8 Ways To Keep Your Holidays Simple

As we get closer to Christmas, it's easy to let the madness & chaos of the season get to us. Traffic is crazier, shoppers are crazier, and there are the in-laws...

As I’m writing this, it’s 4 days until Christmas, and my heart feels anything but peaceful. In the last 24 hours… My kids discovered a hole in one of the couch cushions and used it to pull part of the fluff out. In-laws have made extensive requests for our time next week. And we’re monitoring the weather to see if we’ll be hit by in Arctic front swooping down from the North. I need this post just as much as anyone else. <3

It’s nearly Christmas. And if you’re feeling more like Mr. Ooogie-Boogie than Buddy the Elf, it might because you’ve got a little too much going on. And you’re not alone… this time of year is insane… so get back in the holiday spirit, grab yourself a mug of mulled cider, turn on some sweet Pentatonix tunes, and read a few of my favorite ways to keep everything simple.

1. Be intentionally peaceful

It’s the annual month of irony… angelic voices singing peace on earth, while we run around like crazy people. Peace on earth… unless the gifts have been backordered. Peace on earth… unless the kids are acting like lunatics kids. Peace on earth… until we head to the in-laws. Peace on earth… for everyone but us.

Stop. Breathe. Remember the Reason for the Season. Remember that you were a crazy kid at Christmas too. Remember that your in-laws mean well. And as far as the backordered gifts… we teach kids how they should respond to these things. Backordered gifts don’t phase my kids at all, because we just tell them (in a really excited voice) that Christmas got an extension!!! And we use it as an excuse to extend the Christmas movies/music/fun just a little longer.

2. Don’t overwhelm yourself with 20,000 of every thing

Your kids/husband/inlaws/nieces do not need 35 gifts a piece. You don’t have to send cards to all 1257 people on your Facebook friends list. And you don’t have to bake every kind of cookie that your mom, grandma, great-grandma, mother-in-law, and grandma-in-law ever made.

Don't overwhelm yourself! Your kids/husband/inlaws/nieces do not need 35 gifts a piece. Click To Tweet
3. Enjoy things that are unique to this time of year

Maybe you can’t stop and smell the roses, but you can appreciate other things. Admire the coziness of a grey winter day, and take advantage of the opportunity to cuddle under a blanket with your babies. Enjoy the fairy lights twinkling. Enjoy the Christmas muzak in the stores.

Enjoy treats that are specific to this time of year… for example, my family enjoys “whistling oranges”. You take an orange, roll it around on the counter a bit to prep it (it releases the juices, like when you’re going to make lemonade), and cut a small x into the peel. Then you grab a soft peppermint stick (like these)* and you bite off the end (or cut it if you’re giving these to someone who won’t appreciate your cooties), and stick that end into the x and push the peppermint in. Then suck on it until the orange starts coming up through the little holes.

Yes I know it sounds weird, but I promise it’s delicious!

4. Call family that you won’t be seeing

It’s rarely possible to see your entire family at once, and the bigger your family is, the harder that gets. Don’t beat yourself up, or try to achieve the impossible… technology has made this so much easier. Call them or FaceTime them! Let your kids say hello too!

5. Choose your own path

Make Christmas yours… if you’re not a fan of the traditional turkey/ham… don’t do it. Obviously if you’re one of my vegan friends, you already know that. But seriously… I know people who eat Chinese on Christmas… several people actually… I’m not sure how that got started. One of my friends will be having an Italian feast this year, and I think that’s fabulous.

6. Focus on experiences over gifts

We started doing this for birthdays somewhat… basically my husband and I had a conversation about how we would handle birthdays/Christmas, if we were well off. If we have the money to handle our children’s every need, and many of their wants… what do you do for birthdays/Christmas?

And the answer we landed on, was making them about experiences rather than gifts. So one year, we hauled everyone to the theater (no small feat with my crew) and we saw a matinee showing of Cinderella… the live action one. My daughter was thrilled… and it’s one of her most memorable birthdays too.

This doesn’t mean you have to go somewhere on Christmas Day, but you can also set the stage for the next year. Buy season passes to Six Flags, or put money on a trip to Disney.

