Are you finding yourself caught in the cycle of holiday stress year after year? Do you sometimes feel like a lone contributor to the holiday’s success in your household? Let me share some ideas with you to help make the holidays more manageable.

You might have heard stories of individuals who, in the midst of holiday preparations, end up feeling overwhelmed. Perhaps you’ve even come across spouses who felt their role in the festivities was limited to showing up, enjoying a meal, and then retreating to the living room, leaving the cleanup to someone else.

Consider this: what if there were alternative approaches that could significantly reduce your holiday stress? After reading this, you’ll face a choice: maintaining an ideal of perfection or reclaiming some of your peace of mind. Remember, you’re always free to stick with tradition, but I’m here to offer some alternative suggestions.

Now, let’s delve into your typical holiday routine. Sending out holiday greeting cards may be a significant part of it, a way to stay connected with those you care about. Then there’s the gift-buying process, which might feel like a chore, especially if you’ve inherited a large extended family with numerous nieces and nephews who expect gifts until they reach their mid-twenties!

Once the gifts are bought, there’s the inevitable task of wrapping them. And what about setting up the Christmas tree and decorating the house? Not to mention the cleaning required to host unexpected holiday visitors. Factor in the baking of various cookies and preparing dishes for a multitude of holiday parties, and it’s no wonder you might find yourself feeling tense and irritable.

Upon embracing the practice of Inside Out Living™, you’ll start questioning the rationale behind these rituals. Ask yourself: how many of these activities are driven by necessity, and how many are truly for the joy of you and your family?

Recall a specific Christmas when stress seemed particularly high. You told your children that you needed their help or that some traditions might need to be scaled back. While they weren’t overly keen on lightening your load, they were more than willing to forgo certain customs. Interestingly, they mentioned not needing a tree at all. For them, the essence of the holiday was in the presents, and they didn’t even require them to be wrapped!

This revelation was eye-opening. It became clear that beyond the gifts, many activities were choices, not essentials for your children’s holiday joy. Next, you evaluated what was essential for you. Sending Christmas cards to stay connected with loved ones made the cut, as did wrapping your children’s gifts for the joy of seeing their expressions as they unwrapped them.

That particular Christmas, you discovered the delight of sending New Year’s cards. This departure from the usual Christmas timeline actually made your card stand out more. It became a unique way to maintain connections.

As for the tree, it turned out your children didn’t mind whether one was set up or not. You felt the same. This adjustment became a significant stress reducer. You also let go of the notion that every member of the household must contribute equally to holiday preparations. Demanding help from unwilling family members only led to strained relationships.

When it came to shopping for nieces and nephews, you discovered the practicality of gift cards. The kids loved them, as they could choose exactly what they wanted and avoid receiving gifts that didn’t quite match their tastes.

For those with older children, redirecting the gift budget to support a family in need became a meaningful part of your new Christmas tradition.

Regarding the cookie extravaganza, you simplified things by focusing on the family’s favorite—chocolate chip cookies. They were always a hit, and it turned out that the other varieties weren’t missed at all.

Finally, in terms of managing potential holiday weight gain, you recognized two possible approaches. One was to fully enjoy the culinary delights of the season, knowing you’d address any weight gain in January. The alternative was to exercise moderation, savoring small portions and resisting the temptation to overindulge in sweets at holiday gatherings.