• Barbara Murphy-Shannon

Why you don’t need 40 Christmas trees in your home this holiday season.

Updated: Feb 17


No exaggeration.


In a recent episode of The Ellen Show, Martha Stewart came on to do a few DIY holiday projects.

During the conversation, Ellen asked Martha how many Christmas trees she has in her home.

Martha casually replied, “oh, last year I had too many, I had 40”.


40 trees in one home.


She’s a lunatic.


The pressure of Christmas and the holidays can be sometimes overwhelming if you don’t pay attention.


Be careful not to start comparing yourself to everyone around you.

Social media and magazines are always promoting perfection at Christmas.


Glorious photographs on Facebook


Glossy pictures of families celebrating in magazines


and then those annoying 10-page Christmas letters detailing how perfect their life has been over the past year….


I think I just threw up in my mouth…yuk.


Stop buying the magazines


– it’s unrealistic and will only make you feel worse.


How can anyone (normal) possibly afford all the things they are promoting as Christmas essentials?


Here are 7 things you can do to enjoy the season.


1. Say No.

“Learn the art of saying no. Don’t lie. Don’t make excuses. Don’t over explain yourself. Just simply decline. ~Dr. Ann Brown


Don’t take on too much.

You may feel over-committed or experience unrealistic expectations during the holiday season.

Pace yourself.

Do not take on more than you can handle.

Cut out things that aren’t truly important.

Make a list and prioritize the important things.

Decided on your limits and stick to them.

Delegate and ask for help.


2. Don’t try to be Martha Stewart.

“One of the basic rules of the universe is that nothing is perfect. Perfection simply does not exist…Without imperfection, neither you nor I would exist”. ~Steven Hawking


Whether you're a frequent entertainer or a holidays-only host, chances are you are not Martha Steward, the self-proclaimed "maniacal perfectionist." 

Of course, we all want our holidays to be joyful and fun for everyone.

But you shouldn’t for perfect.

The perfect gift,

The perfect tree,

The perfect lights,

The perfect dinner,

The perfect gathering,

and so on. It doesn’t exist.

Shoot for 80% and you’ll have more fun.


3. It’s the thought that counts…right?

“Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas means a little bit more”. ~Dr. Seuss


No money to spend at Christmas can seem overwhelming.

You want to be able to do everything everyone else is supposedly doing, right?

Everyone seems to be loudly talking about their elaborate plans.

Plans that seem far out of reach for someone who for whatever reason, has little cash to spare in the Christmas season.

Yep, I think we’ve all been there.

There are many expenses during the holidays.

Whether you are buying presents, food or traveling,

Don’t get in the habit of overextending yourself.

Plan your budget in advance of the holiday season.

Only spend cash or debit.

Take your credit cards out of your wallet so you’re not tempted to spend more than you should.

Come up with ways to exchange gifts that are fun but not expensive.


4. Family

“Holidays bring out the best in Family dysfunction”


Not everyone in a family gets along, and sometimes there are personality conflicts.

Family members may try guilt trips.

Push boundaries.

You may feel obligated to do things that you don’t want to.

Be realistic about what you can and cannot do.

Set boundaries with your family and communicate them.

Stay one night at your family’s house, not the whole weekend.

Choose one family to visit instead of trying to see everyone.

Stay a couple of hours instead the entire day.

You can’t please everyone and you never will.


5. Missing those you love

“Those we love don’t go away, they walk beside us every day…unseen, unheard, but always near, still loved, still missed and very dear”.


Many people feel loneliness, sadness, and isolation during the holidays.

The holidays can be a reminder of the loss of a loved one.

There is no “right” or “wrong” when it comes to these days.

Sometimes, it’s healthier to cry and mourn. 

Sometimes, it’s healthier to laugh and celebrate.

Sometimes, it’s healthier to just let it be another day,

and sometimes, it’s healthier to look ahead and plan the day.

If you’re feeling lonely

Try picking up a winter hobby or join a group. This will give you planned interactions.

Volunteer with a local charity.

It’s humbling and rewarding.

You may just make new friends.

Keep a lookout for free holiday activities in your area.

Acknowledge that this holiday season won’t be the same.

This is an opportunity to create new traditions as a way to keep your loved one’s memory alive.


Each December 23, on my sister’s Mo’s birthday, my family goes to dinner at an Italian restaurant to celebrate her life, and we’ve created a new tradition.


Spend time with supportive, caring people that understand what you are experiencing.

If you know you have a tough time during the holidays, tell your friends and family to check in on you.


6. Overindulging.

“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas, but if white runs out, I’ll drink red.”


During the winter months our activity levels slow down, and there are many opportunities to eat rich food and alcohol.

This can lead to a feeling of guilt and shame.

When you plan your holiday schedule, allow yourself opportunities to be active.

Be gentle with yourself and understand your goal is moderations.

If you fall off the wagon,

forgive yourself and make tomorrow a better day.


7. Year-End Reflection.

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” ~William Author Ward



As the year comes to a close,

many of us reflect on what has changed and stayed the same.

Take stock of things that are going well,

or that you have done well.

When we always look at what we don’t have we forget to be grateful for what we do have.

Give yourself credit.

Look to the future with optimism.

Be grateful and share it with your loved ones.


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Barbara Murphy-Shannon is a Mindset Business Coach for Women Entrepreneurs. She puts out a weekly blog, offers workshops and retreats. Barbara@barbaramurphyshannon.com

602-663-4433

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