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29 Brilliant Ideas for a Memorable ADHD Holiday

The holidays are a challenging time for everyone,  whether you have ADHD, or you’re one of those ‘neuro-typical’ folks.

People are overwhelmed, running late, frustrated, distracted, driving dangerously, making lists and checking them twice… 

Basically, the whole world has ADHD for about 4 weeks. 

Welcome to our world.

So, as a public service, here are my suggestions, some old and some new, to make this a great holiday for anyone who has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. 

As for your friends and family who don’t have ADHD, they can go make their own list.)

The time between wrapping a present and forgetting who it is for - meme

  1. Cover your car in Christmas Lights.  Not the car you drive, the one that died and you can’t afford to have towed away.
  2. Remove the Halloween pumpkin.  It’s really saggy, gooey, and the face you carved now looks like Uncle Ralph.
  3. To reduce clutter, make a rule: “For every new gift that comes into the house, 127 things have to be sold, thrown out, or donated.”  If you receive new slippers get rid of the broken sewing machine, unused fish tanks, a dozen extra coffee mugs, two or three moldy humidifiers/dehumidifiers, and 10 boxes of paperwork from 1993 or earlier.  Do this regularly and within a few years you’ll be able to see the walls of your home again.
  4. If a gift comes with a lot of instructions…  IMMEDIATELY re-gift it to someone with O.C.D.  Let them assemble it and re-gift it to you next year.
  5. Put large garbage bags by the curb with a sign, “Please Pick Up After Your Reindeer”.  (Bonus points if you take that brown, stinking, pumpkin you forgot to toss and put it near the sign, so it looks like Blitzen left a souvenir.)
  6. If your beliefs don’t include Christmas, make up a cool story to tell the kids about how the Jolly Fat Guy with the beard is actually the Department Store Mascot.  Kinda the Ronald McDonald of Walmart.  Or the Darth Vader, depending on how you roll.
  7. If the people on your street complain that you have way too many lights and lawn ornaments, put up a sign, “Welcome To Vegas!”  (Bonus points if you paint up your old barbecue, and convince people it’s a slot machine.  Use your profits to buy a new barbecue.)
  8. Tape tinsel to your keys and phone so you can find them.  Make it long enough and it becomes a weapon you can sling to keep crazy shoppers back as you battle for sale items.
  9. When it’s time to say grace, make it a free for all, and let everyone shout out what they are grateful for.  Even better, make it a contest.  Make up stuff that no one can check on. “I am grateful that I was there to save that busload of orphans.”
  10. Treat yourself to 5 extra sets of house keys.  Repeat each year as needed.
  11. Give your old Palm Pilot to a Star Trek fan and tell them it’s a Tricorder.  If the battery works, claim it’s a Phaser, if it short circuits and hurts them, tell them it’s a Taser.
  12. Tell everyone that the roast beef is Reindeer.  When the kids rush off to their rooms crying, more dessert for you!
  13. Give kids with ADHD empty boxes.  They’ll play with them for hours.  Even better?  Put boxes in boxes. Like those Ukrainian Nestling Dolls. (If you want better parenting advice, we have a video full of experts and they never mention fireworks or explosives.)
  14. After hours in an overcrowded mall, you may forget where you live exactly.  Especially in a large apartment building.  Just knock on doors.  If a stranger answers, immediately start caroling.  You’ll often get treats which will sustain you on your pilgrimage to find your way home.  People may even think you’re collecting gifts for charity and load you up with more.
  15. Re-gift the hundreds of agendas and organizers you bought but never used.  Scribble over the date.  Just change the date from 2007 to 2018.  (Both start on a Monday.)
  16. Enjoy online articles but NEVER read the comments.
  17. Make sure no one gives you gifts wrapped with ribbons.  Ribbons require patience to remove. They’re frustrating as hell.  Kind of like small talk.  We want to get to the point.  Perhaps have a machete handy.  Or a pit bull trained to eat ribbons.
  1. Launch loud fireworks all night on the 24th so the kids never get to sleep. 

    To be fair, if the kids have ADHD it’s likely they’ll be up anyway.  Problems getting good sleep is almost a given with ADHD.
  1. Shake all the presents to see if you can tell what they are. 

    The shattering, tinkly-sounding ones are wineglasses.  Or they were.
  1. Allow anyone under 30 with ADHD to play their new video games during Christmas Dinner. 

