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13 Ways I Totally Failed at the Holidays

Do any of us ever feel like we are winning at life? I have rare moments (like, 10 seconds long) where I feel like I’m winning at life, but more often I am just hard on myself. Today (January 6th… the holidays are officially over, right?) I was reflecting on all the things I forgot to do during the holiday season.

13 Ways I Totally Failed at the Holidays (and a few ways I won)

Here are the 13 Ways I Totally Failed at the Holidays:

  1. Never made a single batch of cookies from scratch.
  2. Stopped watering the Christmas tree after day 3.
  3. Never put the Christmas stockings up.
  4. Only watched one Christmas movie.
  5. Didn’t go to any holiday parties.
  6. Didn’t send out any Christmas cards.
  7. Let the new wooden nativity Joseph’s head stay knocked off without gluing it back on throughout the whole season. Ditto for letting the wooden Baby Jesus stay unglued from his manger.
  8. Made neighbor goodies but then ate them myself.
  9. Left Christmas tree up. It’s still up.
  10. Left outside Christmas lights up. They’re still up (and turned on right now – mid-afternoon).
  11. Didn’t go to a single holiday-themed local event.
  12. Didn’t make a special holiday-themed breakfast on Christmas Day.
  13. Didn’t make ANY of the 1,325 things I pinned on my Pinterest Christmas board.

The truth is, though, feeling like you didn’t WIN at the holidays is a fruitless waste of time. There are much more important yardsticks we should use to measure ourselves.

13 Ways to REALLY Win at the Holidays:

  1. Let yourself off the hook. Let go of the feeling that you fell short and recognize that it isn’t a helpful feeling.
  2. Don’t give in to outside obligations that aren’t important to you.
  3. Prioritize what you really care about and make sure the top priorities happen.
  4. Let the Christmas tree stay up as long as it still makes you happy.
  5. Be kind to yourself in front of your children and spouse.
  6. Be kind to your children and spouse.
  7. Apologize and re-focus when you aren’t kind to your children and spouse.
  8. Focus on the things you did right during the holidays.
  9. Be gracious when things don’t go as planned during the holidays.
  10. Spend time talking to, listening to, hugging, and sharing your holiday memories with your children and spouse.
  11. Recognize that non-holiday days can still have a magical element of the holidays if you focus on togetherness, kindness, and appreciation of all your blessings.
  12. Don’t catalog the ways you lost at the holidays (oops!)
  13. Don’t look at Pinterest holiday boards!

I don’t want to spend time dwelling on the ways I think I fell short during the holidays. I would much rather let myself off the hook, and recognize how many things went well during the holiday season:

Ways I Won at the Holidays:

13 Ways I won at the holidays

  1. Got a really great Christmas Cookie magazine and drooled over the amazing cookie recipes and photos with my kids.
  2. Made one batch of soft gingerbread cookies from a mix. Just add water!
  3. Bought a tray of Christmas cookies at Costco. They were good.
  4. Filled Christmas stockings up for Christmas morning.
  5. Hung Christmas lights up outside, even though I was 6 months pregnant.
  6. Hung Christmas lights up in the backyard so we could enjoy them from our living room at night.
  7. Sewed a new advent calendar with the help of my three sons.
  8. Watched one classic Christmas movie with my family.
  9. Recognized that people were sick and moving slowly and had a leisurely, pleasant, Christmas morning.
  10. Went out with the family and cut down a Christmas tree (on a record-breaking cold day!)
  11. Let each son buy gifts for his family members, and helped each boy wrap his gifts.
  12. Had a great Christmas Eve day at my parents’ house, with my parents and sister and brother-in-law.
  13. Spent a full three weeks straight at home with my husband and three boys.


  14. Had several great quality-time days with my boys one-on-one.
  15. Co-wrapped gifts with my husband in the living room so we could hang out while we did it, instead of hiding alone in my bedroom to wrap gifts for hours on Christmas Eve. We put a big box between us on the couch so we could even wrap each other’s gifts while still hanging out together.
  16. Had each son help me prepare at least one meal during the break.
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4 Responses to 13 Ways I Totally Failed at the Holidays

  1. Spark*Amy says:

    Sounds like a winning Holiday all around!!

  2. Patty M says:

    Sounds like a wonderful Christmas. A lot more like the way it should be!

  3. Leslea says:

    The quest for perfection will murder your holiday spirit. <3

  4. Morena says:

    Great post! I was a “fail” this Christmas, too, in the same sense that I didn’t do all the things I had planned. But my kids were perfectly content to just hang out with me at home, and I enjoyed our two weeks together. I was sad to have two of them go back to school Monday. Probably should have used that time to pack up the Christmas decor. Yeah, it’s still up on January 7th. LOL.

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