The holiday season is upon us, and for many people (myself included), it marks a deeply beloved time of year. Merriment fills the air as festive decorations go up all over town and holiday music becomes the faint background soundtrack everywhere you go. It’s a season for slowing down, reflecting on the past year, and sharing quality time with loved ones.
But as true as all of that is, the holiday season can easily become stress-filled and hectic. Calendars become packed with social engagements, people frantically try to find gifts for everyone while staying on budget, work becomes madness as everyone rushes to finish up projects before the new year, and don’t forget the added stress of interacting with rarely seen relatives.
The stress and pressure that can come along with the holidays have the potential to bring out some *ahem* less than jolly and joyful behavior. Scrooges, grinches, manic shoppers, greedy kids (and adults, let’s be real) — we’ve all seen these characters emerge during the holidays. Those are extreme examples, but there are plenty of ways to dampen what should be a happy time for all. Here we have six people you don’t want to be this holiday season.
1. The person who turns holiday cheer into a competition
First, let me be clear: This has nothing to do with when you decide to decorate for the holidays. Beginning of November? Cool. After Thanksgiving? Also fine. December 24? Seems a little late, but YOU DO YOU.
No, this is the person who feels the need to prove themselves the ultimate merry elf by competing in a holiday cheer competition that no one else signed up for. They’re the ones making you feel bad for not putting up your lights on November 1 or who can’t imagine why you’re not listening to Christmas music as you’re basting your Thanksgiving turkey.
This weird flex is also marked by not-so-subtle bragging. You’ll commonly hear “I love the holidays; I’m totally obsessed,” “People call me an elf because I’m just that into the holidays,” and “There’s no way you love the holidays more than I do.”
We get it. You’re jazzed about this time of year, and it’s great! But maybe don’t make people think they need to prove their holiday cheer or keep up with yours?
2. The person who makes it all about the shopping
While not even close to the most important part of the holidays, gifts are still a big part of it. With Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and all the other mega-sales this time of year, of course you’re going to shop. And that’s okay! It’s totally fine to like both getting and giving gifts; it’s even okay to like getting gifts for yourself (as long as you’ve budgeted for it)!
However, the holidays only intensify the almost pathological need to buy, buy, buy. If you have a list of things that you’ve been meaning to get, it can be a great time to score those items at a good discount. It becomes a problem when the pursuit of the deal starts to consume all your time from Black Friday through the new year.
We likely all know that person who dips out of Thanksgiving dinner early to hit up the mall or who spends all of Black Friday with their eyes glued to some kind of screen because they just can’t. stop. hunting. for. deals. Meanwhile, their family has been bonding over a puzzle or board game and ya know, bonding.
3. The person with a mile-long wishlist
Going along with that, don’t be the person who somehow didn’t grow out of the habit of creating a comically long list of desired gifts from “Santa.” If you’re an adult who has disposable income, you don’t need to and shouldn’t ask your friends and family for every single thing you’ve had your eye on this year. I think that’s all I need to say here.
4. The person who thinks his/her loved ones turn into a Rockefeller when it comes time for gift-giving
Quantity and quality: The twin pillars of many situations. Just as you don’t want to be the person asking for too many gifts, you definitely shouldn’t be asking for things clearly beyond the means of your loved ones.
If you are expecting to exchange gifts with someone, I’m guessing you have a decent idea of what he or she can afford. You may not know exactly what annual salary they take or how much they have in savings, but you can typically gather enough information from how they live their day-to-day lives to have a pretty good idea what is doable for their budget.
So then why, oh why, would you suddenly think they can afford to buy you the latest fancy tech gadget that retails for over $1,000? Or that trendy blazer that costs more than their monthly grocery bill? If it’s something you really want, save up for it and buy it yourself. Then, ask your loved ones for those reasonably priced items you’re coveting.
5. The person who doesn’t respect the rules of the gift exchange
So help me, if there’s one person you endeavor not to be this holiday season, make it this one.
Whether it’s the office gift exchange, Secret Santa among your closest girlfriends, or White Elephant with your cousins, there are bound to be politics surrounding the gift-giving. This is exactly why pretty much every exchange has rules.
Listen, I understand that many of you out there naturally have kind and generous hearts and want to shower your loved ones with thoughtful gifts. That is not the problem, and I don’t want to discourage anyone from being generous. But if you get the impulse to spend over the designated price limit, buy more than one gift, or gift something to everyone rather than just your assigned person, I urge you to consider that some people, while very generous, just don’t have the room in their budgets to show it with gifts.
I can’t name one instance of gift-exchange drama that didn’t come down to someone not following the rules. By all means give with an open heart, but do so while recognizing that the rules are there for a reason and going above and beyond isn’t necessary to show you care.
6. The Person Who Constantly Complains About How “Busy” and “Stressful” the Holidays Are
To be clear: This does not refer to people who genuinely struggle with the holidays due to trauma, strained family relations, the absence of loved ones, or anything in that realm. The holidays can be a particularly trying time for many, and my heart truly goes out to anyone who doesn’t feel like their problems are miles away this time of year.
I’m referring to the person who complains about the “busyness” and “stress” that are more self-perpetuated problems than anything else. It’s like anytime someone complains about being busy but really wears it as a badge of honor. Yes, such a festive time comes along with lots of social events and responsibilities, and the end of the calendar year marks a big business push for lots of people at their jobs. But people have more control than they realize over how busy and stressed they feel during the holidays.
All the invitations don’t have to be met with a “yes.” Everything doesn’t need to get done by the stroke of midnight on New Year’s. There’s no checklist for things that have to be accomplished in order to have done the holidays “right.” Give yourself a break, set some boundaries, and focus on enjoying the things you truly want to take part in.
Keeping things merry and bright
While the holidays offer many things to celebrate and be happy about, the obligations — both social and financial — can weigh on anyone. With so much going on, it can be easy to lose sight of the joy and fall into some less-than-festive patterns.
The important thing to do is remember all the good things about this time of year: family, friends, decorations, gifts, festive food and drinks, snowy mornings, snuggly nights, and everything else. Keeping those things in mind and setting boundaries for yourself will help you stay in the holiday spirit well into the new year.
Claire Cole is a Midwestern native currently living in sunny South Florida. When she’s not creating marketing campaigns in her day job, she’s reading every book she can get her hands on and trying new baking recipes (to varying degrees of success). Feel free to say hi on Twitter (@claire_cole18) and Instagram (@claire_cole18).
Image via Unsplash