Three Steps for Reducing Holiday Stress

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We’ve all heard the phrase “less is more” but how does it apply to the holiday season?

Here’s how I explain it to my organizing clients: the average home has over 300,000 items, excluding what Santa is bringing to town. More stuff = more time = more stress. By choosing less, we can flip that story and give ourselves more time, more grace, and more space to celebrate.

Now more than ever, our kids need us to be mindful, present mommas. Here are a few ideas for doing less so we can experience more of the holidays:

Go Easy On the Decor

I’m no Grinch but untangling hundreds of lights certainly makes me a grouch!

This year, I’ve left my ladder in the garage and purged any decoration that’s difficult to assemble, install, or put away. Instead of hauling every Christmas box from the basement, I hung our favorite keepsakes at the top of our tree, handed my four year old the shatterproof ornaments, and #letjesustakethewheel.

I invite you to see how much you can streamline your decor; it is amazing how much time and money you can save without sacrificing quality.

Snowman porch light cover
Easy covers for porch lights I found on Amazon

More “easy” ideas:

  • Hook up all your lights to a single remote like this one
  • For an instant mantle update, wrap your photos and framed art as presents
  • Decorate a focal point, such as your mailbox or front door, instead of the whole yard

Embrace Lazy Gifting (and Wrapping)

Hear me out: there’s got to be a better way to give gifts without overextending ourselves in the process. Our time, space, energy, attention – these are all precious resources that we need to conserve!

This year, I’m being mindful of the total effort to select, purchase, store, wrap, and deliver my gifts. After all, is it really worth it if I’m stressed out, my house is a mess, and I spend more money on wrapping and shipping than the gift itself?

Meaningful gift ideas that don’t require wrapping:

  • Experiences – cooking class, brewery tour, couples massage
  • Lessons – swim, dance, martial arts
  • Services – babysitting, basement organization, house cleaning
  • Memberships – online magazine, zoo, aquarium
  • Consumables – baked goods, wine, gift basket
gift baskets
Photo by from Pexels

Wrapping hacks:

I’m also taking this pandemic as all the permission I need to email gift cards, no questions asked. They’re germ free! To stretch your dollar, try converting loose change into gift cards at Coinstar machines, redeeming credit card points, or shopping sites like Gift Card Granny that give cash back or discounted rates.

Ditch the Guilt of Traditions

I’ll admit, this suggestion might be a tough pill to swallow. With travel restrictions keeping us from our loved ones this year, you may be feeling more obligated to honor family traditions.

Traditions are wonderful, however, I encourage you to unapologetically say “no thank you” to any invitation, meal, activity, gift swap, or even person that adds stress to your holiday. It’s OK to branch out and start your own thing; no guilt required.

This year, my husband and I decided to no longer travel on Christmas. We’ll alternate Thanksgivings with our parents, with the understanding that anyone and everyone is welcome to come to Lil Rhody for Christmas. I can’t tell you how much RELIEF I feel for finally establishing this boundary. And the best part? My parents moved up their tree-cutting date to late November, so my son could get the “Maine” experience of finding the perfect Christmas tree.

grandparents with child at tree farm
Finest Kind Tree Farm in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine

Make space for yourself, your family, and the new memories you want to create. I promise you won’t regret it.

More ways to buck tradition:

  • Outsource your holiday dinner – we had a phenomenal take-home Thanksgiving meal from the The Hotel Viking
  • Adopt a child or family instead of playing Secret Santa – we love Gregg’s Giving Tree
  • Swap out your advent calendar for 25 books or a happiness jar

Closing thoughts

The holidays typically signal a time of abundance, with our homes overflowing with food, family, and gifts. There are so many ways, however, that we can do more with less. I hope you take away from this post some ideas to lighten your load so you can focus on what brings you (and your little ones) joy.

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Patience Sivillo
Patience Sivillo is a Professional Organizer, cat lady, and expert packer. Although she is a transplant from Maine, her love of Lil Rhody is strong! She can find parking off Thames Street, navigate Bristol’s parade route, and hasn’t met an Awful Awful she didn’t like. Patience resides in North Kingstown with her husband and their son, Jackson (2016). She often jokes that the only rule for motherhood is “don’t raise a$$holes.” In a time where technology has eclipsed simpler joys, Patience strives to give her son experiences inspired by her rural upbringing. Her family often travels to Maine to enjoy swimming in the lake, nature walks, and Gan Gan’s homemade bread. As the Owner of Lil Mess Perfect, Patience teaches families how to be more productive and let go of what no longer serves them. She believes that you can do more with less, and has helped clients donate over $30,000 in goods to Rhode Island charities.