Stress, Traditions, & Letting Go {Free Printables}

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The following two free holiday printables are the outcome of my overthinking these past few weeks.  I’ve been thinking a lot about the upcoming holidays, and stress, and attempting to do it all with so little time.  And doing any of it well.  And stress.  And making holidays meaningful and focused on the message of the season and not shopping, cleaning, wrapping, and blogging.  AND STRESS.

Christmas keeps creeping up earlier and earlier each year.  There’s so much to DO.  Plus all those ideas on PINTEREST.  How are we supposed to fit it all in unless we start the holiday season mid-September?!


Before the frenzy of the season ramps up, I made a list with my family.  We brainstormed all the family activities we associate with the holidays and came up with a holiday traditions list:

Free Printable List of Holiday Traditions


Find the Free Printable Holiday Traditions List Here


Quick tip: these printables are hosted on Google Docs.  You simply follow the link and can either print it or download it from there.

But a list is just a list.  Not all activities are created equal.  Perhaps Christmas Cards stress you out– the photos, ordering, addressing, mailing– and this year you’re ready for a change.  Or maybe you rode the $109 Polar Express last year and the kids were scared of the Santa, ignored the hot chocolate, and you could have had a better experience simply by riding the local SEPTA train instead for $18 roundtrip.  Ahem.

My husband and I took a look at our holiday traditions and chose the ones that mean the most to us, those we wish to add this year, and the traditions we can let go.  We don’t have to give them up permanently, but we decided to let a few go this year and see if they deserve to be added back later.  Having this list in hand immediately gave me a sense of peace.  No need to waste energy on activities and additional “to-do’s” that suck the joy from the season.

Which traditions are we letting go?   We’ve decided the Polar Express is a ‘no-go’ and we’re going to take the local SEPTA train into the city to go see the Macy’s light show instead.  I’m also letting go of outdoor family photos because we simply ran out of time (but it’s the FIRST thing on my list this spring!)  Also, I’m not going nuts baking 8 types of cookies.  Each person in our family will choose a favorite, and we’ll make them… together.

Free Printable List of Holiday Traditions


Find the Free Printable Holiday Traditions Organizer Here



What are we adding this year?  Last year, Darlene from Fieldstone Hill mentioned this article about truly giving on Christmas morning (READ IT!), and it changed me.  All this focus about flooding the kids with gifts isn’t the true message of the season.  I was moved to seriously cut back on the gifts I’m giving the kids this year, and once they’ve opened their gifts and stockings we’re going to sit down as a family and GIVE.  Give to others.  We’re going to choose gifts of food and supplies for families in need, because I feel doing so better honors Jesus’ calling on His birthday.  My kids love animals, so I’m going to hand them the Heifer International catalog and have them each chose a gift to give.  I’m pretty sure my son will choose a water buffalo ($250) and my daughter a camel ($850), but no matter what they choose, that’s what we’ll give.  Though I’m personally pulling for the honeybees ($30) and flock of geese ($20).

The true gift of Christmas

The true gift of Christmas

Whew.  Now that we have our priorities in order, the rest is just gravy.  Stress-free gravy with a side of true Christmas spirit, that is.

What traditions are MUSTS for your family?  Any you plan to let go?  Which ones are you considering adding this year?

Stress, Traditions, & Letting Go {Free Printables} is linking up with: Crystal & Co.

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  1. Food is such a large part of Christmas and for us, that means special cooking. This year, I’m giving up going all fancy-schmancy. That’s not what the kiddos want, so it’ll be meatballs and muffins and maybe brownies. Spaghetti squash with tomato sauce. THEN I’ll focus on the fun, and give Amelia the camera to document the night!

  2. KEEP: No holiday shopping in December! (I’ll snag deals for birthdays, but my holiday list will be done); Fresh Christmas tree, read holiday books all.month.long, go to the local museum’s Christmas tree exhibit, bake Christmas bread, spend Christmas Eve with family and Christmas morning have the grandparents over for brunch.
    ADD: Cookies will be baked (and frozen) ahead of time instead of waiting until the last minute; and watch The Grinch
    DITCH: At least for this year, while we’re on budget lockdown, we won’t be going to any special performances if they cost any $$.

  3. Last year we didn’t do our visit to Santa, however, this year, I definitely want to add that tradition back in.

  4. So cute! We had so many traditions in Boston but since we moved this year, we have to find and create new traditions.

  5. Weeping over here, reading that blog entry about “truly giving” on Christmas morning…..I think we’ve picked up a new tradition and copying you….A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! Thanks for sharing that link.

    And, of course, I love hearing and seeing your traditions, too! Thanks!!

  6. These are great Carrie! I am actually stressed out just thinking about how these holidays are just going to fly by and I hope that I can cherish them. This is a great way to put it in perspective!

  7. Our family tradition is our church’s Christmas Eve candlelight service which we love to go. We have tons of traditions which make the holidays so much fun and full of wonderful memories. Our church does shoebox gift boxes for kids so we always pick out a girl and boy and go shopping for them. My kids love to do this.

  8. We do the Polish Wigilia on Christmas Eve – my grandmother is almost 102 and it is her tradition which we all adore. When we had our first child, my husband and I decided – Christmas Day we would always stay home and make that day special and not hectic for us and our children. Love that!

  9. We have donated to Heifer for the last 9 years and love making it a holiday tradition. We are adding the Macy’s Light Show this year and also love to go see the train exhibits wherever we can. I thought of a ton of other things to do, but then took a deep breath and realized that we can’t, and shouldn’t, try to do it all or stress will take over. Thanks for the cute printable to help organize what we are doing!

  10. The one and only thing I insist on as an unbreakable tradition is Christmas Eve service at Church. Everything else can go or stay. Things have to change a little bit every year as the kids get older, anyway. Hope you enjoy yours!

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