No Elf on the Shelf or Santa photos: The 6 Christmas traditions I'm cancelling this year.

Listen to this story being read by Laura Jackel, here.

The festive season is not just upon us, it is upon us and crushing us with the weight of its sparkly baubles and multipacks of mince pies. 

To keep my mental health as robust as possible, I am taking a Marie Kondo approach to the season and asking: Does this festive tradition spark joy? For me or for anyone in my family? 

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Do my kids actually want to wear the matching festive pyjamas? Do I care to traipse around the shops searching for nice ones in their size so they can take part in this weird tradition sponsored by capitalism? If no one feels the joy (Peter Alexander excluded), then it's cancelled for 2022.

And it's not just the pyjamas that are getting axed to save me from festive burnout. I've compiled a list of six other things I have cancelled or outsourced this year to increase the joy and reduce the stress. 

Join me and give your kids the best Christmas gift of all - a happy parent. You can thank me later.

1. Elf on the Shelf.

To be transparent, I have never been an 'Elf on the Shelf' parent.


We also don't need anything else to keep my kids up later at night than the sugar fuelled excitement bubble they currently live in. If the Shelf-Elf brings you or your kids buckets of joy, then you do you. But if you have been looking for a sign to ditch the elf midway through advent, this is it. 

Tell the kids Santa recalled your elf to help with present sorting or that it... died. Just pick whatever you are comfortable with. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

It's a no. Image: Canva.


2. Sending cards to anyone outside immediate family.

No, your card is not lost in the mail. I no longer write them because it is not 1992. 

I'm sorry to anyone who sends me a card and then doesn't receive one in return, but I just can't. I remember the time I used to sit in front of a Christmas movie in late November dutifully writing cards to old friends and long-lost family members that literally read, 'Happy Christmas, love from Laura'. Ah, memories. 

Then I thought, wait, maybe I could just watch this movie and enjoy it instead? So I did.

Last week my Kindy-aged son came home with a bunch of cards from his little mates and it was very kind. But dear organised parents, you're making the rest of us look bad. Cards are now for close family only and my wrist thanks me for it.

3. The forced Santa photo.

For the last few years, I have been making my two kids get dressed up and pose for Santa pics. Because it's cute, right? 

My poor eldest son has never really been a fan, but he obliged like the sweet kid he is. Last year, however, he refused - and I respect that. 

My youngest still wanted to do it, so I sat next to Santa with him and we booked in again this year. But aside for my annual Santa photo fridge magnet, who really needs 17 average photos of us sitting in the shopping mall? I may cancel next year.

I have 17 of these... does anyone want one? Image: Supplied.


4. Gift labels and fancy wrapped gifts.

Gift labels and bows look pretty and I appreciate them, but my present wrapping gets done scrappily and speedily while I watch It's a Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve. 

Writing people's names with a texta on wrapping paper is perfectly adequate to identify which present belongs to whom, and I won't hear otherwise. 

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5. Purchasing festive snacks.

Walk into any supermarket from November 1 and prepare to be intimidated by giant boxes of Scottish shortbread, chocolate-covered almonds from Albania, and Turkish Delights in every flavour. Every time I go in for the groceries, I get distracted and I consider whether I need any. 


Dear reader, I do not. 

I will buy what I need when I need it and stop being stealth marketed to for random festive snacks I don't even like. 

One year I was so overwhelmed I purchased a huge lot of German biscuits that I swear sat in our pantry for three years. Festive snack overwhelm is a thing and I am taking the decision-making out of the equation and just cancelling them. Ah, sweet relief!

What even are these and do we need them? No. Image: Getty.


 6. Christmas day food shopping/prep and cooking.

If Christmas day planning was entirely up to me, we would all go out somewhere for lunch and I would enjoy seafood that I didn't have to think about, prepare, or wash up afterwards.

Then we could spend the rest of the day in a house that was tidy (ish) and relax and enjoy each other's company. This ideal (okay: lazy girl) version of Christmas Day after a busy lead up brings me great joy.

In reality, Christmas Day is a collaborative event involving several families and more than a dozen kids, so we all bring food to share. It's lovely because my extended family are excellent cooks and bakers, but as I am not the chef in my house, I have completely outsourced this to my husband. I do the shopping; he does the cooking. I still have to spend a lot of time washing up but I get fed very well, so I will stop complaining.


There have been a few other things that have almost been cancelled this year. Stockings filled with little panic-purchases my kids will love for five minutes and then abandon have almost been struck off the list. But seeing their stockings hung up on the mantelpiece on Christmas Eve brings me joy and when they open them it is joyful, even if only for five minutes, so they shall stay... for now. 

Yes, Christmas is mostly about the kids, but I refuse to let it turn me into a wreck. I want to have the energy to arrive on December 25th with a smile on my face and so if there are a few festive casualties and cancellations along the way, then so be it. 

What's on your cancelled list this Christmas? Let us know in the comments below!

Laura Jackel is Mamamia's Family Writer. For links to her articles and to see photos of her outfits and kids, follow her on Instagram and TikTok.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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