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5 Tips for a More Relaxing Holiday Season

thoughtfully apple pie love story

This time of year can be a little nuts. Between holiday parties, family visits, traveling and present-gathering, the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s sometimes feel like a whirlwind we barely have time to enjoy.

The funny thing is, we bring this upon ourselves. In our effort to celebrate and participate in all the joy, we often end up over-consuming, over-committing, and pushing our real needs aside.

So this year, I’m taking a different approach. Rather than run around like a tornado, I’m hoping to being more intentional and thoughtful in every aspect of the holiday season. From what I buy to how I schedule my family’s time, I hope to simplify, streamline and slow down, so that when January arrives we feel like the holidays were more about sharing good cheer and less about stress.


Here are a few new things I’m trying:

Buying fewer, more thoughtful gifts. In the past, I’ve left shopping ’til the last minute then raced around trying to buy random things for all the people on my list (which is inevitably twice as long as I anticipated). This is just silly, since there are easy ways to make gifting more efficient and meaningful. A new brand I absolutely love is Thoughtfully. Their unique gift boxes offer recipients a fun and delicious experience that lasts long after the gift is opened. From pie and cookie-making supplies to cold brew coffee and BBQ kits, Thoughtfully has something for everyone. And your life as the giver will be easy as pie 😉


thoughtfully co gift boxes

Focusing on experiences, rather than material goods. Most of us are so busy that time with loved ones can be the most valuable gift of all. My kids were pretty overwhelmed by Christmas last year, so instead of buying them more toys (of which they have plenty) I’m giving them a day with me at the aquarium and their favorite park. A day of play won’t cost me anything and will fill them up in the way they want most.

Giving generously to families who do need material goods. My family is fortunate to have what we need to live and thrive, but many around the world are not. The holidays provide us with a great opportunity to reflect on what we have, feel grateful for it, and think about how we can help meet the needs of others. This year, we’re helping a family in our community and donating to organizations who address the causes nearest to our hearts.

Spending more quiet nights at home. Tyler and I skipped a night out recently in favor of baking mini apple pies (pie for him, crisp for me) and curling up with a movie we’ve been meaning to watch for the last six months. Thoughtfully’s Apple Pie Love Story box gave us everything we needed to make our date-night-in happen. It felt like a real treat – and festive – even though we never left our house.

thoughtfully gift boxes

thoughtfully gift boxes

Saving and reusing holiday supplies whenever possible. Instead of tossing the wrapping paper, tissue, paper stuffing, ribbon, bags and envelopes from shipments and holiday gifting, I save what’s in good condition and repurpose it at the next holiday. This time of year, I pull out my bountiful box of tasteful wrapping supplies and combine them in different ways to create beautiful gifts – without having to buy a thing. This habit is a great way to save time, money and waste during the holiday season.



Giveaway has ended.

This post is sponsored by Gigasavvy. Thank you for supporting my blog and the brands that make it possible. I so appreciate your support!


  • Kelsey
    November 18, 2016 at 5:47 pm

    I am finally starting to get excited for the holidays! My favorite part of the holidays is seeing family we only get to see a few times a year! Each year we adopt a family at church to help support during the holiday and pack meals!

  • Nicole Jenkins
    November 18, 2016 at 6:16 pm

    I love family traditions around the holiday season and now that we have a little one of our own, I am so excited to create some of our own traditions with our family.

  • Heather
    November 18, 2016 at 6:21 pm

    The holidays just make every day feel cozier; people seem to be in better moods, people make more time to see each other, and of course all the snuggles from my cats since they are cold 😀

  • Katja
    November 18, 2016 at 8:18 pm

    I always look forward to spending time with family and cooking delicious food!

  • Amy
    November 19, 2016 at 3:30 am

    Now that I have children, the best part of the holidays is including them in our traditions and making new ones with t

  • Hannah G
    November 19, 2016 at 5:06 am

    I love the holidays because I get to see family and friends that I don’t get to see any other time of year.

