‘Tis the Season for Holiday Boundaries

Reading Time: 8 minutes

‘Tis the season for holiday boundaries as we attempt to prevent the season of stress! With all of these upcoming holidays, we seem to turn up the pressure to make everything “perfect”.  The perfect meal. The perfect outfit. The Perfect HOUSE. Well, take a deep breath. Sit your bum down on a comfy cushion. Tell your mind and body to relax.  Because what I’m about to tell you…may indeed surprise you. Actually, before you get too comfortable, jump back up, and pour yourself a glass of wine or iced tea. Better yet, take the bottle or pitcher back to that comfy seat (with the filled glass of course ’cause we’re classy).  Take another deep breath. Maybe close your eyes for a few moments. Move that hand holding the filled glass to your lips. Take a sip. Take another sip. Take a breath. Let it out, oh so slowly.

How are you feeling? Physically? Mentally?

Have you already forgotten everything that’s about to happen in the next 2 months? Possibly? Maybe? Yes?  

You are officially ready.

So, first step: high five yourself!

Time for Suggested Advice — Brace Yourself

The deal with the holidays is that they are going to pass, whether you stress about it or not. Yet, we all stress. It is a natural response of the body when anything in our lives requires attention or action. Or when we are in a situation that we don’t feel we can manage or control (according to mind.org,). So, it makes sense that people stress more during the holidays, when the to do list grows longer and longer, and the time seems to shrink smaller and smaller. We feel out of control. We wonder how in the world we will manage everything before the guests arrive. So, with all the stress floating around, the question begs, WHY do we continue to allow the holidays to stress us out? Why do we put pressure on ourselves that everything has to be perfect (a rare phenomenon in itself)? Why do we make that long to do list in the first place? Especially when many of those listed items we may not even care about and just add them to the list because of past behaviors.

So, this holiday season, I’m asking everyone to take the pressure off him/herself by reducing the items on the to do list to only ones that you want to do or experience. Give yourself some grace and turn the focus from attempting to make everything perfect to truly enjoying the holidays and the people in your life.

How Do You Truly Enjoy the Holidays – – – Without Stress?

Homemade Photo Booth
with Props!
  • Figure out what you enjoy about the holidays and then make it the perfect holiday for YOU. Don’t let other peoples’ expectations rule your decisions. If they want it to be a certain way, they can open up their home to host an event. AND the best part, you are not obligated to go.
  • Stop saying YES to the SHOULDS. “I should go”. Pssha. No, you will not go. Look into your heart, into your head, into your gut. Take an inventory. Will there be anything positive from attending that event? Oh, you’ll get to see Sue Ellen, whose company you always enjoy? Invite her out to lunch or over to your house for dessert. Don’t subject yourself to the negativity for a brief encounter with positivity.
  • Do you hate decorating your house? Don’t decorate.
  • Do you hate spending 20 hours of prep and cooking to make a meal that lasts 20 minutes? Don’t cook.
  • Do you hate having people over to your house because the stress is just too much? Don’t host.
  • Do you hate having to see certain people at every holiday gathering? Don’t attend those events.

The bottom line is that it’s time you take back control of your life and set up holiday boundaries. This season, it’s all about you.  

Creating a Column of Love

Now, mentioned above is “hate”. That is a strong word. If you just mildly dislike, or prefer not, that’s a gray area. Delve deeper into figuring out what it is that you hate vs dislike. Maybe it’s not the cooking an entire meal for your loved ones. Maybe it’s just cooking that one dessert that makes a mess of your kitchen and takes forever. Adjust and adapt.

The main key is to figure out your own likes and dislikes. Give yourself permission to be 100% honest about everything. Now make a list and start writing it all down. You can have a positive and negative column. A love vs. tolerate vs. hate. You can do Yes! and NO! You can do a 🙂 and 🙁 .

Charcuterie board we had so much fun making for Christmas!

Whatever columns you decide to create, go through every activity that you have done for the event in the past, from cleaning the house to doing dishes at the end, and place it on the correct side. You may need to create a middle column for the neutral ones or the ones that don’t affect you one way or another.

Again, once you figure out how to make it the best holiday season, take that control, find that power, and make it your holiday reality.

Keep reading for the bare minimum suggestions on how to have a successful holiday season at your house or at someone else’s house. Aka: how to set your holiday boundaries

How to Set Your Holiday Boundaries for a Successful Holiday Season at Your House:

