1. Have Some ‘Me Time’
This is number one for a reason. With social media and video networking becoming bigger and bigger parts of our lives (being ‘on the phone’ for hours at a time with friends and family is becoming a normal thing), it is important to disconnect and just be yourself, or even be someone completely different.
When we say disconnect it doesn’t necessarily mean avoiding technology and wrapping yourself up in a blanket with a cup of tea while reading a physical copy of a book (although that is definitely a good idea). Watching an entire series on Netflix about people’s adventures on another planet might just be what you need.
So even if your days or evenings are just packed, make a point of setting aside one whole day a week just for you. Even if the weather is getting a bit chilly, going outside for a walk can be great to relax, and there are even some fun social events you can take part in. You could have a great time by having an evening in London where a professional can escort you to pubs and clubs they’ve given rave reviews to. Friends and family will certainly understand if you tell them that you need a day or two for yourself since they’re going to need the exact same thing.
2. Plan Ahead
No one decides they’re going to make a turkey feast that same morning. Or throw a party. Sure, these things are certainly possible, but the chances of these events being a runaway success are low. Especially this year, knowing when to go shopping (grocery or gift) beforehand is great. Having everything written down or filled out on a spreadsheet doesn’t make you boring or inflexible. It means that you can be more relaxed not only in the lead-up to the party, but during the party itself.
And there are a lot of different ways of being prepared. You don’t even have to know how you will spend each day or how you’ll cook something, since even recipes and activities are on the table.
The way people shop for each other is changing as well. With more and more shopping being done online, it’s become acceptable to ask outright what your friends and family want. And while that might mean you getting them that exact item, there’s less of a stigma against gift cards. No longer are they gifts from lazy people who can’t be bothered. Now they are wonderfully useful bits of free money to be spent at a favoured store.
3. Manage Expectations
Despite all the planning you might do (see above), things might go awry. And while some of that might fall on your shoulders (getting the cheaper version of this or that might end up being a bad idea), there are other examples like delivery times that are completely out of your control. No matter how you might try to dot every i and cross every t, the best way to not be disappointed is hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.
Get-togethers involve video conferencing more and more, so instead of having a room full of people, you have a room full of voices on the phone, all at the same time. That’s not the same sort of party atmosphere so if you’re hosting, you have to be ready for awkward silence from time to time, and be ready to alleviate it with an icebreaker question or some sort of party game.
Gift giving and receiving might require a bit of effort from time to time, but if you try to clear your head of expecting any sort of present (even if you asked for something specific), everything can be a welcome surprise.
4. Keep Your Cool
When things do go off the rails – and it doesn’t have to be in a serious way – there’s no sense in crying over spilt egg nog. If friends or relatives are suddenly chirping about politics or how one treated the other three years ago, there’s no better time to try to reduce tensions and not add fuel to any fires.
Roasts will burn, toys will break much quicker than you (and any kids) expected. Of course a bit of planning can help (have plenty of food options, have batteries, tape and glue), but even if you’re up a certain creek without a paddle, just taking a deep breath and remembering that it’s not the end of the world will help you get through the season.
It is inevitable that people will cancel, or that you might not be able to make a trip across the city or even to the grocery store. And instead of getting sullen and withdrawn, an apology and a bit of understanding will make everyone feel better about the situation.
5. Have Fun
Absolutely important! There’s a reason all these commercials have people smiling from ear to ear during the holiday season. And while that might be the sort of thing that has you rolling your eyes as you prepare yourself another cocktail, stretching out in a comfortable chair with a nice drink is nothing to scoff at.
You are going to use plenty of social energy this season, and maybe in different ways than before, but you will find that a good mix of spending time with people and alone can do wonders for your well-being. Eating good food with friends and family or even playing online games with strangers reminds one that we are social beings at heart.
Enjoying such kitsch-filled holiday traditions (as well as making light fun of them) is the best way to celebrate the year, even if it was one filled with unexpected challenges.