Simply Festive: How to Simplify & Actually Enjoy the Holiday Season - Small Legacies

Simply Festive: How to Simplify & Actually Enjoy the Holiday Season

By Kendra Johnson

Every Hallmark movie paints the picture of what the perfect Holiday season is supposed to be and honestly it puts a lot of pressure on me! I don’t always have the energy to try and make everything magical and wonderful.

So, here are a few tricks I‘ve learned to help me get the feeling of a magical holiday season with the family, without feeling stressed out. 

#1 Focus on activities that bring YOU joy. 

Any time I try to plan a special moment, one of the kids is throwing a tantrum or one of them is sick. The kids may very well get bored with any activity I plan and run away before I’ve even begun. 

For this reason, I always make sure the activity I am planning is one that is fun for me to do alone. And then if the kids abandon ship I can turn on the holiday music and continue enjoying the moment by myself while my husband chases down the runaway toddler. Haha. 

#2 Empty Your Weekend Schedule a Bit

If you don’t have time to get these special things done, why is that? Do you have a million other commitments? Especially when you have kids, December gets filled to the max with special pageants, and concerts in addition to the usual sports and clubs. 

Don’t volunteer yourself for anything unless you actually want to do it. Volunteer at a different time. Donate a different time. You don’t have to see the same family on both Thanksgiving AND Christmas. 

#3 Decide in Advance Which Parties to Skip

We spend every Christmas Eve Evening at home doing nothing. (I think we’ve spent two Christmas eve’s watching Witcher now) We usually watch something totally unrelated to the holidays because by then I’m a little sick of it all.  

There are always at least 3 parties that we probably *should* attend on Christmas Eve at night but we skip them. 

For my own mental health, I need that evening to relax and reset before the big day. 


When you do have the family together, here’s how to make these special moment simple:


Baking Cookies? Use a kit!

If you are planning on a larger baking marathon, do not plan on having the little kids around. They will get bored and you will get frustrated. Save the longer baking day for when you have someone else to be in charge of the littles. 

When you do have the kids, use a premade kit. It’ll make it a super quick and easy activity! 

Are you up for the challenge of actually baking with littles? Check out this article on getting kids in the kitchen to learn tips on how to maximize your success. 

Decorating: Let them Come in at the End

My kids put maybe one or two ornaments on our tree each year. I take care of the rest. And I generally enjoy it. This wasn’t always the case though. 

Growing up, it was always a big deal for my family to decorate the tree. We all had to gather around and spend hours putting the tree up, painstaking making sure the lights were evenly disperses (Lord help us if there were two of the same color ina row) and finally decorating it. To be honest,  I didn’t really enjoy doing this. It felt like a chore. Not to mention I was usually micro-managed on where each ornament should go. 

Keep this in mind when asking your kids to decorate with you. They might not actually care what the tree looks like. And if you do care, they aren't going to decorate it the way you want them to. I’m going to say that again. YOUR KIDS ARE NOT GOING TO DECORATE THE TREE THE WAY YOU WANT THEM TO. So maybe just let this be a special activity for you to do on your own. 

 Viewing Lights: Don’t Travel Far

If you have toddlers, getting out to see holiday lights is going to be a challenge because they are CRANKY as soon as the sun goes down. Don’t put pressure on yourself to go visit the most amazing light show, even if you think they will love it. 

Just go with the flow, stay local, and enjoy the lights that you pass by every day. 


Kendra Johnson is a certified elementary educator based in rural Wisconsin. As a parent and teacher, Kendra has a passion for teaching through engaging and varied techniques. Her background in theatre, educational technology and curriculum development have fueled her passion for teaching life skills to youth creatively.

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