Dating is tricky enough without the added chaos of the holiday season. Here are a few guidelines for surviving the holidays whether you’re single, newly dating, or in a committed relationship.
If You’re Single:
Do: Accept party invitations.
If you’re hoping to meet someone this holiday season, you’re going to have to resist the urge to hibernate. Say yes to dinner parties and singles’ events. Dress to impress. Maybe.
Don’t: Eat nonstop from Thanksgiving until New Year’s.
With back-to-back holiday parties, it can be hard to avoid, but overeating — and the resulting food comas and snug pants — won’t help you operate at your best. Indulge strategically, stay hydrated, and watch the booze consumption. Regardless of relationship status, you’ll enjoy the holidays more if you’re physically feeling good.
Do: Invest your energy in the people and things that matter.
Focus on making family and friends feel loved and appreciated. Find ways to give back and volunteer in your community. Sure, you’d love a date for New Year’s Eve. But don’t let your own relationship status consume you this holiday season.
Don’t: Compare yourself to others.
The grass is always greener — or perhaps the snow is always whiter? — on the other side. Don’t let envy or competition ruin your Christmas. Take the time to reflect on the past year and be thankful for the good things in your life.
If You’re Newly Dating:
Do: Manage expectations.
Preemptively defuse any holiday-dating stress by talking about it. Don’t make assumptions about family functions, office parties or exchanging gifts. Sit down with your date and ask them about their plans, traditions and expectations for the coming weeks. You’ll learn a little more about each other — and might even plan a date in the process.
Don’t: Overdo the gifts — or do them at all.
When you’re newly dating, elaborate gifts — whether expensive or just overly sentimental — can be overwhelming for the receiver. And finding the perfect gift for someone you don’t know well can be a huge stress-inducer. Instead, take the pressure off and go out for dinner instead of exchanging gifts. Or give your date a small thoughtful token without expectation that he’ll give you anything in return.
Do: Leave the party when you’re date wants to.
If you’re at a stage where you’re comfortable bringing each other as dates to parties — predetermine if you’ll use the term “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” so you know how to make introductions — let the person who’s new to the group dictate when to leave. Meeting a roomful of new people can be exhausting. Respect your date and go easy on them.
Don’t: Invite your date to your family Christmas — yet.
Until you’re pretty serious about the relationship, put bringing your partner to big family functions on hold. (If you really want your parents to meet her, consider arranging meeting up for hot chocolate or coffee at some point during the holidays.) Stick with your respective families on Christmas Day. You’ll still have New Year’s Eve.
If You’re In A Committed Relationship:
Do: Spend time with each other’s families — with intentional breaks.
If you’re in it for the long haul, try to spend time with each other’s families over the holidays. To avoid family-exhaustion, add in a few mini-escapes from your parents’ houses: go for a walk, offer to run errands together, or sneak a coffee date in the middle of the day. Even if you don’t feel like you’d ever need a break from your siblings, your date might.
Don’t: Be afraid to go your separate ways, too.
Before the craziness of the holidays sets in, communicate your expectations for the season. What events, traditions and family functions are most important to both of you? Do one or both of you need quiet down time? Make plans that best serve each other as a couple and as individuals. You don’t have to do everything together.
Do: Give thoughtful gifts.
Don’t just buy her a bracelet because the salesperson at Tiffany’s told you that women like them. Make it personal. Buy her something that she needs, has talked about, reflects her interests, tastes or personal style, or references something you’ve done together.
Make time for yourself. When you’re in a relationship, it’s easy to go to double the parties and double the family events. You have to shop for more people. You might end up decorating both of your apartments. And then you’ve got actual dates to cram in, too. Be intentional about carving out some time and space for yourself to recharge — especially if you’re an introvert — to avoid holiday burnout.