Overwhelmed? 5 Ways to Make the Holidays Less Hectic and More Meaningful

Are you longing to ditch the overwhelm and make your holidays less hectic? Would you like to make them more meaningful? Filled with more moments of hope?

Has the holiday overwhelm managed to drown your joy? As well as your hope? Here are 5 ways to make the holidays less hectic and more meaningful! - Lori Schumaker for iBeleive

Making the Holidays Less Hectic and More Meaningful


A small but exquisite word. One that changes lives.

As I walked into the store I couldn’t miss it. Four shiny letters that, on that particular day, stopped me mid-step.

I couldn’t avoid it or deny it. I’d let the Holiday overwhelm diminish my hope.

Hope is what pushes us from one step to the other. It moves us into tomorrow despite the uncertainties of today.

Obviously, the sales and marketing industry understood the power behind those four letters. After all, they had it splashed across much of the holiday décor.

I understood it, too. Yet in that moment, as I stared at those four bright letters, I knew my soul wasn’t feeling the hope of the quickly approaching holiday season.

That day, the feeling of overwhelm far surpassed all other feelings. It was overwhelm that perched front and center. I longed for the holidays to be less hectic.

Overwhelm comes from long to-do lists and too little time in which to do them.

Where had I gone wrong? When had I let overwhelm replace my hope? When did I forget the miracle that took place that dark and lonely night?

I imagine it was quiet as they focused on their mission. Traveling last minute, I doubt Mary fretted about what she’d left undone. When inn after inn turned them away, I suspect her concerns were not about a to-do list.

Something tells me she had set all expectations aside long ago. How it was “supposed to happen” no longer mattered. Her purpose was paramount. It was to safely bring Hope into their dark and hurting world.

More than 2000 years ago, humble and in a manger, our Savior was born. Hope was born. And even though the times are different and the world changed, one thing remains.

Christ was born that night to give hope where there is darkness. Hope where there is uncertainty. Hope to the hurting and the lost.

Just as it was Mary’s purpose so long ago, it is still our purpose today.

At that moment, as I stood staring at HOPE, I knew I wanted it different. I didn’t want to snap at my family because overwhelm filled my soul. And I didn’t want to attend the next party with heavy feet and exhaustion written across my face. I decided it was time to make the holidays less hectic.

Has the holiday overwhelm managed to drown your joy? As well as your hope? Here are 5 ways to make the holidays less hectic and more meaningful! - Lori Schumaker for iBeleive

The Legacy of a Less Hectic Holiday

As I thought of the legacy I wanted to leave to my children, I knew it was a legacy of Jesus. I wanted my life to point to the hope of Christ. To be fully present with my family, friends, and community.

I wanted to be a hope-bringer. One who shares the miracle of the night Hope was born.

But to do so, I had to make some changes. Changes that are not easy. But I began putting in the work. I still don’t get it all right. I have a propensity to say “yes” too often because there are so many wonderful things we can do during the holidays. But, I’ve learned 5 ways to make the holidays less hectic and fight overwhelm.

5 Ways to Make the Holidays Less Hectic and Fight Overwhelm:

1. Create a to-do list – then slash it.

Approach this list in much the same manner as a wedding guest list. List everything in which you may want or need to participate. Then cut, cut, cut! Choose only the most important! Fill your to-do list with intentional yes’s and no’s. Too much or too many of even the wonderful things almost always delivers overwhelm.

2. Build a schedule.

  • Input all the non-negotiables such as work and school requirements.
  • Then schedule the most important non-negotiables. Prayer, worship, and reading the Word of God.
  • Schedule downtime. It may be sleeping in on a weekend morning or some quiet evenings at home.
  • Now begin inputting items from the to-do list. Still too much on the list? Continue cutting until the schedule is honestly manageable.

3. Learn to say “no” well.

  • Looks of disappointment are inevitable. That’s okay. Stick to well-defined boundaries.
  • Let guilt go. Don’t get stuck doing things just because you’ve always done it that way. Maybe this year doesn’t have space for your favorite cookie exchange party. Or maybe there isn’t time to make from-scratch Christmas cookies at all! It’s okay! Slice and bake isn’t all that bad! Kids still love them!

