Does having a stress free holiday sound like an impossibility to you? Well it isn’t. There are many things to enjoy about the holidays, so how about keeping the good stuff and letting go of the bad stuff?

Here are some things you can do to have a stress free holiday.

Ease up on your expectations.

You are the one who sets them. Do ease up on yourself. Do what you feel comfortable with, and if it is causing you stress, don’t do it.

You don’t have to meet the expectations of others.

If you have people in your life who pressure you to do things that you don’t want to do, or don’t have time to do, don’t do them. Perhaps if someone loves your cookies, but they are too time-consuming, don’t make the cookies. Have someone else bake them, buy them, or just don’t make cookies. People will live without them.

Rethink sending out holiday cards.

This is something that causes a lot of people stress, so if you fall into this category don’t send them. Or send them every other year. If you love doing this, then send them. Perhaps send out New Years cards, or in the future Thanksgiving cards, when you don’t have so much on your plate.

Stay within your budget.

Many people spend more than they can afford or what is necessary on the holidays. It’s easy to get into the spirit of giving, and go over budget. You don’t want to get yourself into debt over it. If finances are low and you want to give, consider baking cookies or some other sweet. Again, just do this for the people who mean the most to you. You don’t have to give them to everyone. Another option may be to offer babysitting, or offer to do some other favor for someone.

Enjoy your family and friends.

What is most important about the holidays is focusing on the people you love and just being with them. It is not how much is spent on the other person, or how elaborate the meal is. Just enjoy the connections you have with others.

Don’t over decorate.

Some people go above and beyond with their decorations. It doesn’t matter if there are not lights on the outside of the house, or if all of your decorations are not drug out of the closet. Sometimes less is more. Shoot for simple and elegant. Again, if this is your passion and you enjoy it, then go for it.


If you are fed up with all the consumerism of Christmas, or don’t have anyone to spend the holiday with, you may want to volunteer. The people you are helping out will be grateful and you’ll feel better about yourself. Perhaps you are grieving the loss of someone, something, or a relationship, and don’t feel like celebrating. Volunteering is a way to get out of the house and not think about your losses.

Go on vacation.

Guess what, if you aren’t home for the holiday, there is a lot you can let go of. If your budget allows, this may be an option. Perhaps the trip is the holiday gift for your whole family. It eliminates needing to shop for everyone, and the need to have a holiday meal.

Go to rehab.

Perhaps you are struggling with some sort of addiction or eating disorder. The holidays may be the best time to work on these issues. Maybe one less dysfunctional holiday with your family will be helpful for you to move forward.

Meditate, do yoga, practice mindfulness.

Remember your relaxation techniques. These are all good things to help you remain stress free and maintain a healthy perspective. You are not expected to do it all. Do what you want and enjoy.

Have the holidays be about the experience.

Click here to see all the free things you can do in Houston for the holidays. Remember, the holidays are about being with others. The good thing about these is you don’t have to clean your house.

Have others help you with the holiday meal.

You don’t have to do it all, even if you always have in the past. Perhaps if it is at your house, you can make the main dish and have everyone else bring sides or deserts. If you do so, you’ll be able to enjoy the day even more.

Hopefully these tips on how to have a stress free holiday have been helpful. If you are stressed out about the holidays, or have difficulty with letting go of some of your stressors, therapy may help. Give me a call at 713-304-6554 and together we can work on that.

Take care,

Debbie Grammas, PhD