The Elf on the Shelf. The wrapping. The decorating. The holiday parties.

Does it all have to be done perfectly to have a great Christmas?

Nope. Not this year!

Parents, let’s all take a big holiday chill pill ASAP, and vow to make the season one we actually enjoy, not dread.

Here are some holiday things you can now give yourself permission to just not give a crap about. 

1. The perfect family Christmas photo. Listen, we know what you look like. Your kids are adorable. Your family is gorgeous. If forced photography stresses you all out, then just forget it. Take a big, fabulous family selfie of everybody in their flannel pajamas lounging on the couch, and call it a day.

2. The organic, non-GMO, free range, vegan, kale enhanced holiday feast. Grandma’s 50 year old stuffing recipe from a box, a store-bought pumpkin pie, and green beans from a can covered in cream of whatever soup will work just fine. Now relax.

3. Weight gain. Just go ahead and indulge. Eat the cookies AND the peppermint bark. Drink the egg nog. Nobody ever said in the last months of their life, “Man, I really shouldn’t have had that extra gingerbread man in 1993.”

4. The impeccably thought out, super special present for your spouse. Seriously, you know what they really want, and it’s still FREE. Save some dough and just hit the sheets. Mistletoe optional.

5. A tree that is decorated like Martha Stewart stopped by. If it has lights, all the kids’ “Baby’s First Christmas” ornaments on it, and an angel or star on the top, you’re good. Now walk away.

6. The neighbor’s amazeballs 50,000 strands of lights on their house that you can no way compete with. Place some candles in your windows with a sign that says, “We support the house next door. And saving the planet. Noel Ya’ll!”

7. Rude shoppers, rude cashiers, rude mall parking lot drivers. Just smile at them, heed Elsa’s advice, and LET IT GO. Remind yourself you have no idea what they’re dealing with this Christmas, and don’t get angry. Instead, say to yourself, “I hope that person’s day gets better” and then move on.

8. The Elf on the Shelf. Do it. Don’t do it. Who cares. Go over the top and have your Elf at all night disco parties with Barbie, or just leave that sucker sitting on the coffee table for days. Don’t mock the overzealous Elf moms, and don’t knock the lazy ones. Remember, it’s about the kids, not a competition.

9. Your inner perfectionist. Tell that “Everything has to be joyfully perfect this Christmas” voice to take a coal filled stocking and shove it up her yuletide ass. Just BE present. Live the holiDAYS. Sit for longer. Listen harder. Watch deeper. Nobody will be arriving at your door on the 25th with a first place Christmas trophy.

10. Having a glamorous New Year’s Eve Bash to attend. If you’ve got a houseful of kids, chances are your best NYE party night has already happened, and another one is not on the horizon for awhile. So just put the kids to bed, crack open the cheap champagne, and binge watch the last three seasons of Friends. Enjoy the fact all your kids are actually tucked in and home on NYE, because the days of you staying up all night worrying about how crazy they’re possibly getting are right around the corner.

Looking for a little more relaxation this Christmas? We’ll be lounging on the couch with our hot cocoa in these cozy and festive family pajama sets

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The Kindness Elf: An Intentional Alternative to Elf on the Shelf

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Melissa Fenton

Melissa Fenton is a freelance writer, adjunct librarian, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Awareness Ambassador. She writes at Her writing can be found all over the internet, but her work is mostly on the dinner table.