Why does Christmas = stress? (Day 1 of 31 days to take the stress out of Christmas)

31 days to take the Stress out of Christmas - large

This post is part of a series – “31 days to take the Stress out of Christmas”.  You can read all the posts in the series here.  And to make sure you don’t miss a post you can subscribe to have every post delivered to your inbox, or follow me on facebook.

Day1 - Why does Christmas = stress (2 ways you can make Christmas memory-filled instead of stress-filled)

Why does Christmas = stress?  In an ideal world, it wouldn’t.  We would have beautifully decorated Christmas trees and homes from our Pinterest boards that are company clean throughout the whole season, we could welcome guests or host a party without a second thought, and we would enjoy our evenings with the cards already mailed and presents under the tree with our family watching a classic Christmas movie or roasting chestnuts by an open fire.  Smile  But seriously, life is never ideal or at least mine isn’t.  We all live busy lives – from working, home responsibilities such as cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping – then add to all of that extra curricular activities or sports for the kids, religious functions, time spent with friends, family outings, etc.  Life is busy.  Then December comes and none of the previous activities stop – we still work, still have to eat dinner, still have school for the kids but then you add on to that – decorating a Christmas tree, buying presents for everyone in your family + teachers, coworkers, etc, wrapping said presents, doing extra baking, maybe hosting a Christmas party at your home, attending multiple Christmas parties or programs, preparing a Christmas dinner… No wonder we are stressed!!  I would say maybe it is just me but I know from many of you commenting on facebook that it causes you stress too.   And then you add family dynamics to it too – grandparents/in-laws that buy way too many things for your kids, or extended family that expect elaborate gifts that are out of your budget, or even where and how you will you spend the actual day of Christmas.


Now some of you would say, well I just focus on the reason for the season and that solves everything.  And it may simplify some things – but your kids may still have a Christmas program, church has Christmas program, your husband’s work has Christmas party, you still may send cards, and I bet you still have at least a few gifts to buy and then wrap.  So regardless of how simple we can try to make Christmas it doesn’t change the fact that it does add things to our schedule and our life.  I do think we do need to remember the true reason for the season and make that the focus – that is why I hope to learn through this series right along with you how to make all those extra “to-do’s” not put so much stress on us so that we can truly focus on the reason for season.

So how do we stop the stress?   I think there are 2 ways we can make Christmas meaningful and not stressful – simplify and plan ahead. 

2 ways to make Christmas memory-filled instead of stress-filled

SIMPLIFY.  Say it with me. It is ok for things to be simple, to not be be Pinterest-perfect, for our homes to not be the best decorated home on the street, and for our gifts to be simple because that is what fits in our budget. 

I know from my own personal experience and some of you made comment to the same thing – WE are the ones that make Christmas stressful.  We put expectations on ourselves that things must be a certain way or it isn’t going to be a good Christmas for our family.  WE think that things have to be perfect – our home needs to be perfectly and over the top decorated for Christmas, we need to buy a huge pile of gifts for each child, gifts for each extended family member, the mailman, every teacher your child has every had, cookies from the grocery store aren’t good enough – we have to make elaborate, time consuming decorated sugar cookies, and the list could go on and on.    Will you as a working mom remember in 5 years if you bought Nestle premade cookie dough for your Christmas baking instead of spending the entire night in the kitchen baking or the night you made memories watching Frosty the Snowman by the Christmas tree lights with your family eating popcorn?  Will your kids remember the pile of presents that you stressed about and overspent buying and and then had to wrap or the one meaningful toy that they really wanted or the gift that helped your family make memories together?   What if we took a step back and kept things more simple?

(My brother-in-law/sister-in-law and niece and nephew decorating a gingerbread Christmas train and house last year.  Our gift to our nephews – not a thing/toy but a gift of TIME and memories of us all doing it together.  Consuming so much sugar and candy that the kids were wild so we went and looked at Christmas lights in the dark to settle them down for bedtime.  A gift I remember and I hope they do too.)

decorating Christmas gingerbread train

And once we have let down those expectations we put on ourselves, we can be free to really enjoy some easy Christmas baked goods, some simple yet creative decorations in our home, and even some fun or new family traditions.  I will be discussing ideas on how and where we can simplify, homemade gift ideas, gifts you can give to teachers, Christmas décor that is creative but not difficult or expensive, and more in the coming days.

The second way we can stop the stress is to plan ahead.

Oh my entire life would be so much less stressed if I would just PLAN. AHEAD.  Why do we have to wait until December 10th to take the family Christmas photo, then order cards, then stress ourselves out trying to get them in the mail in time?  Why do you have to wait until after Thanksgiving to buy presents or even better wrap presents?  Could you start now making some homemade goodies for the freezer to pull out for that Christmas party or making some homemade gifts for teachers so they are done and ready when the time comes?    We will talk about scheduling and planning and all the things that can be done in advance in coming days.

