3 Simple Ways to Destress the Holidays

The holiday season is almost here! This season can be truly magical when you have young children. Everything is new and exciting for them. They believe in the magic of Santa and eagerly await his visit. It is a joy to watch your children get so excited! Yet in the busyness of the holidays, sometimes we, as parents, lose that magic for ourselves.

It can become such a stressful time for parents. There is so much to do from decorating to baking to gift wrapping. That’s in addition to the normal busyness of parenting, like the never-ending laundry, playing chauffeur, and cooking all the meals. This can feel so overwhelming. I know it does for me. I already feel like I am juggling too much before Thanksgiving and then…. Bam!… The holiday season adds 20 more balls to juggle. It can certainly take the magic out of the holiday for the parents who are working so hard to make the holiday magical for others.


So, how can we as parents regain some of that magic? I don’t have all the answers. Despite there being a million parenting books and blogs, there is no perfect answer to the dilemmas of parenting. I do want to share the three tips that help me during the holiday season.


1. Simplify

This seems, well, simple enough. But let me explain. The internet would have us believe that we need to do ALL the things during the holiday season. We need to maintain all our current responsibilities, buy our children a mountain of presents, go all out on decorating, make handmade gifts, and more. Raise your hand if you are guilty of falling into this trap. This was a struggle for me the first few years after I became a mom. Honestly, it is still a struggle for me. I want that perfect Pinterest Christmas with my kids. When I tried to make that happen, it was absolutely a beautiful holiday with handmade ornaments and baked goods for every neighbor. But it was also a Christmas with a very exhausted and stressed-out mom. I did not enjoy it very much and my family felt my stress. So, I am learning to simplify. This is me reminding you that it is okay to simplify too.


This looks a bit different each year. It will probably look different for your family too. Budget, needs and family dynamics will play a role. Here are some ways to simplify this holiday season:


  • Let some things go - Ditch the holiday tasks that you or your family do not enjoy, turn down that invitation that feels like a chore, pause your child’s extracurricular for the month, use gift bags instead of fancy wrapping, or buy a few more gift cards instead of searching for the perfect gift for a co-worker
  • Share the duties with your partner - If you are the partner who normally handles all the things, now is a great time to talk with your partner about taking some of the tasks off your plate. Sometimes our partners do not realize all the tasks that need to be done. It’s time to loop them in. Write down a detailed list of all the tasks that need to be done, including the day-to-day tasks and the holiday tasks. Then divide them up according to your schedules, skills, and interests.
  • Outsource tasks - Hire a housekeeper for the month, purchase store-bought treats for neighbors instead of baking, ask a grandparent to do school pick up this month, or try a meal kit. At Wondertree Kids, we also created a FREE Holiday Gift Guide to help parents. It includes over 100 gift ideas with links to buy directly from Amazon. We hope this helps families quickly and easily purchase holiday gifts for their children. If you have any questions about the Holiday Gift Guide or the items included, drop a comment below. We are happy to help! The Holiday Gift Guide is available at the bottom of this post.

2. Set Your Holiday Intentions


The holidays can, and should, be a time of joy, even for overworked parents. The key is to come up with a game plan beforehand. Write out a list of all the holiday tasks and activities you normally commit to during the holiday season. This includes all the holiday parties you attend or host, baking, meal prep and cooking, gift shopping and wrapping, family photos, mailing out holiday cards, etc… Take a good long look at this list. Then it is time to make some big decisions. First, take off any of the activities that you truly hate doing and are optional. Maybe it is a coworker’s holiday party that you feel obligated to go to but don’t enjoy. Maybe it’s baking goodies for all your neighbors. Maybe it is mailing out holiday cards. Guess what? You do not have to do those things. Now, I know some of the things you do not enjoy might need to get done. I encourage you to take the obligations that are not mandatory off of your plate.

Even more than that, I want you to look at this list and decide which activities you truly love doing. Pick 3-5 activities that spark joy and put them on your “Must Do” list. Schedule these on your calendar and make them a priority. Next, schedule the mandatory activities, such as your child’s school program and gift shopping. Then pick 3-5 activities that you enjoy and put them on your “Maybe” list. These are the activities that you can try to fit into your holiday season if you have the time and energy. Anything else that remains on your list, you can set aside for another year. Each year, your time and mental load might be different. Keep this list for next year and re-evaluate then.

I will add that this is a great exercise to include your family in. You might feel obligated to do a task because you think it is important to your family. In reality, it might not be a priority for them. By including your partner and children, you might hone in on the activities that spark joy for each of you and eliminate the activities that have become a habit. For example, maybe you go ice skating together every December because you think your daughter loves it. That may have been true three years ago when you started going. But maybe now, she would prefer to go look at holiday lights instead.


3. Spread the Joy Out

There may be many activities on your list that you and your family enjoy. You love them so much that you do not want to stop doing them. That’s okay and, trust me, I get it! I am going to let you in on a secret… you don’t have to do all the activities between Thanksgiving and Christmas! Spread the cheer through the year! 

Who says you have to go ice skating in December? Try going in January. 

Instead of sending Christmas cards, send a family card out in the spring. 

Do you love baking for your friends and neighbors? That’s great. They probably get more baked goods than they need in December. Bake some apple pies for them in July.

I promise many of these activities will be more enjoyable and less stressful if you do not try to cram them all into 30 days. 


You can get your free copy of the Holiday Gift Guide here. It includes over 100 gift ideas for young children, including books, art supplies, board games, STEM activities, practical gifts, and more. Consider this our holiday gift to you! The Wondertree Kids team hopes that this helps to make your shopping easier and less stressful during the busy holiday season


Wondertree Kids Holiday Gift Guide



I hope these tips help you to create a holiday season that is less stressful and more joyful. If one of these tips was useful for you, I would love to hear about how you implemented it. You can drop a comment below or send us a DM on Instagram @wondertreekids

Sharing is caring! I would love it if you would share this article with a friend or on social media. I know that many parents, especially moms, are feeling the holiday stress creeping in. I want to help as many parents as possible find ways to de-stress the holiday season. You can send this link to friends through email or post directly on your social media.


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