10 Holiday Boundaries to Set this Season

10 Holiday Boundaries to Set this Season

holiday boundaries

Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.

Brené Brown

Try to imagine the holiday season without any people in it.

Chances are, everything that comforts, inspires, and challenges you about this time of year is closely tied to the people around you.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing a series of posts all about relationships during the holidays: the challenges, the opportunities, and the practical steps you can take to improve them.

Today, we’re kicking off this series with a look at the role of space in cultivating healthy relationships with the people, places, and things in our lives.

Read on for 10 holiday boundaries to set this season:

1. What you value.

It sounds simple enough, but when’s the last time you paused to consider your priorities before the chaos of the holidays begins? Just a few minutes of reflection can help you get clear on what you actually want from the season: Time with family? Relaxation? Connection to something greater than yourself? Once you have the answer, setting holiday boundaries that support your priorities will be much simpler!

2. How much you spend.

Setting a budget (and sticking to it) might seem like it takes away from the magic of the season. But, without some idea of what you can afford before you start spending, the holidays can quickly become a source of serious financial strain. And there’s nothing magical about that.

3. How much you travel.

Maybe you’ve got a ski vacation planned. Or an out of town hockey tournament. Or a cross-country road trip to visit Nana. (Or all of the above!) No matter how fun your travel plans might be, all that mileage can wear on you and your family. It’s worth taking a moment to get real about what you can all reasonably handle.

4. Who you see.

Too many people to see and not enough time in the season? Try making a list of the people you truly want to spend time with over the holidays. Chances are, there’ll be some you can easily see in the new year, once things have calmed down a bit. And others who, let’s be honest, you don’t really want to see at all. Once you start clarifying the must-see names on your list, finding time to connect with them should start to feel more manageable.

5. What you attend.

From lunch dates to cookie exchanges, family gatherings to work parties and church potlucks… there’s no shortage of invites this time of year! And while it’s easy to believe that each event is obligatory, most probably aren’t. So, pull up your calendar and make some decisions about what’s a Yes and what’s a So sorry to miss. It may feel tough at first, but once you make that first decision, you’ll feel an instant rush of relief. (Trust us.)

6. What you say.

Of all the things we may try to control, all we truly can are the things we say and do. That might feel limiting, but it can actually be quite liberating! When you accept full responsibility for your words and actions, suddenly each traffic jam, each retail experience, each lively debate around the dinner table becomes an opportunity to leave the people you meet this season in better condition than you found them.

7. What you allow.

It’s frustrating but true: People will say and do things that hurt and offend you. Even during the holidays. And though you can’t control the choices of others, you can make your own choices about what you will and won’t tolerate. Decide ahead of time where you draw the line with certain comments and behaviors, plan an exit strategy (e.g., change the subject, leave the room, leave the gathering), and then if that line is crossed, give yourself permission to follow through.

8. When you rest.

There’s nothing like a full calendar to signal the need for some self-care. How will you take care of yourself this season? Maybe it’s a fun afternoon out with a friend (or on your own!), or maybe it’s just a good old-fashioned nap on the couch. Make a list of options that appeal to you, then sprinkle them throughout the coming month.

9. How you give.

Perhaps you make one formal, planned donation each year. Or maybe you prefer to give spontaneously– outside the grocery store or when kids show up at the door selling something festive. However you choose to share your resources this season, be it an hour of your time at a shelter, coffee for the car behind you, or whatever else stirs your spirit… just make sure it aligns with your values. It’ll make the gift that much sweeter.

10. What it means.

Forget what Target, Hallmark, your relatives and your neighbors say should matter most to you. Here’s a little secret that has big potential to change your whole outlook this time (and any time!) of year: The holiday season can mean whatever you want it to mean. It’s totally up to you.

Enjoy this post? You might also like:

How to Practice Gratitude When You’re Not Feeling Particularly Grateful
Self-Compassion: 4 Ways to Start Practicing It Today
Your Emotional Wellness: 50+ Ways to Support It

Need help setting some holiday boundaries this year?