This is the week. This is when we get to take a break, surround ourselves with friends and family, and eat plenty of great food. There really isn't much about this season I don't look forward to, and that's partly because I've learned to take a few steps to make sure it's a time we'll file away as a great memory for years to come.
1. Get plenty of sleep. Sure, there's a lot of traveling, staying in strange places, and people you haven't been around for a while. But staying up late is a prime way to make a fun time into a hazy slog. Carve out time to get to bed at a reasonable hour, and fit in a nap if you can. I promise that extra hour of shut-eye is going to make it worth your time. Bring along some earplugs to make it easier.
2. Play some (reindeer) games. The best times I've had at holiday parties have been around the game table. There's something great about the conversation and laughs that happen when everyone has something keeping them occupied while they connect. Shoot for quick games that are easy to learn like this, this and this.
3. Plan an adventure: Wherever you are, there's something fun to do. Take a bit of time to look around and find something interesting that you can fit into a few hours. If you're traveling, always make sure to take the detour. A bit of time out of the car can really make a trip more relaxing.
4. Avoid the hot issues. Maybe. Sure, it's a great time to catch up with the people you haven't seen for a while, but there are a few things that should probably be left unsaid. 2016 was a very curious year, but perhaps the holiday season is the time to remember the other side also legitimately believed they were doing the right thing. Statistically half the room is going to argue with whatever you have to say. Just sip that eggnog and focus on hobbies, career, memories, and everything else you'll likely see eye to eye on.
Or, just go for it. Christmas comes but once a year.
5. Plan a few holiday spirits. Eggnog and hot toddies are the key to making the nights a bit more enjoyable. Here's a recipe to make your own ahead of time so you can mix and enjoy, and a few others for the adventurous.
6. Always bring something home. Not just gifts. I always try to bring something small back to remember my trip. Whether it's a stone, trinket, or postcard; there should be something you carry with you to anchor those great times to. If visiting family, try to snag some photos or ask your parents to part with a small heirloom.
Now you have a few more things on your holiday list to plan, but with these in mind the trip should be a bit more memorable. So go ahead and make the most out of this most excellent time of year!