Holiday Season Challenge – Permission to Say No

Next week is Thanksgiving.

In a lot of people’s minds, this kicks off a shit show of a stressful 2 months of being overcommitted, overfed, and broke.

holiday stress

Today I want to encourage you to consider taking a different approach.

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself what you truly enjoy about the holiday season? I mean really enjoy? 

I’ll go first. I love seeing Christmas lights, burning pine scented candles, watching a Christmas Story ten times, and volunteering in some capacity. I also love kids singing Christmas carols, candy canes in my hot chocolate and fireplaces with stockings hanging over them.


It’s the simple stuff that I enjoy the most.

Now for the flip side. What don’t I enjoy about the holiday season? Holiday happy hours. Cookie exchanges. Obligatory Christmas card sending. Secret Santa. Feeling like you need to buy a gift for the random person who gave you one that you didn’t expect. Burl Ives songs. Traditions that no one particularly enjoys but doesn’t stop to question. (Why dear God are people still making or bringing fruitcakes to anything. They’re terrible and always have been.) Perceived pressure to spend a lot of money that goes on a credit card that you can barely afford minimum payments on.

Photo credit – Ringo Ichigo, thanks to HuffPo

Now enters a concept I originally heard from Brene Brown.

The permission slip.

We often can feel like we need permission to do something different than we have done previously. We need to feel allowed.

Well, here’s your permission slip folks.

You have permission to make this holiday season whatever you want it to be. 

artistic wonder

If you don’t have the funds to buy gifts for all the kids and extended family and friends and friend’s pets this year, then don’t.

You can skip sending the massive amounts of Christmas cards (that are probably bought through Shutterfly that look cool but are completely impersonal without even so much as a handwritten anything on them), and instead buy 3 or 4 nice ones that you write a note in and send to those most important to you.

You can say no to the cookie exchanges. No one will die.

You can say no to the secret Santa. No one needs more $20 trinkets anyway, right?

If you have your sights set on a New Years Resolution, start the damn thing now. Resolutions are always a tradition I disliked, so if it’s meaningful to you now, then start it now. (Since you’re saying no to other things you’ll be more able to make the time!)

If you aren’t used to saying no to things or are a serious people pleaser… this will be tough. So if that’s the case, best to start small. It’s easier to say no to a work happy hour than it is to tell your grandma that you don’t like her annual dinner where she shoves 75 people in a two-bedroom house for four hours.

It may be a new concept to challenge holiday traditions and start doing some things for you instead of everyone else but look at it this way. Let’s say we start getting disenchanted/stressed with typical holiday stuff at the age of 25. Let’s also say we live to be 75 years old. For two months of each of those years, we’re grumbling about the holiday season, doing shit we don’t like, and overextending ourselves. That’s 100 months of our lives. 8.333333 years of feeling that way. Is it really worth it?

I really think that just identifying a couple things that cause you the most stress and either saying no to them or setting stronger boundaries with them will make for a much better holiday experience for you (and probably the people around you).

Here’s where the challenge comes in. What is ONE thing you will say no to this year, and what is ONE thing you truly like about this time of year that you will do and enjoy?

Go ahead, you have permission.

permission slip
Photo from Pinterest

5 Replies to “Holiday Season Challenge – Permission to Say No”

  1. I absolutely love this! Yes….after years of imitating Martha, and not the one in the Bible…I still have a twitch this time of year of going all out. Fold them cloth napkins in the shape of a swan and float them on a platter of blue. Haha I’m not going to regress. It’s the most beautiful time of the year! Sharing on xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing!! It’s really liberating to give myself time to stop and question things I’ve done on auto-pilot for years. It’s making this time of year a whole new experience!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My favorite are Christmas Eve service, baking cookies with grandkids, sitting in front of a fire with wassail or tea, taking pictures of Christmas lights, spending time with friends, family pics which is near impossible with my kids.

    What I won’t be doing is putting up as much Christmas stuff. This will probably be a quiet Christmas. May even go to the coast

    Liked by 1 person

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