Intersection of Life and Faith

Top 10 Ways to Avoid Christmas Burnout

  • Janet Thompson Contributing Writer
  • 2019 2 Dec
Top 10 Ways to Avoid Christmas Burnout

Does hearing the torturous countdown days to Christmas send you into panic mode? Here comes that sinking feeling in your stomach. Your heart races. You want to pull the covers over your head and hope the Christmas music and jingling bells will stop. 

You’re in Christmas overload. You love Jesus but you feel you just can’t do another frenetic “Christmas season.” 

I remember those days well. Crying to my husband that I just couldn’t “do Christmas” again as our family continued to grow. I desperately needed his help, but his dazed look conveyed, “I don’t know...what to do?” 

I wanted to enjoy Christmas. But I had lost my joy. 

I was assuming all the responsibility of Christmas preparations and thinking I could do everything with a family of 21 that I did with a family of two! 

Looking back, I discovered I was actually competing with myself.

As hard as I tried to keep my focus on Jesus, the Reason for the Season, I was focusing on balancing the number and cost of gifts for all the kids and grandkids, buying perfect gifts and wrapping each one uniquely, decorating the entire house, sending cards, making goodies, hosting annual birthday parties for Jesus with hundreds in attendance... 

You get the picture...because maybe you’re there now.

Could I top the last party? Could we give the grandkids the best gifts? I worried that we weren’t giving them as many pricey gifts as the other grandparents?!

Then it all came to a screeching halt the year I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

After surgery, radiation started on December 17. It was two days before our wedding anniversary. Oh yes, I also planned our wedding on December 19! It seemed like a great idea the first few years, but then an anniversary getaway or celebration in the middle of Christmas preparations added another activity to my already overbooked, overloaded schedule.

The unexpected breast cancer diagnosis coincided with a kitchen and living room remodel and all the family coming home for Christmas. We had no kitchen counters or sink because they cut the countertops wrong. The dishwasher was still in its box in the middle of the kitchen! 

That year changed everything. It actually brought sanity to our Christmas.

Following are some changes I made that “radiation Christmas” that might help you too. I hope some of these 10 ideas will give you more time with Jesus, the only “perfect Christmas gift.” 

1. Let your calendar be your activity guide.

First, schedule normal activities: work, school, exercise, sleep, church—and most importantly—daily quiet time with the Lord. 

Next, note events like children’s programs, rehearsals, family/work/church gatherings.

Then, schedule time for shopping, wrapping, baking, decorating. 

As new invitations arrive, decline kindly any on the same days and times as those already on your calendar. Limit your holiday outings to one night a week or two extra events each weekend. 

You might find this article helpful, 7 Essentials to Consider before Saying ‘Yes’ to Too Much.

Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Jeremy McKnight

2. If you have children or grandkids, let them decorate the tree. 

Children do a great job and they’ll be so proud, especially if they have some handmade ornaments on the tree and you haven’t rearranged their decorating. 

3. Reduce your shopping list.

Gift-giving can become a financial and time burden if your lists have grown over the years. Decide on a dollar amount that fits your budget and divide that among the people on your list.

Stick to one present for each person (or maybe each person who isn’t part of your immediate family) and review your list to see how to pare it down. Suggest to the extended family that you only buy gifts for the children, which may bring relief to them as well. Instead of gifts for neighbors and friends, suggest a new getting together in the New Year for personal time over coffee or lunch.

For children and grandchildren you might give each three presents like the three Wisemen and explain how you arrived at that number.

As our family grew to eleven grandchildren, we scaled down to one nice present each and we don’t worry about what others are giving. Money doesn’t express love like quality time spent with people.

4. Limit Christmas cards.

I love receiving Christmas cards, but I noticed many cards with just a signature or an embossed signature. It’s nice to be remembered but this can feel impersonal. As the price of stamps increased and time and energy decreased, I stopped sending Christmas cards. An alternative is to send a short Christmas letter or family picture by email, and stay in touch all year.

Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Annie Pratt

5. Make parties potluck.

It’s always fun to try other people’s cooking and discover their favorite Christmas dishes. Forget bringing out all the Christmas china. Use decorative paper plates, plastic silverware, and paper cups. Cleanup is super easy. 

You can focus on your guests instead of washing the dishes piling up in the sink or worrying about a dish getting chipped or broken. 

7. Curtail the baking frenzy.

Pick a couple of family favorites and include the family in a baking night or afternoon...or not. If you enjoy baking, schedule it on the calendar. But if there isn’t time, give yourself permission to put your feet up instead and enjoy a cup of Christmas tea or latte with store-bought treats.

8. Rotate Christmas decorations.

I love to decorate the house and string lights. But I don’t feel like I have to bring out every box of decorations every year. 

When you haven’t seen them for a few years, it’s like they’re new and fresh. However you decorate with love, you’ll likely get compliments that your house looks Christmas-y, warm, and cozy.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Paulaphoto

9. Recruit a gift-wrapper.

Since we now live an hour from town and shopping, we order many gifts online. I say “we” because I include hubby in the shopping. We also wrap presents together. After all, they’re for “our” family, and he’s actually a better wrapper than I am. Watch a Christmas movie and make it a date night. 

Or have a wrapping party with a couple of friends. Two are definitely better than one!

Remember, when you reduce gift buying, there are less presents to wrap—and less need to ‘hurry’ your way through wrapping time together.

10. Spend more time with Jesus.

Start every day reading the Christmas story from the Book of Matthew or Luke or in a Christmas devotional. It helps focus the day’s activities around the only reason we celebrate Christmas. It reminds us that Jesus doesn’t want us stressed or in a frenzy. He came into the world for one reason: to offer those who believe in Him eternal life—not to add a burden to our life but to lighten our load.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.Matthew 11:28

Wish everyone you meet in person or on the phone a “Merry Christmas.” You won’t burnout when you share with others the joy of our Savior’s birth. 

Janet Thompson is an international speaker, freelance editor, and award-winning author of 20 books. Her passion is to mentor other women in sharing their life experiences and God’s faithfulness. Janet’s new release is Everyday Brave: Living Courageously As a Woman of Faith available at AmazonChristianbook.comBarnes and Noble, and signed at author’s website. She is also the author of Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s FaithfulnessForsaken God? Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has ForgottenDear God, Why Can’t I Have a Baby?Dear God They Say It’s Cancer; Dear God, He’s Home!Praying for Your Prodigal DaughterFace-to-Face Bible study Series; and Woman to Woman Mentoring: How to Start, Grow, & Maintain a Mentoring Ministry Resources. Janet is the founder of Woman to Woman Mentoring and About His Work Ministries. Visit Janet and sign up for her weekly blog and free online newsletter at womantowomanmentoring.comJoin Janet on FacebookLinkedInPinterestTwitter, and Instagram

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Grinvalds