10 Ways to Slow Down and Enjoy a More Intentional Holiday Season


Slow Holiday season - a person sitting by a fire place with a record player, putting on a record

We’re led to believe a slow holiday season is the norm. It’s supposed to be a time of relaxation and reconnecting with family. Left out of the commercials are your dried cracked hands from hanging Christmas lights in 20 degree weather. No where to be seen is your panic attack when you realize you have to cook food for 20 people and get this month’s report to your boss in less than 24 hours.

As much as we’d like the holidays to be a time of slowness and joy, often times they’re not. They get cluttered with stress, people pleasing and things, so many things. Decorations, clothing, gifts from family, gifts from friends, gifts from Janice at work. It’s all supposed to be fun, and yet sometimes it becomes unfun (not a word, but I don’t care).

So to help you slow down and bring the joy back into the most joyful time of year, I’ve put together some tips that will help you have a slow holiday season.

10 Ways to Have a Slow Holiday Season Filled With Intention and Joy

Slow Holiday Season | A person stirring their hot chocolate with a candy cane while eating cookies and reading a book

1. Handmake natural decor

Anyone can walk into a Hobby Lobby and buy some fake garland or a wreath. But making your own natural, compostable decor can be so much more rewarding. From dried orange garlands to DIY wreaths, there are so many ways to make your home festive with decor you made with your own two hands. Not only does it make your decorations unique to you, but it can be a fun activity to do with family or friends. Plus, it’s light on your wallet.

Related: The Great Tree Debate—Is Artificial or Real Better for the Planet?

2. Spend a day shopping small businesses in your town

We often gravitate toward big box stores during the holidays because they’re the ones running the best deals. And they’re running those deals because, as such large corporations, they can afford to. Small businesses often can’t offer such deep discounts, but they still need your support, especially during the holidays.

Make a point to spend a day exploring your local downtown, or find a small business market to attend. It can be a great way to find sustainable, thoughtful gifts you wouldn’t normally think of. Plus, the energy of a small business is so much more welcoming than your local Wal-Mart. It’ll definitely help put you in the holiday spirit.

3. Start new gift giving traditions

If gift giving stresses you out, maybe it’s time to start some new traditions and set boundaries. There are so many ways to exchange gifts with friends and family that focus less on overconsumption and more on thoughtfulness and sustainability. For some gift giving tradition inspo check out this round up of sustainable gift exchange ideas.

4. Make a holiday bucket list

Sit down with your partner, friends, or family and determine your must-do’s for the holiday season. If there are annual parties you attend, get those on the calendar and then work around them. Whether it’s ice skating, Christmas caroling, or cookie decorating, pick out which activities you don’t want to miss out on and schedule them in advance. This helps avoid any last minute scrambling or overbooking. If someone throws something in at the eleventh hour, don’t be afraid to say no if it’s just too much.

5. Spend less time on social media

Most of us spend probably too much time on social media. And studies show that all this time looking at photos of our friends’ Italian vacations and videos of stranger’s dogs can contribute to anxiety. It’s no different during the holidays. In fact, it may even cause more anxiety with brands funneling the rest of the year’s marketing budget into getting you to buy their product because it’ll make you prettier, funnier, happier or whatever white lie they’re feeding you.

It’s the perfect time to take a break. Consider removing social media apps from your phone for a few days, unfollow accounts that give you the urge to buy, and remove yourself from marketing email lists so you’re not tempted to participate in overconsumption.

6. Make friends and neighbors DIY gifts

Exchanging small gifts with friends or neighbors is a great way to build community. It doesn’t have to be expensive though. You can spend an afternoon putting together a DIY gift that’s kind to the planet and your wallet.

Related: Dreaming of a Green Christmas? Here are 10 tips to Make Your Holiday Season More Sustainable

7. Curl up with a holiday-themed book

Spend the evening curled up with a cup of tea and and a book that fits the season. Set the mood with a couple candles, perhaps a simmer pot for scent, and a cozy blanket. A nice ambiance will help make it something to really look forward to, and don’t forget to turn off your phone to minimize distractions and maximize relaxation.

8. Record your gratitudes each day during the month of December

Recording or journaling gratitudes isn’t a new concept, but if you’re anything like me, you struggle to do it on a regular basis. But make a point of it during the month of December.

Either as part of your morning or evening routine, write down three things you were especially grateful for that day (or the day before). This will help you be more mindful and again, slow down, during what can be an extremely hectic time of year.

9. Schedule time to talk to long-distance friends and family members

Christmas cards are nice, but you know what’s nicer? An actual conversation. Make a point to schedule time to talk with long-distance friends and family members during the holiday season. It doesn’t have to be for long, but catching up for 20-30 minutes can be a great way to reconnect and once again remind you that the holidays are a time of sharing moments together, not just sharing things.

10. Spend time outdoors

Yes, the frigid temps may not make this one seem very inviting, but if you can, fit some outdoors time into your holiday schedule. Whether you spend time ice skating, sledding, or taking a snowy stroll through your local nature preserve, getting outside is proven to help ease anxiety. Plus that hot cup of cocoa by the fire will feel that much more rewarding after some time spent out in the elements.

If you enjoyed reading about how to have a slow holiday season and are craving more sustainable living tips, then sign up for The Eco Edit! You’ll be joining hundreds of other pro-planet enthusiasts who are passionate about bettering the world through small, sustainable steps

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