A Guide to Being More Intentional This Holiday Season

In theory, holidays should be a time when we are able to slow down and focus on what truly matters in our lives.

I think most of us can agree that this primarily pertains to our family. The time we spend with them, and not the gifts we give.

What interferes with our ability to carry out this dream visual of extra quality laughs and smiles, are the intense pressures that surround us.

From our social media feed to our fantasy Pinterest boards and beyond, “they” all seem to be calling us to create magic, when instead what we are really creating is extra stress.

Here is a guide to being more intentional this holiday season.

Simplify as much as Possible

a christmas mug in front of a tree, with a candy cane and some ornaments
Simplify in order to be more intentional this holiday season.

Let the first list you make be of all the holiday experiences you value most.

Think back on all the things your family did growing up that made this time seem so special to you as a kid. What would you like to include in your own family’s celebration? What have you done in previous years that your kids and your spouse have truly enjoyed?

Narrow the list down to a reasonable amount so that it doesn’t add to the pressure you’re already feeling. Here are some questions to get you thinking. Schedule some time to sit down with the family and agree on a plan.

For extended family, friend and other gift exchange commitments, suggest that you opt for a simpler method.

You can limit the shopping trips by doing things a little differently, such as drawing names or starting a hilarious white elephant exchange tradition. Or try one of these fun ideas.

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Engage in some necessary decoration purging, prior to dragging in ALL those bins.


All those ornaments and tinsel can feel very nostalgic and sentimental, but not if the sheer quantity of them are dragging your holiday spirit down. Find a good place to donate the items you can do without, and trust me there are at least a few . .

Have family members register for experience gifts on SoKind.

Go internet-light this holiday season.

This will help you compare your holiday experience less with those of others. Out of sight, out of mind. Everyone has imperfections in their holidays, those moments just don’t show up on Facebook nearly as often.

Don’t Forget the Self-Care

two folded towels along with 4 lit tea candles and a rose
Practice self-care in order to be more intentional this holiday season.

Don’t forget to schedule in time for you.

In the midst of all of that hustle and bustle, you need to remember yourself or you just might lose it. And then what good will you be for getting things done? So whether it’s a massage or a manicure or simply a lunch out with a friend, make sure these important events are part of your calendar, too.

Stick to sanity-saving routines as much as possible.

Do you typically start your day out with meditation or yoga? Don’t skip out on it because of too many holiday obligations. This is when you need it most. Same goes for connection time with the kiddos. And don’t be afraid to shorten your to-do list if that’s what it takes.

Keep on journaling your gratitude.

It’s easy to lose sight of the good stuff when holiday stress gets the best of you. Find a few minutes in the morning or evening to focus on the good stuff. And get the kids involved as well. It may help to shrink the wishlists just a smidgeon.

Journal your way through the tough stuff, too.

All that family time can bring up some tough emotions. So can missing a loved one or tough personal memories of this time of year. Instead of trying to push it aside, pick up a pen and paper and let it all out.

Don’t let the exercise and diet fall to the wayside.

That combination can lead to some serious weight gain and additional moping this time of year. In order to avoid feeling completely set back on January 1st, keep up your gym routine or other movement as much as possible. And don’t get in the habit of eating your worries away–there are too many sugary treats to drown ourselves in, so that practice will have us adjusting our belt notches real fast. Not to mention feeling too sluggish to get things done.

Make Memories with the Family

a family of 3 sitting at a formal holiday dinner
Make memories in order to live more intentionally during the holidays.

Create something festive together.

Here is a list of ideas, just don’t pressure yourself to tackle more than your holiday can handle.

A Holiday Wreath – many of these options consist of nature or repurposed materials

A Gingerbread House . . . or church or RV – the options are endless for creativity, and there are a lot of organic candies on the market now for eating your creation later on 😉

Christmas ornaments – what a fun tradition to add to the tree each year!

Holiday gifts – put together mason jar gifts of edible treats for some of the everyday people who touch your life, from your next-door neighbor to the bus driver. Then hand-deliver them together!

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Start a new holiday tradition.

It adds a special touch to have something unique to your family to participate in each and every year. Here are some ideas to spark your thinking:

Start a family fondue night. Wouldn’t that make for a fun-filled Christmas eve tradition? And they even have a cast iron version of the fondue pot so no need to resort to the chemical-based teflons.

Write your own personal version of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas based on family quirks. Then reread it every year on Christmas Eve. Feel free to update it as needed.

Turn a slice of your tree into an ornament. I love this idea! Take a look at these creative options.

Try out one of the many holiday scavenger hunts. From Christmas light display outings to movie nights–there’s even one for locating the Elf on a Shelf!

Think of Others in Need

toys for tots donations
Remember others in order to live more intentionally during the holidays.

Skip the “naughty or nice elves,” and opt for the “kindness elf.” Though both options can be fun, the latter also encourages children to do better and be better toward others.

Try an Advent Calendar of Kindness instead of the traditional candy/toy version.
Here are some fabulous ideas for taking the focus off of the “getting” and replacing it with the “giving” instead.

Make some time to donate or volunteer for those in need. This is one of the best ways to teach our children appreciation, gratitude and kindness.

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