An Essential Guide to Surviving the Hectic Christmas Holidays

Print Friendly

Tis’ the season for Christmas parties galore, overbooked activities, and out of town guests.

As the Holiday Season gets more and more busy each year, some people wish Christmas came with an opt out feature.

Each passing Christmas you might just say Scrooge really wasn’t all that bad.  Surely, in his old age Christmas and the busy holiday season had taken its toll.  Perhaps you want to create your own story of Skipping Christmas.

This post is a joint effort between myself and two stay at home moms – Loopie and Diane.  Loopie is the mother of four boys and one girl.  Diane has four daughters.  Diane also coordinates a school fee scholarship program for kids overseas.  Both moms live here in Papua New Guinea which means they live without the fast food option and make everything from scratch.  By everything, I mean – cream of chicken soup, spaghetti sauce, yogurt, and tortillas.  If these ladies can do it, I bet you can too!

10 Tips for Surviving the Busy Holiday Season

  1. Don’t be afraid to say “no”. If you take on too much you will burn yourself out.
  2. Be prepared with a reasonable counter offer.  If someone asks you to host 25 people for Christmas, you might say, “Sure, everyone is welcome to use our house, as long as you can find someone else to prepare the bird and …”.
  3. Plan menus ahead of time and do as much work beforehand as possible. (On Thursday we will turn this point into a full post – How Pre-prepare Frugal Meals for the Holidays)
  4. Enlist the whole family to do their part.

    I have my husband place the tables and chairs while I prepare the food;  I try to have the meat done at least an hour before guests arrive so that it can be carved, gravy made and everything cleaned up ahead of time.

  5. Play lots of Christmas carols as you work to keep your spirits up. :)
  6. Clean the house and do shopping at least a day before everyone arrives.  If the work is done, you can enjoy visiting with your company.
  7. Keep a list handy so you can write down jobs as you think of them.
  8. Set reasonable expectations for yourself.

    Sometimes when I think of all other women do, including my wonderful mother, I get stressed because I don’t manage it all as perfectly. My mother made beautiful Christmas gifts, and baked delicious Christmas rolls as gifts for the entire neighborhood. She also made incredible meals, including breakfast, which was a huge meal with lots of fresh fruits, home-baked breads, bacon, eggs and sausage. But the stress that comes from comparing myself to others can really spoil the holiday for my whole family. It’s better if I just enjoy what I can do instead of making it some sort of motherhood achievement test. Attitude makes all the difference.

  9. Pray and ask God what He really wants, and remember God is most concerned about your heart and attitude.

    I think, “What do I most want to be able to do this Christmas?” and then I try to cross the other “but she does it” or “wouldn’t they be impressed if I . . . ” stuff off my list. I find we can’t eat tons of sweets anyway, so why bake them?

    Remember: Your kids would rather have a sane and happy momma than a 10 course meal.

  10. Carefully choose your activities and traditions.

    I try to do two traditions every year (the Christmas rolls my mother made and decorating Christmas cookies with the kids are my main traditions) and then I make one or two special desserts (chocolate crinkles freeze well and seem Christmassy). And I do try to make a few gifts, and do a few things for others in town, but I found that trying to “be it all” just got too stressful.

One of the biggest blessings (and pressures) during the holiday season is the out of town guests.

How to Survive the Out of Town Family Holiday Visit:

  1. Give guests the “make yourself at home” speech and treat them like you would your own family.  If someone is a short term guest, play the hostess and cater to them.  However, if they’re staying longer, let them know that they have to help themselves to drinks, snacks, etc.
  2. Let your guests know what is available and where things are kept. If you do this, you are more at ease and they do not feel like a burden.
  3. Carefully and prayerfully examine your attitude. Try to remember that if you’re happy and welcoming, your guests are not going to care if things aren’t so neat and tidy.  But, if you’re stressed, they’re going to feel unwelcome and in the way.

    Nobody gets a mint on their pillow when they visit me. (They’re lucky to get a pillow at all, these days) But I smile when they walk in the door. I hope that will do.

  4. Accept help when it is offered. No one expects you to pull all the weight when you are hosting.  In fact, we could even go one step farther and suggest you ask for help.  Some folks even write a list of chores for visitors.  This way everyone has a night to do dishes and another to have a break.

One of the biggest factors to surviving the holiday season and family visits involves meals.  On Thursday I’ll be back with a guide to pre-preparing frugal holiday meals.

Photo by Sarah G.

What do you do to help get through the holiday season?  What tips do you have for hosting out of town family?


  1. Kerri says

    #1 is definately #1! #8 is key too…I can fall into that trap. Thanks for the reminders. With these intentions carried out, I believe the holidays can be more relaxing and enjoyable.

    • Craig says

      The list is really helping us right now. We’re getting read to host some folks today and without a pen and paper our brains would be mush.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *