Simplify Your Holiday Season

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simple christmas tree with soft lights

The most magical time of the year is often also the most stressful time of the year. We want life to resemble a Hallmark movie — the smell of perfectly baked cookies, a home reminiscent of a Pottery Barn catalog, and families smiling and laughing. It’s easy to get carried away with buying more and adding endless activities to our plate, striving for this picture of holiday perfection.

Let’s keep it real: The house will be a mess. There will be Christmas cards scattered across the table begging to be addressed (IF we remember to order them at all). Children will squeal with holiday excitement, parents will feel the creative pressure of moving the Elf, and an abundance of holiday events will call your name. It’s easy to see why many of us feel frazzled.

>> RECOMMENDED RESOURCE :: A Guide to Winter Holiday Events in Collin County <<

This year, make things simple. Keep the focus on making meaningful memories with your family with these tips.

Make a Short List

Make a short list of favorite holiday activities and traditions. Which traditions left you the sweetest memories from years past? I asked my six year old and was surprised her favorites included making gingerbread cookies and walking in the Deerfield neighborhood to look at lights while sipping hot cocoa. Only do what sparks joy and live with no fear of missing out.

A gingerbread man cookie cutter on top of a batch of dough.Forgive the Mess

Accept that the house may be more cluttered than usual this month. If it makes you a momzilla (guilty!), plan a weekend morning for your spouse to take the kids out for breakfast or to run errands while you stay home and organize to your heart’s content.

Set Boundaries

If celebrating at multiple houses feels overwhelming, decide as a family if you want to preserve Christmas morning or another specific time to spend at home with just your immediate family unit.

>> RELATED READ :: ‘Tis the Season :: How to Stay Sane During the Holidays <<

Keep Gift Cards on Hand

There is always someone I forget until the last minute. An extra teacher, a bus driver, a family member’s stocking stuffer. Yes, personal gifts are thoughtful, but a simple gift card will always be appreciated and used. Have your child make a homemade card for that special touch to go with it.

Stick to Your Strengths

Does the thought of making a gingerbread house drive you crazy? Skip it! Save your energy for activities you enjoy. Love art but hate cooking and baking? Embrace crafting with the kids and buy your holiday treats this year. Offer to pick up a delicious Emporium Pie or pre-made side dish for the holiday gathering.


Simplify Meals

Don’t make this the month to try a bunch of new recipes. Stick to tried and true favorites, the ones you know by heart. Stock the freezer with frozen appetizers, so you’re always prepared in event of hosting guests, and pre-made family meals for the busy nights. HEB has amazing family meals. If you need a reset from heavy holiday foods, a rotisserie chicken, garlic bread loaf, and salad are always a quick and delicious option!

Let Go of Perfection

Let the kids wrap presents if they want. Sure, there will be gaps and way too much tape, but they will be wrapped with love.

Avoid the temptation to move the ornaments on the tree after your child hangs them. It can be hard, I know! This year my tree will be decorated from the middle up, other than a handful of soft ornaments on the bottom for my toddler to yank on and yank off.

Allow your photos to capture the beautiful phase of life you’re in rather than an illusion of perfection.

Limit Social Media

Holidays are already overstimulating, so avoid the advertisements and shiny posts from influencers distorting reality. Try to reduce the amount of time you spend on social media. Don’t fall into the trap of comparison during the holidays when we want to embrace giving and peace. Use the time normally spent scrolling to savor a rare moment of quiet and be present.

Make Time for What Matters

Is reading a nightly advent story with your child a goal? Prioritize it and make it a part of your routine.

Are you excited to spend time with family coming into town? Put your time and effort into planning a simple but fun itinerary at places like the Gaylord Texan, Grapevine (the Christmas Capital of Texas), and Holiday at the Arboretum in Dallas. Make sure to check out our Collin County Moms Guide to Winter Holiday Events for easy planning!

If all else fails, stop to sing and dance to a favorite song (Christmas or other). It’s a great reset. Who knows, it might become your family’s next favorite tradition!

How do you keep the holidays simple? What is one tradition that brings your family the most joy?

Bridget Scarbrough
Bridget grew up in the DFW area and is a proud TCU Horned Frog alum. After moving from Fort Worth to Dallas, she and her husband settled in Plano in 2013. She is an oncology registered nurse but has temporarily hung up her stethoscope for the glamorous life of being a personal chauffeur, chef, and maid to her two tiny bosses, Elizabeth (5) and Henry (1). In her spare time, she enjoys reading, dancing, and exploring new places. Her happy place is a cozy coffee shop with her journal in one hand and a latte in the other.


  1. Please don’t assume your audience is all intact families, or moms who are married/partnered. Some of us are divorced and don’t have a spouse or partner so that we can follow your advice to “plan a weekend morning for your spouse to take the kids out for breakfast or to run errands while you stay home and organize to your heart’s content.”

    Also, some of us don’t have a choice on this: “If celebrating at multiple houses feels overwhelming, decide as a family if you want to preserve Christmas morning or another specific time to spend at home with just your immediate family unit.”
    My children don’t have a choice in the matter. The x decided what he wanted (break up our family while I was pregnant with our youngest child so he could pursue his affair partner and then force our three children to go back and forth between both homes for the rest of their childhoods—or in the case of our youngest—his entire childhood.) I didn’t get a choice either and I never have my children for all of Christmas Day. Instead I have to plan around alternating holidays (I get them on their Christmas break and Christmas Day every other year—years that end with odd numbers—and the years I don’t have them that day—I have to plan to go pick them up at their dad & his affair partner-turned-wife’s house so I can have them for 2 hours and return them when that’s concluded. On the years I have them, I have to work around the 2.5 hrs he takes them. There is no choice to just simplify—it’s messy, complicated, and difficult for our children who can’t just stay with their parents in one home.

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