Countdown to Christmas: 25 Ways to Stress Less This Season


For the past several years, I have been very intentional about the amount of stress I allow into my life. In my opinion, life is just too short and precious to have a load of stress weighing me down. Life is a lot more fun, and I am a much better mom, wife, and friend, when I make sure to pursue activities that give joy and meaning to my life.

I gave up trying to have the perfect Christmas years ago. Too much hustle and bustle. I would much rather experience the true joy of the season by doing things with my family than spend my time sitting in traffic, driving around in search of the perfect gift (not to mention a parking spot), wrapping, decorating, and baking.

Maybe you’re with me and want to simplify Christmas this year. Maybe you LOVE everything about this season and pursue it all full tilt! Regardless of what camp you’re in, it’s likely you could benefit from less stress during the holidays. 

Countdown to Christmas: 25 Ways to Stress Less This Season | Duluth Mom

I am sharing my list of twenty-five uncomplicated ideas to help you stress less and add more fun and enjoyment to your holiday season. Some can be done by yourself – others are best enjoyed with friends and family (when safe). Most of the activities are low-cost or free. All of these ideas will give you a chance to decompress, have fun, and put a little more merry into your Christmas and happy into your holidays!

Get It Done

  1. For those of you who don’t like to shop, go to your favorite discount department store and buy a gift card for everyone on your list. Ask for envelopes to match and buy a bag of tiny stick-on bows. BOOM – you’re done. *BONUS: Did you know you can buy a box of gift cards from the customer service desk at Target? If you put the same amount on each card, it’s a single transaction and you are outta there in no time flat.

Cozy Up Indoors

  1. Set up everything in advance so you can sleep in on a weekend morning.
  2. Spend an entire day in your pajamas.
  3. Slowly sip a cup of hot chocolate next to a cozy fire.
  4. Sit and watch snowflakes drift lazily down from the sky.
  5. Put up a bird feeder and enjoy watching the activity of chickadees, nuthatches, woodpeckers and other birds. Don’t want to buy a bird feeder? You can easily make one out of a 2-liter pop bottle – YouTube has plenty of tutorials!

Countdown to Christmas: 25 Ways to Stress Less This Season | Duluth Mom

The Great Outdoors

  1. Go out in a snowstorm with your kids and catch snowflakes on your tongue.
  2. Go sledding!
  3. Visit Kitchi Gammi Park at Brighton Beach on a windy, wavy day and enjoy the show!
  4. Hike the short, scenic path up the east side of Amity Creek (the one closest to the playground) at Lester Park to see a frozen waterfall! Later in the winter, walk ON Amity Creek above the waterfall and you’ll see sights you never see in the summer.
  5. Take a walk under the moon.
  6. Drive just a few miles south of the Twin Ports to visit Jay Cooke State Park. Bring some bird seed to tempt chickadees into landing on your hand!
  7. While at Jay Cooke, check out the swinging bridge over the semi-frozen St. Louis River.
  8. After you are done outside at Jay Cooke, warm up next to the beautiful open fireplace in the River Inn Shelter, where there are several tables to sit and enjoy lunch or a snack.

Holiday Traditions

  1. Let the kids decorate – and be okay with the results.
  2. Order in a Christmas dinner.
  3. Volunteer to help with community toy or coat collections.
  4. Make a point to greet everyone you see while shopping. We can all use some cheer this year
  5. Grab the family and for a neighborhood walk.
  6. Sing your heart out to Christmas tunes on the radio.
  7. Take fun holiday photos at Spafford Park in Cloquet.
  8. Go to Bentleyville on a weeknight. 
  9. Tour the Glensheen Mansion – Inside and out.
  10. For a warmer, cozier holiday lighting experience, pack the family into the car and view the entries into the 2022 Christmas Lighting Challenge! Check out the map of official entries and vote for your favorite.

Countdown to Christmas: 25 Ways to Stress Less This Season | Duluth Mom

My final tip

25. Take time every day to just stop and breathe fully and deeply, taking in all the wonder and joy of the season!

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Sarah VanderMeiden
A native of St. Paul, Minnesota, Sarah is a dyed-in-her-wool-socks Minnesotan whose life-long love of woods and water drew her to move to Duluth 23 years ago this November. An avid hiker, she loves to explore all locales on Lake Superior’s shore, snowshoe frozen North Shore rivers and go for walks in Duluth’s Lester Park. Working in Higher Education for over 20 years, Sarah’s greatest joy was to talk with students about how to navigate the challenges of college, what they wanted to do with their lives and how to make their dreams come true. After stepping out of this career to be a stay-at-home-mom, Sarah has returned to her passion of helping people achieve their personal and professional goals as a Board Certified Coach. To find out more about coaching and her background, visit or find her on Facebook at Sarah VanderMeiden Coaching . Sarah’s family lives in the country and share their five acres with a small flock of laying hens, deer, wild turkey, way too many mice and 10,000 honeybees. Sarah has given up gardening and keeping her house clean to pursue her many interests including enjoying the lake, singing, photography and spending time with her family camping in their vintage travel trailer or tickling each other on the couch.