Instagram lies.

Well, at least I’m sure it does at some point over Christmas. 

When I see people posting pictures of how wonderful setting up the tree is and how magical the decorating was (okay, okay, I’ve done this…I’m guilty), it reminds me how often that process has not been an Instagrammable moment for me over the years.

I would routinely be WAY overambitious in thinking I could accomplish both the outdoor decorating and putting up the tree in about 35 minutes flat, only to be incredibly frustrated when the process took far longer than the twelve days of Christmas themselves. 

You know, the realization that the lights that worked last year when you put them away, mysteriously broke in July and didn’t bother to tell anyone? Or the tree topper that toppled you over the chair you were standing on? That’s what I’m talking about. 

It was in those moments that my Christmas spirit would evaporate. 

Got moments like that in your family? 

We all know that Christmas creates incredible pressure, and your family ends up caving under the weigh of expectation.

How do you fix that?

I’m learning, year by year, what I need to do to make sure the prep for Christmas doesn’t kill Christmas. 

Here’s are some holiday tips that can make your holiday more peaceful all around. 

1 – Create realistic expectations

If the secret to happiness is low expectations, then set realistic expectations for the holidays. 

Take your expectations and cut them in half. You might find some joy in the process.

2 – Set a reasonable pace

When I was in school, my last exam would finish on December 23rd. I’d have 24 hours to get everything ready. I’d run into Christmas exhausted.

Now, theoretically, I could start preparing in July. But I still tend to leave it too late.

A sustainable pace creates a sustainable peace. And who doesn’t need that? 

3 – Expect the unexpected

I don’t like surprises, but Christmas is full of them. 

If you expect surprise guests, surprise commitments, surprise interruptions and surprise expenses, you won’t be as a surprised. And you’ll be much more gracious.

4 – Agree on a budget

Peace on earth is one thing. Peace in January is another.

If you agree on a budget for everything and everyone ahead of time, you will significant reduce your stress before Christmas.

5 – Say no

You don’t have to go to every Christmas party or send cards to everyone you know.

When you say no to the less important things, you’re saying yes to what matters most. 

6 – Rest

Someone once said 70% of discipleship is a good night’s sleep. There’s some truth in that.

If you’re rattled, frazzled and angry, go to bed.

You are at your most kind when you’re at your most rested. 

7 – Prioritize time with God

Unfortunately, one of the great omissions of the Christmas season is peoples’ personal time with God. The very reason we’re doing all of this is to celebrate someone who loves you.

So love Him back. Start your day with God, and you’re far more likely to remember Him in all your moments. 

When I following these seven guidelines, Christmas is so much better.
But it’s not just better for me, it’s significantly better for everyone else too. 

And then you might have something to Instagram about.