Dear 100 Hour Board,
This* is my second year doing Christmas and New Year's by myself, with no travel/visiting plans with either family or friends for the rest of 2019. As such I'm still figuring out what traditions I'd like to have for myself (last year I participated in a random neighborhood service project as part of someone else's Kwanzaa celebration, and I definitely wanna do that again!).
Today, I am wondering what kind of social plans I would like to make during the general holiday-ish period of Dec 20-Jan 5 this year.
As a bit of a frustrating "bonus," I've been unemployed since the beginning of October. At this point, I would be absolutely delighted to "have to go in to work" on a holiday like December 25th, but I know I should still be prepared for the realistic possibility that I still won't have a job before the end of December, so with that in mind, it's doubly important for me to try to be a little bit extra social during the holidays, since I already spend massive quantities of time alone between applying for jobs and trying to monetize my hobbies for extra side $$, and I don't want extra excuses to stay depressed inside my apartment.
Truth be told, I actually really love hosting people over at my apartment, and fully intend on hosting at least one holiday hang-out this month, but I am trying to figure out the optimal scheduling of such activities. Basically, I would like to determine the other holiday parties my various friends (who aren't even in the same social circles) are attending, *without* coming across as though I am asking to be invited to *their* exclusive parties/family-hosting or -visiting plans, which could create undue social pressure on others, especially since a fair number of people now know that I've been a bit mentally under-the-weather from the unemployment situation. I legitimately don't want to impose upon or "crash" other people's plans.
I completely understand that I won't be able to make something fit into everyone's schedules, especially when my current set of friends are from a range of different social circles, but I would like to at least try! Do you have any experiences with coordinating holiday plans with friends so you don't accidentally spend 2-3 weeks not seeing each other (if that's not what you meant to do)?
the eager but lonely party planner
*also, fwiw, I'm a Board reader who lives in Seattle and my friends here are no longer college students who routinely go home during the holidays--some of them do, it just depends a lot more on the individual person now! so feel free to disregard this context and give general advice that might be more applicable to current BYU students, etc.
I want to say this as nicely as possible because I've absolutely been there. But I think you're over-thinking it. You seem like a cool person and I think you'll do just fine. That's mostly just to say you don't need to worry about coming across as needy or hinting. I mean, you're right. The dates you gave (Dec 20-Jan 5) are the busiest, and most likely to be lonely. But reach out, be sincere, and be open to invites. Honestly, if you can, I would even encourage you to be open with someone about the fact that you're on your own this year, and you're not feeling great.
I put that as a quick throw-away, but I'm feeling like I should actually really get into it.
If your friends invite you to do something "because" they know you're having a rough time IT STILL COUNTS. You might think it's them being nice, or you're just a project, or you're imposing yourself on them because inviting you is "the right thing to do." I need you to understand that you can't make them do anything. And if they choose to invite you it means they care about YOU because of YOU.
Your mental state might make them prioritize you more than they otherwise would. What's wrong with that? THAT'S WHAT FRIENDS DO. That wouldn't make it any less genuine or you any less valuable. They're doing it BECAUSE they value you. They value you because you're a cool person and a good friend and probably hilarious and fun to be around. What I'm hearing from you is that you need connection. Your friends need it too. What they also need is your help knowing how they can help you feel like yourself. You can do that by inviting them over for things and asking them to be there if they can. It's their job to say no if they can't.
Got that out of the way. Here comes the practical advice:
Send out a text to everyone. Say you want to get together, and maybe even include a nice reason why. "I've been thinking about you guys" or even just "I like hosting and I've got a dope pico de gallo recipe." Just don't minimize it with crap like "come if you want." Ask what schedules are like and rake in some data. Then pick a date and let them know what you decided. This is another great time to let people know it's important to you and make them feel good. "I'd love if you could be there" feels good, but isn't too much pressure.
Don't worry! People like parties. They like sharing food and connection. And they like you. I can just tell. And finally, it's okay to ask people to bring food. Especially if you're strapped for cash.
Good luck, and happy everything!
Dear Home Alone Too,
I really enjoy being able to spend time with other people and have them over for dinner. Normally, what I do it make sure that I have a very specific invitation, but also give them an easy out, like "We're planning on having a dinner at my apartment on (date) at (time). If you don't have other plans, we would love to have you. There will be about (x) people, just hanging out and enjoying the holidays/evening together." If you want them to be more committed, you can ask them to bring something or ask them to help you set up/ cook or clean up. I usually make enough food, but it really helps to have people help with dinner. You can also help them be more committed by reminding them about it when it gets closer, calling them or inviting them in person, and by telling them more about what you're doing and why you would like them there, as appropriate. I usually shoot for Sundays for dinner, especially since I like having a home-cooked meal on Sundays, and I assume that other people do as well.
Dinner isn't the only activity that you can plan. Some other things that are fun to do that you could plan a little easier are Christmas caroling to some neighbors/members of your community/at a hospital or retirement home (and potentially making treats with them), just having people over for hot chocolate and/or cookies (For making a lot of hot chocolate, the best way to keep it warm is keeping it in a crock pot). You could also try and plan to some Light The World activities with specific friends.
For any event that you plan, the most important thing is that you secure it in place as far in advance as you can and keep it secure. If your plans change, you let other people know. It also helps if you can do something to make up for a change of plans, but not always necessary. The easiest thing for me is just to be clear and tell them what's up. For example, I accidentally invited too many people over for a dinner and realized it a few days before, so I called some of the people and told them that I was going to do it another week. I also just try to have the best time that I can with those that make it, and try to meet up with others at another time, without making it super stressful for me. One thing I might do is call them and say that I had hoped that they could have come to my get-together, and that I would like to find a time that week to go to lunch or do something specific together.
My mom has helped me to understand a little better about these sorts of things, and she was the one who helped me sort things out when I invited too many people over. Basically, you want to ask yourself "What do I want to get out of this?". For me, usually I just want people to have somewhere to eat dinner if they otherwise didn't have family and I want to have a good time and for everyone who comes to be happy. Knowing this helps me respond to people when they say that they can't come and helps me (mostly) not get overstressed by planning things, since I know that it is just for other people.
P.S. Ambiance music is always nice, or having nice music to dance to. I really like this ambiance music (Charlie Brown Christmas), and Feliz Navidad is always the best Christmas music to dance to. I have also been recently referred to Lauren Daigle's jazzy Christmas album, enjoy. If anyone wants more specific help planning or disagree and have some better Christmas dance music or other ambiance music, feel free to email me. <inklings(at)theboard(dot)byu(dot)edu>