How to Have an Intimate, Stress-Free Holiday Season

As we officially kick off the holiday season, following is a guest post from Maria Rainier to help you make it your own.

While there is certainly nothing wrong with hosting a large holiday get-together with extended family and friends, there’s something to be said about arranging for a more intimate gathering of immediate family. Reasons may include wanting to have more one-on-one time with your immediate family or simply wanting to avoid the stress of travel arrangements and family disputes.

Ironically, it can be a source of stress just trying to convince your extended family that you want to keep things small this year. It’s no lighthearted task turning down parents, friends, or distant family members, especially when they expect an extended celebration.

First, it’s important that you’re sure of your decision to have a more intimate holiday.  If you waffle, your argument will probably fall face-first in the mud, and you’ll end up flying the whole family to celebrate at your aunt’s or best friend’s house across the country like previous years.  Respect their feelings when you’re turning them down, but remember yours, too.  Don’t let anyone guilt-trip you into an unhappy holiday.

This is, of course, easier said than done.  If distance is against you, remember that the economy is, too—it might be kinder to blame a lack of vacation time or the rising prices of air fare when you say you’re going to keep it local this holiday.  Strike a compromise from there: promise to visit or have a Skype session soon—and be sure to keep your promise.

In this manner, you can decide for yourself what is important in your life.  Our lives are already filled to the brim with obligations—work-related, family- or friend-related, etc.—but remember this: life is too precious to spend dreading every other moment of it.  Think about what you truly enjoy doing and what you would enjoy being a part of this holiday, and be sure to keep those items on your calendar (remember this from the November 17th post?).  Gracefully bow out of events you’d rather not attend, and stick to your guns.  This way, you’ll better enjoy the activities in which you do participate, and you’ll have more time to spend with loved ones.  After all, that’s what the season is about.

Unfortunately, even though we try to save time to spend with the kids and/or our significant other, time slips by and before long we’re running on fumes.  The holidays are the last time of the year to be out of touch with your partner.  There are little things you can do, however, to prevent this.

  1. Do one thing together every day.  This can range from cooking dinner together to having your morning coffee together by a window before one or both of you leave for work.
  2. Help your significant other gift-shop.  You can have ice cream together at the mall or look up smaller, more local stores or thrift shops in town and do something new together.  New experiences undergone together will stick in both of your minds and keep you going the rest of the season.
  3. Make each other a mix-CD or playlist.  It sounds very high school, but try it.  Fill the CD or playlist with songs you love at the moment and maybe even invoke thoughts of each other.  Swap them after Thanksgiving.  This way, when you’re both running errands in separate cars, you can pop in the other person’s CD and think of them while you’re away. 

Still, a certain degree of stress is practically inevitable this time of year, or any for that matter.  The real issue is how you deal with said stress.  The two best ways are obvious; you’ve heard them a million times, but that’s because they work.

  1. Exercise.  With a job, with kids, with all the errands we run, with your hobbies, and with everything else in life taking up our time right now, exercise seems like a pipe dream.  Besides, no one wants to go running in these temperatures.  That’s okay.  Forcing yourself to do an exercise you don’t enjoy—like running in the cold—can actually build stress.  This season, go back to tried-and-true enjoyable activities like yoga or walking the dog, or pick up something new with a friend or with an exercise DVD.  No need to pay, either: your local library probably has fitness DVDs you can borrow.
  2. Sleep.  Instead of setting your alarm clock to an unrealistic hour and hitting snooze a dozen times, set it for a reasonable time to get more time in deep sleep.  Aim for 6 to 8 hours a night of quality sleep, which means no lights, no sounds, no disturbances. 

Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education and performs research surrounding online degrees. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

Photo Credit: ©Pavel Losevsky/


2 responses to “How to Have an Intimate, Stress-Free Holiday Season

  1. Great post. Is there a way to contact Maria Rainier?

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