    It may look rude, but it lowers the chance of a food fight.
making a list and checking it twice - meme
  1. Avoid line-ups.  Anywhere.  Everywhere.  Better to drive 3 towns over or shoplift and spend a night in jail than have to stand in line for 8 minutes.  (Only ADD adults will understand the truth of this.)
  1. Watch the Peanuts special, and when the teachers and adults speak, tell your loved ones, “You hear that ‘Wahhh Waaaah Wah’ trumpet sound? 

    That’s what it’s like when you talk to me after my ADHD meds wear off.”

    (If loved ones are dismissive or scornful of ADHD I recommend this video on defending your diagnosis.

    Simple strategies to shut down or shut up that know-it-all cousin who starts yammering about how “ADHD isn’t real” or grandpa who claims, “In my day we didn’t…”.)
  1. Buy 25 Advent calendars.  Because there is NO WAY you’re going to have the self-control to open them one at a time.  Once you’ve had one, the whole shebang is gonna be gone, right?  So now you have one a day.
  1. Get some long balloons, the kind they use to make Balloon Animals. 

    Cut off the round end so it’s a floppy tube. 

    Then sneak around the neighborhood at night, cutting a tiny slit into each the inflatable Santa and Reindeer on people’s lawns, insert one end of the balloon. 

    The next evening when the pump inflates them, the air escaping through the balloons will make sound like everyone at the North Pole had too many beans.
  1. Redecorate the Yuletide tree every few hours. 

    Keep adjusting and moving things around so it’s interesting.  You’ll love the novelty, even as the turkey burns.
  1. Demand myrrh for your gift.  If someone actually manages to find some, pout, “It’s not the same without the frankincense.”
  1. If you don’t get a Christmas bonus, quit your job and follow your dream of becoming an astronaut or Cirque de Soliel acrobat.

    (When that doesn’t pan out check consult this video on The Perfect Career for ADHD.)
  1. Skip ahead one as you light a candle on the Menorah and claim it means you’re time traveling into tomorrow. 

    If people get upset claim, “You see, this is why I have to live in the future.”
  1. If family members dismiss ADHD, send them to TotallyADD.  When they apologize and thank you, be gracious. (Almost impossible, I know.)

There you go.  With these tips in mind, you’re all set for the perfect ADHD holiday.

But be warned, ADHD is highly heritable, so you might want to skip watching “It’s a Wonderful Life”, especially if you can’t hear it over the screaming, and have the family gather round to take our Unofficial ADHD Quiz.

PS: What are your ADHD Holiday Tips?  Let us know!

PPS:   Legally I am obliged to point out that if you try any of these tips, you’re on your own. 

I know nothing.  

And if you want better tips, our online shop features lots of amazing videos with scores of ADHD experts

And for the last 3 weeks of December all video downloads are on sale.  Including our documentary ADD & Mastering It!

PPPS:   Family gatherings often lead to hysterics, arguing, cursing, hurt feelings, screaming, threats, tears, and door slamming. 

It’s often a ‘holiday tradition’ for families where there’s ADHD. 



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  1. belgian December 13, 2015 at 2:16 pm

    Omg this is so true I don’t even know where to begin … hahaha!
    I almost never comment because I am
    a) too impatient to log in with my impulsive comments
    b) can’t remember my password
    c) can”t find my password log book
    but THIS is was the holiday exception!
    [I am avoiding a MAJOR cleanup pf the guest room that must be completed in 24 hours …]
    THANKS for the humour and happy holidays!

  2. mcfarlane December 14, 2015 at 3:20 pm

    According to suggestion15 Rick may never read these suggestions. Here are a few of my suggestions.
    1. Never read a Christmas suggestion list that goes beyond ten suggestions. We who have dyslexia don’t have that kind of time to read long lists around the holidays.
    2. As a Christmas gift for a teacher buy them a book on ADHD, like ” ADHD Stole My Car Keys”. They will say “Wahhh Waaaah”. Which I learn at teacher college means “Thank you”.
    3. Add a Clapper to the light display of some really rich guy who never gives to charity. When he complains about it, tell him it is three ghosts turning the lights on and off. Also tell him if he gives to a charity the lights will work and the three ghosts will not visit him on Christmas eve.
    4 Have empathy for others.
    5. Act on that empathy.
    Happy Holidays
    Wayne McFarlane

  3. Rick December 14, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    Ha ha ha!
    @mcfarlane, I’m promise to make shorter lists.
    Actually, if I’d followed your suggestion #1, I would have made this into 3 blogs!
    Love the clapper trick. (You could also hook it up to one of those machines that makes a farting sound. An ADHD coach gave me one and it’s a prized possession.)
    And yes, empathy.
    Who wouldn’t want that this time of year?