  • Shannon
    November 19, 2016 at 5:41 am

    I love these simple but very meaningful ideas! My favorite thing about the holidays is driving around to look at decorated houses with my family. I always did that as a kid and am introducing it to my 1 year old this year 🙂 we also donated toys and essential items to kids via my daughter’s daycare. It always feels good to give back!

  • Kaylin@EnticingHealthyEating
    November 19, 2016 at 7:16 am

    What I love most about the holidays are just what Thoughtfully is bringing to the table – experiences. The experience of walking through neighborhoods to check out the Christmas lights, hot cocoa in one hand and holding my lover’s hand in the other. The experience of seeing joy in a kid’s face as they see what Santa has brought them on Christmas morning.

  • Catherine
    November 19, 2016 at 8:29 am

    What I love most about the holidays: our church has a Christmas celebration for the homeless women and men whom we serve regularly throughout the year. We are encouraged to buy sleeping bags, blankets, coats, hats, socks, etc. to give to our “neighborhood friends,” as we call them. I love shopping for these gifts for people who need them so much.

  • Emily
    November 19, 2016 at 8:46 am

    I am looking forward to spending time with family!

  • Darla
    November 19, 2016 at 2:50 pm

    I love how cheerful everyone is.

  • Meghan Buchman
    November 19, 2016 at 6:52 pm

    I love the closeknit family feel to teh holidays & I love giving back at this time of year. A tradition I have passed on to my son.

  • Julie
    November 20, 2016 at 1:48 am

    I like family meals the most! It’s fun to get together and eat good food.

  • manda
    November 20, 2016 at 9:39 am

    I love the food and warmth of the season.

  • Emily @Sinful Nutrition
    November 21, 2016 at 8:07 am

    I do a 12 days of giving during the holidays, and this would be perfect for one of them!

  • Catherine Jackson
    November 21, 2016 at 11:32 am

    I love seeing my family and cherishing my time with them. The holidays are filled with so many good memories – making Christmas chocolate treats with my mom, opening one “special” present on Christmas Eve, reading the Christmas story from the Bible around the tree, driving around looking at lights, and so many more! I hope to bring cheer to the people I am around by being present and giving more meaningful gifts this year!

  • livivua chandler
    November 21, 2016 at 2:52 pm

    I love the holiday decorations and spending time with family.

  • Annamarie V
    November 21, 2016 at 10:34 pm

    I love getting together with my family, it’s great to spend time with everyone. I am really looking forward to this year because we have a new addition to the family, my niece had a baby this year and she has been a joy for our family.

  • Nikki Fahey
    November 22, 2016 at 4:03 am

    i like to see my family all in one place, stay up late and chat too

  • Heather
    November 22, 2016 at 5:57 am

    Smart tips — thanks for writing and sharing! As we do every year, we’ll bake a few batches of cookies for the single Marines in my husband’s squadron. Hope they bring some holiday cheer to those young men and women!

  • Kris Eldean
    November 22, 2016 at 7:11 pm

    Sending an unexpected flower bouquet to an elderly neighbor and making an annual holiday treat for friends and family are two of the ways I spread a little holiday cheer.

  • Jordan D.
    November 23, 2016 at 5:47 am

    I just love spending time with family and reminiscing on good memories together.

  • Melissa
    November 23, 2016 at 7:56 am

    We’re doing the exact same thing this year—slowing way down and spending money on experiences rather than gifts. Last year we delivered a pie to Target employees working on Christmas Eve. Not sure what we’ll do this year but thanks for the reminder and prompting! Love this post Amelia!

