Establishing and Sticking to Your Boundaries This Holiday Season

The holidays can bring forth all sorts of emotions. For some of us, we’re celebrating exciting firsts with our first child while others, this may be the first holiday without a loved one. The familial bond can strengthen this time of year, but you may also feel triggered by various situations, expectations, and asks. 

If you have difficulty saying no, the holidays can become extremely stressful. You may tend to overcommit––saying yes to hosting events, baking special treats at work, and volunteering at your child’s school. You may easily exceed your gift shopping budget. You may cave to the expectations others have of you. 

Whether it’s your time or dealing with gifts, setting boundaries is a must this holiday season. And remember, it’s not your job to manage the thoughts and feelings of others. When you set boundaries, others may feel hurt, upset, or disappointed, and that’s ok. 


  1. Write Down Your Happiness Triggers
    • Before you dive into what others expect of you this holiday season, write down what brings YOU happiness and joy. How do you want to spend your time? Think about the activities that you can do alone, as a family, with friends, with family members, and for others that bring you joy. 
  2. Put It On the Calendar
    • Now that you have your list of activities that fill your holiday happiness cup, write those activities on the calendar. Make plans with loved ones. When we plan ahead and set aside intentional time, it’s easier to say no to the asks of others. Remember, planning to do nothing for a weekend is still doing something. It’s so easy to overexert ourselves during the holidays, so plan rest and relaxation.
  3. Practice Your Boundary Scripts
    • Others are going to want to celebrate with you this holiday season. There may be asks of you at work and at your child’s school. Family may have expectations. Practice saying no and sticking to it. 

A Few Reminders

  • You don’t have to give rationale for politely declining. If you do, people may try to problem solve for you. Stick to something simple like, “I appreciate the invitation, but that won’t work for me this season” or “Thank you, but we won’t be able to attend this year.” 
  • Your “nos” allows you to give more confident yeses! 


  1. Be Proactive
    • If family members want to get you or your kiddos gifts, provide a list and include links to specific items. Communicate this list as early as possible. If you’re gift buying for others, reach out and ask if they have any specific ideas.
  2. Focus on Experiences
    • Rather than “things” ask for experiences. Here are a few ideas: Memberships or Day Passes to Museums, Parks, Theaters, Gardens, Nature Centers, etc. Supplies or Contribution for Activity, Lesson, or SportContribution For Savings Account or College Fund1-on-1 DatesLearning Activities like subscription boxes
  3. Practice Your Boundary Scripts
    • If boundary setting is extremely challenging for you, practice your boundaries aloud in front of a mirror. This will help you be more confident in your response. “If you have specific gift ideas, please run them by me by _ date, so I can let you know if they fit our needs.”“Instead of gifts, we’re asking for contributions to _, _, or _.”

Setting boundaries is no easy task. Practice. Give yourself grace. Remind yourself that it’s okay for others to feel disappointed. I’ll be practicing with you, and together, we’ll get there.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

An organized space reduces distractions and allows you to stay focused on what you want to be focused on. With my system, you can find exactly what you need quickly and with confidence.

I help you take back control of your time.

let's chat

Hi, I'm joanna.

Ready to get organized?

let's chat