I really want input from you throughout this series – at any time feel free to comment here, or on facebook, or even send me an email about things you would like to see discussed.  So have I nailed the reasons why Christmas is stressful to you?  If not tell me why in the comments?  And how could YOU make Christmas less stressful?


  1. Christina,

    The series is off to a good start! I agree with your thoughts/ideas – if we could just simplify and plan ahead…… I look forward to more ideas and inspiration!

  2. Sherri S. says:

    Thank you! I’m making not my mission for this Holiday season to be simple and stress free. Not just Christmas…. ????.

    Happy Hump Day!

  3. Christina,

    Yes, simplify, and plan ahead. I am better at making things simple…oh wait. Nope…no I’m not. HAHa! I just looked at my ‘want to do during the Christmas season’ list. They SEEM simple, but with two toddlers, it wouldn’t be as easy as I think.
    So here’s to a simple and planned season!!

    So far, a great start, I’d say. Can’t wait to see what else. Christmas is my FAVORITE time of the year, yet I don’t really have many traditions, oddly enough.

    Peggy recently posted..#31Days – Day OneMy Profile

  4. You made some excellent points and I’m all about less stress!
    Before I met my husband, my family decided it would be less stressful if we bought gifts for the children only and the adults gift would be having a big family dinner together. It was wonderful! But after I got married, my husbands family still buys for EVERYONE! When I suggested buying for the children only, they looked at me like I was crazy, LOL. So now here I am with all the inlaws, step-children and step-grandchildren. Yikes!

    I need this series! LOL

  5. Myra Wright says:

    Here is one idea that has helped with the stress: I send out my yearly letter and picture for Valentine’s Day. None of us has time during the Christmas season to read all the letters and cards! So, by sending it an a different time of year, I not only know people will sit and read it, but then I can kill two birds with one stone! My friends get a Valentine too!!! Love your ideas! Can’t wait to read more!

    • That’s a great idea, Myra! I don’t think I ever get anything in the mail for Valentine’s so would be fun to have something in the mail too.

  6. I wasn’t sure about this series at first and now I am thinking you might be saving me from a stressful December. Why not start slowly thinking about things now, giving us the time to enjoy the season when it is upon us. Thank you!

  7. I love love LOVE Christmas! I love the tradition, the decorating the tree… the baking, the shopping, the wrapping… However, several years ago, I decided to start early on my shopping. I gave it serious thought, and decided that my biggest stress? Money. Never enough of it in December. Our property taxes are due, insurance, and other big money expenses. I made a vow, to myself, to spend $20 every month, and buy a gift(s) for Christmas. And I put them all in a closet in an unused bedroom. At the end of October, I drag it all out. I keep a binder, that I keep all of my purchases in. All of my ideas for everyone. Things I buy, the cost. I have one sheet, per family, per year. I think it helps a ton. It keeps me from doubling up on getting the same present for someone. It gives me a visual of my purchases, and helps me keep to a budget better. It goes back to 1999! And on the back of each page, I write down what was received from that family member, things I remember about them, likes, dislikes. Comments about things they might have said they like… Misc things I do not want to forget! Comes in really handy! I also keep a list of things I want to try to make-cookies, candy, breads, goodies. Things I did make. And a note about if they were worth making, or not, and why. I keep my binder in my desk, next to my recliner, so its handy at all times. Makes it more likely I will use it. And I use it. All year I write down my ideas!

  8. I agree! Simplify and plan, seems like a great way to attack the holidays this year! I’ve read your previous years posts and can’t wait to read this year!

  9. Christmas is my favorite holiday! I love all that goes into it but definitely feel the stress of it. Because we live overseas we have to start our Christmas shopping early. We set aside money throughout the year and then start planning what to get/make as early as August with the idea of having everything purchased and shipped in November. It has helped a lot. I am excited to follow this series! Thanks.

  10. I do spy with my little eye that picture up there. Good times and holy sugar batman! 🙂 Many prayers toward this Christmas season sister friend.
    Wendy J recently posted..Getting Real Day 3 :: Beauty in Unexpected PlacesMy Profile

    • Christina says:

      🙂 Yep, fun memories looking through all of them too. This Christmas will definitely be a whole lot different – think we may head out of town – still trying to decide!

  11. THANK YOU SO MUCH for doing this!! I’m excited for the holidays now 🙂

  12. Really enjoyed reading this post. It’s so true about the pressure we put on ourselves! I’ve subscribed to your 31 days mailing list and now playing catch up to read the posts and actually enjoy a Christmas with my family instead of stressing and dreading the holidays. Thanks, Christina!
    Jasmine recently posted..LOVE Vouchers / Coupons Matchbook for Him PRINTABLE DIY by ASweetGestureMy Profile

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