Do You Find the Christmas Holidays Too Stressful?

christmas holidays too stressful

The countdown to Christmas day is on! I’ve read so many posts online recently where people are saying that they can’t believe how fast this year has gone and how soon the Christmas holidays will be here. I feel the same way. Every year seems to fly by quicker than the last one. Is that just part of getting older or is it part of simply being too busy?

While the Christmas holidays are meant to be a fun time of the year as an adult they can also quickly become a very hectic time of the year. There are suddenly so many things to do above and beyond our normal daily routines and it is easy to quickly feel overwhelmed.

Do you breeze through Christmas or do you find the Christmas holidays overly stressful?

There are many reasons a person’s stress level may rise during the holidays. It could be because their gift list is bigger than their bank account and they are worried about how they will pay for things. Perhaps they are dealing with the loss of a loved one and this time of year generates too many memories that are hard to cope with.

Or it could be all of the additional responsibilities that go hand in hand with the Christmas holidays. By that I mean hosting and attending Christmas parties, decorating the house, shopping for both groceries and gifts, baking, hosting out of town guest, and so on.

Do you have high expectations of the holiday season?

Many times as adults we feel stressed out because we so wish that we could re-create the magical memories of when we were children and we anxiously waited for Santa to arrive.

Perhaps as adults Christmas no longer feels magical. I’ve found that when I’ve spoken to adults with children versus adults without children, the ones with children seem to find Christmas more enjoyable because of how excited their children are.

I’ve also read stories about women that wake up on Christmas morning and just start crying because they are worried about whether or not they remembered to do everything and they suddenly feel emotionally overwhelmed. Is any of this true for you too?

How many times have you said or heard someone say “I can’t wait for December 26th”?

That statement is a popular line in one of my favorite Christmas TV movies known as “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”. This movie was filmed in 2008 in British Columbia, Canada. It stars Henry Winkler, Brooke Burns and Warren Christie.

Brooke plays a single mom and a workaholic. She finds the Christmas holidays extremely stressful, just like what I am talking about today, and she often says that she can’t wait till December 26th.

Here is the trailer for the movie. It is only 2 minutes long. You just may fall in love with it too.



Don’t become so burdened that you secretly wish for the season to pass quickly as well.

What can we do to relax and enjoy the Christmas holidays?

Say No Thank You

Are you the person that receives lots of Christmas party invitations from friends, family and co-workers? As you add them to your calendar do you suddenly realize that you will be going to some sort of holiday function every weekend between now and December 25th?

While some people are happy to attend every party, many do purely out of obligation. This year give yourself permission to prioritize things. Go to the parties that you really enjoy and say no thank you to all of the other invites that you receive. Don’t worry. No one will be upset with you.

Carrying on Christmas Traditions

christmas cookiesWhile growing up you may have watched your mother or grandmother cook a full course Christmas dinner. Perhaps it was routine to host a lavish holiday party. And maybe your family baked hundreds of Christmas cookies too.  Family traditions are important but don’t allow yourself to become so wrapped up in tradition that it consumes you.

If you find that the routine you normally follow for the pure and simple sake of tradition is weighing heavily on you and creating more stress than you can deal with, break away from it! You will feel happier when you’re free from this stress.

Instead of following old traditions, consider creating new easier ones.

Decide to only bake a few of your favorite Christmas cookies.

If you typically host a party or Christmas dinner, consider asking friends and family members to bring holiday dishes so that you do not have to do everything on your own.

As well, a trick that I started doing a few years ago is to use my slow cookers when I make side dishes. One crock pot is full of garlic mashed potatoes and another is full of sweet potatoes with marshmallows melting on top. That way I am not rushing around trying to get all of these dishes ready during the last 30 minutes prior to sitting down to dinner.

Shopping for the Perfect Gift

Do you stress over what to buy for everyone on your Christmas list? Do you put pressure on yourself to find the perfect gift for everyone?

Remember that people don’t expect you to devote hours and hours searching and shopping for gifts. We give gifts as a way of saying I love you, I appreciate you, thank you for being my friend. And even the simplest of gifts can say all that. We all need to remember that Christmas is about more than who bought or received the biggest and most expensive gift.