  • Sarah
    November 23, 2016 at 3:28 pm

    Great tips! We woke up to a wintery wonderland and now I’m really in the holiday mood. It was a day outside having fun with the girls in the snow, the crisp cool air, and our friends and sipping on hot cocoa after. Now I’m back home and while I would normally be stressed with a long list of things to get done before Thanksgiving tomorrow I’m just checking them off. I’m totally team apple crisp, unless it’s caramel apple crisp pie. 😉

  • Manda Shank
    November 25, 2016 at 1:31 pm

    I would like to spend more time with my family.

  • susie
    November 25, 2016 at 3:00 pm

    I like spending time with my family.

  • Shelley Hudson
    November 27, 2016 at 8:12 pm

    What a great way to get your readers thinking about gifting experiences instead of store-bought schtuff that’s mostly meaningless. Being less wasteful and more charitable are my goals, too…for the holidays and for always!

  • Lindsay
    November 27, 2016 at 8:31 pm

    I love the holidays but am trying to have more time to “be in the moment” this year but not over scheduling, not over planning, and {attempting} reducing my time spent on my phone or laptop (hallmark movies are a-okay!). Each of my daughters selected a non-profit a few months ago to donate money too and we’ve been making holiday cards for the Red Cross’ veterans card program in an effort to reach my young ones more about empathy and giving.

  • Kelly
    November 27, 2016 at 8:32 pm

    I would love to gift this to a dear friend who moved across the country this year. She and her sweet husband and daughter are chasing their dreams and are missing home right now. I’d love to brighten their Christmas a little. Thanks for the chance to win!

  • Kelly
    November 28, 2016 at 5:38 am

    I would gift this to a good friend for who moved across the country with her sweet husband and daughter to chase their dreams. She’s homesick and this would help to brighten her Christmas! Thanks for the chance to win.

  • Sherry
    November 28, 2016 at 10:01 am

    What a pleasure to read the responses. I am rethinking my holidays, hoping to slow down and give homemade gifts. Thinking to make homemade vanilla extract and homemade bread for friends. I look forward to spending family time and setting a tone of being grateful for the many blessing we enjoy.

  • Amelia Winslow
    November 30, 2016 at 11:06 am

    Nothing is better than homemade bread, right?! And vanilla extract – such a wonderful idea! I’ve never made it and really have no idea how. Is it easy?

  • Amelia Winslow
    November 30, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    I love that you involved your kids in deciding where to donate family funds, that seems so appropriate and meaningful. And I’ll check out the Red Cross program-we’d love to do that too. Thanks for these ideas, Lindsay!

  • Amelia Winslow
    November 30, 2016 at 2:05 pm

    Well-put – for the holidays and always!

  • Amelia Winslow
    November 30, 2016 at 2:06 pm

    A winter wonderland sounds so dreamy! My daughter is begging to see snow – one thing we don’t have in Southern California!

  • Amelia Winslow
    November 30, 2016 at 2:25 pm

    Delivering a pie to employees working on Christmas Eve is so thoughtful – you’ve inspired me to do the same!

  • Amelia Winslow
    November 30, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    So often elderly neighbors don’t get the attention they need and deserve – this is a wonderful way to check in and deliver cheer, Kris!

  • Amelia Winslow
    November 30, 2016 at 2:27 pm

    I love this, Heather. Christmas is joyous for those with big families but can be lonely for many, and it’s great that you’re spreading the joy beyond your own family.

  • Amelia Winslow
    November 30, 2016 at 2:28 pm

    Holidays are even better with new babies!!

  • Amelia Winslow
    November 30, 2016 at 2:28 pm

    I’ve always wanted to do that, Emily – love that you do!

  • Amelia Winslow
    November 30, 2016 at 2:30 pm

    Simple acts like this mean so much to the recipients, beyond getting their basic needs met, and it can be just as impactful for much to the givers. Nothing fills the soul like giving. Thanks for sharing this idea and for doing this work, Catherine!

  • Amelia Winslow
    November 30, 2016 at 2:31 pm

    Christmas lights always had an impact on me too, Shannon – it’s what made the holidays feel truly festive when I was little!

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