With days to go before Christmas, my 4-year-old explained: “We need to put up more Holiday decorations. A lot of decorations!”

I sighed and replied, “Sylvia, sometimes more isn’t better. Sometimes more is simply more.” It’s a concept that was beyond her grasp so I reassured her: “Someday, you’ll understand.”

I was raised surrounded by decorations, treats, gifts, and all sorts of abundance a young child could envision at Christmas. One year as a teen, I donated time serving food in a shelter for families in need, and I realized how blessed I used to be to have so much. And I realized my wish list was full of more wants than needs, so I stopped sharing my list altogether. It made me difficult to shop for, no doubt, but I realized that I was more interested in enjoying memorable experiences with my loved ones.

In the eight years my spouse and i were married without children, our wish list remained light, our decorations minimal, and our focus was on spending quality time with family and friends.

Now that we have two children, I'm able to feel that urge to create a magical Christmas seeping in — only, it’s some whimsical concept of what the holidays should feel like.

It’s easy to fall under the spell: You have a vivid memory from childhood of waking up Christmas morning to a new bike; you loved the scene in Miracle on 34th Street when young Susan discovers her mom married the neighbor or when Clark Griswold illuminates his house in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. There’s a spirit to the season that embeds into our unconscious brain and fuels our desires to make this holiday just so — to design the perfect experience.

“Often what’s going on underneath perfectionism is a desire for control,” says Los Angeles–based coach Kristine Oller in “The Good-Enough Holiday.” “With the holidays, this can manifest as a desire to recapture something you had at some point in the past. But the thing about memories is they’re our very own little edited movies. Whenever we try to make an experience turn out in a certain style, we set ourselves up for disappointment.”

The idea of a joyful season is alluring, but there are moments when it starts to get lost as we pack in an excessive amount of and overwhelm our to-do lists. Maybe it’s self-induced pressure — or even the role of “emotional labor” that ladies carry — or it’s familial or societal. Yet, each year we tell ourselves: There’s reached be a better way!

Sure, I might have purchased a few more gifts this season than last, but several times this season I took a step back to reevaluate what I truly wished to do — and what was easier to skip. I focused on avoiding holiday-stress syndrome by upping my self-care routine; I enjoyed meditation inside a salt cave and plan to tap that set of skills often (get more of my meditations for the holidays here); and I re-thought a Christmas tradition: Every year, my girlfriends from college gather throughout the holidays, and one of us hosts the big event at her home. This year was my year. Instead of panicking over cleaning my home and fretting over the food, I scheduled time for us at Life Time. We took a hot yoga class; one woman booked a massage; we stepped onto the treadmills and lifted weights, sat within the steam room and sauna, and ate lunch within the café. Bonus: Life Time was hosting a Christmas market having a visit from Santa, so it felt extra festive.

It was something new and enjoyable for all, also it even prompted us to check out the club’s schedule for a future yoga class.

This reinvented tradition am enjoyable, it’s made me seek other ways to reimagine and simplify the season to make lovely experiences:

  • Try a brand new recipe. Nothing fancy or with a long ingredients list — even just a new punch can be easy to make. Find one in “11 Winter Mocktails.”
  • Make a reed diffuser. Easy to create and beautiful to enjoy for yourself in order to give as a gift.
  • Cook your gifts. Love that new recipe you tried? Make it in bulk, package it in pretty jars, and adorn having a ribbon to give to friends and family. Herbed teas or infused olive oil are flavorful and sweet to provide.
  • Cut back on decorations. There’s no need to put out everything you have — some ornaments usually stays in the box this year if you’re searching for a simpler tree design. Avoid buying anything new, and instead swap with friends and family who are looking to declutter their own collections. Donate excess to charity. Focus on just a few items, like the tree, a wreath, or special candle holders, that provide you with joy. When packing away items following the holidays, decide what was nice to have out — and what can move on.
  • Share your gift preferences. If you feel stressed by gift giving, let your family know! Maybe they’d like to cut back on material exchanges, too. We’ve made it a new tradition with my nephew and niece to consider an adventure in February instead of exchanging gifts.
  • Scrap half the items on your to-do list. Or maybe nix even more. Look at each one and, think, Does this really need to happen? What would it look like if I skipped it? Delegate and delete repeatedly before the tension releases from your neck, back, and shoulders.
  • Spend time in nature. The light is different, the trees are frosted, the wind is crisp — go for a walk in your yard, around the block, or on a trail and notice all the beauty who are around you. When it snows, look up as the snowflakes fall.
  • Practice self-care. You might have a regular routine that’s serving you well — or you might be in need of a fresh start or fine-tuning. The very best gift you can give yourself is really a massage, exercise, sleep, and nourishing food. Do this prescription for a relaxing bath and feel the holiday stress dissolve. You’ll become more present for your loved ones if you are well and rested, and you’ll benefit from the holiday season that much more.

Tell us how you’ve made the holiday season simple — while still keeping them sweet — at experiencelife@experiencelife.com.