As well, we all know, shopping online makes searching for gifts much easier and quicker. It might also be more cost effective to buy online because many stores offer special sales or free shipping near the holidays.

Skip Gift Wrapping

christmas gift bagI can’t remember the last time I wrapped a Christmas gift. Wrapping one gift after another takes too long and it is a waste of paper.

I much prefer using seasonal gift bags. They come in many different sizes, with beautiful Christmas designs on them, and they are so easy to use. Plus you can re-use them year after year.

The best, most inexpensive place that I have found to buy gift bags is in pretty much any dollar store. And don’t worry. They look just as nice as the high priced ones at the department store.

As you can see, there are several effective ways to deal with stress during the Christmas holidays. The important thing is to take a few minutes to determine what’s causing your stress so you can eliminate it.

If your Christmas holidays are typically filled with stress do something different this year, and above all, make sure you have fun!



    • John S @ Frugal Rules

      John S @ Frugal Rules 11/12/2012 6:32 a.m. #

      Good post. We tend not to get too stressed over the Holidays. Having little ones, we put our focus on enjoying them and making it a fun & memorable time for them.

    • Money Beagle

      Money Beagle 11/12/2012 6:39 a.m. #

      We try to spread things out as much as possible. I actually put our outside lights out yesterday (not lit yet) and we will put the tree and decorations up right after Thanksgiving. Having this stuff out of the way is a big load off and frees up time to do a lot of the other shopping and such that goes with the season.

    • Pauline

      Pauline 11/12/2012 6:47 a.m. #

      I really find Christmas stressful, with all the gift giving and social obligations... The best Christmas I have had so far was in Guatemala. There were about 20 of us and I made a turkey. My mum and sister came to visit, the others were travelers who didn't have family around. No gifts, no pressure, just happy people having a good diner.
      Marketing has put too much pressure on enjoying a perfect Christmas with perfect family. If you lower your expectations (and prepare in advance for what you can) it can be a nice holiday.

    • Michelle

      Michelle 11/12/2012 8:53 a.m. #

      I don't seem to get stressed at all. I REALLY really love Christmas though.

    • Cat

      Cat 11/12/2012 9:27 a.m. #

      I do find Christmas overwhelming. Last year, we had a total of 6 things in 3 days, and it was just too much! I basically collapsed as soon as it was over.

    • Jen

      Jen 11/12/2012 10:43 a.m. #

      I love Christmas and I just really enjoy the decorations and the spirit of the season. Everything seems just a little more mellow. I enjoy picking out the perfect present and giving gifts to other people. Truth be told, I leave my christmas tree up until the end of January because I love the lights so much :)

      I actually think I do set my expectations a little too high for Christmas (thanks mushy Christmas movies!) because I always feel just a tad depressed a few days after.

    • femmefrugality

      femmefrugality 11/12/2012 1 p.m. #

      I use gift bags! We also wrap a lot of stuff, but the gift bags are amazing. We're pretty good about keeping our holidays fun without too too much stress. We don't freak out if we "miss" a tradition one year, and we're pretty good at telling people no when we're overwhelmed with activities. Finals, though....those kick my butt.

    • Savvy Scot

      Savvy Scot 11/12/2012 3:29 p.m. #

      I hate choosing presents and wrapping them. I love the fact Christmas brings family together - playing games, eating food, drinking wine... but I hate the buying for the freaking sake of buying!

    • Sicorra

      Sicorra 11/12/2012 4:44 p.m. #

      @Glen - I know what you mean about the shops being packed. The stores were crazy already today in our city. Yesterday was a holiday in Canada and so many people got today off (Monday) in lieu. Add to that the fact that it is finally sunny out and the streets, parking lots and stores were a zoo. Shopping online definitely has its advantages.

      @John - I think having littler ones running around makes it fun too.

      @Money Beagle - I think it is good to spread things out and get whatever you can get done early. That helps to alleivate a lot of stress.

