Top 10 Tips for Handling New Year’s and Other Holiday Parties!Castlewood’s clinical team has put together a top ten list of ways for those with eating disorders to get the most positive experience from holiday parties. Each are effective strategies and approaches, and we hope that they help make New Year’s Eve and other holiday parties safe, comfortable, and enjoyable.
1Think more closely about and evaluate the event that is being attended. Is it with friends, co-workers? Is it a sit-down dinner or heavy hors d’oeuvres?
2Determine where the event is on a “green light/yellow light/red light” scale of emotions. A green light event is comfortable, with family or friends that are easy to be with. Yellow light events can go either way, or be a mix of comfortable and stressful. Red light events are highly stressful, and create a significant amount of anxiety or fear.
3Develop either a loosely structured plan (green light event) or highly planned with a strong framework (red light events)—yellow light events fall somewhere in the middle. What triggers may be put into play at this event? Enlist the help and support of therapist to help plan for highly stressful holiday events. Being prepared in the early stages with a thoughtful and well-developed plan is the absolute best line of offense and defense during a stressful event.
4Create a specific food plan, based on the same green-yellow-red criteria. Working with your dietitian is a great way to prepare. Will you eat before going? Only have appetizers?
5Identify who your support system will be for the event: are you attending with a friend, family, your children, or a co-worker? If going alone, is there someone you can touch base with via phone during the event? Engage resources and support before the day of the holiday party, or plan to debrief with a friend afterwards. During the party, in addition to checking in with support systems, take a brief mindful walk, or find a private spot and journal. And always remember that it is okay to leave early.
6Share concerns and fears with a friend, family member or therapist well before party day. Role-play and act out any particular situations that might come up at the party that cause particular stress. Communicate with your support person just what you are concerned about.
7Have realistic expectations, this is very important. It’s just a party! It’s not a job interview. It isn’t going to change your life in any way, it’s simply a holiday get together. Your kids may be badly behaved or refuse to wear their matching holiday sweaters, and that’s okay.
8Feel deserving of the celebration! Practice positive thoughts and affirmations—it is okay and allowable to have fun with others. Everyone deserves this!
9When at the party, divert the focus of conversation from the food to the people. Avoid conversations about food, weight, calories and New Year’s Resolutions. This can be done simply by asking about someone’s kids, their job, movies or books, or holiday travel plans. Practice ideas for changing the conversation topics before going to the event.