12 Tips for Couples to Stay Connected During the Holidays

The holidays can be fun and exciting but totally laden with busyness and stress. There’s the shopping, kids’ recitals, decorating, mentally preparing to spend time with relatives who you may have spent all year avoiding, and just day to day life. At times resources such as time, money and energy can be stretched thin and often we forget our partner with all the stresses during the holiday season. This is all the more reason to put each other first.  Here are some simple things you can do to stay connected during the holiday season.


Let’s tickle and play with your 5 senses, including the 6th sense for fun:

1. Sight – create a fire in the fireplace if you have one, turn on the holiday lights and turn everything else off including all electronics and the chatter in your mind.   Sit face to face and look each other in the eyes and send each other positive thoughts, a wish or something you are grateful for when it comes to each other. Tap into your 6th sense and see if you can guess what thought your partner sent you and share it aloud.

2. Smell- the holidays are full of smells that we don’t get to smell throughout the year.  Entice your partner with a scent he or she likes. Bake something, put on a fragrant lotion or cologne.

3. Taste – share a special holiday treat together. Pick a treat that reminds you of a fond holiday memory, perhaps it is a childhood memory or a memory of your first holiday together. Discuss the memory while you indulge in this treat.  Engage all your senses, smell it with your eyes closed while you feed one another, chew it in slow motion, tasting all the flavors.  You can also create new memories.  I love pinterest for great food ideas.

4. Touch – cozy up, partner 1 closes his/her eyes and touches partner 2 gently. Communicate through your heart, using touch rather than words. Ask your partner what he/she felt.  Don’t forget to switch.

5. Sound – Get silent, sit hand in hand and listen to what you hear.  As an ex-northern (the cold was way too much for me) one of the ONLY things I loved about the snow besides the beauty of snowfall was the silence it created. It was this interesting type of silence I can’t describe.  I loved to sit in front of our big window at night with all the lights off just watching and listening to the snow and the silence it created.  So much arises from silence.

Have some fun:

6. If you live in a cold weather climate and have snow, make snow angels then post the pic to facebook or your favorite social media. A good snowball fight creates fun, don’t forget to infiltrate “enemy lines” and tackle your partner, then have a good make out session.

7. Take a peek at your bucket list.  Is NYC during the holiday season on there?  Take it to Rockefeller Center in NYC and go ice skating, skate hand in hand drink some hot chocolate to warm up afterwards then head over to Radio City Music Hall to see the Rockettes or another great holiday play or classic.

8. Create an advent calendar of love – advent calendars come from the Catholic religion.  They are a calendar countdown to Christmas starting with December 1st.  Create a calendar for your partner with something for each day, whether it is a task, saying, or small fun gift.

9. There is always time for romance- leave a note for your partner in the car, in his/her lunch bag, or by the keys.

10. The holiday gift clue countdown – since my spouse loves facebook I used it as a vehicle to drop daily hints to the big present. It was so much fun for both of us and our friends and family got to get in on the fun.

If you there is distance between you….

11. Make time to talk. Honor that time and be sure to give each other undivided attention. Try something fun- describe a romantic fantasy or your first encounter together.  Create a new tradition on how to spend holidays “together” over the miles.

12. Use the postal service! Send fun, sweet, and loving letters or gifts.

sticky note woman

How to Apply the 80/20 Rule to Reduce Holiday Stress

sticky note woman

We are all looking for ways to reduce our holiday stress.  Let’s look at how to apply business principles to reduce your holiday stress.  Have you ever heard of the 80/20 rule?  This is known as the Pareto Principle. It states that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. This rule is most often used in business to understand various aspects of a business, helping business owners make decisions about their business. As an example 80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients.

Let’s take this principle and apply it to the holiday season.  Let’s look at this in regards to holiday STRESS.  So, in applying the Pareto Principle let’s look at where 80% of your holiday stress comes from. Yes, I will wait while you grab a paper and pen or pull up notes on your computer.  Now that you have done that let’s move forward.

Make 2 columns, the first should be the things that bring you stress during the holiday season.  The second column should be things that bring you joy, and may I just remind you when we begin to get stressed out and overwhelmed, usually the first thing that we take out of our schedule is something that brings us joy.  I invite you to be counterintuitive and do the EXACT opposite.  Do what brings you joy FIRST when possible.

Let’s get back to the Pareto Principles, in applying the principle to the holidays it suggests that 80% of your holiday stress comes from 20% of the activities you’re doing during the holidays. Let’s look at your list. On your list identify where 80% of that stress comes from. For you it might be shopping. So if we take shopping as an example how can you eliminate or decrease shopping?

Here are a few of my ideas:

  • Have someone else do it for you.
  • Give someone an incentive to do it for you like money or a gift.  You can find someone who loves shopping and saving.  You can tell them you will give them 25 – 50% of everything they save you by using coupons, buying deals on sale, etc.  Let them wait in the Black Friday line at 4:45am (while you sleep), outside Best Buy freezing their bum off waiting for YOUR deal, because GUESS WHAT… that brings THEM Joy!!!!  While you are joyfully sleeping, working off that third piece of Thanksgiving pie you ate before you went to bed.
  • Write out a list and have someone shop online for you.
  • Change or transform the way you do gift giving and your family.  Like celebrating the holidays after the holidays, having a no gift or 1 gift for 1 person rule, or leaving town and making the getaway the gift.

Possibly you love your house decorated but hate decorating it. You can hire someone to do it, invite your friend over who loves to decorate and give him or her a gift for doing so. Perhaps your friend’s children love to decorate. If you’re comfortable allowing them to decorate how they see fit you and your friend can sit back and relax, eat cookies, and sip on some adult beverages while they make your house festive.  Again, it is a win/win!

So let’s take a look on the flip side where do you find the most JOY in the holiday season?  What 20% of holiday season activities bring you 80% of your holiday joy? Go ahead and refer to your list again.  Maybe you absolutely love cooking for the holidays, but you don’t care for the shopping and you have a friend who loves to shop. Perhaps you can trade tasks. Maybe you love listening to holiday music and attending concerts.  Take a look at possible places around town and elsewhere, buy tickets and go enjoy!

Furthermore, as you look at the things that cause you the most stress and handle those differently this year you might find yourself having just a little more time to enjoy the things that you really love. If that’s getting out and seeing lights, volunteering your time to an agency or organization, or spending evenings at home with your significant other and children watching holiday shows the most important thing is to find the joy this holiday season.

If the holidays get too much to handle because at times they can be, we are also here as a way to reduce your holiday stress.  Our previous clients can pop in for a “Booster Session”, and we always welcome new clients.

Enjoy your holidays!!!


Brene Brown on Blame – Helping Couples

I love Brene Brown.  She is an excellent speaker and presenter.  She is genuine and delivers information in a way that is impactful and helps us understand ourselves and what occurs in relationships.  She helps people learn about and understand some of the commons things we do.  As a couples counselor and therapist the number one issue couples call about is a lack of effective communication.  Couples’ communication is often laden with blame, criticism and defensiveness amongst other things.

I show this video to couples I work with.  This video also demonstrates what happens in our communication with one another and where blame really comes from and what it is all about.  This video is also helpful when working with families in family or teen counseling and individuals dealing with a lot of anger issues.