      @Pauliine - People can easily get caught up in the scenario of the perfect Christmas. Like your Guatemala Christmas, I think the simpler the better.

      @Michelle - Good to hear!

      @Cat - Attending a lot of functions in a short period of time can be very draining.

      @Jen - Your comment made me smile! And I too feel a tad depressed after it is all over.

      @femmefrugality - It is great to find a good balance. Are you finals just before Christmas?

      @SavvyScott - I use to do a lot of buying for the fricken sake of buying too. Now I just spend my money on good food and EggNog.

    • David @ Bankruptcy Canada

      David @ Bankruptcy Canada 11/12/2012 5:50 p.m. #

      The holidays will always be stressful. Anyway, it happens just once every year. Most of your suggestions can work out. It is all a matter of coping with the pressures. We can all go ahead with the tradition but skip the things that are not necessary. This way, Christmas preparations do not become too cumbersome.

    • Budget & the Beach

      Budget & the Beach 11/12/2012 7:02 p.m. #

      I don't find the holidays stressful, but I do get a little sad because I don't have "anyone special," so I always have to scramble to find holiday plans. I hardly have any family either and I usually don't like to go home for Thanksgiving and Christmas. And while I don't have anyone to buy for, I don't have anything to look forward to either as far as the fun of opening gifts. I do get my fair share of holiday invites, but don't mind turning a few down either. Usually I just look forward to January because that's when work usually picks up again.

    • justin@thefrugalpath

      justin@thefrugalpath 11/12/2012 9:44 p.m. #

      I don't find the holidays too stressful. My work schedule is a little more hectic. I don't buy gifts for anyone except my wife, she handles the rest.
      For me the worst part is putting up the tree. I really don't enjoy it and it takes up too much room.

    • Holly@ClubThrifty

      Holly@ClubThrifty 11/13/2012 5:20 a.m. #

      I'm just trying to get this all over with the best that I can. I don't dislike Christmas but I think it has become much too commercialized over my lifetime.

    • DC @ Young Adult Money

      DC @ Young Adult Money 11/13/2012 6:09 a.m. #

      The Holidays can definitely be stressful. I have a new stress this year that I didn't before: figuring out all my health stuff before the end of 2012, since I maxed out my out-of-pocket contributions and everything is "free" for the rest of the year. I think besides that, the Holidays will only be stressful in the sense that we have a house that we are working on, this blog to work on, our jobs, presents to buy, things to decorate, and it just goes by way too fast!

      I better make use of some of your tips so that I can relax some!

    • Mandy @MoneyMasterMom

      Mandy @MoneyMasterMom 11/13/2012 1:03 p.m. #

      We've really scaled back our Christmas and it's become enjoyable again. The gift list was getting too long and stressful so we were just honest with a bunch of our friends and family and asked to stop exchanging gifts. It's been incredible how much of a difference it has made. The number of gifts our kids get is a little excessive. My next mission is to cut that back. Although its hard when people want to give them gifts to out restrictions on their kindness.

    • Tackling Our Debt

      Tackling Our Debt 11/13/2012 1:16 p.m. #

      @Justin - I think your situation is quite common. The wife handles that rest. I wonder if that is why more women feel stressed then men do.

    • CanadianBudgetBinder

      CanadianBudgetBinder 11/13/2012 2:26 p.m. #

      Good post. We don't tend to get stressed at all simply because we plan, don't have lots of gifts to buy and have only side of the family here. Mr.CBB

    • Kim@Eyesonthedollar

      Kim@Eyesonthedollar 11/13/2012 3:31 p.m. #

      I have really set up Christmas to be how we want it. We cook what we like, and don't get stressed. We visit family after Christmas, and travel can be stressful, but we try to just enjoy it. I actually like to wrap gifts and put up decorations. It relaxes me to sit and watch the Christmas tree.

    • Janine

      Janine 11/13/2012 8:09 p.m. #

      My Christmas is super busy but only because we are spending so much time with both my sides of the family and the boyfriends. While the days leading up to Christmas are a little stressful I do love spending so much time with family. It's truly wonderful.

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