Simplify Holidays with Meaningful Choices


Why is it that I love Christmas but I dread the holidays?

I keep telling people I’m not ready for the holiday season to return. But, here I am, in the midst of holiday preparations. I try to get myself into the holiday spirit, but my lights are dim, as if I’m in a fog.

Then, a light bulb turns on in my head. I realize that I dread the holidays, because I try too hard. I love family traditions, and even used to sell family tradition products. Yet, I cram in too many traditions into one season, which makes my Christmas traditions list 25 lines long!

No one gets excited about adding more to an already full plate. This year I’m making a shift to focusing more on the meaning behind all my doing. I am uncovering choices I have about how we celebrate and honor this season.

Define the Meaning of the Season:

What does the holiday season mean to you? For me, the holidays are about remembering the gifts we have been given, and giving back.

I don’t want my holidays to involve over-doing anymore. And, I think holidays could even be a time to slow down. In doing so, we focus on what is most important to us.

4 Steps to Simplifying Holidays with Meaning:

1. List all the things you do/enjoy to prepare/celebrate the holidays.

2. Cross off any items that don’t bring you joy/peace.

3. Delegate the items that you would like to keep, but want help on.

4. Add one tradition you want to start to honor the meaning of the holidays.

My Nearly Simplified Holiday Traditions:

I already have my list, and am crossing off 6 items and have delegating 2 tasks! (If you don’t get a Christmas photo card from me this year, it is because it’s something I just decided to delegate – next year!) As I’m taking tasks off my plate, I’m able to look forward to the holidays.

Now, I can enjoy myself. Knowing that I am choosing activities/tasks that are more in line with what I want to honor for the holidays:


  • Collect items for charity among cousins (instead of gift exchange)
  • Invite my children to create a give list (more on this next week)
  • Visit with my family at holiday gatherings


  • Buy Christmas gifts for family members that reflect their interests
  • Decorate our Christmas tree
  • Hang outdoor lights
  • Drink hot chocolate (while we read Christmas stories)
  • Exchange gifts with family


  • Tell and read Christmas stories with my children
  • Attend Christmas Eve candlelight service
  • Attend Christmas choral concert
  • Make shopping list and stick to our holiday budget (saved through year)


  • Make some of the gifts I give to my family
  • Email Christmas greetings to friends/family I don’t see often
  • Do a holiday craft with my kids
  • Make Christmas cookies
  • Plan holiday meal with my family

I have not done anything radical, like stop exchanging gifts, but I do feel liberated. I am ready to enjoy more being and less doing. And, to celebrate the holidays with what is most important to me and my family (instead of rushing around in 25 different directions)!

Discussion Question: What holiday traditions are you keeping on your list?


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Photo Credit: “Christmas Tree 2010” by Marci Payne

8 responses to “Simplify Holidays with Meaningful Choices

  1. Great post, Marci! I make priority lists constantly–it can make life more manageable and I feel like I’m using my time purposefully.

    • I hear you! My daughter is starting to catch on, as I resist over-scheduling myself/my kids. She has started making priorities too when she has too many things to do – she always chooses people over tasks 🙂

  2. Hi there,
    I love your approach to the holidays!!
    I do not celebrate Christmas but I do celebrate this time of year in general. I Iove when the spirit of giving, love and gratitude are expressed with genuine intention.
    Loving this post!
    Much love and holiday light,

  3. Hi Marci,
    Christmas time should be about spirit and being and not so much about who can do more things than normal. We have 365 days a year to be awesome people so why wait until one time of the year to try and be it all.

  4. What a lovely, sanity-saving post, Marci. I really think that in order to learn our lessons well, we have to live through the harried holidays in order to arrive at a point when we not only remember the meaning of the season but also create and share meaning for ourselves and with others.

    • Welcome back Belinda! Your comment is well said. I only learn by making mistakes and getting in over my head or losing myself. I like to think I have no regrets, only lessons!