How to Be Present During the Holiday Season

From practicing mindfulness to delegating to-do list items, Judy Lester with CPB Coaching shares tips on having a less stressful and more joyful holiday season this year.


Taking time to be still and pray while reflecting on the things that have a positive or negative effect on you are several ways to find peace during the holidays. “A lot of my clients journal about what went well during the day and what didn’t, and what about them they would change. Just creating that sort of mindfulness is very empowering and helps you feel more controlled during the busyness of the holidays,” Judy says.

Reflecting on previous family interactions is also helpful. “We get triggered by others especially around the holidays. One thing you can do before having any interactions at lots of parties and gatherings is to set the intention that, 

  • I’m not going to be sucked into that this year. 
  • I can agree to disagree. 
  • We don’t have to argue. 
  • I don’t have to have the last say. 
  • I’m going to let this go.

We have the power to change what we’re thinking to change how we feel and how we react.” She suggests taking deep, calming breaths and talking to someone else or taking a walk and getting some fresh air to clear your mind.


Our brains often use busyness as a way to avoid things we don’t want to commit to, Judy says. She recommends doing a mind dump and pouring out everything you need to get done on paper. “After listing everything you have to do, it’s helpful to put a letter next to it:

  • A is absolutely necessary. 
  • B is it would be great if I could do it. 
  • C is I hope I can fit this in.

Getting others involved in your to-do list is important not only for yourself but those around you. 

“Let’s say you’re a working mom and you want to take care of everything for your kids—laundry, lunch, or the house being picked up. That doesn’t allow kids and families to step up and learn and be part of making the household successful. It puts all the weight on the mom or the dad.” 

Judy suggests letting kids make their own lunches and do their own laundry. “It’s breaking it down as to how I can get this off my plate in a way that allows someone else the joy helping or being responsible. If you really engage others, we all win, because many hands make light work and more people get to share in the success, whether it’s dinner tonight or a big project at work. They’re all part of making it happen and that’s a whole lot more fun.”

She also encourages people to resist the fear of missing out and to be intentional about how to spend time during the holidays. “It’s checking in with yourself and asking, is that potential fear of missing out more important than the extra rest I need or something else I need to get done? What will motivate and energize me more?


Embracing traditions and experiences over gifts is important when it comes to creating a memorable holiday season. Even if you don’t have traditions, it’s never too late to start. “Traditions are something that bring unity to whoever your people are, whether a family unit or a friend group or a combination of both. A tradition may be something that creates anticipation and excitement and is something everyone enjoys or enjoys poking fun at.” 

Judy adds, “Needless to say, regardless of whether you take joy in something or poke fun at it, shared memories create connection. A lot of traditions deserve poking fun at, but you do it anyway because it becomes part of your legacy.”

When it comes to experiences, families can enjoy quality time together in a variety of ways, such as attending the Lighting of the Square, following an Advent calendar, or simply going out for a slice of pie. “It doesn’t have to be anything big. There are great ways to enjoy the holidays together without very much money spent,” Judy says, adding, “Being present mentally and physically with other people is one of the greatest gifts you can give and at no cost at all.”

To get you started, we found some fun and funny family traditions from the best of the Internet. Hopefully one or more will get your creativity flowing on making new memories and finding ways to adapt in the hustle and bustle of the season. 


Every Christmas my brother eats enough food to feed a small army then passes out upside down in my father’s recliner…like I’m not going to draw flowers on his snoring face with a Sharpie like I’ve been doing, literally, since middle school.  ~”JazzHands” in Tennessee

Coming from a family of construction workers and carpenters, every year we up the gift-wrapping ante with more wood, nails, welding, and duct tape. It’s kind of funny watching everyone work tirelessly for 20 minutes to get to a $10 gift card. It’s more of a bonding experience than anything. ~”Bunyon” in Texas

When we were young, we bickered about kid things like typical  siblings. One year our mom got frustrated and hollered, “If I was Baby Jesus, I wouldn’t want to be born in a world with you kids fightin’ all the time!” Now that we’re grown with kids of our own, we repeat this as often as possible on Zoom calls, in Christmas cards, and definitely during the family dinners. We’re all in our 50s and it’s still funny every time.  ~”E-lud” in North Carolina

While many families like to wear ugly sweaters, my family tries to outdo each other every year by making or buying the ugliest or most tacky tree ornament every year.  ~”Torhook” in Oregon

Our family goes on a scavenger hunt for gifts. Since my sister and I were about 15 and 12, our dad has made it a scavenger hunt. We start out with an intro poem. It has a vague clue to the first gift and each gift after has a clue to the next. At first they were just around the house but as we got older they spread around the neighborhood and around the city when we could drive.  ~”Simon” in Texas