Here at Bōwst, we like to joke that we’re a big family. A big, happy, weird, geeky family that likes to make awesome things for awesome people. Like all families, we know that the holidays can be super stressful, so in addition to the cool stuff that we can — and will! — build for you and yours upon request, we also want to pass on some tips for getting through the holidays without pitching your own family members (work or otherwise) right out the window.
Tip #1: Santa Surfs The Web
Yes, we know we’re internet people, and we know that you probably expected us to be computer oriented, but SERIOUSLY. SHOP ONLINE. Here’s why:
- Crowds. They don’t exist on the interwebs. Neither do parking lots, which mean that you won’t have to drive around and around, wishing you could find someplace to park.
- Product reviews. The internet doesn’t want you to buy terrible things that no one will like! The internet wants you to buy good stuff that people will love. Read the product reviews!
- Shipping. If you live far away from people you are buying for, like I do, you can have the items shipped DIRECTLY TO THEM, saving you money. Also? Many companies will gift wrap. (There is sometimes an additional fee for this, but if all of the gifts you give look like they’ve been manhandled by Andre the Giant when YOU wrap them? Pay the fee.)
- Online discounts and coupons. A little Googling, and suddenly — BOOM. 20% off your whole purchase? Why thank you, internet!
- Comparison shopping is MUCH easier when you are online. You can have more than one retailer up at once so that you can check prices and make sure that you are getting the best deal.
- The internet makes charitable giving easier as well. There are sites tailored for charitable giving, like greatergood.com, or you can search for charitable giving and a cause that’s near and dear to you and quickly find places that will help your gifts give back!
But wait, you say. I don’t want to do my shopping at big box retailers. I like personally crafted, one of a kind items! Don’t worry, the internet has your back there too. That’s what Etsy is for.
Carve out a couple of solid hours online and you can complete all of your holiday shopping. No pushing, no shoving, no lines, no ridiculously hot stores, no sales people who will lie and tell you that they’ll check to see if there’s another item that you wanted “in the back.” Just you and the satisfaction of a checked-off gift list.
Tip #2: Make Like Elsa and Let It Go
Let’s be honest: you’re going to eat a lot of junk over the holidays. It won’t be on purpose, but there will be pie and cheese plates and yumminess everywhere you turn. If you are a health oriented person, this could be super stressful for you.
Here’s the deal, from us to you: make the best choices you can, and then? LET IT GO. A delicious cookie will not be the thing that derails your entire dietary plan unless you let it, which you won’t do because you are awesome. Eat the cookie. Enjoy the heck out of that cookie. If you really want another one? That’s okay too! You have no time for shame in your game.
On the other side of that same coin, if you are SUPER committed to your dietary plan? No one has the right to make you feel bad about it. If you politely decline with “I’m sorry, Auntie Zelda, but while your fruitcake looks AMAZING, I’m afraid I must decline. Thank you again for offering it” and she freaks out and pressures you because she MADE it! And it’s the HOLIDAYS! And YOU’RE SO THIN! You can smile again and walk away.
(Or, you can walk around with a slice of it on a plate so no one will ask you if you want anything because duh, you already have cake, and then toss it when you get the chance. Not that I’ve ever done that, ahem.)
At the end of the (holi)day, it comes down to this: your intestines are your business. You don’t have to feel guilt about what you do — or don’t — eat over the holidays. Food is central to a lot of different holiday celebrations, but it ISN’T the start and finish of them. So if you are feeling food guilties for being “good” or “bad”?
Let it gooooo! Let it goooo!
Tip #3: Make a Plan, Stan
True story: last year, some friends and I decided in NOVEMBER that we wanted to try to get together and have dinner. Because of kids, and jobs, and partners and obligations and parties and whatnot, we were finally able to settle on a date of … wait for it …
What I’m saying is, the time fills up fast once you hit November. You’ve likely already noticed that your schedule is beyond busy. That’s okay! The holidays are filled with many fun activities, and you should take the time to enjoy them.
