11 Tips for Surviving the Holidays (With or Without a Date)

The holidays are right around the corner! You know what that means...

Kissing traditions, dreadful work parties and way too much time with your entire extended family, including your perfect cousin with her perfect husband and their perfect 2.5 kids.

Regardless of your relationship status, you can still enjoy the holiday season. With these 11 tips, you won't just survive the holidays -- you'll triumph over them! Who needs a significant other when you have good friends, good books and good wine?

1. Learn to say no.

Dreading yet another holiday dinner party where your well-meaning coupled friends will try and set you up? Gracefully decline. You are not obliged to attend every happy hour, every ornament exchange, every Christmas get-together. Choose which events will bring you the most joy, and learn to politely decline the other invitations.

2. Practice self-care.

If you can afford it, think of the money you would normally spend buying a present for a significant other -- and then use that money to treat yourself. Spend a day at the spa. Invite a close friend out for a nice dinner at a gourmet restaurant.

If you don't have any extra money to spend, treat yourself at home. Pick out a new book, pour yourself a glass of wine or heat up a mug of hot chocolate, play some relaxing music and take a hot bath. For extra relaxation, add some bubble bath or bath salts.

3. Host a Ladies' Night or Guys' Night.

Your single friends will appreciate a break from the coupled parties. Your coupled friends will enjoy some girls-only or boys-only bonding. Host a tea party. Set up a video game tournament. Make pizza and play board games. Everyone will enjoy a low-key, no-pressure gathering.

4. Avoid the mistletoe at all costs.

Is anything more awkward than finding yourself under mistletoe with a person you barely know? When you arrive at a party, scout out the mistletoe immediately. If you can't find it, enlist the help of a close friend or colleague to help you track it down. If all else fails, put on your brightest smile, gush to the party host how beautiful everything is and beg for a tour of all the decorations. With any luck, your host will point out any mistletoe.

5. Limit your alcohol intake at work parties.

Christmas office parties are notoriously boring OR wild. Is there anything in between? When the alcohol flows freely, you might be tempted to over-indulge on your boss's dime. And then you might be tempted to hook up with a single colleague. DO NOT DO THIS. Avoid ruining your professional reputation -- drink responsibly, or don't drink at all.

6. If possible, bring a friend to the party.

I was never the only single person among my friends. Many party hosts will invite you to bring a date, and most of them should be OK with you bringing a friend instead. (Be sure to ask first.) Bonus: A friend can rescue you from the awkward person trying to corner you with mistletoe.

7. Know why you're single (or prepare a great lie).

Don't be caught by surprise when your great-aunt or second cousin corners you to demand why you're still single. Have an answer prepared in advance! Only you know your life and what your family is like. Tailor your answer to your personal situation. That said, here are some options:

I've actually decided to take a year off from dating and really focus on me. It's been a great year for personal development, in fact. [INSERT SPECIFIC EXAMPLE OF YOUR AWESOME YEAR HERE]

Work has been so busy I barely have time to sleep, let alone date! But I [CHOOSE ONE] am up for a promotion / just received a generous bonus / have a chance to work overseas. I'm really happy with the way my career is going!

I'm too young to settle down! I'm having lots of fun going on dates and meeting new people, but I'm not interested in anything serious at the moment.

8. Corner your nosy relatives before they corner you.

Everyone LOVES talking about themselves. Don't give your nosy relatives a chance to bug you about dating!

Tell me about [INSERT VACATION HERE]! What was the best part?

I want to pick your brain a bit about [INSERT CAREER HERE]. How did you first get started?

How did you celebrate Christmas as a kid? What's changed since then?

Your baby is so cute! What's it like being a new parent?

Bonus: Not only can you avoid questions you don't want to answer -- you can also genuinely get to know your relatives better. It's a win-win for the holiday season!

9. Keep a book with you at all times.

I'm married, and I still always take a book with me to any family gathering. When your family starts driving you crazy, just find a cozy spot and curl up with your book.

10. Help out!

Your cousin has a new baby and two other kids? Give her a break and take the older kids outside to play. The table needs setting? You're on it! Uh-oh, Grandma ran out of butter... Offer to go to the store and pick some up. You'll stay too busy for relatives to harass you, AND your family will also appreciate all your assistance.

11. When all else fails, drink another glass of mulled wine or spiked hot chocolate.

I can't be the only person who needs a few drinks when spending time with her extended family... right?

So what is your advice for thriving during the holidays this year?

Brita is a freelance writer and copywriter who founded the Christian feminist lifestyle blog Belle Brita, where she regularly writes about dating, sex and marriage. Keep up with her adventures on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.

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