The holidays are not always what we may want them to be. Not everyone has “hallmark family holidays” - the perfect image of joy and togetherness - and that’s okay. Avoiding crisis during the holidays starts with and honest inventory of what your holiday season may include. Whether it’s grandpa’s rants or split family holidays - being ready for all aspects of the holiday season can keep you calm, cool and collected. Here’s how to get ready

1. Take inventory of holidays past.

When you look back at past years’ holiday seasons, what are the common themes? Are there arguments on the same topics? Who in the family never seems to show up? Do you spend most of your time driving between houses and events? 

Keeping track of what happens year to year helps you see the patterns. Eventually, you may be able to guess what’s going to happen this year - and steer clear of situations that may just be way too much for you to cope with.


2. Recognize that old habits die hard.

Even as we grow older, it can still be difficult to realize that some things never change. The holidays make many of us hopeful, with sentiments such as ‘this year will be different’ or ‘they will change’. While optimism and a positive outlook are generally recommended - sometimes it just doesn’t pay to get your hopes up.

As brutal as that sounds, it’s true! Think about your worst habit. How many times have you tried to fix it? How hard is it to break those bad habits? Now imagine that you never made an effort to fix that habit - would it just go away? Probably not. Expecting things to change on their own isn’t realistic - and that applies to holiday drama and stresses as well!

friends hanging out

3. Make a list of realistic expectations.

Now that you’ve inventoried the past and recognized that habits are relatively steadfast, make a list of what to expect. Why make a list? There’s a connection between writing and commitment to memory, so writing out your expectations can help you internalize them.

What should be on your list? Anything that you should expect from your holiday season. Will you be stressed - add it on. Are arguments bound to happen - add it on. Below is an example of your realistic expectations list.


Once your expectations are set, you can move forward with other areas of holiday prep, like maintaining your mental mindset. Your physical list is there to remind you of what exactly you’re getting into - no surprises, no I-told-you-sos. Here’s to starting holiday season on the right note!