She Spends Guide to the Holidays

The holidays are hard. We get it. So we put together a guide on some of the most common problems that arise in the office, among families and with ourselves during the holiday season. Be sure to check in on our Facebook group as the holidays approach - there’s a lot of advice given and received there.


Office Politics


My office is having a holiday party. Can I get drunk?

We recommend having one or two drinks, but staying relatively sober. All workplaces are different, but things get messy when people drink a lot. You don’t want to bring that into the office.


What happens if my coworker or boss gets handsy at a holiday soiree?

This is unacceptable. We know it happens, though, and we wrote an entire guide on how to deal with unwanted attention in the workplace. In short: Tell your coworker to stop immediately, so there’s not even a question of whether you consented. If possible, tell a close coworker what happened or address it to anyone who witnessed the behavior. Document the incident and take it to HR as soon as you can.


Should I get my boss or coworkers gifts?

This one is iffy. We say avoid gifts unless it’s well-known that your office does an exchange. Keep things work appropriate: Travel mugs make for great gifts, as do mini desk heaters if your workplace is particularly freezing.


They want me to make Christmas cookies… what do I do?

Unless baking is truly one of your favorite hobbies, don’t give in. Offer to bring paper plates or napkins to a potluck. There’s no reason to continue giving into gender norms.


Family Ties


I’m heading to a party hosted by someone outside of my family. Should I get them a gift?

Yes! Host or hostess gifts are a super classy tradition. Keep the cost low by bringing a bottle of wine from Trader Joe’s. If your host or hostess doesn’t drink, bring flowers already in a vase or a book you think they’ll enjoy. Don’t bring a gift that adds to their work in the moment.


My family is crazy, what do I do?

Every family has their issues. If you plan to go home for the holidays, there are a ton of steps you can take ahead of time to keep things sane. Definitely consider your options. Do you need to stay at your parent’s house every night when you’re there? Could you stay in a hotel, Airbnb or at a friend’s house to keep things calmer? Plan for some time alone each day. Don’t think you’ll need it? You will, trust us. This guide from GQ includes some helpful strategies.


They won’t stop asking me about marriage.

If a wedding isn’t in your cards yet (or children, or a significant other, or whatever they keep pestering you about), start with a polite “not yet.” If the questioning continues, it’s acceptable to redirect by saying, “What a strange thing for you to keep worrying about.” Change the subject to your passion project and remember, everybody’s timeline for these things is different.


What about politics?

Decide beforehand whether you plan to engage. If you don’t, no big deal (unless someone at your table is saying something legitimately racist or sexist. Then you say something). If you want to, consider preparing with the Nevertheless Project’s guides to talking politics at the holidays. If all else fails, maybe change the subject to Bitcoin? Everyone has something to say, and President Donald Trump hasn’t tweeted about it yet, so you should be in safe territory.


What if they comment on how I look?

For some reason, family members LOVE to talk about the way their kin looks. If your grandma asks about the size of your butt (happened to me once!) or your uncle remarks that you’re eating too much, we have a simple phrase for you to use: “What a strange thing to say.” This shuts it down quickly and lets the person know that you’re not interested in their commentary on your body.


Personal Problems


I just spent a million dollars on gifts. What now?

Take a deep breath! This isn’t the end of the world, but if you went into debt to do this, you’re going to have to do some hard work in January. Check out our guide on credit card debt and pick a way to pay it off. The world isn’t ending, but you need to make sure you work hard to get back on track.


I’m drinking a lot of alcohol. How can I say no?

Seltzer and lime are your best friends. Have one in your hand at all times at parties; no one will ask to refill your drink, and it looks very similar to a gin and tonic. Plan ahead of time that you’re not going to drink at certain parties, which can help you strike a balance.


How can I fit in time for myself?

Set aside a little time each day for the rest of the month to just focus on yourself. Read a book, work on your knitting project, meditate or hit the gym. Ten minutes is better than nothing. This month is stressful but you can handle it.

- Alicia McElhaney / She Spends Issue #32


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