Formula for Happy Holiday Gatherings

Here are just a few observations that may be unduly influenced by the social fatigue so common at this time of year. This is a crazy season for holiday gatherings… and we still have Christmas and New Years ahead of us!

So, how are you doing? What do you think? What’s your experience teach? Here’s what’s rumbling in the back of my head…

I too often anticipate parties or family gatherings wondering, “What’s in it for me?”. Experience has taught me that’s a non-starter! I have a better time if my focus is on others and not on myself. A good indicator for me is how much time I spend at the buffet table. If I’m stuffing myself with snacks, treats, sweets and drink it’s time for me to ask, “What hunger am I really trying to feed here?”. It’s time to engage others more and my mouth less.

We all notice the most popular, charismatic people at a party. Some folks are clearly having more fun than others. What’s the difference? What’s their secret? Well, there are multiple answers — personality, temperament, innate abilities. But here’s a pattern to watch… aren’t the people we admire and appreciate most those who always seem to be looking for opportunities to engage others? Maybe you are more virtuous than me, but the most boring and tedious party-goers are those who appear to be interested in talking only about themselves.

So, what are we to talk about? Yes, people are sincerely interested in catching-up. But there is a way of sharing our personal experiences that is open-ended and loops back to the other person. For example, choose to highlight the part of your story that will be of most interest to the other person, something with which they can identify and perhaps expand upon. Then there is simple and gracious habit of sprinkling your story with plenty of open questions. Too many are inhibited by a fear of not knowing what to talk about. The solution to that phobia is to focus on asking the other person “open” questions and then truly listening.

So what’s your experience tell you? What advice would you offer? My final thought is the simple reminder not to allow Scrooge to steal your Christmas or “that tedious uncle” to spoil your family gathering. Choose to be happy, to enjoy yourself!

What my Mom used to say about life applies especially to Christmas… “It’s pretty much what you make of it!”  And that is from a Mom who had little concern for herself but that others enjoy themselves.

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