10 Tricks to Make “No, No, No” Sound Like, “Ho, Ho, Ho!”

As I’m writing this, it’s 10 days until Christmas.  It almost seems hard to wrap my head around.  I don’t know if 10 days away should feel more stressful than it does, because honestly, I’m feeling pretty good.  I’ve had Clever Girl client appointments throughout the month (yay!), and I’m busy every single day until we leave to visit family, but I’m not worried.  

It’s not an accident. This is on purpose.  This year, I gave MYSELF the best gift ever:  The Gift of Saying No. The Gift of Doing Less. The Gift of Being Okay With Things Not Being Perfect.  And I want you to know all about it… and think about whether or not you’re in need of giving that gift to yourself, too.

 no no no


This year, I tried some new things.  Well, mainly I tried not doing old things. And I want to share that with you, and help you see how doing less provides less stress, and in no way robs you of the joy of the holiday season!  The top 10 things you can do FOR YOURSELF this holiday season (or, bookmark this for next autumn for a fresh shot at 2015):


  • EASIER HOLIDAY CARD SENDING – Okay, admittedly, I am halfway there this year.  I sent out less cards.  That’s a step.  But I designed each one individually (i’m a crafty type) and hand wrote in each one.  But the real leap: I aspire to be like many others, who send out the picture cards, with no personal messages.I fought it for a long time, thinking, “Yes, you took some great pictures with your family. Would it KILL you to hand sign your card?  Or write my name on it, so I know you actually thought of me this year, not just slapped a preprinted label on an envelope?”But who am I kidding. EVERYONE is doing it. Even people like me, without kids (that’s always been a barrier for me… who wants to see a picture of just me and Handy Boy? You only want to see cute kids in matching outfits, right? Well, I don’t have any of those lying around). But, gosh, as I open up each beautiful card, I’m a little jealous that they created something lovely, and did it way easier and for less time than I did. And the smart ones got some sort of coupon code to make it less expensive, too. And it turns out, I don’t die a little inside every time I open one, which is what I feared would happen to others if I changed my game.  They expect more from me, right?  It turns out that, no, they don’t. 


  • LESS BAKING – Or, in my case this year, for the first in as many as I can remember, NO baking. Yes… for some of you, this is blasphemy. I know.  How about “don’t bake AS MUCH”?  Baking takes time and energy. It means cleaning the kitchen so you can bake, then making a huge mess, then cleaning again.  What if you did less, or instead, supported a local bakery this year, and brought amazing treats to your next event, that don’t have to come from your oven?


  • LESS GIFT GIVING – You know what this is, and, yes, I mean it.  Less gifts.  Now, let me be clear on which gifts I mean:-The Great Gift Card Swap:  Here’s my $20 iTunes card, which I hand to you in exchange for the $20 Amazon card you bought me,” or

    – Or “I have so many nieces and nephews I need to buy for,” or

    – “I can never find something for my father-in-law; he’s so hard to buy for.”What if you pulled it back, and gave yourself the gift of a less stressful holiday? Suggest to siblings that you skip gifts for a year. Ask your Father-in-law (who probably says he doesn’t need anything anyway) “if i were to give the money to a charity that I would have spent on you, where would you most like it to go?” Ask your sister-in-law if you can forgo gifts this year, and instead, head out on a double date, and the money you would have spent gifts you don’t need can be spent on baby sitters and cosmos?  Or Practice the 4 Gift rule for your family: Something you Want, Something you Need, Something you Wear, Something you Read. Isn’t that just enough? 


  • LESS ENTERTAINING – stop over committing yourself, say no to some invitations. Practice this phrase, “I’d love to, but this is just not the season for me to do everything that sounds great. The best I’m giving myself this season is less stress, and it means making some tough choices.  My family and I are doing a lot of ‘at home’ time this year, making the memories that will last their lifetimes.  What if we spend time together in January and catch up?”   See? Doesn’t that sound like a great way to spend your time?


  • LESS DECORATING – This year, I cut back, for sure.  Decorations in one room, not 3.  Not EVERY candle needs to be put out.  Not all the linens need to come out of storage. I can be a bit more picky this year. Heck, I can even part with some stuff, the stuff I *know* I haven’t used in years, and let them go. So, I have one AMAZINGLY beautiful room, and I enjoy the heck out of it. 


  • LESS ‘LAST-MINUTE-NESS’ – invest in some calendar time.  Take glances a few days ahead — what will you need, what’s a convenient way to make that happen?  Going to an event on Saturday, and you need to bring wine?  Figure out how many days in advance you can make that happen, and schedule it for yourself, so that on THAT day, you don’t need to worry about it.  I can already tell, looking at my calendar, that the few days leading up to that are BUSY. Less last-minute-ness through some thoughtful planning can go a long way to reduce the stress.


  • MAKE WRAPPING EASIER – stop wrapping presents. Really, I’m giving fewer gifts this year, but what I *AM* giving, isn’t getting wrapped traditionally. I’m only using gift bags, reusable fabric bags, even shopping bags. Quick. Easy. Stop with the measuring and the cutting and the cutting wrong and recutting and the running out of paper and running out of tape and the “wait, what the heck was that again?” unwrapping only to rewrap. Just stop.


  • PUT UP A SMALLER TREE – Another blaspheme, I know. But think about it:. A smaller tree can still be gorgeous, just easier to maintain, easier to set up, easier to take back down after the holidays are over.   Or, maybe you try not to put up a smaller tree, but you decorate it more simply. You don’t need to pull out EVERY ornament, just the faves. It can still be gorgeous, and feel as homey and wonderful as any other tree you’ve had in the past.


  • LESS EMAIL SPAM – On Facebook on Cyber Monday, I mentioned that it’s a great time to start focusing on all those places that have your email address and start unsubscribing. Well, they’ll still keep coming, up until the last day of “act now and get it delivered with rush priority for Christmas!” messages on the 23rd.  Keep hitting “unsubscribe”. You don’t need to be wasting more of your time weeding through spam messages to get to the real ones you need. Temptations on more things to buy, more reasons to spend.  Do LESS. 


  • LESS GIVING A HOOT – Maybe this is the most important one of all. It means forgiving yourself and letting yourself not feel like you have to live up to the Picture Perfect Holiday, the Pinterest Version of the Season.  Less caring about being perfect. Less pressure on yourself to make everything wonderful. Less being concerned about what others will think if you do less.  I promise, next year, when you commit to this plan, most of the people you say, “Hey, let’s not exchange gifts this year” will be relieved. Sure, some will not know how to agree. Some will judge. But when you step back and think about it, you realize that what you give to yourself by doing less, you gain in time, money, and energy all season long. Maybe it will take a few years, but soon enough, you’ll be where I am today. 10 days from Christmas. Chillin’…. 

Give to YOURSELF this year… Because you deserve it, and no one around you is going to feel like they had a less magical season if you do.




  1. Stapler Confessions

    I love how other bloggers are showing off perfect trees, wrapping techniques, cookies, etc, and your encouraging us to avoid the perfectionism! OK. Done. 🙂

    I bought really durable gift boxes last year and am using them to “wrap” my family’s gifts. All they need is a tightly tied ribbon (to prevent peeking!)

  2. Jill Robson

    Great post, I totally agree with all of them.


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