What is the most stressful part of organizing the holiday season for you?

From now until January there are many celebrations. During the holiday season expectations are raised.  The food needs to be perfect, the gift needs to be thoughtfully purchased, the house needs to be tastefully decorated, and everyone needs to be happy all the time.  Record your expectations for the season.  Everything you can think of.  Look through your list and decide on a plan that makes each expectation manageable for you.  If your expectations align with practicality, this holiday will be less stressful and more fun.

Planning Food

Could you:

Make a simple Holiday meal.

Make a simple Holiday meal.

  1. Cook ahead of time and freeze the food
  2. Plan a potluck with everyone contributing
  3. Buy your holiday baking
  4. Simplify your menu, prepare fewer items



Gift Giving

Gift Giving 

Could you:

  1. Reduce the number of people you buy for
  2. Draw names so everyone gets one gift
  3. Set a price limit on the value of the gift
  4. Plan an experience instead of buying a gift: go to a play, go out for dinner, and go to a movie



If your expectations align with practicality, holidays will be less stressful and more fun. Share on X


Could you:

Plant a bulb and watch it grow

Use flowers to decorate.


  1.   Put out fewer items
  2.   Use more oversized items to make the space look decorated instead of using  lots of small items
  3.   Decorate with flowers; you don’t have to pack them away when the season is over




Be Happy


Be Happy

Could you:

Spend time together doing things you enjoy

Spend time together doing things you enjoy

  1. Plan your schedule so you don’t get over tired
  2. Plan downtime so each member of the group can spend time alone
  3. Plan things you like to do, not have to do
  4. Plan to exercise and get fresh air


Can you learn to ask for help and accept help?

Can you learn to ask for help and accept help? 

Virtual organizing allows me to support your organizing projects by providing planning, coaching and mentoring while both remaining safely at home Book a 30-minute complimentary virtual organizing assessment. https://mindoverclutter.as.me/virtualorganizingassessment


A blue and white striped tunnel in the background with Julie Stobbe in the foreground wearing a white blouse. Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer and Lifestyle Organizing Coach who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She has been working with clients since 2006 to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She uses her love of physical activity to reduce clutter, in your home and office. She guides and supports you to manage your time. If you’re in a difficult transition Julie can coach you to break-free of emotional clutter constraining you from living life on your terms. Online courses are available to help instruct, coach and support your organizing projects. Get started by downloading Tips for Reorganizing 9 Rooms.

Contact her at julie@mindoverclutter.ca

Click here to learn more about her online course Create an Organized Home.

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  1. Diane Quintana on December 2, 2019 at 8:46 am

    Love this, Julie! All great suggestions. I completely agree with you – taking the pressure off really helps to make the holiday season joyful!

    • Julie Stobbe on December 2, 2019 at 9:29 am

      Thanks for the lovely affirmation.

  2. Janet Barclay on December 2, 2019 at 9:05 am

    When I was still living at home with my parents, my mother discovered a menu for a make-ahead Christmas dinner. You prepared the mashed potatoes and turnips ahead of time and they just had to be popped in the oven. She still cooked the turkey on Christmas day, but it took a lot of pressure off to have the veggies prepared ahead of time.

    • Julie Stobbe on December 2, 2019 at 9:29 am

      One year I head to cook the turkey ahead of time (one day). A friend told me how to reheat it with some of the juices and put the roasted skin over top, cover it and reheat at 290. I did it and it worked great. Now my sister does that every year. She likes having the carving done, gravy made, bones boiled for soup and the mess cleaned up the day before.

  3. Seana Turner on December 2, 2019 at 9:57 am

    Amen on aligning your expectations. I think some of the best times I’ve ever had were the ones that surprised me. In contrast, when I have my hopes set very high on things going “a certain way,” this is when I am most likely to be disappointed. To the extent we can, we benefit by striving to minimize our expectations and just see how things unfold. In terms of food, I have to admit that we decided to order Chinese food on Christmas eve many years ago. There is so much else going on, and this just simplifies things. Now it is a beloved tradition!

    • Julie Stobbe on December 3, 2019 at 10:48 am

      We used to go to my Mom’s house for Christmas so we set a tradition of a ” special meal” at our house but not turkey before we went on the road. It changed over the years as the children got older and it became Fondue, meat, cheese and dessert fondues. Still a special event when we are all together.

      • Julie Bestry on December 8, 2021 at 3:36 am

        First, I want some of that fondue!

        Second, Seana celebrated Christmas the way all of *my people* do, having Chinese food. She’d just have to go to the movies, too, and we could make her an honorary Jew. 😉

        • Julie Stobbe on December 9, 2021 at 9:05 am

          Once again this year when I was planning the visiting schedule with my children the comment came up,” isn’t fondue a Christmas Eve tradition?” I could certainly add Chinese food to a tradition.

  4. Linda Samuels on December 2, 2019 at 11:51 am

    What a great series of questions? Being clear about your expectations and actually questioning them is a great way to move into the holiday season. It begs the question, just because I’ve always done something one way, does it mean I have to keep doing it that way? And clearly, the answer is no…at least it’s no if you want it to be.

    Wishing you and yours a very happy (just as you expect it to be) holiday season!

    • Julie Stobbe on December 3, 2019 at 10:45 am

      This year I asked my family if a Turkey dinner is a must for Christmas being Christmas. I was surprised to learn the expectation was Yes. Now I know and I can make my plan.
      Wishing you and yours a very special hoilday season.

  5. Julie Bestry on December 3, 2019 at 4:22 pm

    The advantage of being an unmarried woman with no kids and a member of a minority religion is that pretty much nobody has any expectations for me to cook, decorate, or shop, so anything I do choose to do provides me (and others) with unexpected delight. For those who struggle under the weight of those expectations, your wise guidance can make that load quite a bit lighter!

    • Julie Stobbe on December 3, 2019 at 8:32 pm

      If you can keep the expectations under control it does provide some structure to the holiday season. You can repeat well liked events, drop unimportant events and the schedule is set without much extra planning. I do like that your life allows for surprises. We should all encorporate the unexpected into our holiday season and enjoy the delight we see. Thanks for your comments and enjoy your holiday time.

  6. Sabrina Quairoli on December 6, 2021 at 11:14 am

    Great post! I love buying gifts and giving them out, but I have changed to sending them now. I am sending gifts to fewer people in my life than in prior years. This allows me to spend more on an edible gift instead of adding clutter to a person’s home. Edible gifts help me stay in alignment with my keeping things clutter-free belief.

    • Julie Stobbe on December 6, 2021 at 12:16 pm

      I like edible gifts too. This year I am looking for packages that have all the ingredients to make something and the person only needs to follow the directions. I have a lovely bean soup, I have seen chili and cake in a cup, not quite what I need. It is hard to find ones with healthy ingredients and not over-processed. The search goes on.

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