Setting Boundaries During the Holidays

No one is entitled to your time or money.

The holidays are fast approaching. For many, this is a wonderful time of year full of magic and joy, for others, it is two straight months of stress followed by a January crash. Christmas parties, family dinners and don’t get me started on the credit card bill! It all adds up and can make us lose sight of the fun and magic this time of the year brings. If you are as tired of this as I am I hope you will take what I say to heart about setting holiday boundaries.

Holiday Boundaries

What Are You making the Holidays About

Every year I hear complaining (and complain some myself) about not having time, spending so much money or feeling it went by before even getting to enjoy it. Think about your own experiences. Can you relate to any of these feelings?

It all comes down to getting caught up in obligation type thinking. I’m going to lay on some heavy truth here so please keep an open mind and consider these things:

  • Who is on your Christmas shopping list? Are these people you want to buy gifts for or people you feel you “should” buy gifts for?
  • What do you feel you need to spend on gifts? Do you participate in Black Friday? Is it because you enjoy it? Or is it for stuff?
  • What events do you attend and are they because you want to or because you are supposed to?
  • Do you participate in kid school fundraisers? Is it because they sell what you want or because it is a kid?
Holiday Boundaries

Just think about it for a second. We replace enjoying Thanksgiving with preparations of buying stuff. We replace thoughtful gifts with expensive gifts. We max credit cards to buy for people we hardly know. We say yes to things we don’t have time for… And all the while the season slips by without us enjoying it. Have you ever been to a mall around Christmas, or worse yet actually worked retail? It’s enough to suck the joy peace and cheer right out of you.

Learning to Say “No” and Setting Holiday Boundaries

If you want this year to be different, the solution is rather an easy one… learn to say “No”. We need to let go of the mentality that setting holiday boundaries will make us a bad person. It may seem hard but here are some starting points:

Establish a budget early: Decide what you are willing to spend before the holiday starts. This will aid in making decisions about fundraiser spending, who to buy for and the amount of each gift.

Establish your to buy for list early: Let people know ahead of time that gifts will only be given to certain groups. If you are not going to buy for friends, just tell them. If you don’t want to buy for co-workers, don’t. If you don’t have to budget for every family member, do a family gift.

Establish Christmas gift lists early: Only buy with meaning and purpose. Parents especially will appreciate a little discussion before you show up with another toy they don’t need.

Establish personal time early: Looking ahead at the calendar and budget time for you or your personal family. Will you make every Friday family Christmas movie night? Will you schedule a day for Christmas lights? Plan it ahead of time and keep it.

Establish a priority list early: Are these certain family or friend events that happen yearly you love or hate? Make a decision ahead of time what things you are willing to go out of the way for and you are not.

Use this preparation as an aid to help you say no to the things that fall outside of what you are comfortable with. Remember no one is entitled to your time or money.

The Meaning of Christmas

What do the holidays mean to you? We may all come from different cultures and religions, but we all have something about the holidays that are important. I encourage you to take this year to focus on that. Some benefits of Holiday boundaries will include:

  • A focus on Self-care. For more on self-care refer to my blog: The Foundation of Self Care
  • Establishing healthy habits
  • Less stress and anxiety
  • Better money management
  • Setting a positive example to children about the meaning of the holidays
  • More time for other important things

Let’s make ourselves a priority this Holiday season!

Setting boundaries During the Holidays

17 thoughts on “Setting Boundaries During the Holidays

  1. I love your info-graphic at the end there. Very pinnable. Every year I struggle with the feeling that I somehow missed the holiday, even while my kids are opening gifts. This year we don’t really have a lot of money for gifts, so it will be very experienced driven as we settle into our new home.


  2. Boundaries are a must for the holidays especially! That’s when we spend the most time with some toxic family members and when many tempers fly high. With covid around this year, things will be much different for my family and I as we plan to all stick in our own households for safety reasons and we all agreed on no gifts as well. Sad, but at least I will have all the time for self-care these holidays.


  3. I think a level of boundaries at the holidays are important! I got in such a rut in previous relationships of boyfriends (who earned a lot more than me) spending a fortune on presents and then I’d feel so bad with my gifts!

    Katie |


  4. Hi Hannah. I completely agree. It’s all too easy for things to get completely out of control – especially with a bit of ‘guilt tripping’ thrown in by some relatives! As far as I’m concerned, Christmas doesn’t need to cost a fortune nor involve huge numbers of people – if Christmas Day consists solely of me and my wife spending quality time together that’s fine with me.


  5. Thank you for sharing! These ideas and thinking points are certainly helpful. This year the holidays will be strange with all the Covid-19 restrictions so no extra stress needed. Also many people don’t have the same budget anymore than last year so better move to an immaterial giving at least for a year xx


  6. Loved this post! It’s so true, we need to set boundaries during the holiday season. I hate how the holidays are supposed to be a happy and joyous time but tend to be more stressful and upsetting because it’s filled with pleasing other people. i think talking to family ahead of time is so important and setting those boundaries for yourself.

    I think many people will relate to this post.


  7. I love this post! (I will share it on my FB page) I think its about time we learn to say NO, not just during the holidays but throughout the year. Demands in our every day life don’t end, and from that when is the time for self care? And of course planning ahead reduces unnecessary stress.


  8. This is a great post, so many of us get trapped in the thought that we need to have the perfect Christmas and expensive presents! However this can lead to huge amounts of stress and financial instability for some! Taking to family ahead of time and setting realistic gift budgets is defo the way to go! Christmas has become far to materialised these days, we need to take a step back remember it’s about spending quality time with family and friends!


  9. I struggle with overspending. We have SO MANY nieces and nephews. I love gift giving, but if I don’t plan ahead, I tend to go overboard and then get mad at myself for it. I think planning ahead to set boundaries and budgets are essential. Thanks for the post.


  10. Yeah, we are making Christmas all about gifts. When exactly it is the time to stop, evaluate the past year and plan your future.


  11. Many years ago, when my siblings and cousins were all younger and poorer we did a Christmas were we all agreed no one would buy anything new, everything had to be made by us or bought 2nd had. I loved the presents from taht year more than most years combined.


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