Reminder: you get to choose how your holidays look + feel

Do you want a minimalist Christmas? Or a calmer holiday season? It's easy to forget but we get to choose how we celebrate the holidays and if you want to opt out of a tradition or set of expectations, you can.


Are you stressed out yet?

Are you completely overwhelmed by the invites to one million white elephant parties/ugly sweater parties/cookie making parties? Are you looking at your bank account with fear as you calculate how many more gifts you need to buy? Have you maxed out on cookie dough yet?

(Just kidding. It’s impossible to max out on cookie dough!)

I just wanted to remind you (and myself) that we are totally in charge of how we choose to spend our holidays. We get to decide what our holidays look like.

If you don’t want to, you don’t have to:

buy presents for everyone you’ve ever met
get a real tree
get a fake tree
make any cookies – at all
send holiday cards
attend every party you’re invited to
spend your vacation days driving around the tri-state area visiting every person you share DNA with

You get to choose what your holiday looks like (even if it requires some tough conversations) Share on X

If you enjoy doing those things, then you should totally, totally do them. I looooove helping my mom decorate the house for the holidays. I looooove helping her make lefse and eating my weight in cookie dough. I love purchasing carefully considered, verging-on-awkwardly-overly-generous gifts for a few very important people in my life. I love watching my nieces’ Christmas pageants.

I do not like (even a little bit) Secret Santa gift exchanges. Or office parties. Or driving many, many hours to stay in hotels. And I’m not really that into cookies (mostly I just like the dough).

It might require a few tough conversations. You might get called ‘the office Grinch’ because you’re not interested in swapping $5 gifts with Tom in Accounting. Great Aunt Marge might try to guilt trip you because you’re not driving five hours to stay in Motel 8 and tolerate her inquiries into your personal life.

Summon a bit of your personal holiday spirit and make this season your own – in whatever shape that looks like.

P.S. 11 minimalist gift ideas that add happiness, not clutter

photo by kris atomic // cc

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  1. lindsaymarie

    thanks for this! yesterday I told my mom I didn't want to go to church with her, which set off an emotional tailspin. thanks for reminding me of my right to say no to holiday "obligations" that make me feel uncomfortable!

  2. Ashley

    "spend your vacation days driving around the tri-state area visiting every person you share DNA with." Amen to that!

  3. Dana Lutt

    I needed this reminder right about now 🙂

  4. kjlangford

    On the flipside, it is no one's job but my own to do the things that will make my holiday special. Not my parent's job, not my grandparent's job, not my spouse's job. This post is so well-timed bc I am spending Christmas with my in laws for the first time (been married 4 years, not sure how it hasn't happened yet), and I was getting sad about all my family's Christmas traditions that I would miss (mainly food-related), and then I realized I can totally do them anyway, I just have to plan it and do it (much like my mother does, but we never notice. The cookies just appear!). Who cares if it's just for me, I will drink a gallon of wassail all by myself!

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Yes! My first 'adult' Christmas I was sad that the cookies didn't make themselves and that a live tree didn't manifest itself into my apartment!

  5. Jen Moulton

    At 27, I finally agree with this sentiment! I'm staying put for this holiday and really looking forward to not dealing with travel stress and relaxing at home instead. I'd rather be with family but I'm excited to have low-key, restful holiday. Thanks for sharing this and reminding me that it's okay to choose an alternate route!

  6. Rowena @ rolala loves

    If we all subscribed to this we'd probably less stressed out by the holiday season. Thanks for the reminder!

    Rowena @ rolala loves

  7. Anonymous

    At my work party we did "Swappa Santa" – if you want in on the game, you bring a gift. You get a number and pick from the pile. Then the swapping and stealing starts. That way people can choose, no one gets forgotten or gets a mean spirited gift. It worked really well considering our workplace ages range from 17 through to mid-70's!

  8. Paige Podbelsek

    YES thank you for this! I opted out of the White Elephant gift exchange (which I can't stand) at work last week and was labeled one of the "bah-humbug"-ers. I felt guilty for a minute and then remembered that I'm not required to participate in events I don't want to participate in, as I am a 25 year old adult and not a child. Thanks again!!

  9. Vanessa

    I totally agree with you. This year marks the first time in a decade that I've been single for Christmas. Now that I'm living in my own flat, I get to celebrate however I want. For me, that means decorations all over the house, loads of baking and a different Christmas movie every night. I love having the freedom to do the holidays my way.
    There are some things I opted out of though. I didn't go to my work Christmas party, instead choosing to spend that night with one of my close friends. I didn't do the work Kris Kringle either. Instead, I'm taking homemade cookies to work.

  10. Stacia, the Homey Owl

    Yes, yes, yes. I have said no more times this year than ever before, but I have also enjoyed my holiday more than ever before. This is so true and I wish more people believed it!

  11. Traci

    I loved this post, and I also love that you included a bit about lefse–from a fellow Minnesotan!

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