Group activity everyone took part in
  1. Invite family and friends (whose company you enjoy) over to your house.
    • I realize that some people are stuck in this life with family that they don’t get along with. Honestly, life is too short to answer to the shoulds. So, should you invite your sister who you don’t like? Probably. But WILL YOU?
    • Stephanie (that’s me, the author!) gives you permission to only invite into your space the people who add to the positivity and enjoyment of that space. Let all who enter know that any negativity and disrespect will not be welcome, and should your request be ignored, people will be asked to leave. Make your boundaries during the holidays known.
    • If this causes strife, ask someone else to host. You are keeping your space sacred for you and anyone else that may live in your home.
  2. Make sure the toilets are clean. What else really matters? *wink* *wink*
  3. Okay, maybe make sure to have at least 2 desserts. People (most definitely Americans) are addicted to sugar.
  4. Have enough plates, cups, utensils for all meals and desserts.  
    • Don’t feel up to doing dishes or bringing out the fancy china and crystal, buy recyclable products. Rinse and recycle.
  5. Provide Food
    • Unfortunately, this is a must. BUT you can either:
      • If you enjoy cooking, prep ahead of time so there’s minimal to do on the day of the event
      • If you don’t enjoy cooking, buy a frozen lasagna or other meal that you just pop into the oven. Oh, and buy bagged salad to go along with it for the healthy option.
      • Pizza is always a crowd pleaser. 😉
  6. Oh. Speaking of crowd pleasers…Alcohol.
    • Often, holidays are “gotten through” because everyone has an alcoholic beverage in his/her hand. I’d like to refer you to #1 above. Ideally, you don’t “need” the alcohol to get through the night because you’re surrounded by people you love. So, suggested:
      • Create a fun drink for everyone to enjoy. Mocktails. Cocktails. Add sprigs of peppermint and some cranberries or whatever festive ingredient strikes your fancy. I love serving all drinks in fancy wine glasses so everyone feels merry.
      • To make it easier on yourself, tell everyone to “bring your own beverage” (BYOB). Most people have their own drink preferences and it’s easier to just let them bring it, than to have 10 different drink options. Water. A fun drink. Maybe wine. Maybe a few coolers and ice to store their drinks.
  7. Decorate the house… IF YOU WANT.
    • Hear me say this: don’t decorate because it’s what you’ve done all the yesteryears.
    • Do you like pulling out all the decorations and putting them up around the house?
      • If yes, turn on that holiday music and have at it.
      • If no, do you like SEEING the decorations up around the house?
        • If yes, ask a sibling or pay a child or professional organizer 😉 to decorate for you.
        • If no and you don’t like seeing the decorations, DO NOT DECORATE. If asked why there aren’t any decorations, tell that busybody that Stephanie (again, me, hi! *waves enthusiastically*) gave you permission not to decorate this year. They’ll be wondering who Stephanie is all night.
  8. Decide on an outfit (or because it’s your house, outfitS, plural)
    • That makes you feel how you WANT to feel: whether that’s festive, sexy, comfortable, etc.
    • I often announce Pajama Party as the “theme” just so I can wear my lounge pants and a tank top to a friend’s house. Bra optional.  BEST. Theme. EVER.
    • Have fun with it. Make everyone wear those ugly Christmas sweaters or dress up as his/her favorite reindeer. The important part here is to have fun with it and maybe get everyone to loosen up a bit by wearing something silly.

How to Set Your Holiday Boundaries for a Successful Holiday Season at Someone Else’s House:

  1. Invite yourself over to someone else’s house. I often invite myself over to people’s homes by suggesting they host a Halloween event or Friendsgiving, etc. I’ve found that it’s the only way that activities get scheduled. So, take that initiative and suggest someone else host. (Ideally, it’s someone that enjoys hosting, thrives on it actually, and by moving the event to his/her place, you aren’t paralyzing him/her with stress.) (Also, side note: since moving into a larger space, I’ve added my place into the rotation for hosting (which I’m still LOVING to do! … on occasion).
  2. Decide on an outfit that makes you feel how you WANT to feel: whether that’s festive, sexy, comfortable, etc.
  3. Ask the host(ess) what food or beverage you should bring.
  4. That’s it! So easy.
  5. Okay, you may feel the urge to bring a host(ess) gift, in which case, follow your instincts and wants. It’s always lovely to give.

Toast To Your Happy, Stress-Free Holidays!

How’s that pitcher looking? Did you pour another glass? Is your mind and body a tad more relaxed than when you started reading this article? I hope you’re feeling amazing and more mentally prepared for what holiday boundaries you’ll enforce for the upcoming holiday season.  

Oh, another way to get through the next few months: be aware of your breath. Yes breath. Over the last few months, breath has been quieting nudging me from all corners of my life. And it’s made a noticeable difference in my day to day and how I respond to situations. So, breathe. When you feel yourself becoming stressed, anxious, annoyed, just close your eyes, focus your mind on your breathing, and start taking slow, deep breaths. In. Out. Slowly. Fill your stomach. When you breathe out, release all of the air from your chest. I like the 5 counts to breathe in, hold for 5 counts, 5 counts to breathe out. As you do this, please listen to your body and don’t overdo it. This breath work should be calming, not another stressor.

Oh, you can also create a mantra for the season: I am choosing me this holiday season. The goal: keep that blood pressure lowered, the body relaxed, your mind focused. (And everyone else respecting your set holiday boundaries!)

So, taking a last deep breath, do you have a visual of how your holiday season will now go? Do you feel ready? A tad more relaxed? I certainly hope so! 

One last reminder: this is your life. You must set up holiday boundaries to protect yourself. Period. No one else will do it for you, and often, people walk right over emotional and physical boundaries. So, you’ll need to state those boundaries, and state them again, and again before people take you seriously. Be strong. You got this!

Best of luck!  


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