Smart Design With Suzette: Holidays – Stress Free

Relaxing at home during the holidays. Courtesy photo
Los Alamos

The holiday season is a wonderful time of year, complete with family gatherings, meaningful traditions, delicious food, and gifts. It is precisely these things that can lead to stress and overwhelm us.

Keeping the holidays simple can reduce stress and chaos. Consider the following ways to simplify your holidays this year. Taking time to reflect on what you do want this holiday season — and what you don’t — can help you keep your celebrations simple and heartfelt.

Perhaps the thought of thoroughly decking the halls is more of a burden than a blessing. Sometimes it’s overwhelming to pull it all out knowing you just have to pack it all up again in three weeks. If decorating your house for the holidays is a burden, then stop. You don’t have to!

Perhaps what is really needed is rest. Under-Decorate. Settle down. Relax. Use what you have. Make life easy on yourself – create cozy spaces that lead to rest, conversation and connection.

Holiday stress. Courtesy photo

Gift Giving
If your gift-giving list is a mile long and your budget tight, go back to the simpler things in life – create handmade ornaments, bake cookies and pies. It is still the thought that counts, so simplify you’re shopping list and make something that comes from the heart.
Rethink gifts in general. Give experiences rather than things. Would someone on your list appreciate a class or a meal at their favorite restaurant?

Instead of exchanging gifts with loved ones, together give to a cause you all want to support. There is no greater pleasure than to giving to those in need, knowing you’ve made a difference.

Quiet The Calendar
Instead of trying to hit all the parties, all the dinners, all the relatives’ houses, all the school functions, and all the church festivities: choose what fits your family best. Fill your calendar with events that are truly meaningful. You aren’t missing out, you’re creating space for your family to fully engage with whatever is happening right now.

Holiday stress. Courtesy photo

Manage Your Expectations
It can be all too easy for our minds to expect nothing but magic and perfection from holiday time with family and friends. However, reality tends not to be perfect. When you find yourself drumming up lofty expectations of others, instead try replacing those thoughts with appreciation for who they are and what they mean to you. Whatever happens this holiday, you’ll meet it with greater ease.

Cross Items Off Your List
That mile-long to-do list needs an editor. Review your list and cross items off. Do you really need to bake seven batches of cookies this year? Do you really need to have your home completely decorated? Renegotiate with yourself and cross off as many items on that list as possible. You’ll be left with less to do and only those things that truly matter to you.

Simplify Meals and Exercise
The combination of colder weather, less daylight, and a lengthy to-do list is like a perfect storm for physical depletion. Simplify your routine to ensure that you continue to eat well and get exercise. Put your slow cooker to work, have lots of fresh fruit and vegetables on hand, keep healthy grab-and-go snacks stocked, and choose meals like soups made with bone broth that replenish your body. When it comes to exercise at least go for a walk around the block and be good to yourself.

Holiday stress. Courtesy photo

Set Aside Some Down Time
When you are updating your calendar of holiday activities, be sure to set aside down time for the whole family. It doesn’t have to be fancy — a play date somewhere, a game night at home or maybe a relaxing hot bath for you. Down time means time in which nothing strenuous is planned and you can just enjoy time by yourself or with your family doing a whole lot of nothing.

Reflect on What Matters Most
Whatever this time of year means to you, ensure that your actions reflect that meaning and share your understanding with your children. A bigger-picture view and faith in what matters most to you is the greatest stress-reducer of them all.

When I started setting boundaries for myself, I found time for the things that should have been the main event all along, things like peace and joy. Give yourself permission to slow down, to simplify your celebration, and to do things differently.

Keeping your holidays simple is easy enough. It simply takes the desire and discipline to make it happen. Whether it’s cutting back on activities or gift giving or simply planning time to regroup, refresh, and rest, simplifying your holiday is a task worth pursuing and completing.

For help with your home, contact Suzette through her website and on Facebook at