How I Survive the Holidays

holiday stressWhat is it about the holidays that makes it such a joyfully chaotic time of year?

It’s like an annual oxymoron when you’re thankful and stressed out all at the same time. I mean, some of the best movies are made about it!

With the anticipation of Santa and the dread of family political feuds; the guilt of not even getting the Elf out of the box, let alone on the shelf, to the excitement of opening presents.

The holidays are a mixed bag of emotions.

So, how do you deck the halls and rejoice without losing your sanity? Here are two holiday hacks for surviving this time of year. These have become like traditions for me!

Acceptance is the first step.

Hello, my name is Amanda and I’m a perfectionist.

As a (recovering) perfectionist, I’m learning to accept that 80% is good enough all-year-round, but especially during the holidays. As much as I’d love to gift homemade lemon sugar scrubs or candied almonds or make my own monogrammed wrapping paper and holiday decorations, I’ve accepted that I can’t do it all. If I’m really honest with myself, I probably can’t do ANY of that.

And when I deliver at 80%, I realize that no one is as disappointed as I worry they’ll be if I don’t give 110%.

So, I really try to cut myself some slack this time of year. The teachers and bus drivers all get gift cards from the same place and handwritten thank-yous. The pumpkin pie is store-bought. I don’t have to attend every holiday party we’re invited to. And, I refuse to feel guilty for not not breaking bread with Santa.

‘Tis the season for To Do Lists

Even though I’ve accepted that I can’t do it all, the holidays still add plenty to my To Do list. It’s an even busier time for us because all four of our birthdays fall between October and January.

Growing up with a birthday close to Christmas, I vowed that my kids’ birthday celebrations would be separate from holiday gatherings. That’s hard to do when family is already cramming holidays together. We even coined the term “Thanks-mas” for our combined Thanksgiving and Christmas gathering.

So, here are some of my organization must-dos to control the holiday chaos:

Create holiday lists separate from day-to-day lists. In my grocery list app, I create separate lists for Thanksgiving and Christmas meals and any other treats I need to bring to parties. I also create lists of everyone I have to buy for. Keep a spreadsheet of names and addresses to make sending holiday cards easier.

Establish seasonal systems. If you’ve been following my blog for very long, then you know about my love for systems. Take the annual guesswork of this time of year by creating systems for decorating, cooking, sending cards, or anything that you do year-after-year. Read more about systems HERE.

holidays chaos systems

Artwork from school fundraiser serves as gifts for grandparents

Buy gifts in batches or themes. Over the years, I’ve gifted all the littles play-doh sets, books, arts-and-crafts, and pajamas. This year, the school fundraiser serves as gifts for all the grandparents and aunts. I get all my shopping done at once and it takes the guess work out of what to gift hard-to-buy-for people.

Don’t be a control freak. This takes us back to Acceptance. There is no shame or guilt in having some store-bought items, delegating tasks, and enlisting the help of others in order to dominate your To Do List. People are not mind readers. While my husband does a pretty good job knowing when to help and when to stay out of my way, it’s still up to me to tell him what to do.

Here’s to a holiday season filled with peace and joy, not stress and dread.

How do you keep your sanity during the holidays?

What are your must-dos to control the Christmas chaos?

Thanks for taking the time,


let go life coach momTired of trying to do it all AND make everyone happy?
Wish you could just say ‘forget it’ and not feel the usual guilty?

Click HERE to learn how to make that a reality for you!


About the Author:

Amanda Campbell, MS LMHC is a licensed counselor and life coach in Indianapolis. Contact Amanda today to get started on the path to a happier, healthier you! ________________________________________________________________________________ The advice offered in this column is intended for informational purposes only. Use of this column not intended to replace or substitute for any mental health treatment, financial, medical, legal, or other professional advice. If you have specific concerns or a situation in which you require psychological or medical treatment, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified specialist in your area. The opinions or views expressed in this column are not intended to treat or diagnose; nor are they meant to replace the treatment and care that you may be receiving from a licensed professional, physician or mental health professional. This column and its author are not responsible for the outcome or results of following any advice in any given situation. You, and only you, are completely responsible for your actions.

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