Rethinking the Holidays

Last year, we shared guidance on how to create a stressless holiday, one that is fun and relaxing for everyone. After all, holidays are like a Dickens novel: they can be the best of times and the worst of times.

And though it may feel like the holidays are still far into the future, many of us are already feeling anxious. Consistent with how life has been in 2020, there are so many questions with few answers, especially as we start thinking about what the holiday will look like. After all, we’re still in the middle of a pandemic. How safe can it really be to see and celebrate with family? Can we do it? Should we do it? How do you tell Aunt Sally that you’re not hosting this year and she won’t be invited in if she shows up? How do you tell Uncle Bob that he didn’t make the cut for the small gathering you are having? How do you tell your parents to put their masks on when around the kids or they will be asked to leave?

Here are our three tips to both rethink the holidays and keep them as stressless as possible.

  1. Set ground rules. These are your guardrails, your rules, the lines you will not cross. You create these based on what you’re most comfortable with, regardless of input from those who are not part of your immediate family (i.e. the people who live with you). So, for example, if you decide you will not host a party this year, or attend one, you do not let peer pressure change your mind. If you decide to host a party but all attendees must wear masks unless they’re eating and they will be socially distanced at that point, those are the rules that must be followed. (Side note: Consider sharing the rules or expectations of your guests before they arrive so that everyone is aware and, if they cannot or will not comply, this gives them the opportunity to politely decline the invitation).
  2. Get people on the same page. Once you’ve identified your rules and expectations, get your family and friends on the same page as you. There is nothing more important in this new approach to the holidays than being completely transparent in your communication. That means if you choose not to attend a family function, you clearly explain why. If you choose to attend but with restrictions, you explain why (and what that looks like for the attendees from your household). Your rules and expectations may be different than others, and for that reason, you need to inform your family and friends where your comfort level is with holiday events. It is your responsibility to keep yourself and those you love safe. Be clear about what behaviors you expect of friends and family members.
  3. Create new traditions. Everyone has been talking about the “new normal” we live in after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and this will obviously have a significant impact on holiday activities. Very few family traditions will likely still be able to be experienced in the same way this year, but that doesn’t mean they still can’t be celebrated and enjoyed. And see the opportunity here, as well, that there is the chance to create new traditions. After all, traditions have to start somewhere. Get creative with how to celebrate remotely or locally. Consider a holiday house light competition that allows others to drive by and visit from a distance. Or, have a holiday mask party in lieu of an ugly sweater party and have all masks be homemade holiday designs. You have seen others do remarkable and creative things around other celebrations like birthdays, weddings and graduations. Holidays are just another opportunity to get creative with your celebration and focus on what you have instead of what you don’t.

The holidays this year will look and feel different, but it doesn’t need to either be an invitation for anxiety and worry or a time to feel disappointed or shortchanged because it is different from what you normally do. Any time change arrives, commit to using it to build something better. Consider how this holiday season can be the best one yet because you do the things that matter in a way that keeps the people you care about safe.

Take Action
Your ultimate goal for the holidays should always be to enjoy the season, to make the holiday happy, safe and less stressful. So define your rules and expectations to ensure that will happen for you. Be clear and confident in the decisions you make. And be present to each moment, however it shows up to you.

If you’re struggling to define your rules and expectations and what you want the holidays to be like this year, consider using our Solve Anything Process

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading The Holidays are Coming and You Still Have to Work at Home

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