Heading into the holiday season as a bride-to-be is exciting! But let's be realistic: you're probably also worried about protecting your budget, avoiding a muffin top, and escaping other stressors (family drama or running around like a crazy person, anyone?). But with some planning ahead, and a little care-taking, you can still indulge this season and keep the stress levels to a minimum. Here are some suggestions on how to survive the holidays as a bride-to-be:
- Go easy on the gifts. Consider letting family know ahead of time that you will be a little more resourceful this year with gift giving, and if you are crafty, that you may even DIY your gifts. Just be sure to stay within your limits of crafts-pertise to prevent any stress. Because you want to avoid having to say things like: "These are my special Christmas socks I knitted for you, little Mary! You just have to hold them up as you walk for them to work. Merry Christmas!"
- Avoid interrogations. It's exciting dishing about your wedding, of course, and most people mean well when they ask you innocent questions. But there are always those few who will question you to the point of exhaustion and oppose any and all decisions you've made. Like when Great Aunt Bertha corners you with her Merlot breath and wants to know - for the fortieth freaking time - why you are having such a long engagement. You might have visions of yelling "BECAUSE DO YOU WANT TO PAY FOR MY WEDDING?!?" in her face, then immediately grabbing her wine glass and chugging it before smashing it against the wall. But instead, politely explain that while the price per head in her day was $8.25, she should really move that decimal point one spot to the right. And maybe add another hundred. Then go get yourself some of that wine, because hearing yourself say it out loud will surely make you thirsty.
Likewise, avoid excessive questioning from known copycats who are also engaged. Like your 4th cousin twice removed who suddenly also wants to get married at the same place as you, in the same month, and book the same band. What a coincidence! Prepare some answers ahead of time so you don't get caught off-guard and spill any details. You can always say, "Everything is a surprise!" or, "We haven't decided yet." Then excuse yourself to get a refill on that eggnog.
- Practice conscious indulgence. Consider "pre-gaming" before you attend your holiday party - but I'm not talking about the drinks. I'm referring to snacking at home first before heading out the door. Going to a holiday party hungry is the equivalent of going grocery shopping hungry: everything looks amazing, and you are likely to devour it all. This is not necessarily a bad thing. You should indulge a bit - after all, it's the holidays! However, if you are a bride on a strict diet or have a specific goal you've been working hard to reach, and think you may beat yourself up later on for splurging, plan ahead. Have a few of your healthy snacks to tide yourself over, but of course leave room for all the good food and your grandma's ridiculously amazing pound cake. You can indulge - but it's all about balance.
- Think skin, hair, and nails. Depending on where you live, the cold weather during holiday season can bring about a wrecking ball of dryness and brittleness to your skin, hair, and nails - coincidentally, all of the things you wish to look beautiful in time for your wedding. While there's no magic product or quick fix for this, the most effective formula is the following: Moisturize, get adequate sleep, be nice to yourself, and avoid stress as much as possible. Which brings me to #5...
- Stay on top of stress. The last thing you need during wedding season is added stress. Numbers 1-4 contribute to the stress issue, and it can be hard to unwind or maintain your inner zen amongst all the crazy. Maybe it's finances on your mind, work deadlines, or family drama (times two this year, since you are now a part of your husband's family, as well). No matter what it is, carve out some time to decompress and relax yourself as you know how, whether it be practicing yoga, pounding the treadmill, or zoning out on the couch catching up with your DVR. Be grateful for all of the reasons you have to celebrate the season. And have fun wherever possible, because isn't that what this time of year is supposed to be about?
Lastly, as you enjoy all the festivities and fulfill commitments, remember to make some time to enjoy the holidays one-on-one with your future hubby. Depending how long your engagement is, it may be the only holiday you get to be a glowing bride-to-be. Make memories. Make traditions. But whatever you do, don't make yourself crazy. Happy holidays, bride-to-be!
A version of this post originally appeared on Alessandra Macaluso's blog, PunkWife. If you are getting married or know a bride-to-be, check out her book: "The Bitch's Bridal Bible: The Must-Have, Real- Deal Guide for Brides," available on Amazon and Kindle. You can also find Alessandra on Facebook and Twitter.