Surviving Holiday Stress And Building Lasting Memories {Part 1}

Written by Michael & Marlene Griffith, Contributing Writers. This is part one, here you can read part two.

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With the holiday season just around the corner, many of us experience a mix of emotions:

  • Stress about the preparation of the season to come
  • The desire to create lasting traditions
  • Excitement for the holidays
  • Planning commitments with extended family
  • Planning commitments with friends

Let’s be honest, holidays are usually overwhelming.

We’ve had some interesting holiday celebrations. We have done the visit everyone all season long, as well as spending it with just us.

The perfect balance is a little bit of both, but in order to do that you have to ask yourself a few questions:

  • What are you celebrating?
  • Why are you celebrating?
  • Who are you celebrating?
  • Will you be able to serve the Lord as you should throughout this season?
  • What does a season serving the Lord really look like?

When the season is busy, tugging you in a million directions, it’s hard to see it as being purposeful. Occupying your time so much, that you aren’t able to breathe and truly reflect on the purpose of the season, will make for a strenuous holiday season.

  • Don’t feel guilty about not spending enough time with extended family. While it is something that matters because we want to celebrate the season with the ones we love, it isn’t possible to do that (unless you have a really small extended family). In our case we would be traveling all over the states only to feel like we need a vacation from our holidays!
  • Over committing to invites – keep it light, don’t over commit. Don’t allow over-business fog the meaning of the holidays and prevent you from truly enjoying them.
  • Budget – allocate a dollar amount you would like to spend for each family member. How can you figure this out? Well just think of a few things each person may absolutely love and make a list. Do some research on the cost and that will help make the budget. This is a HUGE stress factor over the holidays. If you know what you can do ahead of time, you’ll fight the stress in this area.
  • Limit the number of events you will commit to before getting invites, not as you get them.
  • Recognize and know what triggers stress in the both of you. Be mindful of your spouse; remember that it’s not just about the kids, extended family, friends and so on.
  • Don’t do your shopping the “week of.” Allow time to breathe the days leading up to a big holiday (budgeting and planning ahead of time will help carry this one out).
  • Plan a day (or a few) throughout the season just for you and your spouse. Call a sitter; drop the kids off with grandma or their favorite aunt. But the key here is that this time is neither for shopping nor stressing. It’s for quality time, one on one time…together time. Grab a coffee or a hot chocolate and go for a walk down town or at a park and enjoy your together time.


Traditions create a long-lasting memory and feeling towards the holidays. We don’t want those to be filled with stress and anxiety, or overwhelming feelings. Simple is OKAY, and simple allows for families to enjoy each other and really love on one another. Your children will remember the little years and carry on your legacy in their lives.

It does not have to be busy to be wonderful.

One of the traditions we love is reading the story of the birth of Christ from the Bible. We read a little the night before and the rest on Christmas morning. It creates a calm tone that day and a focus on what Christmas is all about.

The holidays are great time to have some fun. I say a requirement. So do something a little silly. White elephant ornament exchanges are some of the best memories I have. Christmas morning I find myself giggling remembering a gift I gave the week before; a full two liter bottle of cola with a hook on it. Knowing the family member or friend will have to figure a way for their tree to support it. ….. Priceless. ~ Michael

Thanksgiving is a holiday I absolutely love, you know why? My Dad and I always cooked and it was such a calm and uneventful day. I loved it! I’ve purposefully carried on that tradition into our family. And as the kids get older I hear them saying they can’t wait for Thanksgiving because it’s such a fun time with the family. ~Marlene

Most importantly, don’t forget to create traditions that are centered on honoring Christ. Create memories that are centered on the gospel. That may be an eventful meal a few nights a week that start off with listing out blessings we have seen around us, or are currently living out. Talk about the Lord and his love. There are two things we do every year:

We enjoy setting up our Veggie Tales Nativity Set and talking about its meaning with the kids. They love it and look forward to it every year.

And another is photographing the tree the night before, after all the kids have gone to bed. We love this so much, and it creates a lasting photo album for memories.

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This post is part of our Surviving the Holidays With Your Marriage Intact series! Come back all month long for tips, advice, giveaways, and a FREE eBook on the Holidays here at A Biblical Marriage. You can find the rest of the series HERE.


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