I say it every year, but how is it already mid-November? This time of year is equal parts exciting and fun, and yet, always reminds me that I wish I lived closer to my family and could spend more time with them. I’m sure many of you can relate: whether you’re married and have to split holidays, live in another state than your family or friends, have a job that requires you to work during the holidays, or perhaps the holidays are a tough time for you for whatever reason—know you’re not alone. This year has been especially tough for all of us with many of us choosing to stay home for the holidays or limit gatherings to close family to stay safe. Family aside, I catch myself wishing I could see more friends during the holidays, too. But, in all seriousness, after this emotionally fraught year, crazy work schedule, and various side projects, the bulk of my free time will probably be spent getting caught up on rest.
This year I’m committed to saying “yes” to people and things that light me up, and a “thank you so much for the invite, my plate is full,” for the things that don’t.
Worried some of your pals might take this message personally? Your true pals will know not to—we all need rest and we can’t do it all. Do you know what else I’m committed to? Keeping it simple. It’s been a big year of changes for me: new job, a new relationship(s), ending of said relationships, side projects, and a move on the horizon, and I find myself wanting to keep it low-key with the ones I love.
Here are 7 ideas I’m implementing so I can stay connected to my family and friends during the holidays (virtually and in-person) and not hit burn out by January.
Breakfast Dates vs. Drinks
Now before you think I gave up wine or Negronis, hear me out. This year has been chock-full of dinners, evening events, and travel where a glass of wine (or a few) have casually snuck into the evening, leaving me with a little less pep in my step in the morning. I’ve been hanging with quite a few pals who are sober or opting to drink less during the week, and it’s starting to rub off on me in the best way possible. Plus, breakfast is hands-down my favorite meal of the day and fun fact: I hate day-drinking and I’m not a brunch-go’er, so this is a great way to catch up with my pals and feel good, too. I’ll still get in #groanzone and have a glass of Pinot Noir this season, but my hope is that it’s not as frequent as it’s been.
Thank goodness for technology. My parents live in Nebraska and I get to see them maybe five times a year if I’m lucky. Every Sunday my sister and I have family dinner with a family friend in Austin, so we’re going to take advantage of our time together and chat with our parents every Sunday during the holiday season and beyond. Simply put, I don’t make enough time for the most important people in my life and I want to. Side note: have y’all used Marco Polo? My best friends and I use it all the time for quick updates, questions, vent sessions, or just to say hi. I love it.
Walk Around the Lake or a Workout Class
Over a year ago I committed to moving my body for 30 minutes a day, so why not have a friend join and kill two birds with one stone? Plus, when I start my day with movement, I typically end up making good choices the rest of the day. I’ve noticed when I do opt for a lake chat with a friend, we keep our phones away and really get a chance to talk (and listen) without distractions. Turkey Trot anyone?
Host a BYOC or BYOW night
Also known as “Bring Your Own Cheese” or “Bring Your Own Whatever!” I absolutely love hosting friends, but after a while, it can get a little pricey. There’s no shame in asking your pals to bring over a dish, or something special, especially if you’re offering up a place to hang and drinks, etc. I always want to do it all, but doing it all comes with an added expense, so remember to ask if you want the help. What I love about hosting is: you determine how chill, casual, dressy, etc. you’d like it to be. Me? I’m planning on dim lights, candles, cheese and wine (or sparkling water) and comfy clothes. I repeat: no frills this holiday season.
It’s not glamorous, and if you’re like me, I’m on a lot of calls during the day, but if I can squeeze in a few hours of friend time while getting work done, I’m in. Thankfully a large portion of my friend group owns their own business and makes their own schedule, so we have that luxury. I love that more and more companies are offering flexible work schedules and encouraging their employees to work in spaces that make them feel supported and creative. Take advantage of it during the holidays if you can!
Handwritten Notes and Snail Mail
For those of us that can’t physically see family and friends, there’s nothing like opening a piece of mail from someone you love. In the spirit of keeping it simple, I’m going to send cards and notes to those that I love and miss and write the thing I admire most about them and/or the thing they helped me most with in 2019 that I’m grateful for. I am always so filled up with gratitude, especially during the holidays, and I truly don’t share it enough with the people in my life.
A few weekends ago I had the opportunity to volunteer at Urban Roots in East Austin. Most of their volunteer days are youth-led to provide unique opportunities for their young leaders as they grow their leadership and public speaking skills. It was an awesome experience and reminded me that I don’t do enough giving back to the community outside of monetary donations. What a great way to give back to Austin, and spend time with a friend or family member.
Whether you get to spend time with friends and family in person or from afar, reader, I hope your holidays are truly filled with love and simplicity.
This post was originally published on November 13, 2019, and has since been updated.