For leaders, the holidays potentially feel like “more bricks, less straw” (see Exodus 5). More people in need of care, more events—and less energy with which to care for them.

Don’t let your holidays be only “external” this year or let Christmas pass your own soul by. Grab these ideas to cherish, from the inside out, the newborn King.

25 ways to decorate ‘inside’

1. Use discernment to say “no” to—or delegate—at least one activity so you can worship more rested and wholeheartedly.

2. Set aside a few days after the holiday for your own private time to rest and be with God.

3. Read Isaiah 9:6, 11:2. Ask yourself: How do I sense one of these identities of God right now—and/or my need for it? 

4. Set lower expectations in other areas: Go for that movie night with the kids.

5. Schedule a laid-back date night for you and your spouse.

6. Monitor your own stress levels. And ask for help!

7. Emphasize a morning routine that helps you engage with God in ways you love.

8. Creatively give gifts that respect your budget and minimize additional stress.

9. Unsubscribe from five email lists.

10. Have coffee with a friend who doesn’t need anything from you.

11. Prioritize sleep and Sabbaths.

12. Read Luke 1:38. Ask yourself: What emotions do these words stir in me? What situation in my life does it bring to mind?

Find holiday encouragement for you and your family in our Holiday Survival Guide.

13. Go on a walk to look at the neighborhood Christmas lights—or sit by your Christmas tree in the dark. Enjoy being with God and thinking on the miracle of Jesus.

14. Nap.

15. Create a running list of gifts from God to you and those you love this year—ways He’s reminded you you’re written on His hands.

16. Read a book you enjoy.

17. Nurture your marriage by gifting your spouse an early stocking stuffer and restating your appreciation for them.

18. Meditate on one name of God from the Christmas story or prophecies.

19. Allow someone to care for you.

20. Read Acts 10:38. Ask yourself: What areas of my life hunger for God’s goodness, healing, and freedom right now? Who do I know that needs these things this Christmas? Spend time praying for yourself and for them.

21. Maintain an exercise routine.

22. Consider whether there’s someone from whom you need to ask forgiveness—or need to forgive.

23. Ask yourself: What character do you identify most with from the Christmas story this year?

24. Lean into the unique sensory cues that draw you closer to worship: lit candles, music, falling snow, a warm blanket, a Christmas treat, a particular scent, dinner with friends, reading a book with the kids. Let these pull you into thanks and worship.

25. Read Isaiah 9:6 (again). Ask yourself: What do I long to entrust to God’s government right now, leaving on His shoulders? What do I look forward to about His future government?

Copyright © 2020 Janel Breitenstein. All rights reserved.

Janel Breitenstein is an author, freelance writer, speaker, and frequent contributor for FamilyLife, including Passport2Identity®, Art of Parenting®, and regular articles. After five and a half years in East Africa, her family of six has returned to Colorado, where they continue to work on behalf of the poor with Engineering Ministries International. Her book, Permanent Markers: Spiritual Life Skills for Work-in-Progress Families (Harvest House), releases October 2021. You can find her—“The Awkward Mom”—having uncomfortable, important conversations at, and on Instagram @janelbreit.