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Girl’s Guide to Enjoying the Holidays

I love to watch Hallmark movies. You know how it goes – there’s a conflict or hurdle that must be overcome, the characters are constantly thrown together, the problem is solved, and everyone lives happily ever after. How can you bring a little Hallmark to your season so you can find yourself enjoying the holidays?

Be deliberate

Several years ago, I noticed that once again Christmas had arrived, and I had done nothing that would help me with enjoying the holidays. Work was busy with year-end activities and that was my focus. I barely decorated, didn’t attend any holiday events, didn’t make any cookies, and did my shopping online. A friend had a similar experience, so we made a vow to do at least one intentional holiday activity together every year. We held each other accountable to do one thing to enjoy the season. Since then, we attended the Nutcracker, watched a production of A Christmas Carol, and went to a holiday tea.

What is your plan to enjoy the holidays?

  • Take a moment to think about you really want for the holidays – for yourself and for others.
a holiday holly branch

Be present

I hear it from everyone. People are busy. We finally get into holiday mode and then we aren’t mentally present for the actual moments. Sometimes, we feel guilty that we are taking time for ourselves. We let our to-do list stress us out. We forget to make memories.

How can you be more present?

  • Set priorities – schedule items on your calendar or make commitments that you know you won’t break.
  • Practice mindfulness – put your phone down, manage expectations, take it all in, and acknowledge what you are grateful for.
  • Buy something that you can’t wait to see someone open. It’s not about cost but the joy the gift will bring.
  • Try something new for the holidays – wrap presents instead of using gift bags, share what you are grateful for at Thanksgiving dinner, go caroling.
  • Do something for someone else – sponsor a less fortunate family, serve a meal to the homeless.
a smiling person wearing holiday flannel and surrounded by holiday lights

Be traditional

The holidays are a great time to continue and create traditions. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or something else, traditions remind us of our history, lets us share a part of our culture, and provides a sense of comfort and belonging.

Be curious about the traditions of others and share yours. A couple of years ago, my sister hosted an exchange student from Italy. Leti quickly became another member of our family. Thanksgiving was a whole new experience for her. Her family sent panettone for Christmas Eve and she shared that Christmas in Italy is celebrated from December 24 to January 6.  Arriving on January 6, legend has it that LaBefana is a witch who heard of the good news of Jesus’ birth from the Wise Men. Instead of giving her gifts to the newborn baby, she instead leaves them for the children of Italy who have hung stockings in anticipation of her arrival.

a person wearing black nail polish holding pine branches dusted in snow during the holiday

Be a relationship ninja

The holidays don’t always bring out the best in people. Nobody knows how to push your buttons like a work colleague, family member or close friend and that can really interfere with enjoying the holidays. I’m sure you have heard the saying “it’s not what happens to you but how you react to it”. That is totally true.

  • When we don’t have all the facts, we tend to fill in the blanks with our own story. That story can bring up emotions and lead to bad behavior. You tell yourself – “Of course they did that on purpose because they knew I wouldn’t be happy about it. They are always trying to ruin my evening” and then you proceed to be rude in return, which not only ruins that person’s experience but everyone else’s in the room.

When you start to feel emotions bubbling up, ask yourself these questions:

  • What are the facts?
  • What could be another, less nefarious, explanation for what is happening?
  • Why do we choose to believe the worst in others? Go into events assuming positive intent. Give people the benefit of the doubt and stay on track to enjoy your time together.
  • Be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle. This is a great mantra for the holidays. Who are your friends and colleagues who lost a loved one this year and this is their first holiday without them? Is someone supporting a sick child or parent? Who is away from their family this year? Show them a little extra grace.

Be aware of what you need

This is not the time to stop self-care. Take that walk. Talk to someone about what you are feeling. Journal. Put on music and dance. Whatever you need to take care of you, do it.

two smiling people celebrating the holiday by cuddling in a light snow

Set an Intention

I challenge you to set an intention versus a new year’s resolution. The website, Nutritious Life, explains the difference between an intention and a resolution like this: The resolution problem lies in thinking that we aren’t “good” enough the way we are, and that we will be better or happier when we get something else, or change who we are. In setting an intention, you resolve that you’re already “enough,” so you move forward without having an attachment to the outcome- it’s more about the journey.

Maybe your intention is to be more of the leader you have always wanted to be. Or maybe it’s more personal such as noticing and appreciating moments of joy that occur in your life or to improve relationships that are important to you. You get to choose!

Take the time to watch Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, send those Christmas cards, and make that wreath for your front door. You may end up enjoying the holidays and you won’t regret it!


Debby Neely is a Professional Certified Coach through the International Coach Federation who specializes in leadership coaching and facilitation. Her business, Neely Coaching & Training, supports both formal and informal leaders in realizing their potential and in getting results. Their mission is to help you be the best you can be.

Comment (1)

  1. Charlene says:

    Great points and reminders. Loved reading this!

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