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surviving holiday parties

by jenni earle

I should say upfront that I’m a bit of a grinch. This time of year I feel like merriment is an obligation dictated by the calendar, rather than organic and spontaneous. There are things that I do like: lights on houses and twinkling in the trees, and people being kind to one another. Last year, our blog writer Elise, wrote about how to love yourself best this time of year. I feel that magic is like a bolt of lightning, or a jolt of joy –you can’t plan for it but you know when it hits you. The structure of the holidays takes away from the beautiful surprises that make up the true heart of this season.  

 

No matter how I feel, the calendar is telling us to be merry. We are in the thick of the holiday party season! Most likely you have more than one party written on the family calendar. Some parties are a little more stress-free to show up for, you know the hosts well, you know they will take you as you are. Others, like office holiday parties or your partner’s brother’s party where you don’t know many people, are much more anxiety-ridden for the socially introverted, like myself. When I think about holiday parties I begin to picture Christmas as a bully – telling me what to wear, where to be, how to act and requiring that I feel excited all the time. So in the spirit of the season I’m going to share something with you, some tips on surviving holiday parties.  

 

Surviving holiday parties tip #1 

SHOW UP AS YOU ARE

It took me a long time (35 years and some therapy) to realize that a majority of the crippling expectations we feel are assumptions. It’s in our own head, y’all! We heap the expectation of merriment on our own shoulders because it’s all we see in the media. There is (usually) no line on the invitation that reads, *must show up being as excited about the holidays as Clark F-ing Grizwald! It just says, ‘join us’. This is where you can put aside what you think they expect of their guests and just be you.

Find the part of the party that you are excited about and focus on that.

Maybe your sister-in-law makes a fresh apple cake that you look forward to all year! Make your enthusiasm for that! Find one person that seems interesting and have a good conversation about stuff that really matters. (hint: these people are usually on the periphery of the party. Look for them casually leaning by the tree.) Making connections is what this season is really about, under all the shiny ribbon. By showing up authentically, you will feel the warm glow of this connection and will walk away feeling seen. 

 

Surviving holiday parties tip #2 

WEAR WHAT FEELS COMFORTABLE 

Another bane of the holiday experience is feeling like you have to wear loads of shiny red and green stuff. I convince myself that I  haven’t dressed appropriately if I’m not donning sparkly reindeer antlers. Stop searching for holiday dresses if what you really want to wear is a pair of sleek pants and a motorcycle jacket. Wear that! [but if you want to wear red we’ve got the Blaze a Trail bandana and the Good Luck bandana for green – check out tips on how to wear a bandana, too]

Surviving holiday parties means wearing the clothes that make you feel strong and authentic. 

Personally, I loathe ugly Christmas sweaters and will NEVER put one on my body, and that’s ok! So if the invitation is an “ugly Christmas sweater!” wear whatever you think is funny! Pajama pants with Christmas puns? Hair styled like those from Whoville? Or, wear your normal stuff. The root of the ugly Christmas sweater thing is to let loose and have fun. So, define that for yourself!

 

Surviving holiday parties tip #3

BEFORE YOU GO TO THE PARTY, MAKE TOUGH DECISIONS

One thing that can hang us up is making decisions on the fly. Don’t wait until you are standing in front of the dessert table to decide if you are going to break your streak of healthy eating. If you are going to flirt shamelessly with the cute guy from the graphics department, decide beforehand if that is a good thing for your heart. This is where expectations can be helpful, rather than overwhelming. Set some for yourself!

Trust begins by telling ourselves something and sticking to it.

If you in your sober midday pep talk decide that it’s a bad idea to eat 4 desserts, then stick to it. If you give in and break promises to yourself then you may swirl into self-loathing. I can be really hard on myself when I break self-promises. Feeling self-critical or disappointed in yourself really cuts into the party vibe. Set up the expectations of yourself and go with it. You are calling the shots this season! (please limit actual shots to two… you’ll thank me tomorrow) 

 

• • •

You will survive

It can be a tough time of year no matter how you slice it. Not only are there a million things to do all the time, but this season also brings up loss and loneliness. It brings up all those glowy-bordered memories of years past when the snow began to fall at the perfect time and the radio played the perfect songs and the fire was perfectly warm, not too hot, just perfect. But darlin’, the past wasn’t perfect either, you just remember the moments that felt that way. Flood them with gratitude and try to turn your attention to the ones to come. Find the bits that make you feel magical and do more of those things. There’s a wooden walking bridge here in our town with over 40 lighted Moravian stars in the beams, it is so gorgeous. Walking that bridge several times slowly and with gratitude is the expectation i am putting on myself this year. 

 

 

We here at the Jenni Earle ranch are truly misty-eyed with gratitude from ALL the support we’ve felt from this community this year. Thank you so much for being a part of the gang!! We wish you the VERY BEST the season has to offer (your holiday, your rules!) and a hopeful look into the new year to come.

 

As always, trailblazers, BE BRAVE! (even at your office holiday party!)

ALL our love and thanks,

The jenni earle gang