Unwrapping the Emotions: Why It’s Okay to Not Feel Festive.

Christmas time is often considered the most ‘wonderful time of the year.’ But what happens when you don’t feel festive? Let’s talk about why it’s okay to feel less than happy about the holiday season and how you can make things feel easier.

Christmas time is often considered the most ‘wonderful time of the year.’ But what happens when you don’t feel festive? Let’s talk about why it’s okay to feel less than happy about the holiday season and how you can make things feel easier.

There’s so much pressure to enjoy the holiday season when, for many, it’s a less than cheerful occasion. Despite what various songs tell us, this season can be filled with sadness, grief and the urge to hide away until it’s all over. And you know what? You don’t have to be cheerful or happy or merry. It’s perfectly okay to be anything but.

Not putting a tree up? Cool! What, no Christmas lights? Good for you!

The truth of the matter is that life doesn’t pause during the holidays. Worries don’t disappear, work still needs to be done and happiness isn’t a given. So, cut yourself and the other ‘grinches‘ in your life some slack. You shouldn’t let anyone make you feel guilty for not being festive and here are a few reasons why!

Image from RDNE Stock project

Reasons why you might not feel festive (and that’s okay)!

Personal circumstances.

Let’s be honest the last few years have been rough! We’ve all experienced some sort of trauma, lost loved ones, struggled with broken relationships, dealt with health problems, and even found ourselves in financial hardship. Whew! It’s a lot and any of these (or a combination) can leave us feeling blue. It’s not your fault you don’t feel festive with so much on your shoulders, and others must respect that fact.

Including you. Don’t be so hard on yourself when you want little else than to hide away from all the festivities. Allow yourself to feel your feelings and forego the Christmas carols despite with everyone else is telling you.

Mental Health Issues.

Mental health can play a big factor in how we celebrate holidays. Depression and anxiety alone can dampen anyone’s festive spirit! Be understanding with yourself and others when they’re experiencing any form of mental health issue at any time of the year, but especially during the holidays. I remember suffering from anorexia nervosa around Christmas and it was terrible! The fear of food and family gatherings? It was enough to send me spiralling into a breakdown days before!

And let’s not forget things such as seasonal affective disorder. Not sure what that is? Check out this post!

Religious differences.

Look, not everyone celebrates Christmas or any of its variations. While Christianity is largely the most widely acknowledged religion in the Western world, we need to remember that we’re not all Christians. And, although some of us were raised within Christian households, we may no longer observe their traditions. Celebrating the season, therefore, may not be top of the list.

Then there are those, like my husband and I, who are non-conformists in that we no longer acknowledge the holidays in our own homes. We’ll purchase gifts and attend holiday dinners elsewhere, but Christmas day off is often spent just the two of us, with some movies and much-deserved ‘us-time.’


There’s too much pressure involved in Christmas! Between decorating, holiday events and gift buying; it’s just too much! And what’s the best way to avoid all the stress? To not take part at all!

Image from Masood Aslami

How to make things easier when you don’t feel festive.

Plan and Prioritize.

I might talk about this all the time on the blog but hear me out. There is nothing quite like planning to keep your anxiety in check. Granted, we can’t plan for everything. Sometimes life just happens. But we can at last attempt to have our ducks in a neatly organised row. Here are just a few things you can do to help the process!

  • Make a list of your priorities. Be sure to include things like spending time with loved ones, holiday dinner obligations, shopping, cooking and even festive parties you can’t get out of.
  • Create a holiday budget and stick to it!
  • Create a schedule. This is similar to listing priorities but this time you’re scheduling for specific events such as cooking, shopping etc. This is a great way to ensure you leave yourself plenty of time for everything, including yourself!
  • Start your holiday shopping early.
  • Utilise online shopping and even opt for the ever-faithful gift card as an option.

Simplify things!

It’s okay to scale things back, you know? Not everything has to be over the top and expensive. Even if everyone else around you is throwing extravagant, over-the-top parties, you don’t have to follow suit. You don’t even have to attend!

Always Remember Self-Care.

Prioritizing your self-care is one of the most important parts of the holidays. Contrary to popular belief you don’t have to burn out trying to please everyone and do everything. You can take a step back and make time for yourself. I know! I’m just as shocked as you are!

There are so many ways you can make time for yourself. It can be as simple as making sure you get enough rest, you’re eating well and hydrating. Or, if you really want to relax, you could book a spa day or a massage! No matter what you do, make sure to carve some space for yourself among the chaos!

Don’t Overcommitting.

Say “NO”! Set those boundaries! If you don’t want to attend the office Christmas party, then you don’t have to. The holidays can become so busy and cluttered with events that it can be overwhelming. As an introvert, I can think of nothing worse than constant gatherings. I need some ‘me’ time! And if you do too then there is no shame in keeping your commitments low to suit your schedule!

Seek Support.

The holidays can be one of the hardest times of the year for many people. But, even with Christmas around the corner, there is support out there. This could be in the form of friends and family, religious organisations and even charities.

If you’re struggling with loneliness, isolation or mental health during the holidays, don’t hesitate to reach out. Sometimes talking about how we feel can make everything more manageable. While it doesn’t always erase the issue, it’s important to remember that a problem shared is a problem halved.

Hey! It’s okay if you don’t feel festive!

Image from Ioana Motoc


  1. This article is absolutely spot-on, especially during the holiday season when social media and cultural expectations can make you feel like you’re the only one not feeling the holiday cheer. It’s important to normalize the experience of not feeling festive and encourage open communication about these emotions.

    The article could be strengthened by offering some practical tips for coping with difficult emotions during the holidays. This could include suggestions for self-care activities, reaching out to loved ones for support, or setting boundaries with social media.

  2. This year, my husband and I had a nice few days but we definitely struggled to feel festive and into the holiday (for various reasons); it’s good to read something like this that helps highlight that this is okay and that sometimes things interrupt of obstruct this from time-to-time. Great post!

  3. This post is so true! Not everyone feels festive during the holidays. It can be such a stressful or sad time for some. I love your suggestion of simplifying. I started doing that a couple of years ago and that helps.

  4. I love how you talked about not putting pressure on yourself during the holidays, I’m not feeling festive this year and I’m ok with that! x

    Lucy |

  5. I think we’re feeling less festive this year because school only finished on friday, leaving no time for the fun run up bits we’d usually spend time doing. Some good tips here for those who really feel overwhelmed or don’t want to take part

  6. This is a great post about not feeling festive at Christmas. I haven’t been feeling very festive this year due to stress and a death in the family. Life definitely doesn’t stop for the holidays. I needed to read this and remind myself it’s okay to not feel festive!

  7. When you have young kids it’s easy to over commit to all the festivities. As I get older, I am content with not constantly feeling festive == it’s okay.

  8. I really need to read this! I’ve not been feeling the holidays at all this year. Hell, I just put up my Christmas tree last week only because family is coming over. Thank you, now I don’t feel so alone.

  9. Unwrapping The Emotions is a great way to describe emotions this season. Staying calm and breathing are my go to.

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