7 Ways To Get Into The Holiday Spirit When Real Life Is Bringing You Down

Perhaps it’s just me, but Christmas doesn’t elicit the same profound joy that it used to.

Last year, I spent December drinking spiced cider and holiday party hopping, but this year I’m a real life Grinch. I barely look forward to seeing this year’s holiday displays, the number of Secret Santa exchanges I’ve signed up for is stressing me out, and I’m finally at the age where my wish list, short and simply, is: “cash or pay a bill.”

It could be that I’m still dealing with election aftershock but more realistically, it’s because adapting to Christmas as an adult is the worst. Christmas time in your mid-twenties is understanding that you have responsibilities that will outlive December, and that can crush the Christmas spirit — if you let it.

The Christmas spirit, fortunately, is easy to find. Here’s how to combat the bah-humbugs this Christmas season:

1. Actually give a shit about Secret Santa.

This advice is coming from someone who frequently preaches, “If all else fails, buy them a gift card for the last place they tagged themselves in on Facebook.” When you look for something thoughtful, and see Secret Santa as a challenge rather than a responsibility, your attitude shifts.

2. Stop procrastinating on Christmas shopping.

Early Christmas shopping should be at the top of your December self-care list. You know the stores will be worse if you wait longer, you know everything will be sold out, but you do it anyway because you think you can’t make the time. Wake up early or force yourself after a long day, but the boost it’ll give you is so worth it.

3. Find a holiday outfit you love.

Getting your holiday outfit ready means you’ll always be prepared for any themed holiday events your friends throw at you. Whether it’s a sparkly hoe-liday dress paired with a Santa hat or a thrifted ugly Christmas sweater, dressing how you want to feel is the fastest way to shift your mood. You don’t have to break the bank and you can even re-use something from last year, as long as it makes you feel good.

4. Plan an evening of stay-at-home holiday activities for yourself.

This one is easy because you don’t have to leave the house or socialize. You can try a new holiday recipe, put up your Christmas tree, or watch holiday movies with a cup of warm apple cider. Schedule it, plan it, and follow through!

5. Throw a holiday party.

In case you do actually want to socialize: bring your friends together for holiday movies, holiday music, or just an awesome holiday potluck. The holiday season is about reconnecting with loved ones and sometimes we convince ourselves that we’re too busy or too broke, but we’re not. This is also an excuse to display that holiday outfit I mentioned.

6. Go ice skating with bae.

Even if you’re both horrible, it’s so much fun stumbling on the ice together (or doing pirhouettes around them, if you’re advanced). If you’ve never skated before, most rinks offer classes that you can take, but beginners hugging the edges of the ice rink are a holiday staple.

7. Stop telling yourself you can’t afford to celebrate Christmas.

There are enough memes about it. The truth is: you’re psyching yourself out if you believe you can’t enjoy Christmas without the expensive stuff. Buy cheap gifts that are thoughtful, fall in love with a discount store, make DIY decorations, but don’t accept that Christmas is a luxury you didn’t work hard enough to deserve.

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