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Happiness Tip: Reduce Holiday Stress

Many of us are really gearing up for the next wave of holidays right now, and are perhaps feeling a bit overwhelmed. This year, instead of automatically going into holiday overdrive, take a moment to reflect on what is important to you, and make a plan to simplify your holidays.

Take Action: Follow these instructions from the Center for a New American Dream’s “Simplify the Holidays” booklet:

1. List all the holiday-related tasks for which you were responsible last year (e.g., buying gifts, making cards, decorating the house, guests, etc.).

2. Put a star next to the activities you truly enjoyed. Look at your list and consider the following questions:

Which activities could you scale back to reduce stress?

Where can you enlist help to make tasks easier and more fun?

Which activities could you cut out altogether?

Which activities do you find particularly enriching, and worthy of more time and effort?

Join the Discussion: What holiday activities will you be nixing this year? Which ones are worthy of your time and effort? Share with us by commenting below!

Looking for more tips for simplifying the holidays? Check out this fantastic little booklet.


  1. Brook Coffee says:

    Our family held a family meeting on the last night of November and made a list of all of the things that we love doing (making gifts and decorations) or that we wish we did more often (visiting reindeer/community service/caroling) and then we filled up the calendar with our December “bucket list.” Once the advent and family calendars were full of the things that will truly make us happy, we didn’t have room to say “yes” to the things that don’t. We started the summer this way and we were able to check every item off of our wish list then too. Thanks for the inspiration!!!

  2. LoveHelpsAll says:

    Our focus will be on spending time with family, joining in community events, being active, and having fun out in nature.  We wish for the healthiest air, water, food and land for all of Earth’s inhabitants.  So, we give minimal gifts (since pollution is created in making, transporting, packaging, wrapping, and disposing of short-term use gifts).  Our greatest happiness comes from giving and receiving love to ourselves and others, as well as from being physically healthy.  Love and Best Wishes to All

  3. Amy says:

    I did a similar exercise a few of years ago and came to the conclusion that I love it all. I love the baking, I love Christmas dinner, I love decorating, I love sending and receiving cards, I love Christmas concerts and music, I even (gasp!) love presents. (With the exception of presents for adults — we only give presents to the kids in the family.)

    So with this maximalist approach to the holidays, how do I prevent myself from going mad? I pace myself. I baked cookies, made Christmas pudding and bought gifts for overseas relatives in October, and I finished up my shopping before the end of November. Christmas dinner is a group effort: I make the roast and Yorkshire puddings and everyone else brings veg and potatoes.

    Now I have December free to bake, sing and celebrate with my friends and family.

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