You are not obliged to attend every happy hour, every ornament exchange, every cookie party, every holiday get-together. Choose which events will bring you the most joy, and learn to politely decline the other invitations.
This is my first holiday season as a married woman, and I’m loving every moment. This will be the fourth Christmas that Dan and I celebrate as a couple, and the third we actually get to celebrate together in person. So though it’s been awhile since I’ve spent the holidays single, I definitely remember what it was like.
Having no one to kiss under the mistletoe…
Not receiving any romantic gifts from a special someone…
Attending Christmas parties without a date…
Having no one to kiss to ring in the New Year…
Seriously, why so many holiday kissing traditions?
While you might not be able to avoid unwanted—and terrible—dating advice from your friends and family, you can survive the holidays with these tips.
Note: While I tried to make these tips as inclusive as possible, I did base my ideas from my own experiences. They might not be entirely applicable to men or to LGBTQ+ individuals.
1. Learn to say “no.”
Dreading yet another holiday dinner party where your well-meaning coupled friends will try and set you up? Gracefully decline. You are not obliged to attend every happy hour, every ornament exchange, every cookie party, every holiday get-together. Choose which events will bring you the most joy, and learn to politely decline the other invitations.
2. Practice self-care.
If you can afford it, think of the money you would normally spend buying a present for a significant other. If you can really afford it, think of the money you would spend on a spouse and children. Then use that money to treat yourself. Spend a day at the spa. Invite a close friend out for a nice dinner at a nice restaurant. If you have just a little extra money, splurge on a manicure.
If you don’t have any extra money to spend, treat yourself at home. Pick out a new book, pour yourself a glass of wine or heat up a mug of hot chocolate, play some relaxing music, and take a hot bath. For extra relaxation, add some bubble bath or bath salts (check out my recipe for easy homemade lavender bath salts).
3. Host a ladies night or guys night.
Your single friends will appreciate a break from the coupled parties. Your coupled friends will enjoy some girls-only or boys-only bonding. Throw a movie night. Host a tea party. Set up a video game tournament. Make pizza and play board games. Just because it’s December doesn’t mean you have to throw a huge holiday party. Everyone will enjoy a low-key, no-pressure gathering.
4. Avoid the mistletoe at all costs.
Is anything more awkward than finding yourself under mistletoe with a person you barely know? When you arrive at a party, scout out the mistletoe immediately. If you can’t find it, enlist the help of a close friend or colleague to help you track it down. If all else fails, put on your brightest smile, gush to the party host how beautiful everything is, and beg for a tour of all the decorations. With any luck, your host will point out any mistletoe.
5. Limit your alcohol intake at work parties.
Christmas office parties are notoriously boring OR wild. Is there anything in-between? When the alcohol flows freely, you might be tempted to over-indulge on your boss’ dime. And then you might be tempted to hook up with a single colleague. DO NOT DO THIS. Avoid ruining your professional reputation by drinking responsibly, or not drinking at all.
6. If possible, bring a friend.
I was never the only single person among my friends. Many party hosts will invite you to bring a date, and most of them should be OK with you bringing a friend instead. (Be sure to ask first). A friend can rescue you from the awkward person trying to corner you with mistletoe. A friend can help you maintain your sanity.
7. Know why you’re single (or prepare a great lie).
Don’t be caught by surprise when your great-aunt or second cousin corners you to demand why you’re still single. Have an answer prepared in advance. Only you know your life and what your family is like. Tailor your answer to your personal situation. That said, here are some possible answers.
- I’ve actually decided to take a year off from dating and really focus on me. It’s been a great year for personal development, in fact. [INSERT SPECIFIC EXAMPLE OF YOUR AWESOME YEAR HERE]
- Work has been so busy I barely have time to sleep, let alone date! But I [CHOOSE ONE] am up for a promotion / just received a generous bonus / have a chance to work overseas. I’m really happy with the way my career is going.
- I’m too young to settle down! I’m having lots of fun going on dates and meeting new people, but I’m not interested in anything serious at the moment.
8. Corner your most nosy relatives before they corner you.
Everyone LOVES talking about themselves. Don’t give your nosy relatives a chance to bug you about dating.
- Tell me about [INSERT VACATION HERE]! What was the best part? What kind of food did you eat?
- I want to pick your brain a bit about [INSERT CAREER HERE]. How did you first get started? What’s the greatest challenge you’ve faced?
- How did you celebrate Christmas a kid? What’s changed since then? How do you feel about how commercialized Christmas is today?
- Your baby is so cute! What’s it like being a new parent? What’s been the most unexpected blessing?
Bonus: Not only can you avoid questions you don’t want to answer, you can also genuinely get to know your relatives better. It’s a win-win.
9. Keep a book with you at all times.
I’m married, and I still always take a book with me to any family gathering on either side of the family. When your family starts driving your crazy, just find a cozy spot and curl up with your book. If anyone starts to pester you with questions about your dating life, politely interrupt them and say you’re at a really good part in your book.
10. Help out.
Your cousin has a new baby and two other kids? Give her a break and take the older kids outside to play. The table needs setting? You’re on it! Uh-oh, Grandma ran out of butter: Offer to go to the store and pick some up. Not only will you stay too busy for relatives to harass you, your family will appreciate all your assistance.
11. When all else fails, drink another glass of mulled wine or spiked hot chocolate.
I can’t be the only person who needs a few drinks when spending time with her extended family…right?
Brita is a freelance writer and copywriter who founded the Christian feminist lifestyle blog Belle Brita. Once upon a time she lived in France, but for now she enjoys exploring the best of America.
This originally appeared on Belle Brita. Republished here with permission.