  4. Rick December 14, 2015 at 4:20 pm

    @belgian, glad you remembered your password!

  5. nellie December 18, 2015 at 9:45 am

    I still love #1 best: Cover your car in Christmas Lights. Not the car you drive, the one that died and you can’t afford to have towed away.
    Although, I don’t want to out you, but you used that one a couple of Christmas blogs ago LOL. At the time I commented that I can really relate to that one because I had a car ( well ok, two cars eventually) standing in my driveway for several years and it sort of becomes part of the scenery.
    I did finally get them towed away because of renovation work and needing the spot for storage. Happy to say I actually got some money for them too but it was a shock to realize that one of them had been there for 6 years before I got rid of it ! The shock wasn’t really to me though except in a time sure flies kind of way!
    Friends I told this too couldn’t see the humor in it and said stuff like what is wrong with you? Wrong? Nothing, it’s just for starters….I couldn’t find one of the keys and then all that phoning around I’d have to do, and, well, if you have ADD you can probably make up your own version of the rest of this story!
    This year, I’m aiming for #7. If the people on your street put up way too many lights and lawn ornaments, put up a sign, Welcome To Vegas!
    No time for lights yet because of yet another last minute reno job promised to be done in time for Christmas. It started with replacing a bathroom tile but an hour later all the drywall was down and my husband stopped me before I could go any further and insisted I call a contractor. That was in September. I called the contractor last week. Ummm, re-reading this it doesn’t really explain why I didn’t have time to put up lights does it? :-) But in my defense there are lights up around a window left over from last year. So does that count as pre-planning?
    Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all. Thanks Rick and everyone at
    TotallyADD for all your great work and especially for helping us to keep seeing the humor in all of this ADD generated chaos!

  6. Rick December 21, 2015 at 2:34 pm

    Go ahead and out me. I did use a number of these a few years ago. Kept the ones that still made me laugh.
    We have almost a million visitors to TotallyADD every year, and there’s just so much material… Yikes!
    The amazing thing is that people who love the Forums have no idea there are videos, or a shop. And people who follow our Facebook and Twitter feeds don’t know there’s a website. I can barely remember myself!

  7. blackdog December 11, 2016 at 1:16 pm

    Well, there are some articles you can safely read the comments on… :)
    I sure wish I had done #3 last year. That way I wouldn’t have to spend my money this year on paying for last year.
    But #16 is all wrong. Ribbons are a must. It is so disappointing when no one gets me ribbons for Christmas. Sure, it slows things down, and everyone has to wait for me to finish playing with the ribbons, carefully remove them to make sure they don’t get damaged, set them lovingly aside, gaze at them in fascination…..before I finally get around to opening the box….But really, if you want to make me happy, just give me ribbons… preferably sparkly ones. Then I can spend the rest of the day hanging the ribbons on the tree, then rearranging them, which will lead to rearranging the rest of the ornaments for the 100th time… Throw some Christmas music on and bring me a glass of eggnog, then leave me alone and I will have the merriest Christmas ever!

  8. tazodel December 19, 2016 at 12:28 pm

    Suggestions 11, 15 and 24 resonate with me. I still have my old Palm Tx which replaced my series of concurrent notebooks that contained duplicate shopping lists, to do lists (which went on for page after page) random thoughts, whines and ideas plus a dozen goals for the future. As for waiting in line, I have discovered that fewer people shop around 5:30 pm, and I aim to hit the stores around that time for this suppertime slump. Of course, I usually forget that I have other things to do, like appointments at that time, especially if I forget to check my two paper planners and phone (which I keep updated and synced, most of the time.) And I stopped decorating for Christmas shortly after buying clear, stackable containers to store the lights and decorations, and actually used them. Since I’m an empty nester now, it just seems pointless to take them out and have to put them away two weeks later every year. I would rather use this “found” time to learn something new, like how to make a really good Christmas cocktail. Merry Christmas to TotallyADD!

  9. Love your suggestion about shopping at 5:30. In fact, if you google a store or business on Google Maps it will show you when it’s open and how busy the place usually is, hour by hour. I was surprised that some places open at 8:00 am, during the holidays! If I could drag myself out of the house at that hour, I’d save a lot of time! LOL.
    Thanks for the Holiday Wishes! Right back at you, from Ava, David, and I.

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