How to be Happy at Christmas (10 tips for beating the Holiday blues)

“Oh Santa may have brought you some stars for your shoes. But Santa only brought me the blues; Those brightly packaged tinsel covered Christmas blues.” ~ written and performed by Sammy Cahn and David Jack Holt

For many, the Holidays are not happy times. They are filled with stress, anxiety, loneliness, despair, discouragement or a sharp case of the holiday blues.

But they don’t have to be. There can be so much more joy in the Christmas season than you think. There are, in fact, specific steps you can take to have a happier, more meaningful Christmas this year, even if circumstances are not ideal. The following are some of those steps.

10 ways to have a Merry Christmas

1. Connect to the Deeper Meaning of the Season

On the surface of things, it seems Christmas has become little more than a day of getting stuff—an over-commercialized sales-event of high profits and crazed consumerism. Hardly the inspiration to delve deeper into the soul of the occasion.

But Christmas can provide us with a variety of levels of depth and meaning no matter how Vegas-like Christmas has become.

From family togetherness with gift exchanges and Christmas traditions to the original celebration of the birth of Jesus, as believers rededicate our lives to living a Christ-like life of faith and virtue to the popular celebration of the giving spirit of the holiday, there’s something deeply meaningful for almost everyone.

By connecting to the deeper meaning of the season, your Christmas celebration can itself be deeper, more meaningful, and therefore more perspective-shifting and happiness-inspiring.

2. Serve Someone

Sadness is inward-looking. Service is its opposite. So go make someone else’s life better, and watch what happens to yours. Joy will start to replace sorrow. Meaning and purpose will begin to reinsert itself into the holiday experience. Self-pity will give way to a growing appreciation for the bounty of life.

The service can be as big as joining a group dedicated to large service projects or as small as random acts of kindness in your neighborhood. Even wishing clerks and others waiting in long holiday lines a “Merry Christmas” can lift their moods, add smiles to tired faces—and chase away your own Christmas blues.

3. Celebrate the Season with Forgiveness

Of all the gifts you give this year, perhaps the most meaningful and life-changing will be the gift of forgiveness you offer someone who has offended you. And here’s the surprise: You will likely benefit the most from forgiving than the person you forgive; it’s as much a gift to yourself as it is to the offender.

(Check out my guest post here for tips on how to forgive when it’s most difficult—just be sure to return here when you’re done! :))

4. Make it Fun and Festive

Get out the lights. Put up the tree. Blast the tunes. Decorate. Dance around the house. Invite others over to dance with you. Sing carols. Pour a glass of eggnog (FYI: Silk has a great-tasting, eggless, dairy-free soy-based eggnog we love to drink in our home). Pop some popcorn. Watch a funny holiday movie (Elf is our favorite). Laugh out loud.

Get into the season. Don’t wait around for the season to get into you! Jump into it head-first and it won’t take long before you find the season has snuck in the backdoor—or crashed through the front!

5. Create a New “Family”

If sadness overwhelms the holidays because of loss or divorce or estrangement or distance, start now to create a new “family” of friends you can celebrate Christmas with. If you don’t make friends very quickly, join a club and volunteer to participate on special projects. It’s often in such settings where people with shared interests and values engaged in meaningful service that relationships grow fastest.

But whatever you do, try to get together with others. No matter what happened to your family, whether decades ago or just last weekend, you can start to invite people into your life today.

Or try this: If you’re feeling alone this Christmas, go volunteer at a homeless shelter or food line. Check with local churches, the city or volunteer organizations for information about when and where to show up. It just may change how you “celebrate” Christmas forever.

6. Do what You Love

Sometimes when we feel down, we mope around the house feeling sorry for ourselves and wonder why others don’t come by and pull us out of our funk. Well, stop waiting! Be your own funk-breaker! Paint. Run. Climb. Sing. Swim. Serve. Learn. Play. Give. And watch what starts to happen to your holiday spirit.

7. Become the Neighborhood’s Secret Santa

Bake some cookies. Buy some gift-cards. And start secretly making your neighbors’ day. Put a plate of cookies on a doorstep or put Christmas cards on the windshields of cars in your community. Or, of course, personally deliver the cookies or cards to your neighbors yourself.

8. List all the Things that are Wonderful in Your Life

We often tend to over-exaggerate the negative and under-accentuate the good. We’re just funny that way. But taking the time to write down all that’s sweet in life can act to underscore the good and paint a picture that’s not quite as dour as we would otherwise believe.

Gratitude is contagious. So do all you can to catch it. Then spread it. Liberally! I guarantee a happier Christmas season for the effort.

9. Get Up, Get Dressed, Get Out!

Some of the symptoms of depression include oversleeping, staying in bed, undressed, un-showered, self-ostracized. But such behaviors also cause the blues. They feed each other. When we’re down, we don’t get up and dressed. But when we don’t get up and dressed, we often feel worse.

So stop the cycle. Get up. Clean up. Shave. Put on your best duds and go somewhere and do something. Anything. But do it without alcohol. The blues and alcohol (a depressant) is not a match made in heaven.

10. Put Yourself on Santa’s “Nice” List

As you’re out doing good to others, spreading Christmas cheer, spread some to yourself as well. Buy yourself a gift. Make it meaningful. Enjoy it. Be grateful you can afford it (no matter how inexpensive it may be). Believe you deserve it. Have fun with it. And then believe you were worth every penny you spent … and then some!

Bonus #11: Have No Expectations

Our biggest cause of disappointment is when our expectations are not met. If you go into the season thinking this time things are going to be different, that no one will argue or get drunk or make offensive comments, that this Christmas will be the best one ever, and it’s not, the day will be a letdown, even if it was still mostly pretty okay!

If you expect little or nothing, anything good will be a wonderful surprise!

Having no expectations, by the way, is not the same thing as expecting the worse. I’m not suggesting we go into the Christmas holidays expecting the most disastrous Christmas ever with uncles swearing and aunts falling down drunk, the tree catching fire and the house burning down.

When we expect disaster, after all, we sometimes inadvertently help create it. But to be without expectations is to be open to whatever happens. It is to accept whatever is, as it is, for what it is.

When we impose judgment and expectation on something outside our control – like how others will behave – we try to massage the event into a preconceived vision. The difference between the reality and the vision becomes frustration, anger and disappointment.


Christmas is supposed to be an amazing time of the year, full of family, significance, good people and a recommitment to service and kindness and good cheer. It’s fun and sparkly and festive and celebratory. It’s also deep and profound and joyous and holy. There are ways of making this Christmas more so on all accounts.

But remember, good ideas are only as good as their implementation. So resist the temptation to nod your head in agreement, click to another post and summarily forget the tips provided. Instead, take action today toward making your Christmas holiday season more enjoyable, happier and meaningful this year.

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Photo by PIxabay