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Holiday Get Togethers: A How to Guide

As ubiquitous as Christmas songs in a shopping mall, holiday parties can be stressful and fraught with terribleness. If we’re not careful, they can be Scrooge-worthy on so many levels. But there are ways to make this season a little less stressful for the party set. Here are my tips, in no particular order.

1. Plan Ahead

It sounds simple, but in the hustle and bustle of Christmas, it’s easy enough to be super last minute. If you’re headed to a party, carefully read the invite, see who else is coming, how large, the location and what’s expected. Find out if it’s a dinner or nibbles occasion, and, if you’ve never been to the place where it’s happening, try and swing by to see what it’s all about. You’ll feel better about the night if you know what you’re in for.

2. Simplify

Whether you’re a guest or the host, it’s always tempting to go all out around the holidays. But don’t feel pressured to have the largest, sparkliest Christmas tree or the most elaborate treats because—big surprise—no one cares. Unless they’re a jerk. And you don’t want jerk friends, right? Seriously, though, spending tons of money and time to make a hall look great is well and good, but most people spend five minutes going “wow, this looks great” and the next two hours drinking, chatting, eating and laughing. And a fancy canapé delivered by a man in a tux is fun and all, but it means the same things as meat on a cracker in your warm kitchen. The party should be about people, not stuff.

3. Don’t Worry, Be Happy, but…

You’ve probably been invited to a few holiday parties already: for work, with friends, with family, and community or cultural events. Feeling a little spread thin amongst all of this is not only likely, it’s more or less guaranteed. Because it’s a special occasion, we never want to disappoint anyone. But, if you’re feeling more stressed than not, it’s not good. Let go—your boss won’t fire you for not coming to the Christmas party, and your friends will still love you if you need a night in. Unless they’re jerks (and you…well, see #2). People, not stuff, and quality time, not quantity time.

4. …Make an Effort

On the other hand, it’s very easy to be a Scrooge at Christmas, especially if you suffer from the SADs during the dark winter months. It’s tempting to hermit yourself in and not go anywhere, but more often than not you’ll find that if you take a few steps out of the door, you’ll feel way better. Do something special: have a skating party. Go sledding. Drink hot chocolate. Even if you’re not the life of the party, you can make a party happen around you. I promise.

5. Hostess with the Leastest

If you’re hosting, have three things on hand: chips n dip, mixers and music. Even if you have nothing else, those three things will save you. Everything else is window dressing. In fact, why not host a purposefully minimalist party? This is connected to simplify, for sure, but it’s also about setting a great example. Have a food bank bin instead of a gift exchange. Decorate your furniture with white felt so it looks like you’re outside (I stole this from a friend). Have a “mix yourself” drink bar. Enjoy! Laugh! Love!

And most of all, put this song on repeat:

image from ramseymohsen photo by

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