The other thing you should do — and it’s not too late — is get your calendar out RIGHT NOW and try to put in some you time. Time that’s JUST FOR YOU, for how you want to spend it. Maybe you want a night in with the family. Maybe you want to go have a hot stone massage. Maybe you want to go curl up in a comfy chair and read a book. Whatever it is, put it in there and then — and this is important:
DO NOT BOOK THAT TIME FOR SOMETHING ELSE.
In order for you to be fully present and in total “wooo hoo making sugar cookies with a room full of small children is FUN” mode? You need to have had some quality you time, whatever that means to you. It’s not selfish. It’s necessary for your batteries to recharge. Take the time. You know what you need for you time — you know what it takes to get you down off the “AGGGH I HATE THE HOLIDAYS” cliff that we all sometimes find ourselves standing on the ledge of — so plan for that. Write it in.
Remember: You’ll have less stress if you take time to decompress!
Tip #4: Cousin Mikey, Politics, and Temptation
Remember when you were a little kid, sitting at the children’s table at your Nana’s house on Thanksgiving? Remember what a putz Cousin Mikey always was, and how he’d start arguments and try to make them seem like they were your fault? As a result of his shenanigans, you were the one who took the longest to graduate from the kid table to the grown-up table — remember that?
Yeah. He’s still that guy, except that now he’s bigger, and more, um, adamant. Of course, so are you, so your childhood dream for solving the Cousin Mikey problem — the one where you tie him up and stuff him in Nana’s coat closet, the one with the terrific mothball smell — seems much more do-able now.
I hate to break it to you, but you cannot stuff Cousin Mikey in a closet. (Just … no. PUT HIM DOWN.)
This has been a hard year, one that has been very polarizing on the political front. The Cousin Mikeys of the world LOVE this stuff, because they think discord is the best thing on the menu, especially when seasoned with angry and sad tears. (Auntie Zelda probably should have hugged him more or something? I don’t know why he’s like that.)
While I can’t give you a 100% guarantee that Cousin Mikey will behave, I can give you a way to encourage him to do so, and this is it. Before your family gathers for holiday celebrations, write an email (or a letter, if needed) that basically says the below:
Hello, Gorgeous, Amazing Family!
I know we are all looking forward to this year’s gathering. I personally can’t wait to sink my teeth into Auntie Zelda’s fruitcake — I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since I last tasted it! — and talk sports with Uncle Link. Man, that dude knows his fencing!
As we all know, this has been a super hard year and some of us are a little — or a lot — sensitive about current events and politics. We get together SO infrequently … I know that I haven’t seen Mario or Luigi in forever! … and I would hate to have this year’s holiday celebrations interrupted by unnecessary conflict.
We might not all love current events, but I know that we DO all love each other. Let’s try to avoid subjects that we know will distract from that happiness, even if it’s just for this one gathering.
I’m looking forward to seeing you all!
Cousin Mikey — you have been SERVED.
Tip #5: Whassssssup?
(Forgive me for that, I couldn’t help myself.)
One of the reasons that the holiday season is so stressful is that it is emotionally charged. If you have family, if you don’t have family, if you are away from your family, if you have lost family, if you have any kind of pain in your emotional closet, the holidays are going to suss it out and tapdance all over it. But this is supposed to be a happy time, right? As a result, many many of us stuff the tears and the tissues waaaaaay down deep in that closet, underneath the sweater that we don’t ever wear and the ugly but practical shoes, and try to pretend that it’s not there and we’re filled with joy and OH BOY FRUITCAKE FA LA LA LA LAAAAAA.
It’s not a good plan.
The people in your life should know what’s going on with you. They are in your life for a REASON. Trust them. Trust them enough to be able to say: “You know, today’s been hard” or “Some holiday songs make me really sad” or “This kind of cookie makes me miss Nana’s house — even fighting with Cousin Mikey!” If you let people know what’s going on with you — what’s up in Youland — then they can help you.
Many hands and hearts on your side = less stress. Not pretending to be happy? Will help you to actually be happy. And ultimately, that’s our wish to you. From our little Bōwst family to yours. A happy, healthy, stress-free holiday season.