Family Time Reduces Holiday Stress

At least it SHOULD. If you find doing things as a family is hectic, then adjust your expectations and simplify your activities. If your extended family stresses you out then limit your time with them. You can still show love but protect your sanity.

Try doing things TOGETHER especially if you have children or grandchildren. Teach them to properly measure flour. Quote Home Alone while folding laundry together. Ask them what they think the family traditions are.

Then make sure kids know and understand where any charitable giving goes, who it helps, and why you give. If you shovel the neighbors walk, grab the kids. They'll better understand the giving spirit of the season if they're allowed to sacrifice a bit.

Say NO to Unnecessary Holiday Stress

Woman with hand out reminding us to Stop the Holiday Stress

Activities, events, or traditions you dread, take tons of work, or don't give you joy, should be examined and cut when possible.

You are welcome to keep any of these if your schedule, budget, and mental capacity allows. But I give you permission to cut what's not fun anymore.


Can you cut back this year on the gift buying? Children generally have what they need and really can't appreciate a mountain of presents. Try the WANT, NEED, WEAR, READ categories and give kids 4 gifts this year.

Holiday Cards

You can send an email instead of a card. It's okay. I give you permission. Or you can not send anything and the world will still spin. I promise. I usually only do Christmas cards every other year but there are “on” years I'm just not feeling it either.

Outdoor Christmas Lights

Hand reaching out of Christmas lights

I LOVE lights. Like really love them. But we didn't have the mental capacity to deal with them this year. I miss them, but it's okay. You can also hire someone to put them up. The day I realized that was a great day. I think we might look into that next year.

Ornate Christmas Decorations

You do NOT need to decorate your whole house. You do NOT need a Christmas tree in every room. Contrary to what Christmas home tours and Instagram are saying, it will not ruin the holidays if you keep your decor focused. Choose a focal point or two and decorate them. Or not. Whatever brings you joy.

I NEED Christmas lights in my life so I have a brand new beautiful 10′ prelit tree which is up. But I decided NOT to decorate this year. It's just our little family for Christmas so I'm letting the kids do the decorating with handmade ornaments. And I'm enjoying them staying busy. I get my lights, they get the ornaments. Though you will not be seeing a photo of said tree,🤣 it will truly be a family affair.

Holiday Stress on a Shelf

I'm anti-elf. There I said it. Don't hate me, but it's just one more thing to add to the list. One more thing you'll probably forget. SO don't feel pressured to get one if you have misgivings. But if you get joy from it – more power to you!

Fancy Gift Wrapping

Those perfectly coordinated gifts under the tree make my heart SO happy. BUT it's unrealistic to keep it up if you're feeling overwhelmed. The paper gets torn off and is quickly forgotten. Save the lovely wrapping for important first impressions, like your boss or your mother-in-law.


Non-Stressful Neighbor Gifts

DIY Toilet paper snowman neighbor Christmas gift

I'm a big fan of neighbor gifts, but that might not feel important to you right now. If it doesn't, that's totally okay. But if you're looking for a few ideas here are a couple inexpensive ways to spread some Christmas cheer to your neighborhood:

  • Toilet Paper Snowman: who would have thought several years ago when I dreamt him up that he would so applicable in the year 2020! It's super easy, inexpensive {IF you can still find toilet paper} and I've got the pieces available for a simple print and cut. ZERO creativity needed.
  • Best Wishes and Help with the Dishes: Bundle up paper plates, napkins, and cups and gift them with a cute tag. “Bringing you Holiday Wishes and a Little Help with the Dishes”
  • Christmas movie night basket: For good friends or family that deserve a little something more.

Take Time for YOURSELF

It seems counterintuitive to take a break when you have so much to do but you really will be able to focus and have more energy if you stop and recharge.

Where Do You Stand?

What do you think? Love or hate any of the items on my lists? You will ultimately decide what's best for you and your family. If going all out makes you feel better in this pandemic, then DO IT. If you're gonna Grinch it up this year because you can't get together with family, I GET IT.

Just make sure your actions aren't driven by fear, anxiety, or depression. Don't be alone. Find someone safe you can spend the holiday with.

I'd love to hear about your traditions in the comments below. And if you share photos, I want to see them too! Please tag us @partieswithacause on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. We love celebrating all your hard work! 

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How to beat Holiday Stress by Salt Lake Party Stylist


  1. Nathalie - Press Print Party!

    Really good ideas. You might also want to check out Christmas Chronicles on Netflix, it’s really good.

    • Brianna Adams

      My kids did watch it last year. I might need to revisit it. Thank you!!


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Gingerbread houses in a row as table runner centerpiece for a Christmas Cookie Exchange Party I’m Bri of Parties With A Cause. I’m a mother to three crazy awesome kids, interior designer, & party planning junky. I love reading, globe trotting, and frozen yogurt. And I’m elevating the party experience one cause at a time! Read More

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If you're ready to improve your lifestyle and the health of your family, join me in the "Healthy Hostess" movement. Where we serve great food to the people we love. With food that nourishes the body and events that feed the soul. Use this food subtitution list to plan more intentional holidays and gatherings. Collect healthier recipes, less stuff, and more meaningful memories, with me at Parties With A Cause. 

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