Holiday happiness and holiday joy

The Ultimate Holiday Happiness Checklist: 8 Ways to Increase Holiday Joy

How would you rate your holiday joy? I love this time of year! Delicious food, holiday lights, family, friends, and celebration all come together to make this my favorite time of year. If you also cherish the holiday season, then you will want to review this holiday happiness checklist.

While I think most people agree the holidays are amazing, it’s also possible to get so caught up in expectations and the hustle and bustle of life that we forget to enjoy this time to the fullest. In this holiday happiness checklist, we provide 8 simple yet powerful strategies to increase holiday joy and make the most out of this wonderful time of year!

Eight Strategies to Increase Holiday Happiness

1. Accept messy as the new normal.

Ever since the fruit incident in the Garden of Eden, nothing has functioned as it should. Theologians describe our world as “fallen.” In short, our world has fallen outside of God’s initial, good design. We live in a broken world where messy is the new normal. Bodily chemicals get out of balance, distorted thinking happens. Nothing functions exactly as it should.

Increase your holiday happiness by accepting messy as normal. Expect that family members will make rude and embarrassing comments. Know that not everyone is going to be nice, nor return the holiday cheer. When life gets messy, accept this a being a normal part of life. Address problems that need to be addressed. Ignore misbehavior that is not worthy of being acknowledged–some things are not worthy of drawing attention to. Then, get back to enjoying this awesome time of year!

 2. Welcome imperfections.

Pinterest, Facebook, and other social media outlets can fool us into thinking that everyone else is having a perfect holiday season. Don’t forget, social media is where people put their best foot forward. It’s a show and a facade. Social media is where we post pictures of that holiday dessert that turned out just right–not the ten failed attempts that preceded it.

Don’t get frustrated when the holidays don’t turn out Pinterest perfect. Instead, embrace the flaws. Years down the road, these messy adventures may end up being some of your favorite holiday memories.

3. Embrace the true meaning of Christmas.

Ultimately, Christmas is about a baby in a manger. It is God, giving us His son. Because of Christmas, you and I can have a restored relationship with our Creator. This is an excellent reason for holiday joy and is worth celebrating!

4. Enjoy the pseudo meanings of Christmas.

Although Christmas is a time of joy, it is also a season when some people are easily offended.

  • When Starbucks changed their holiday cups’ design, and an odd, social-media tirade broke out.
  • Christmas television specials will proclaim that peace, joy, family, and giving are the true meaning of Christmas. Some will get offended that the birth of Christ is overlooked.
  • Finally, it’s highly likely that someone will have the nerve to wish you “happy holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.”

We Christians do silly things sometimes. Don’t be so caught up in defending Christmas that you forget to live out the joy of the season. In fact, why not enjoy the pseudo meanings too? My girls know that Christmas is all about celebrating the time when God became a baby. They also squeal with delight when Elsa Snow—their elf on a shelf—makes her first appearance. They love visits to Santa, holiday shopping, and the glitz and glamour that comes with this time of year. As Christ-followers, we can choose to be offended, or we can choose to celebrate. Choose to find as much holiday joy as humanly possible!

5. Let Scrooge be Scrooge.

No matter how hard you try, someone is going to get upset. You and I are responsible for treating everyone we come in contact with in a kind, loving, and respectful manner. However, we are not responsible for making others happy. If you are trying to make everyone happy, you will only succeed at driving yourself crazy.

If there is a disgruntled family member in your home, you may need to remind yourself that you did not cause the problem and cannot fix it. This year, increase your holiday happiness by choosing to be kind, respectful, and loving. If someone continues to be unhappy, simply allow Scrooge to be Scrooge. Decide not to let the unhappiness of others spoil your holiday season.

6. Give and receive with joy.

Sometimes good givers are poor receivers. But don’t rob someone else of the joy of giving to you. The happiest people can both give and receive with joy.

  • Give and receive gifts with a smile.
  • Let others know that you are appreciative they thought of you.
  • When you receive a gift, know that you are special. You are worthy of love and hold a special place in the hearts of others.

Increase your holiday happiness this year by giving and receiving with joy!

