An INFJ’s Guide to Surviving the Busy Holiday Season

Christmas ornaments representing the busy holiday season

As “extroverted” introverts, INFJs may be one of the most conflicted groups of people during the holidays. Part of us really wants to do all the holiday activities that the season has to offer with our nearest and dearest, but at the same time, it can quickly become exhausting and overwhelming.

So what’s an INFJ to do? After years of grinding through the holidays by not listening to my INFJ tendencies, I’ve come up with a survival guide that has brought joy back into the season for me and the people I care about. Some of these tips may seem simple, but if you commit to following them, they’ll be a life-saver.

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An INFJ Holiday Survival Guide

1. Focus on what truly brings you joy.

Since INFJs tend to be major people-pleasers (I’m guilty!), we often put other people’s happiness before our own, to our detriment. In my family, the holidays kick off in October with Halloween and go all the way until the end of January, because we’ve got a few winter birthdays to celebrate as well. Doing ALL the holiday activities — traveling, crafting, gift-giving, cooking, and entertaining — became a long, joy-sucking slog until I finally made some adjustments.

It took consciously choosing to focus on the parts of the holidays that truly made me happy, then simplifying or eliminating the rest to finally get some real holiday cheer. For example, every Halloween, my husband and I scramble to put up all our Nightmare Before Christmas-themed decorations in our front yard for one night only, and the neighborhood families love it. We’re also known for making elaborate costumes with our kids. It’s a lot of work, but sharing the stuff we love with others who love it too makes it all worth it.

2. Prioritize the traditions that mean the most to you.

INFJs are always searching for meaning, which can make the holidays a double-edged sword because they’ve become super commercialized and consumption-focused. If there are holiday traditions near and dear to your heart, make them a priority, and don’t let less important things derail you from your plans.

For example, when my beloved grandparents were still alive, I made my husband and kids drive six hours to visit them the day after Christmas. Even though it made the holidays crazy, it was the one tradition I wouldn’t let go of. Eventually, I made getting ready for our road trip a priority and simplified the rest of Christmas to take some of the pressure off.

For example, we cut out time-consuming things we wouldn’t really miss like Christmas cards with the perfect family photo and baking for our coworkers. We simplified gift-giving by giving all the older kids in the family (there’s over a dozen of them) the same gift of cold hard cash in a cute bag filled with fun snacks (which they were just as happy to receive as the hand-picked gifts we used to give).

Few things mattered more to me than seeing my grandparents, and making it a priority forced me to create the space for it that it deserved.

3. Be willing to speak up and delegate.

Many INFJs have a hard time speaking up and saying what they need because they don’t want to ruffle anyone’s feathers. But no one likes a holiday martyr, either. I used to do all the work of “making Christmas,” but one year, I finally tearfully told my husband how much I hated what it had become, and I was resentful that I was the one doing all the work for both my family and his. After that, my husband and kids did a better job of helping me, but I had to let go of some of my INFJ perfectionism and delegate.

I also had to be willing to ask for help and be specific about what I needed. As intuitive feelers, we tend to be good at reading others, knowing when someone is stressed and could use a helping hand. But not everyone is as attuned to the unspoken needs of others as we are, especially during the holidays when they’re also busy and stressed.

Because we INFJs are so accustomed to being the helpers, asking for help is something we need to get comfortable with so we can ask for what we need anytime of the year, not just during the holidays.

4. Just say no.

One thing many of us INFJs are terrible at is saying no. We never want to disappoint anyone, but there are plenty of times when it’s healthier for us to say no. We have to remember it’s not our job to make everyone happy, despite our tendency to bend over backwards to do just that. Our own happiness and mental health are just as important as other people’s.

If you’re stressed out from doing too many things with a fake smile just to make other people happy, that negative energy you’re trying to hide is still there. Being scattered and spread thin shows up in our holiday preparations, and then nothing is done to our satisfaction, which is super frustrating for us INFJ perfectionists.

In the end, it’s better to say no to the less important things, but then give all your love and attention to the things that really matter. If it’s too hard to actually say the word no, try saying, “I’m sorry, but that doesn’t work for me.” It’s a less confrontational way of saying no, and it’s hard for people to argue with it because they aren’t living your life.

Check out this post for more tips for sensitive introverts to say no effectively.

5. Let go of perfectionism.

We INFJs are idealists who also notice the details, which is probably what drives our perfectionist tendencies. But as the wise say, don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. This is never more true than when it comes to the holidays.

My mom is a phenomenal cook and all-around creative person, but her perfectionist ways used to make getting ready for the holidays really stressful. (Unfortunately, I learned this bad habit from her, and it took many years for me to unlearn it.) The thing is, the notion of perfect — especially as it relates to the holidays — is completely subjective. Whatever perfect vision my mom had in her head, none of us could see.

Yet she always makes the holidays awesome with her amazing food and charming decor. Her “good enough” will always be top quality, because that’s the kind of person she is. Once we both learned to embrace the concept of “good enough,” we were actually able to relax and enjoy the holidays.

6. Find meaning in gift-giving.

Several years ago, I asked my side of the family to change up the way we did gift-giving. My family is very fortunate, and our usual ways of gift-giving had become stale and devoid of meaning. Finding meaning in life is really important to INFJs, so the wasteful shopping (and ALL that wrapping) was getting to me.

These days, we keep the gift-giving small but more thoughtful. Sometimes we make donations to charitable organizations in each other’s names, choosing organizations that are particularly important to us at the time. Other years, I focused on surprising people with funny little toys that would make them laugh, or cannabis products that I knew they’d be curious to try, but wouldn’t buy themselves (it’s legal where I live!). One year, we made an extra large immersive photo book for my parents of the road trips we went on together that year so it could take them right back to those joyful experiences.

But the most meaningful gifts are the ones we buy for a family in need that we help “adopt” every year from the local children’s hospital. The reports about the family’s responses to the overflow of gifts that are delivered to them when they’re going through a difficult time always brings a tear to my eye.

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7. Try out new holiday experiences.

Holiday traditions are great, but when they become meaningless repetitions of activities for the sake of calling them a tradition, it’s okay to change things up. INFJs tend to be curious creatures, and we love to learn, so we’re totally down to explore new holiday experiences.

One year, I really needed laughter more than anything, so I bought everyone ugly Christmas sweater kits, and we had an ugly sweater-making contest with my extended family. It was Christmas Eve mayhem, but in the best, most memorable way because my family embraced the silliness, and took it to a whole other level. Laughing with my family at the sheer ridiculousness of our creations was one of our most memorable Christmas gatherings ever.

INFJ, I hope these tips help you have a very merry holiday season. How do you survive the holidays? Let me know your strategies in the comments.

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