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The Gift of Presence

October 24, 2019

holidays, family photos

The holiday season is basically here. If you haven’t already made your travel arrangements for Thanksgiving or Christmas, that task is likely toward the top of your to-do list. We have the definitive tips for making any out-of-town visit a success – for both you and your host. 

Timing is Everything 

Your stay should be four nights. This provides three full days of visiting with a little extra on the day you arrive. The day you depart doesn’t count as part of the visit – it’s too chaotic. We’ve learned that this formula offers just the right amount of time no matter who you are staying with. Three nights is too short, leaving your hosts wishing you would stay one more day. Five nights is too long, leaving your hosts wishing you’d have left the day before.

Let’s face it, gone are the days when we’d spend a week or two at grandma’s house when we were kids. As adults, we must find balance in our visits and four nights leaves everyone feeling happy.

Ditch Devices

You had to know this would be part of the conversation. Given the fact that we’re trying to maximize our visits with the right amount of time, then the time you are present, you need to be present. Not just in body, but also in mind. This means eye contact, engaging with those in the room and being part of the experience. There’s time for your phone and work, it just doesn’t need to be all day long. When you need to check in on work issues, excuse yourself, go to another room and limit yourself to 15 minutes.

To really make the visit a great experience, ask to see some old family photos. All we see anymore is bright digital images on a screen. Pull out those boxes and albums of faded photos and take a little trip to the good ol’ days. Passing pictures around a table and sharing personal memories of days gone by creates deeper connection and new memories.

Be Mindful of Alone Time 

If you’re traveling with children, they NEED down time. Whether that means your little family goes to your room and naps for an hour or the kids get to watch a movie in the family room, this is a must. Also, your hosts need down time, too. Encourage them to go nap or read or head out to a coffee shop and assure them you’ll be just fine during their absence.

Be Helpful 

This might be your vacation, and even if your hosts are your parents who are ecstatic that you’re home, you still need to carry your weight. We’re not talking about doing their laundry (for the love of all that is right and good, do NOT do someone else’s laundry unless they’re physically unable to do it themselves!). Help with kitchen cleanup, keep the bathroom tidy after you get ready for the day, keep an eye on the garbage can and take it out before it’s overflowing, or set the table. These little tasks aren’t difficult, but they go a long way to instill goodwill with your hosts.

Send a Gift 

No matter who hosted your visit or how good or terrible it might have been, send a gift after you return home. When someone opens their home to you, they have given of themselves. Acknowledging that is priceless.

Happy Holidays

It’s more than a greeting or a sign on a storefront. Happy holidays should something we’re looking forward to and it should be what we’ve experienced by the end of the year. Be nostalgic, honor family traditions and create new ones, be still with your childhood memories of the ways your parents tried to make family time so special. Exchange year-end chaos for contentment. We’ll be over here cheering you on and hoping you have your happiest holidays yet.  

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