How to Assemble Your Holiday “Bill of Rights”

How to Assemble Your "Holiday Bill of Rights"

Give yourself some kudos—you’ve made it over the first holiday hump! Thanksgiving has come and gone, but many other end-of-year festivities await you.

Some folks recognize the holidays as the highlight of their year, while others may dreading family tensions at the get-togethers that are yet to come. No matter your stance, December is the perfect time to legislate your very own holiday bill of rights.

What’s a holiday bill of rights?

It’s no official term or concept, but the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights Day falls in mid-December. This special day marks an excellent reminder to look inward and ponder what personal amendments you can make to streamline the festivities ahead. This may include—but is certainly not limited to—boundaries you’d like to put in place, limits you’d like to set and affirmations you can speak or think to provide yourself peace of mind.

How will this help the season go smoother?

Harvard Medical School focused in on holiday-specific stress. They found that the high-speed, multi-tasking nature of the holidays can mess with your memory and interfere with the production of new brain cells. That may be thanks to the impending need to wrap every gift and prepare side dishes, desserts or the big turkey itself. That’s an easy way to exhaust yourself and dull the light of the “merry and bright” season!

Composing your very own holiday bill of rights will prepare you for what’s to come; instead of blindly walking into the family function, setting boundaries will help you feel more assertive and allow you to feel confident in the decisions and goals you’ve put in place. Additionally, self-imposed limits can help those dealing with grief feel a sense of control over celebrations they may be experiencing for the first time after losing a loved one.

What should my bill of rights look like?

There’s no right or wrong way to construct your list, but consider grabbing a pen and paper to physically document your needs. Here’s some ideas you can start with:


• Distance myself from topics that make me uncomfortable (politics or personal questions)
• Make extra time for self-care after a stressful get-together
• Only spend a short time at an event that makes me anxious to attend
• Understand it’s okay to feel guilty when saying no to a person, thing or situation, but those boundaries are in place for a reason
• Take a break, take a short walk or escape to a quiet area when the going gets tough
• Surround myself with people that love me and have my well-being in mind

The holidays look different for everyone, so try to remember: as you enact your own holiday bill of rights, consider sympathizing with others if they have a change of plans too. Your holidays may feel just a little lighter now that you’ve got your very own bill of rights in your back pocket!

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