Focus on experiences over gifts. Museums, plays, road trips.... these are the things your kids will remember when they're older. Click To Tweet
7. Let your kids decorate the tree (yes really)

If you’re a mom, you’re probably cringing right now. Believe me, I totally get it. 100%. Letting them decorate the tree is tough, especially if you’re OCDish, or a control freak.

However, there’s a greater good at work here. What are your priorities? Making your kids feel invested in the family holiday, or having a magazine-worthy tree? <3

8. Focus on thankfulness

You know what kills me when I watch Harry Potter? The Dursley brat kid’s birthday. He literally counts his gifts, to compare to the amount he counted last year. Uhm, nope. Nope. Nooooooope.

I ain’t raising no Durlsey kid. My kids are being raised to be grateful for what they have, and what they receive. It doesn’t just go for the kiddos though. Gratitude is something that I come back to, a lot.

I know so many people who talk about being broke… and I’m guilty of this too. But really, I’m not. I have a home, my lights are on, I’m not on welfare… I have been. I’ve been super broke. Horribly, “omg how will I buy groceries and my cupboard is barer than Mother Hubbard’s” broke.

But I’m not there right now. So when I start feeling like everything sucks, and this Christmas will be a disaster, because we’re unpacking, or we don’t have enough decorations, or a bill came in… whatever it is, I return my focus to the things I do have. Because that’s where gratitude comes in.

How are you intentionally making this season more peaceful? And, what are you thankful for?

I know, believe me, I know! If you're OCD-ish, or a control freak, avert your eyes... or attempt gentle guidance like "oh look... that spot looks lonely!"
As we get closer to Christmas, it's easy to let the madness & chaos of the season get to us. Traffic is crazier, shoppers are crazier, and there are the in-laws...
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Amanda Sue

Amanda Sue is an enabler for creatives who shun niches. Through her super-approachable classes & range of Pinterest services, she's here to remind you that you deserve to carve out the life of your dreams. Her adoring fans & customers have called her classes "fun + relaxing" & "refreshingly breezy". When she's not painting & Pinning, you can find her teaching herself to knit while she indulges her latest Netflix obsession.


  1. I love this, Amanda. You’ve hit the nail right on the head with so many of these points. We don’t have kids in our home, but we’ve seen how some of our friends go crazy just trying to make everything perfect. I love the idea of being grateful and intentional at Christmas. I love just focusing on the memories soooo much that it’s literally all I want for my little family. If we had more money to buy gifts this year, I’d want to save it for a trip as you said. It’s just so much better that way.
    Amanda recently posted…Where to find motivation to complete your difficult to finish projectsMy Profile

    • So weird, I thought I replied to this earlier… hahaha. But yes! A trip would be lovely… not the one we’re taking, hahahaha, but a trip. I know someone who’s going to Sri Lanka with her family for Christmas. And I know someone else who has a tradition of taking her family to Kauai for the holidays.

  2. I LOVE what I just read!!! My Amazon gift was not going to be shipped on time even though I ordered it in plenty of time. I initially freaked cuz you know I am a social introvert. I got dressed (hair, makeup, & even lipstick) & braved the traffic & crowds TODAY, DEC. 22 to buy the item at Target. I had made peace with it and was actually enjoying myself while shopping with my son. Don’t you know we get in the car and I get a notification on my cell that the item shipped and will indeed arrive on Sat. Just in time. I laughed and enjoyed eating the rest of my delicious Target popcorn. 🙂

    And we no longer travel on Christmas Day. We shut down my parents and my in-laws many moons ago when my oldest was still little. We refused to rush our kids out of their PJs and away from their toys to rush to be somewhere else. We started our own lil tradition of opening presents at home by the fire, then my hubby makes eggs & bacon. We drink mimosas and stay in our PJs as long as we like. We’ll cook a small lunch and just hand at the house. <3

    • <3 Awwwwww I feel you... I get to brave the stores tomorrow for a few things we need before we hit the road. And yup, we've already decided this is our last year visiting the grand parents for Christmas. I want to get my business to a point next year, that we can just do a family tour for the first half of December. Go hit all 3 sets of in-laws, and then burrow home for Christmas and New Year... that's our new plan.

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