No need to hide from the holidays — communicating with family members about plans can help make the gift-giving season run more smoothly.


The holiday season is not only a time of celebration, religious ceremony, and family get-togethers — it can also be a real turning point for many of our relationships.

Let’s start with the office: Usually, over the next few weeks, you’ll be invited to your office party and/or that of your partner’s. Let me state this loud and clear: you MUST attend both yours and your partner’s when invited.

It’s imperative that you don’t get drunk and act foolishly or rude. The office party is a chance for colleagues to mix and mingle on a social level, yet never forgetting that the underlying link between you is business. So you don’t want to talk shop at the party, but at the same time, you don’t want to get too personal, and do or say things you may regret come Monday morning.

It’s always a good idea to introduce yourself to your superiors, but try not to act too sucky. It’s also a good idea to introduce yourself and thank those people you may not see but who help you out daily, like the receptionist or mail delivery person, for example.

Let’s move on to the extended family: we all know the holidays can get tricky, juggling parties and celebratory meals. The key is to keep it simple. If you’re single, accept any and all invitations, without double-booking yourself. Please your parents by being with them — then go out partying with your friends late-night.

If you’re in a new relationship and want to bring each other to a family event, explain that to both your sets of parents and ask them to decide early on what they’re planning. If there’s a conflict, hopefully you should be able to work it out in advance. But don’t expect a new partner to go with you to every family event. That can just get too intense for everyone.

Here’s where it gets complicated: say you’re married, with children, and you both have married-with-children siblings, and accompanying several sets of grandparents. The best plan is to sit down with your partner and decide what you two can and cannot handle. Say both parents live out of town, in opposite directions, and you have small children.

Think about having everyone to your house instead, whether all at once, or in two groups. That may make things easier on your small unit. Of course, your siblings might be in a similar situation, making planning and co-ordinating that much more difficult.

Try to make your plans early, in case you need to juggle things around. Also, make a conscience decision with your partner to make your holidays as stress-free as possible. If that means missing out on one half of the family gatherings, promise to be with them next year.

Less stress in planning and celebrating with extended family means less stress between you and your partner. And that’s the most important relationship you want to nurture.

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