November 13, 2023 | Sammy Tran

Stress Less This Season: Rethinking 12 Holiday Traditions

Stressful Holiday Traditions

Something Wasn’t Right factsShutterstock

The holiday season, with its sparkle and cheer, can also bring a hefty dose of stress, thanks in part to some deeply entrenched traditions.

While these customs are meant to bring joy, they often add unnecessary pressure. 

Remember, it's perfectly okay to break away from certain traditions if they're causing more stress than happiness.

Let's explore 12 holiday traditions that commonly stress people out and consider simpler, more enjoyable alternatives.

Elaborate Holiday Decorating

Home owner's horrorShutterstock

Decking the halls from top to bottom can be a daunting task.

A survey showed that 25% of people find holiday decorating stressful. Instead of an all-out decorating spree, consider minimalist décor.

A few strategically placed lights or a simple wreath can capture the holiday spirit without the overwhelm.

Sending Holiday Cards to Everyone

Christmas Industry factsPiqsels

The tradition of sending holiday cards to a long list of recipients can be time-consuming and expensive.

According to the American Greetings Corporation, the average family spends about 3 hours writing cards.

A digital holiday greeting or a heartfelt email can be just as meaningful and far less stressful.

Hosting Large Family Gatherings

When Being Nice BackfiresPexels

While family gatherings are a hallmark of the holidays, hosting a large event can be overwhelming.

A study by Deloitte found that 28% of Americans feel stressed by holiday hosting.

Consider a potluck-style get-together where guests contribute, or opt for a smaller, more intimate gathering.

Baking and Cooking Everything from Scratch


The expectation to cook and bake all holiday treats from scratch can be exhausting.

Simplify by choosing a couple of favorite recipes to make, and supplement with store-bought items. This blend saves time and still allows for homemade favorites.

Buying the Perfect Gift for Everyone

hand holding giftsnito, Shutterstock

Finding the perfect gift for each person on your list is a source of stress for 60% of holiday shoppers, as per a Consumer Reports survey.

Try a gift exchange where each person buys for only one other, or consider homemade gifts that are thoughtful and unique.

Attending Every Holiday Event and Party

Romantic BetrayalsShutterstock

Feeling obliged to attend every holiday event or party can leave you stretched thin. It's okay to be selective. Prioritize the events that mean the most to you, and don’t feel guilty about declining others.

Creating a Holiday Feast

Christmas Is RuinedShutterstock

Preparing a lavish holiday feast is a tradition that can be more stressful than enjoyable.

Opting for a simple, less elaborate meal can be just as festive and far less stressful. Focus on a couple of main dishes and ask guests to bring sides or desserts.

Elf on the Shelf


The daily commitment of moving the Elf on the Shelf can become a chore.

Instead, choose a couple of days for the elf to make a special appearance, making those moments more exciting and less of a daily obligation.

Over-the-Top New Year's Eve Plans

What the heck party momentsShutterstock

Planning a grandiose New Year's Eve can be both expensive and stressful.

Consider a low-key evening at home with close friends or family, watching movies, playing games, or having a small toast at midnight.

Handmade Holiday Costumes

Woman is seating happy next to her Christmas tree and holding her phone.Julia Larson, Pexels

Creating handmade costumes for holiday parties or events adds extra pressure.

Opt for simple, store-bought costumes or use items you already have at home for a stress-free, yet festive, outfit.

Fancy Advent Calendars

Red advent calendarJanice, Adobe Stock

Maintaining a daily Advent calendar can be demanding, especially the fancy, expensive ones. 

Instead, try a weekly Advent surprise, reducing the frequency but maintaining the excitement and anticipation leading up to the holiday.

Extravagant Holiday Light Displays

HOA IdiotsWikimedia Commons

Setting up and maintaining an extravagant light display can be both time-consuming and expensive. Consider a more modest display, focusing on a single tree or the front porch, to capture the festive spirit without the hassle.

Final Thoughts

Growing Up Poor Facts

Remember, the holiday season is about joy, togetherness, and making memories. It’s completely acceptable to modify or skip traditions that cause stress.

By simplifying your holiday routine, you can rediscover the true essence of the season and enjoy a more relaxed, festive time.


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