Jo Knows’ Survival Guide to the Holidays

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! So relaxed and peaceful; no one bickering or drinking a few too many glasses of eggnog…certainly no one asking you why you aren’t married yet or when you’re going to make them a grandmother because she isn’t getting any younger and neither are you! If your holiday is nothing but joy and fruitcake, congratulations. For the rest of you, here’s your holiday survival guide:

You don’t have to like your family – you just have to love them.

Everyone’s family has a healthy sprinkle of crazy. Maybe your great aunt can’t stop talking about her cats, or your grandmother insists on wondering why you can’t just wear a bra with a little padding because, “really, it would just help everything so much.” (That last one isn’t a snap shot of my holiday, I swear.) The thing about family is we don’t get to choose them, so try not to think about how little you have in common or how annoying Uncle Larry’s face-pinches are; just love them for the crazies they are.

Fake it till you make it.

If “loving them” is just too much of a struggle, (Damnit Aunt Linda, if you pat my husband’s butt one more time, I’m going to take off my rings!) just plaster on the fake smile and grab another glass of wine. If you start fixating on how irritated you are, you’re only making the night more unpleasant for yourself. Laugh it off, smile and nod, or fake a phone call if you really have to escape for a minute. Channel your inner Queen Elsa and just Let It Go.

Make time for your people.

Most of us have our biological families and then we have our chosen family: our people, our tribe. Make time to celebrate with your nearest and dearest, whoever they are. Force yourself to go to the holiday parties that aren’t work related; make time to have a glass of wine with your bestie; take a walk with your favorite cousin who you never get to spend enough time with. The holidays can get buried in present buying and obligations – make sure you take time to connect with your loved ones.

Save your drinking for New Years.

Don’t be the drunkie at the family gathering. No one likes that person. Staying civil and family-friendly is not made easier by three gin and tonics. It’s tempting for the cocktails to flow if you’re trying to manage family stress, but pace yourself. I like to alternate a boozey drink with a glass of water – it also keeps the hangover to a minimum.

On that note…

Decide ahead of time how crazy you want to get on New Year’s Eve.

Feeling like letting your hair down and doing some flaming shots? Go for it. Need to make out with a stranger in a leather jacket? Get some. Just have a rough idea of how nuts you want to get before you leave the house. Winging it leads to making decisions later in the night when you may be less capable. I’m not saying you should write yourself a schedule; just make some rough guidelines for yourself: Must be home by 2AM; No taking strangers home; No tequila shots because you know how handsy you get after a few of those. Making a rough plan for your evening can go a long way toward preventing catastrophe. That being said, there is always room for some rule breaking…

Make some well-chosen bad decisions.

Ok, I know, I just told you to make a plan, BUT also let yourself cut loose! Bad decisions can lead to good things. Just manage those decisions a bit: Fourth glass of champagne? Why not! Fourth glass of Jack Daniels? Take a breather. Make out with the dude in the leather jacket, but maybe check in with a friend before you take him home. Which brings me to…

Bring a buddy.

Don’t go out alone. It will more than likely lead to nothing good, even if it’s just you having a crap night. Find some like-minded comrades who are down for a similar evening. It will make your night a million times more fun and also a million times safer.

Have an exit strategy.

Make sure you know how you are getting home at the end of the night. If you have access to public transportation, awesome, but also make a back up plan. Keep Uber or the number for a few taxi companies in your phone. If you’re planning on getting a ride from someone, make sure they are sober and have a plan B just in case. The last thing you want to do is be worrying about how you’re going to safely get home so don’t leave it to chance.

My last piece of advice for 2015: Enjoy yourselves and be merry!

Happy holidays, everyone!



Jo Knows is an advice column where my dear friend, Joanna, tackles any and all of your questions every other week. Nothing is off the table (think: sex, depression, career, family, dating, etc), and all questions will be published anonymously. Email hi3chairs at gmail dot com.

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