In-laws staying over? An office party you’d rather skip? Here are some simple solutions for managing what can be stressful holiday situations, from house guests-no matter how much you love them-to stains to that unexpected (or unwanted) gift.
Give yourself a break
The holidays are filled with lots of “supposed to’s” that can be tough or impossible to fulfill, says Dr. Neill Neill, a psychologist on Vancouver Island, B.C. “Our biggest mistake is telling ourselves what we should do and how we should feel,” says Dr. Neill. “It’s okay to say no to invitations, to do what you want instead of always what’s expected.”
Be aware of what triggers your anxiety-identify these situations instead of dreading them, Neill advises. It could be anything from dealing with old relatives to navigating the mall. Pay extra attention to your feelings (it’s all right to have a mix of good, bad and neutral ones), don’t skip activities that relax you and reduce tension (e.g. exercising, getting enough rest), and rely on your support network if everything gets to be too much to handle.
Grin and bear it
Some situations demand a “go with the flow” attitude, says Toronto etiquette consultant Louise Fox. See someone at a party who you don’t get along with? “Now isn’t the time to try to solve all your issues-you don’t want others to feel uncomfortable,” says Fox. “Arm yourself before a family gathering, and not with a gun-bring your sense of humour.”
Have a party guest who spills red wine on your cream couch? Don’t shriek in horror; it’s the “cost of doing business”, says Fox. By the way, if you’re the spiller, says Fox, offer to pay for-or better yet, arrange for-the cleaning.
If you have overnight house guests, don’t feel pressured to be a 24-hour social secretary, cook and maid. Make your guests feel welcome, and by all means offer choices to keep everyone busy. But you don’t have to micro-manage their stay.
No, it’s not okay to drink to excess at the company holiday party. Your behaviour will be remembered, like that of a law firm support staffer, recounts Fox, who did a table dance without wearing proper, um, support.
Yes, it’s okay to re-gift, provided there’s no chance the giver will find out (don’t pass the unwanted item on to a mutual friend) and the gift isn’t appalling-you need a sense that the recipient will actually appreciate it, even if you didn’t.
Finally, says Fox, you don’t always have to reciprocate in kind or immediately if someone gives you a gift that’s extravagant or unexpected. Maybe it was in appreciation for something you’ve done in the past. Accept the gift in the spirit it was given-remembering that holiday spirit can carry you through the season.
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