Holiday Stress: A Survival Guide

Embrace these tips to surviving holiday stress and completely thriving this holiday season. Savor the Christmas season by setting healthy boundaries for your Christmas budget, schedule, health, and self care!

Holiday stress: a survival guide for busy moms photo collage of moms shopping at Christmas

Christmas is officially coming!! Wow, can you believe it? Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy and family togetherness, but it can quickly morph into a stress-filled, emotionally charged, busy, hectic, and unhappy time. But it doesn’t have to be!

After thinking about my holiday season this year I came up with some of my best tips and practices, both big and small, for surviving holiday stress so you can actually relax and enjoy this Christmas season!

To help you I’ve created a FREE Vibrant Christmas Planner to help you intentionally create a holiday season that feels like how YOU want it to feel! It’s full of journaling prompts and questions to help you uncover what REALLY will be meaningful to you and your family this Christmas season! And it’s completely free!

Christmas planner laying on cozy blankets and greenery

This Christmas can be absolutely whatever you want it to be when you are intentional about filling it with things that bring us joy and joyful in setting up intentions that create peaceful moments rather than adding even more stress!!

Holiday Stress: A Survival Guide

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1. Make a budget for your shopping.

Yes, a budget. I know…sigh…so unsexy and so un-Santa Clause, but yes, you definitely need one this time of year!

In your Christmas budget be sure to account for extra things like postage (for presents and Christmas cards), special food, presents, going out, travel expenses, and the little things like picking up fresh decorations and wrapping paper.

Your holiday will be SO much more relaxing if you know you aren’t going to be staring at huge credit card debt or dents in your savings in January.

To learn more about paying down debt and living on a budget check out The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey!

2. Make a schedule that emphasizes YOUR family priorities.

I know, if there’s anything more unsexy than budgets, it’s schedules.

It doesn’t have to be a minute by minute schedule, but you (and your significant other if you have one) need to sit down and talk about Christmas plans.

  • When are you going to see which side of the family?
  • When will you set aside time for your personal family traditions—new or old?
  • When will you go shopping?
  • What holiday parties, class outings, get togethers, and church services are already on the calendar
  • What do you want the holidays to feel like?
  • What are your “must-dos” to make Christmas memories together

Another great idea is making a holiday “bucket list” that everyone in the family contributes one must-do holiday activity!

Then use this bucket list to guide your priorities this Christmas seasons.

Last-minute invitations and other stuff will always come up, but your bucket list can help you say no so you can say yes to the best and most important things in YOUR family!

Kids running through pine trees

3. Keep up with healthy routines.

Yes, it’s Christmas. But Christmas is a day, not a month or two months!

I read a brilliant email from Rachel Cosgrove, author of Female Body Breakthrough (which I totally love!) about her approach to eating during Christmastime.

Basically, the method is over the holidays I’m going to aim to continue her regular healthy habits 80% of the time. (You can pick a different percentage, of course!)

Once you have your percentage, calculate the days from Thanksgiving until January 1 (in 2020 it’s 37).  Then find 20% of that number that you allow to be completely off or treat yo self kind of days. So officially it is 7.4 days.

I’m going to go through my calendar and circle those days like my birthday dinner, all day Christmas and Christmas Eve, New Years Dinner, my work party, Christmas cookie baking day etc.

I’m going to literally circle those days on my calendar—eat what makes me happy until I’m satisfied, not stuffed– and not worry about it.

The rest of the time I’m going to eat normal and healthy. I’m going to move my body and exercise. Those indulgent 20% days aren’t going to derail my health efforts.


Andes Mint Cookies - so good!

4. Skip holiday stress by carving out some “you-time”. 

Whether it’s getting up a little early to sip tea and read your Bible or doing some yoga after the kiddos are in bed or stealing into Starbucks for a peppermint mocha all on your own—take some time for yourself this season.

Sometimes I get so wrapped up in creating the “perfect Christmas” for everyone else I forget to actually slow down and enjoy it myself. Purposefully create little moments each day that light you up, that bring your joy–no matter how small.

So take a breath, take a beat, take a bubble bath, and find your peace on earth.


5. Keep things in perspective.

“There’s a reason for the season” is rather corny, but it’s true. Don’t lose sight of what Christmas is all about—God became a tiny baby, humbled Himself completely, because He wanted you.

Wanted you to know He loves you and would do anything to be with you. My family always did this through a special Advent time together before bed.

Even if Christmas doesn’t mean that to you—it means SOMETHING to you. Family? Togetherness? Generosity? Service?

Keep those values in perspective—help a family in need, cuddle your kids, drink a nice bottle of wine with a friend, watch It’s A Wonderful Life!

6. Plan ahead as much as possible to alleviate holiday stress!

If you save all your shopping and baking until the week before Christmas you are going to be holy stressballs of fire, my friend!

Plan ahead as much as possible–when you’ll get gifts, what you’ll be getting, some stocking stuffer ideas, when you want to bake, how much, etc. so that you can spread the festivities out over the whole holiday season and have less stress for yourself!

To help you, use this FREE Vibrant Christmas Planner for help with Christmas intention setting, budgeting pages, a Christmas bucket list, schedules, baking planner, gift buying help, stocking stuffers, a holiday menu plan and more–basically everything you could need to plan for a peaceful, vibrant, joyful Christmas!


Christmas can be a busy and overwhelming time of year emotionally, physically, and financially, but it absolutely doesn’t have to be!

While our American culture pushes us to MORE stress, more busy, more stuff; we can push back and embrace healthy boundaries around our time, money, emotions, and health this Christmas season!

If you like this post be sure to pin it for later here or share it on social media with a friend!!

"5 Tips for surviving holiday stress this Christmas" text on image overlayed with snowman

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  1. The hardest part for me is keeping up with my exercise routine. I don’t stress out over the holidays, mainly because I have few family obligations and no kids yet. Also, our families aren’t big on gifts so that’s a blessing!

    1. Yeah, I know I NEED to keep the exercise up cause it helps me with my stress levels too. I just worry about keeping everyone happy and balancing that with my own happiness. Clear expectations from the get-go helps with that though. 🙂

  2. I’m setting my schedule on my calendar today…especially now that Trav and I have to split holidays with our family!

  3. I hopped over from Pick Your Pin to gobble up your tips for surviving holiday stress and I’m glad I did. Your main photo is so compelling and your tips are quite helpful. I mainly keep lots of to do lists!

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