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How to Simplify Your Holiday Season Without Your Family Hating You

November 27, 2019
How to Simplify Your Holiday Season Without Your Family Hating You

Before we dive in, let’s get one thing clear from the start. I am almost certainly not the person you want to get your simplified holiday goals from. That’s not because I don’t have a simple holiday, because I do. It’s because I am the person who has never decorated their home for Christmas, has never had a Christmas tree as an adult and is genuinely confused when I go to the mall in December and it’s so busy. I made the decision a long time ago to not ‘buy-in’ to a lot of the trappings that accompany the holiday season. I’ve been pretty stubborn about it too. That means I have a simplified holiday. But it also means I’m starting in a different place than most people. Because of this, it can be genuinely difficult for me to put myself in other people’s shoes and understand their struggles with the holiday season. So, if the list below isn’t relatable for you, that’s on me. You’re great.

That being said, I did want to share my thoughts on this, in case there’s a chance that someone could find it useful. I do think there is a way to simplify your holiday season without also making your family mad at you. I don’t know about you but I’ve been down the road of trying to make extreme changes all at once and when it involves other people, it can get ugly.

In the interest of speaking from my actual experience, here’s a list of things I will and won’t be doing this holiday season:

1)  I won’t be decorating my house, or putting up a Christmas tree. I still don’t own any decorations. And we’re travelling for most of the holidays anyway. (Ok so after I drafted this, I bought a secondhand wreath and out it up in my office. So, I lied). 

2) I will be making new DIY candles to make our living room feel cozy. (With this awesome kit I got from Etsy, aka affiliate link).

3) I won’t be buying more than one present per person in my family (and in some cases it will be less than that because we do a swap type thing).

  • My caveat here is that I do not have children, nor are there young children in my extended family that might be expecting more in the present department. 

4) I will be buying as many gifts secondhand as I can. I’ve been doing it for years and I promise people won’t be able tell or care. 

5) I won’t be attending my work Christmas party (you literally could not pay me to go to that thing). Since I would have to pay to go, it’s a hard no from me.

6) I will be attending my partner’s work Christmas party. This is because a) it’s free and b) it’s a much more low-stress and casual affair than the one I’m skipping. It’s about balance, people.

7) I will be making sure to be friendly with everyone at work, recognizing that the holidays are hard on a lot of people.

8) I will not be setting foot in a mall, unless it’s just to go to the food court.

9) I will be supporting locally owned businesses for gifts I can’t buy secondhand.

  • I’ve got local options ranging from beer, to hot sauce, to candles and clothing. I’m spoiled here in northern Ontario. 

10) I won’t be spending long periods of time with family members that cause me stress.

  • This one is hard. I know. It takes time to create boundaries that you can stick to. It goes without saying here that is you’re dealing with abusive family members, this rule does not apply. You do not need to spend any time with people who do not treat you well.
  • For us, we have a limited amount of time for the holidays because of geography. We normally end up spending four full days on the road. That means we can’t spend more than a couple of days with each of our four families. I’ve found that this is the right amount of time for us to visit, but not long enough for either side to get annoyed.

11) I will be protecting my personal time over the holidays so I can actually relax and recharge after an insane fall. If you don’t get to relax over the holidays, what is the actual point?

  • For me, this means I will abandon any family function if I need to go to bed, or just otherwise take a nap. Nobody needs to be around an over-tired and grumpy Britt.

12) I will not be letting any of my family members make me feel guilty for how I choose to celebrate the holidays. 

  • I’ve found that, unless you correct people, most will assume you celebrate the holidays like they do. And I’m fine with them thinking that. 
  • Thankfully, my family has comes to terms with my general weirdness around this sort of thing. 

I know that people don’t like to compromise. We want everything to go our way or we get all in a huff about it. Believe me, I am the queen of pouting when I don’t get my way. But, I don’t think we can have it all over the holidays. If we could, I wouldn’t be going home for the holidays at all (geography and having four different families to please is a real pain in the winter). But, recognizing that it is the one time of year when I’ll actually get to see most of my family, I put measures in place to help me enjoy my holiday, while keeping my family happy. 

What I’ve listed above really are baby steps. They are steps that can be built on a little bit each year. You don’t have to go for all of them (or any of them) all at once. Pick the ones that will have the biggest positive impact on your happiness and stress levels this season. That might mean you swear off malls, but still spend more time than you’d maybe like with your stressful relatives. Maybe it means you take one less box of decorations out of your basement this year but give yourself a pep talk and go to your Christmas holiday party. 

I want you to be able to have the holiday that you want. But no one gets to be an ass about it. Not even me.  

What are you doing this year to simplify your holiday season?

Image Credit: Angelina Jollivet on Unsplash

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links which means I’ll make a small commission on every purchase (at no additional cost to you). All money generated by these links helps to support Tiny Ambitions. 

  • lauracoburn1111 November 28, 2019 at 8:36 am

    Ugh – the dreaded work holiday function! In my case, there are at least 3 at our office. One is where everyone brings their kids in and they run amok in the office. Then people make you feel bad because “awww, you don’t have kids and it’s Christmas”. Seriously. This has happened to me several years in a row. I usually take the day off to avoid it!

  • Amanda @ My Life, I Guess... (@mylifeiguess) November 27, 2019 at 8:48 am

    I’m with you 100%! No decorations, next to no gifts, no travel (sadly), no work Christmas party (lol). My husband and I both have some time off together this year, and our plan is to organize our storage room over the break. How festive, right?

    • Britt November 27, 2019 at 6:48 pm

      That’s sounds like a truly excellent use of your time off (being serious). I’m glad I’m not the only one who is saying no to a ton of holiday stuff this year!

  • Shelby November 27, 2019 at 8:17 am

    I love that you opt out of some obligatory holiday work functions. I do the same. They often feel so forced with people you don’t even enjoy.

    • Britt November 27, 2019 at 6:49 pm

      Right?! I can understand why companies have them but oh my gosh. I cannot think of something less fun to do with an evening. Thanks for reading, Shelby!

    Hey! I'm Britt. I write about living a tiny, simple, intentional life. Because life doesn't need to be lived big.