plan for the holidays
Live with Purpose,  Resource

3 Questions to Ask for a Low-Stress Holiday Season

There is a season for everything, and a time for every event under heaven (Ecc. 3:1-2). And right now it’s time to transition into Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons. Around my house that means pulling boxes out of storage, tracking down gift ideas like a private investigator, and making plans to host a Christmas party—with peppermint s’mores roasted in our fireplace, yum!

But the holiday season used to stress me out more than a history final—too many numbers and details to remember. I’d scroll Pinterest for hours and pack November and December with so many activities and task lists that my attitude became more gruff than Scrooge himself.

Not anymore. I ask myself 3 simple questions and our holiday season is enjoyable and meaningful—with less stress.

Do you want a low-stress holiday season for you and the loved ones in your life? Then ask these 3 questions.

Holiday Planning

3 Questions to Ask

for a Low-Stress Holiday Season

1. Why Do I Celebrate?

What is important about each holiday? Why do you celebrate it? Answering this helps us decide what to include.

These are my “Holiday Why Statements”:

We celebrate Thanksgiving because it’s a time to reflect on all God has provided for us and give Him thanks. We also remember how the Native Americans helped the Pilgrims, so we use the season to evaluate our generosity and serve others intentionally.

We celebrate Christmas because it is our religious tradition to observe the first Advent of the Messiah and look forward to His return. We also celebrate Christmas to create memories with loved ones as we keep Jesus the focus of the season.

What might you include in your holiday “why” statements?

2. How Do I Celebrate?

What do you normally do to celebrate each holiday? How does each activity help you live out your “why” of the holiday?

Every tradition we create or continue, forms our hearts because our practices shape our souls. So, we should include activities or practices that keep our hearts focused on the “why” of each holiday.

For example, for Thanksgiving I usually create a one-dimensional paper tree on our hallway door. Every day or so, we tape a paper leaf to the tree after writing something we want to thank God for. This simple practice during the Thanksgiving season, helps us focus on our “why” of Thanksgiving: reflect on all God has provided for us and give Him thanks.

3. What Can I Simplify?

One year I planned three different Advent calendar activities: morning devotions through the Jesus Story Book Bible, Jesse Tree Advent devotions in the evening, and Advent wreath devotions every Sunday. I just wanted to do them all!

But too much of a good thing can turn the whole thing sour.

Instead, simplifying how we celebrate each holiday can reduce our stress—and make a deeper impression. When we move slowly, we can experience deeply.

So, I encourage you (and me) to write down all the ideas for the holidays—just keep writing them until your hand cramps. Then go through your longer-than-a-Santa-wish-list and circle your top 3-5 activities that will help you focus on your “why” of the holiday.

Maybe your why for Christmas is to worship God. So, maybe your top activity could be to attend a Christmas worship service or walking through an Advent devotional.

Once you decide on your top 3-5 activities, put them on the calendar and make whatever plans needed—but keep your idea list handy. If you have time throughout the season, you can use the list for inspiration.

Keep the Main Thing, the Main Thing

No matter your stage in life—whether you are corralling kids or herding possibilities—if we ask these three questions during the holidays, I think we can enjoy a low-stress season. 1) Why do I celebrate? 2) How do I celebrate? 3) What can I simplify?

What is your favorite holiday activity? Please share for inspiration—but it might not make the cut :-).

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