Can You Really Skip The Holiday Parties?

December is the month of holiday parties, where we’re expected to put on our party shoes. But is it really worth all the effort?

holiday partiesphoto credit: shutterstock

Holiday parties – are they even necessary?

For those who struggle with their mental health, the celebrations and expectations of attending all the holiday parties of the season can feel overwhelming, and avoiding parties altogether may seem like the best option. With careful planning, there are ways to enjoy the holidays that aren’t limited to hibernating solo with a Netflix marathon.

Two experts chime in on whether we need to show face or not.

Elizabeth says…

“I struggle with social anxiety, and the thought of a party comprised of strangers and small talk is both intimidating and scary. I choose my social invitations carefully. Big celebrations are not my thing, but smaller get-togethers with close friends and family feel warm and comforting.

“I’ve learned that you shouldn’t feel obligated to say yes to every invitation. Choose wisely and celebrate with company that makes you feel comfortable.

“Planning my own holiday get-togethers helps me enjoy the holiday season. Focusing on the menu, decorations and music playlist is a wonderful diversion, and being in charge of my own guest list makes me feel in control. There’s comfort in knowing what to expect and joy in celebrating with the people I know and love.

“And, sometimes celebrating solo is the right ticket. I like to practise self-care during the holiday season by treating myself to a spa treatment, a trip to the movies or a brisk walk among the twinkling holiday lights.

“Taking a breather from the crowds and the hustle and bustle of the season helps me find peace and balance at a very overwhelming time.”

Want to enjoy the holidays more than you did last year? Make sure you do this.

Lisa says…

“Don’t give in to the temptation to bury yourself under the covers until January.

“Avoidance of any and all holiday parties may feel like an easy way out, but challenging yourself to step outside of your comfort zone can be exactly the positive reinforcement you need.

“Don’t decline every invitation. Pick and choose a few special events – you might just be surprised at how much fun you’ll have.

“If you’re anticipating feeling anxious or depressed, be proactive and schedule an appointment with your therapist several weeks ahead of time. Talking about your stresses and learning coping strategies can help you deal with negative feelings if they arise.

“Consider giving back. Volunteering gives us an opportunity to help others, makes us feel purposeful and takes the focus off our own life stresses.

“Volunteering is another opportunity to share the holidays with others without the pressure of the party scene.”

Going away for the holidays, but wondering if you should cancel? Read this first.

Elizabeth Wiener is an educator who lives with depression and anxiety. Lisa Brookman is a clinical psychotherapist based in Montreal. Together, they form

Originally Published in Best Health Canada