8 Things You Don’t Need for Christmas

January 30, 2023 5 min read

It’s easy to lose sight of what Christmas is really about. The commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ is a season of giving, healing, and joy. That means real, true joy, not the kind of superficial joy that comes and goes like the turning of a page on the calendar.

That tends to get lost a bit in our modern version of Christmas, which is celebrated mostly by giving and getting presents, eating too much, and getting a day or two off work. Those things are all well and good, but they don’t paint a complete picture. Too often, we get caught up in trying to create a “perfect” Christmas experience, and end up being too caught up in material things.

With that in mind, don’t think about Christmas in terms of what you need to make it perfect. Consider instead the things you really don’t need this holiday season. When you get rid of what you don’t need you might just discover that what’s left is even more precious than you realized.

Lots of Expensive Presents

This is a big one. While the spirit of giving and generosity is absolutely a major part of what makes the Christmas season special, it’s very easy to put too much emphasis on gift giving and getting. Surprisingly, it seems like the giving part is the hardest to let go of.

We often put too much pressure on ourselves to find the perfect gift for everyone on our list. Or we put too much stock in giving our kids everything they’ve asked for, stretching our budgets and sanity thin in an attempt to create our idea of a perfect Christmas for the ones we love. Ultimately, that’s not what the holiday is about.

Going frantically from store to store in search of that one perfect something has been burned into our collective brains by Hollywood, but could anything be further from the true spirit of Christmas?

Just remember that small gifts are okay. Homemade gifts are okay. No gifts at all is okay. A generous spirit and a need to give the best and biggest present are not the same thing.

The Best Christmas Decorations on the Block

You know how it goes. A neighbor puts up a string of lights, so you put up two strings of lights. They get one of those illuminated reindeer, so you get a giant inflatable snowman. So it goes, until it looks like you’re living in the Griswold house.

You don’t need any of that. Celebrate your Christmas, and let your neighbor celebrate theirs. Take a page from Charlie Brown’s book; a simple twig of a Christmas tree with just a bulb or two is every bit as beautiful if it’s special to you and your family. 

Traditions That Don’t Serve You

Have you ever looked at something you do all the time and really asked yourself, “Why am I doing this?” Holiday traditions can be like that. Sometimes we do the same thing every year out of habit and forget to ask ourselves if we really want to do it.

There are countless possible examples, big and small. Watching a holiday movie you no longer enjoy. Hanging up decorations that bring back bad memories. Feeling pressured to celebrate Christmas in a way that doesn’t feel authentic and true to you. Let all that go!

That’s not to say holiday traditions should be done away with altogether. In fact, you may have some really great ones that you and your family love, and you should absolutely hang onto those. But by clearing away some of the old traditions that no longer serve you, you might even make room for some new traditions that are much, much more fulfilling.

An Elaborate Meal

Look, I like turkey, ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes and all the pies in the world as much as the next guy. But take it easy. Don’t get too stressed about making Christmas dinner the meal to end all meals. It doesn’t have to be fancy, and it doesn’t have to be expensive.

Christmas Cards

This could be filed under “traditions that don’t serve you,” but let’s give christmas cards they’re own category. If you love sending out Christmas cards, go for it. There’s nothing in the world wrong with that! But you don’t have to send out a hundred cards with handwritten messages for everyone you know if you don’t have the capacity for it.

Feel free to cut it down to just sending cards to your 10 or 20 closest people… or don’t send them at all! Nobody will be mad at you. And if they are, they might just have some issues of their own to work out. Oh, and the other side of that coin also applies: don’t keep score of who does and doesn’t send you a Christmas card. You’re better than that.

The Whole Family to Be Together

Nothing against family togetherness. Getting to spend quality time with loved ones is one of the truly great things about the holidays, and having family under one roof can be a beautiful thing.

But don’t obsess over it. Don’t make it something that has to happen to make it the perfect Christmas. If Aunt Barb and Uncle Frank can’t make it to the potluck, don't hold it against them. And by the same token, let yourself off the hook if you can't (or just don’t want to) go to every single family member’s Christmas shindig.

A Sense of Entitlement

Entitlement is sneaky. It catches us off guard sometimes, and there couldn’t be anything more antithetical to the true meaning of Christmas. We accidentally let ourselves become entitled when we expect things to be a certain way, or when we think we deserve a certain kind of Christmas experience.

We also accidentally give our kids a sense of entitlement when we buy them every single thing on their Christmas list, and they learn to expect to get everything they want. Instead, work on teaching them the joy of giving back.

Everything to be Perfect

This kinda sums it up, I think. Let go of the pressure you put on yourself—and perhaps even more importantly, those around you—to make Christmas perfect. Rather than striving for a Christmas you saw in a Hallmark movie or on a Pinterest board, let go of the Christmas ideal in your head.

Instead, focus on how special it is to be able to experience this holiday with your family. At the end of the day, you don’t need much else.


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