1. Decide When You’re Leaving Before You Arrive
Obviously, if you’re having a good time you should stay, but giving yourself a limit of, say, two hours might help you relax.
2. Know Your Limits
During the holidays, you’re bound to have more social engagements than usual. Be honest with yourself and know when to say no.
3. Prep for Conversation
Before going to a party, think of some open-ended questions that will get other people talking and take the focus off of you. Think ahead about your own answers to those questions you know your going to be asked.
4. Offer to Help
Whether it’s setting the table, tossing the salad or doing dishes after dinner, lending a hand at a holiday party gives you a purpose.
5. Seek Out Extroverts
It might be more intuitive to gravitate toward people like you, but it’s a safer bet to stick with extroverts who are comfortable being in the spotlight and carrying the conversation.
6. Wear Something You’re Totally Comfortable In
7. Don’t Drink Too Much
Nowhere is it written that there shall be alcohol whenever a family gets together. A sparkling cider or an interesting non-alcoholic cocktail could be thrown in.
8. Plan your indoor workouts. Winter is here. Sneak in some planks, bridges, straightjacket sit-ups, active squats and you’ll barely get noticed.
9. Try to Have Your Own Space
Sometimes staying in a hotel instead of at a relative’s or friend’s house may be a needed break or like a relaxing little vacation.
10. Line up some Co-conspirators.
Chances are you’re not the only one who is irked by your family’s dysfunctional routines. Figure out who you can call on to help make things different. Then do some pre-event strategizing. Agree to tag-team each other with the folks you all find particularly difficult. Set up a signal you’ll use to call in a replacement. Brainstorm ways to steer a certain individual’s most tiresome and troublesome antics in a different direction.
Ask your co-conspirators to brainstorm ways to give challenging relatives an assignment: Is someone always critical of the menu? Ask her if she would please bring that complicated dish that is her trademark so she’ll have a place to shine.
11. Invite “buffers.”
Most people’s manners improve when outsiders enter the scene. If you can count on your family to put their best feet forward for company, invite some.
12. Provide Escape Routes.
Togetherness is not for everyone. Make sure there are ways for the shyer or more intimidated to get away from the crowd. If most people will be watching football, set up a movie in another room, ask for help in the kitchen, set up a jigsaw puzzle away in the corner table or go for a walk.
13. Save Money Where You Can & pick your shopping partners where you can.
14. After guests leave, reward yourself. Sink into your favourite chair and give yourself credit (and an extra piece of pie?) for trying to make a difference.
15. Take Care of Yourself
It’s totally possible to enjoy the holidays - but it all comes down to self-care. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, building in extra me-time, and doing things you genuinely love.
Thanks to PhychCentral, MSN, my family and the interweb for many of the ideas put together above. I know there’s more depending on your situation.
And to finish off