7. Plan ahead.

For some reason, simple tasks always seem to take twice as long as I remember. From cooking a meal to shopping for presents, no mission is ever accomplished as quickly as I would like. Don’t get trapped in the Holiday crunch. I’ve learned the hard way. For me, increasing holiday happiness means creating margin in my life by planning ahead.

8. Choose holiday joy!

Ultimately, happiness is a choice. Increase your holiday happiness by:

  • Choosing to laugh.
  • Smiling often.
  • Putting on Christmas music and singly along.
  • Choosing to engage in holiday parties and silly family traditions.

Make it your mission to enjoy every moment of this wonderful season to its fullest. So choose joy!

The average American lives for 78.74 years. This means that most of us will experience less than eighty Christmas seasons. We parents only get to experience eighteen Christmases with our children. After this, they transform into young adults (As a side note, my oldest will be halfway to adulthood this year–Yikes!). The years go by far too fast to be frustrated or bitter. Choose joy. Determine to get the most out of every second of this beautiful time of year!

Continue the Holiday Happiness Conversation

Dive deeper into holiday joy with these questions for reflection and discussion.

  • Which of these holiday happiness strategies resonate with you the most?
  • What are you doing to increase holiday joy?
  • Is there an idea on this list you need to put into practice this year?
  • Is there something that you would add to this holiday happiness checklist?

Now it’s your turn. Keep the conversation in the comments below! I wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy holiday season!

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Jed Jurchenko

Jed Jurchenko is the husband to an incredible wife, daddy to four amazing girls, and a foster dad to one more. He's served as a children's pastor, marriage and family therapist, psychology professor, award-winning writing coach, and life coach. Jed is the author of 23 books on relationships, parenting, writing, and doing life well. In his free time, you'll find Jed reading, preparing for an upcoming marathon, barbecuing, paddle boarding, and enjoying life with his incredible family. Find out more about Jed's books, coaching, and courses at

6 thoughts on “The Ultimate Holiday Happiness Checklist: 8 Ways to Increase Holiday Joy”

  1. Hi Jed,

    I like your list. Let Scrooge be Scrooge sticks out for me. One common challenge for families is whose family to spend holidays with. The wife’s? The husband’s? It becomes more complicated when divorce enters the picture. It’s likely someone is going to be offended, grumpy or sad that they didn’t get what they wanted.

    It helps to remember we can be kind, respectful and loving and still say, “No, not this time.”

  2. jacquelinegwallace

    Good reminders, Jed. Thanks. Having just come from spending time with family for Thanksgiving, I see the wisdom in these points.

  3. I love this list, Jed. Lots of take-aways. But I really appreciate #4 particularly. I just had this conversation with friends, about how offended people (choose to) get over silly things. If someone wishes me “Happy Holidays,” how wonderful! If someone wishes me “Happy Hanukkah,” how nice of them! God’s been around … well, forever. It’s unlikely that He’ll fall to pieces if I don’t “defend Him” (how absurd) during my breath of a life on a dot of a planet in a tiny solar system in the vastness of space during a moment in time. Nor do I believe that He would want me to try at the expense of loving someone (i.e., being unloving or rude or condescending in an effort to … what? … draw people to my religion of … what’s the main point of it again? … oh, right – love).

    And I will still say “Merry Christmas!” and play my Christmas music that talks about … well, Christmas and Jesus. To date – based on my treatment of others, I’m guessing – I’ve never had someone express offense at this. I think that people are only offended when we make it a point of offense in ourselves.

    1. That’s such a good point Erik. I saw another blogger ask, “Where is the fire?” in response to the Starbucks cup hoopla. Her point was that no one that she knew was making a big deal about the cups design and that the “fire,” appears to be nothing more than the intense passion of a few, receiving undue attention. Because news, and social media in general, allow a few people to make a lot of noise, continual evaluation and common sense are needed.

      I too appreciate a “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Holidays,” Happy Hanukkah,” or just plain, smile and nod. And I’ve noticed that most people smile back if I wish them a Merry Christmas. I think it’s possible to take ourselves far too seriously. I see all of these phrases as a way of trying to extend kindness, and cheer to others.

      With that said, I’m wishing you a very Merry Christmas! 🙂

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