Let’s face it, the holidays can get complicated quickly. The holidays are busy, we’re likely getting together with people we don’t see regularly, and there’s often a ton of travelling involved. It’s a lot, and it can sometimes feel like we’re stuck doing things out of tradition instead of interest. That’s why today we’re here to remind you that boundaries are important.
Rethink family traditions
When thinking about setting boundaries during the holidays, first look at your current traditions and expectations. Evaluate what is working and what isn’t. Which traditions are you doing because you like them, and which are you doing out of obligation or expectation? You’re allowed to change up the traditions to fit your current life, even if they’ve been around for generations.
Something important to remember is that when we decide to set boundaries or change up our traditions, we’ve likely had a lot of time to plan out this decision. In other words, while you will likely have time to think through this decision and process it, it may come as a shock to others when you start to tell them. This isn’t to say that you should avoid changing things up, but it is a good reminder that being kind in your messaging will help you get your point across easier.
Be specific and clear
Being kind doesn’t mean being complacent or giving in to some else’s wishes. Be specific and clear in your messaging, and be prepared to be met with reservations. Your needs and wishes are valid, so keep your messaging consistent, even if it’s met with reservations.
5 Boundaries To Set During The Holidays
If you’re not sure what boundaries you need to set, here are a couple of examples of where to begin. Use it as a foundation, and build off of it as needed for your own needs.
1. Don’t go for the full time
If your holiday events tend to last for a long time, consider shortening your visit. This may look like not going for as many days, only going for an afternoon visit, or showing up right before dinner. Additionally, you may opt for getting a hotel room instead of staying with relatives.
Example boundary: I really appreciate you for always hosting during the holidays, and I’m excited to see everyone. I will not be able to stay for dinner but would love to stop in for an afternoon visit with you.
2. Set a firm budget
The holidays can get expensive quickly, especially if you have a large list to purchase for. A lot of the time, this boundary is as simple as shopping sales or making gifts to stick to a budget – no explanation is necessary. However, if you’re wanting to reduce the size of your list, here are some ways you can do it. If you buy for a big family, consider doing secret Santa instead. If you’re involved in a secret Santa at work that you don’t want to participate in, express that you’re choosing to sit out of it. If you don’t feel comfortable disclosing why you want to reduce your list, then that’s perfectly fine. But just remember that the holidays can get very expensive for everyone, and there’s no shame in being upfront that you want to stick to a budget.
Example boundary: I’m really excited to get together with everyone. Why don’t we do secret Santa so we only need to purchase one gift instead?
3. Say no to events that compromise your own needs/desires
This sounds so obvious, but it can be so difficult to do. If you know that certain events leave you feeling drained, low vibe or unhappy at all, then here is your official invitation to say no. You do not owe anyone your presence during the holidays. Sometimes, it’s better to sit it out than to sit through something detrimental to your wellness.
Example boundary: Thank you so much for the invitation. Unfortunately, we won’t be available to make it.
Also read: 50 Self-Love Affirmations For The Holidays
4. Limit uncomfortable or triggering conversation
You do not need to talk about your ex, your relationship status, your weight, your plate, your career, or anything else that you do not want to talk about, and there are a few ways you can go about setting that boundary. Firstly, if you have someone close (such as a spouse, sibling, or cousin) that you feel comfortable talking to, express your concerns ahead of time. If something comes up, it can be helpful to know you have someone in your court. Secondly, if someone repeatedly makes comments that don’t appreciate, there’s a genuine possibility that they don’t know it bothers you. If it feels safe and comfortable, you can always text them ahead of time and explain that you’d prefer not to talk about it when you see them – this sets the expectation from the start. Thirdly, you can also have a response prepared for if it comes up – this option would be great to combine with option number one.
Example boundary: I appreciate your love and concern for me, but it makes me uncomfortable when you bring up my weight and would appreciate it if we could talk about something else. Tell me about your job, I’d love to hear how things are going with you.
5. Limit your travel plans
You do not need to spend your entire holidays travelling. Set limits around where you go, what days you travel on, and how long you go for. This goes directly with reimagining how the holidays operate. Just because you’ve travelled from house to house in the past doesn’t mean it needs to continue to work that way in the future.
Example boundary: Thank you for offering to host again this year. We have decided to stay closer to home but would love to chat on FaceTime instead.