4. Incorporate hope-filled moments with Scripture into what you are already doing.

Independently or as a family, embrace hope-filled Bible verses. Use the moments while waiting for an appointment or as a family together while in the car. Listen to the Words of hope. Let them sink into your soul. If possible, discuss how the verse applies to you and your family. Here are a few to start with:

5 Bible Verses to Bring Calm and Fight Holiday Overwhelm

  1. Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.
  2. Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  
  3. John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  
  4. Matthew 1:21-23 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:  “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).  
  5. Luke 2:9-11 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.        

5. Express intentional gratitude.

  1. Cultivate a heart of gratitude. It is a powerful weapon that defends our hope, peace, and joy.
  2. Keep a Christmas journal or notebook open on the kitchen counter. Daily write at least one unique thing for which you are thankful. Invite others to join in when they visit. This also works wonderfully for a family and the following year serves as a reminder of God’s faithfulness and blessings.
  3. Whether through a journal, a thankful/gratitude jar, or simply the act of verbally expressing thankfulness, the important part is learning to take note of and express gratitude intentionally. I have a free 21-Day Biblical Gratitude Challenge for all my subscribers available HERE.

Friends, holiday overwhelm sneaks up on us. But it doesn’t have to! Even when the world pushes for more, we can claim less. We can fight holiday overwhelm and hold onto the hope that was born that night.

I pray your hope always shines brighter than the holiday overwhelm. May your heart be filled with joy as you bring hope into a world desperately in need.

*This post was originally posted over at iBelieve.

Books That Will Help You Hold Tightly to Joy Through Jesus

***Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

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  1. I am sure you are right about Mary not worrying about a to-do list. I have never thought of that before! Heading over to iBelieve! Thanks!

    1. The time period was most definitely different, but I have to venture to think every woman had some kind of to-do list, whether it was written or just a mental list! I’m thankful for your visit today, Marielle!
      Blessings and smiles,

  2. I love your tips. Especially the first one . . . make a list then slash it! It’s all about grace isn’t it. Taking that beautiful grace our Father gives us and wrapping it close. I love your graphic! Beautiful!!

    1. It’s funny, as I watched a sweet young girl in our life plan her wedding guest list, I thought of this! They started at about 150 and got it down to about 90! And the wedding was fabulous! So, it made my writing wheels spin! lol! Thanks so much, Deb, for your kindness and encouragement!
      Blessings and smiles,

    1. Thanks so much, Elizabeth! Thanks for stopping by!

  3. HI Lori-Love the tips! I shared some similar thoughts in a preholiday wellness series and we think alike! I love integrating scripture into our days with the family and also incorporating down time into the to do list! Thanks for great reminders as I attend more to my joy this season!

    1. Hi Jill,
      It’s so fun when we find another post that resonates with one we have written! Praying your joy is full this season! Thanks so much for joining me here today!

  4. Lori, it seems we are all in need of the same thing each and every holiday season…less stress. Your tips are perfect! As I anticipate my son arriving in 2 weeks from China, I have a new appreciation for “anticipating” and it is really centering me on to release the clutter of Christmas and focus on the beauty of Advent. Thanks for adding to this centering:)

    1. I’m praying for that sweet reunion with your son this Christmas! I can’t even imagine the excitement and your Mama heart about to explode!

  5. I have often been overwhelmed with the holidays and your first tip is definitely one I used this year! I also realized how much resentment I was carrying regarding division of responsibilities. The best Christmas present was getting my husband to agree to divide some of the household responsibilities so that I didn’t feel so overwhelmed and resentful. And I have been praying that he would do this with a happy heart. He has taken on some of the daily tasks such as weekday dinners! And he loves doing it! So, this holiday season has been less stressful than many prior. My business has been so busy, and having just a couple things off my plate has helped me immensely! Praying that the anxiety and overwhelm dissipates for good – and that the holiday season concludes with much hope and joy!

    1. Hi Laura! I’m so glad you involved your husband and he is taking over dinners with a happy heart! It’s so easy to want to do it all – and do it on our own. lol I hope you have a wonderful 2024!