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Avoid Chaos with an Intentional Holiday

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Having an intentional holiday season can be a little difficult for anyone. If you’re trying to balance simple living with overwhelm, sadness with joy, and the natural seasons with modern marketing pressures here are some tips to help you keep the unpleasantness to a minimum while maximizing personal priorities.

A gift wrapped in brown paper and decorated with a green leaf tied with twine and text overlay..

Our modern lifestyles often make keeping  a simple life difficult. No matter where we look there are pressures and distractions and it’s incredibly easy to be overwhelmed especially this time of year.

Place Limitations

Limit yourself and your family’s activities to what is reasonable and joyful to you. Please remember that – what is reasonable and joyful to you will not look like what is reasonable and joyful to anyone else.

If you want to attend every ugly sweater party, ice skating picnic, caroling walk, and more go for it.  If however; that all sounds awful choose only the ones that are most meaningful.

Perhaps the neighborhood tree lighting isn’t your thing but snow-shoeing with a few close friends is – do that and feel no sadness for skipping out on what isn’t right.

No one can do it all and stay sane, it’s okay to limit ourselves to what’s most important.

Give & Receive Wisely

It is okay to say no to holiday shopping. It is okay to say to family and friends that you would rather not exchange gifts. Make it known that you simply don’t need or want anything.

Sometimes the pressure to make gifts is almost worse than buying them for those of us living a handmade life. Simply opt out.

A gift wrapped in brown paper with a leaf and twine surrounded by dried fruit and spices.

It’s best to do this kind of thing earlier rather than later. If folks are insistent on giving gifts, ask them to give to charity instead.

Wanting to make and give gifts is absolutely wonderful, just remember no one can do it all and choose wisely how to make and spend.

Choose Nourishing Foods

Choose whole, natural foods most of the time. This is the season for cookies, over-the-top feasts, and constant snacking in my experience.

While it is okay and good even to indulge a little bit, keep it within reason especially if anxiety or the chaos is threatening to overwhelm. Eat filling soups full of vegetables and protein, salads, and seasonal citrus as appropriate as often as possible.

If you’re really struggling with anxiety, consider avoiding or cutting back on caffeine. I’m quite the little coffee fiend but I limit it to mornings and drink an herbal coffee substitute in the afternoons. 

Get Into Nature

Take a walk, get outside and enjoy the natural world. Connecting to the rhythm of the earth is a surefire way to find calm in my experience.

Finding calm in the chaos anytime of the year can be difficult but especially so during the holidays. Use these 9 tips to connect to what is important. 

Go ice skating or skiing if that is your thing. If you live in the south, simply get outside and enjoy the shift to cooler weather.

This isn’t about experiencing some kind of crazy endurance sport or taking chances in a blizzard – it’s simply a way to disconnect from the modern world and connect to something simpler.

Sweat It Out

Move the body and get the blood circulating with some exercise. That exercise can also be that walk outside in nature, but some of us might need something more invigorating to help clear the mind and body.

Do yoga, go for a run (on a treadmill if it’s icy), lift weights – whatever it is that you enjoy make time even during this potentially busy season to get sweaty while also keeping the mind and body healthy.

Drink Some Herbal Tea

Take time to relax and enjoy a cup of hot tea. Depending on the level of chaos and overwhelm, choose herbs for relaxation purposes in addition to taste.

Herbs like oat straw, lemon balm, and lavender are good choices to ease stress and promote sleep.

Finding calm in the chaos anytime of the year can be difficult but especially so during the holidays. Use these 9 tips to connect to what is important. 

Just simply taking the time to brew and sip a cup of hot tea is often relaxing in and of itself.

Connect with the Special People

Make time to connect with the special people in life. The people that love you and are loved by you.

This can be blood family or friends. It doesn’t have to be a party or celebration, it doesn’t even have to be done in person if miles separate. Simply spend time to talk whether that’s over coffee or Skype. This will help you and them in finding calm in the chaos.

Find Gratitude

When life gets chaotic or overwhelming it can be easy to lose track of the good things. Find some time each day to be thankful.

A closed journal with pen on top.

Keep a gratitude journal, take a photo of something you are grateful for and post it on Instagram, etc. It doesn’t have to be anything grand, just a simple way each day of finding time and things for which to be grateful.

This simple exercise can have huge benefits to our very busy brains. 

Practice Grace

Give yourself and everyone else some grace. Spread cheerfulness and try to remember that everyone is fighting some kind of battle.

Often, it’s easier to give that grace and patience to others while silently beating ourselves up.

Stop that, please. Give yourself grace and love and permission to live life according to your own priorities. 

While finding the calm in the chaos can be especially difficult during the holiday season, these tips can help at anytime during the year. So take a deep breath and use some of the tips above to help disconnect from crazy things and enjoy the holidays by doing what makes your heart happy.

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Thursday 15th of November 2018

Kathie, Thank you for these common sense tips to stay focused on what a person's priorities are and need to be, to achieve lack of stress and not get caught up by the chaos around us. It seems very simple, but we can get "caught up" with all the distractions going on around us, if we are not continually reminding ourselves of these simple tips. Hence, the reason I check in with Homespun Seasonal Living regularly, I know I'm going to be reminded to "take a deep breath", "relax and drink a good cup of tea", and you know, my focus is back to what I need it to be!


Sunday 23rd of October 2016

Fantastic tips! Sharing.

Homespun Seasonal Living

Monday 24th of October 2016

Thanks so much!

Jackie Logan

Thursday 10th of March 2016

I came across this article at the most opportune time! Though it is no longer the holiday season, we are in the process of handling the health crisis of a family member and you included such wonderful reminders about taking care of ourselves (nutrition, quiet outdoor time, exercise, friends/family) so that we can continue to provide support elsewhere. You may not have realized it when you wrote this, but you offer great advice for caretakers everywhere all year round! Thank you!

Homespun Seasonal Living

Friday 11th of March 2016

Oh I'm so happy to hear that this gave you some encouragement and lifted you. I hope you find peace in your current circumstances and that you do take care of yourself. Thank you for sharing some of your story!


Friday 18th of December 2015

Thank you for this. The holidays are very difficult for me and no one seems to understand. I started crying by the end of the first paragraph because someone elae finally got it! I have been so stressed amd anxious, grieving, depressed, and just strung out. I struggle with decorating every year but do it because once it is done I enjoy it, but I have to do in doses - I started the weekend after Thanksgiving and I'm still working on them! Last week I just had to take a step back; I hate not following through on a commitment but had to do that, I had to accept some shopping won't get done, some homemade ones might not get done, and maybe all the decorations won't get done. As awful as I feel there is a lot to be thankful for and I knew if I didn't do what I did I might not be able to keep my health on the grateful list, if you know what I mean. Someone was incredibly sweet about it and another quite rude and the latter broke my heart but sometimes we have to make ourselves come first. Thank you for your advice. I've already tried a few and will try a few more! ♡

Homespun Seasonal Living

Friday 18th of December 2015

Emily, Thank you so much for sharing your story. Please give yourself some grace. It's more than okay to cut back on the decorations and yes take care of yourself so that you can find your own personal joy. Thank you again for taking the time to read and write and share. I hope you find even more beautiful blessings in the coming year.


Wednesday 2nd of December 2015

Beautiful article Kathie. Simple, commonsense advice, but we all need to be reminded. This year I'm focusing on rest, exercise, time in nature, and saying "no" to things that are uncomfortable/stressful/unpleasant.