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How To Be Happy For The Holidays Series: Day 4

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Erin Stanczyk | Lifestyle Design | | HOW TO STAY HAPPY FOR THE HOLIDAYS SERIES: DAY 4

Happy For The Holidays

This year, it's looking like the hubs and I will be hosting Christmas with his side of the family at our house! We're super excited, since we just finished our main-level remodel not too long ago, and it's much more suitable for entertaining now! Below is a snapshot from last year's holiday photo shoot at our house, with Dusty's mom, Lisa, and brother, Devon. Devon is an incredible photographer, and for a few of the shots he set up his tripod and jumped in with the rest of us to snag some fun family photos! I thought adding in some of these photos would be fitting, since Day 4 of my 7 Holiday Hang-ups + 7 Simple Solutions is all about Family (Dys)functions // The In-Laws // Tension + Drama. Even though I don't have any drama with hubs' side of the family, in fact, I love them, I still know how nerve-racking family holiday events can be for many—especially with the in-laws!

* If you haven't already, check out Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3 of the series!

Erin Stanczyk | Lifestyle Design | | HOW TO STAY HAPPY FOR THE HOLIDAYS SERIES: DAY 4
Holiday Hang-up 4

With every passing year, you get a little bit older and a little bit wiser, and somehow, your family gets a little bit more dysfunctional and a little bit less tolerable. Family gatherings are the ‘social events’ that you just can’t get out of. Every time you go home, your mom is still nagging you about the same old thing, your aunts and uncles want to know what you’re going to do with your life, there’s that one cousin that you have a beef with and you can totally feel the tension in the room, and don’t even get me started on the in-laws! 

*Disclaimer: Mom, Dad, extended family…the above is clearly a hypothetical scenario, and I love you all dearly! ;)

Simple Solution 4


Coming from a huge family on my dad's side (I'm talking 10 sets of aunts and uncles and 40+ cousins), I can safely say I've been through just about every type of family gathering—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Let's just say bringing my man to the first few holiday events to be interrogated by several family members could have easily been a deal-breaker.

My number one solution is to be a team! Talk things out with your significant other or immediate family members ahead of time. Discuss what it is that bothers you or who it is that gets under your skin, and make a vow to have each others’ backs. That might mean sticking up for your spouse or sibling, or it might mean pulling them aside and calming them down, and reminding them it’s just one day to get through! 

 Team Stanczyk!

Team Stanczyk!

Bite The Bullet

I may be be one of the lucky few, but I happen to adore my in-laws. However, I know plenty of people who don’t! If you can’t stand your in-laws or the thought of spending an afternoon (or worse, an entire weekend) with them, my advice is simple, bite the bullet and show up with a smile on your face! That also includes not complaining to your spouse ahead of time! Be respectful, and remember, you are doing this for them! Trying to find common-ground with everyone you talk to and asking others about themselves can help take any awkward attention off of you and help you to feel more comfortable.

Erin Stanczyk | Lifestyle Design | | HOW TO STAY HAPPY FOR THE HOLIDAYS SERIES: DAY 4


If you’re someone who has an overbearing family that is asking for way too much of your time, don't be afraid to set boundaries. This is another instance where it can be beneficial to talk ahead of time with your significant other about how you are going to spend equal amounts of time with both sides of the family, and also allocate a chunk of time for yourselves. The hubs and I don’t have kids yet, but we still consider ourselves a family (with a huge dog and two cats that we pretty much treat like our children)! We always make sure to communicate to both of our families that “tonight we are having movie night at home,” or “sure, we’ll swing by for a bit, but we’ve already got dinner plans!” It’s not selfish to set boundaries, in fact, it can a lot of times strengthen your relationships by limiting the amount of tension and resentments. Along with setting boundaries comes compromising on the traditions you're used to and the ones your significant other is used to. Dusty and I have started to develop some of our own traditions and rituals, and I encourage you to do the same!


 Martin Family (my side) Christmas Cruise circa 2011

Martin Family (my side) Christmas Cruise circa 2011


If there's someone you have a beef with, or something bad that happened that nobody wants to talk about, the tension can be thick in the room. Avoiding touchy subjects and hard feelings is a must—save confrontations and difficult discussions for one-on-one time with whoever it is you need to talk to. If possible, you may even want to let them know ahead of time if there are topics that are off-limits. The best way to avoid any potential blow-ups is to divert. Try to keep conversations light, positive, and uplifting—bring up a funny inside joke, reminisce about a memorable family vacation, mention any successes at work, and ask others about things that you know will make them feel good to talk about! When all else fails, watch 'Christmas Vacation' together—laughter is truly the best medicine!

 Some of my 40+ cousins on the Martin side. Me, bottom left.

Some of my 40+ cousins on the Martin side. Me, bottom left.


All You Need Is Love

Remember all of the recitals, programs, and sporting events that your parents came to when you were younger? Now it's your turn to show up, be supportive, and lend a helping hand where needed! Be conscious and try to embody all of the qualities that make the holiday season merry and bright—Peace, Joy, Hope, and the greatest, Love!

Holiday Hang-ups Around Our Home

*Each day I'll also be sharing some "holiday hang-ups" around our home—because if there's one thing we love to do, it's decorate for Christmas.

Here's one more picture frame I decided to fill with some fun hand-lettering, using a sheet of watercolor paper and a chunky silver marker from Michaels. And, of course, I had to include a 'Merry + Bright' Rainbow salad in the shot, as well!

Erin Stanczyk | Lifestyle Design | | HOW TO STAY HAPPY FOR THE HOLIDAYS SERIES: DAY 4


We all have pre-conceived notions about who all of our family members are and what we expect our (dys)functional gatherings to be like, but this year, try going in with a clean slate. Drop the judgements, the negative thoughts, and try to have zero expectations. Be a positive beacon of light and expect the best out of everyone, and you might be surprised with how things turn out! 

Stay tuned for the next installation of my 7 Holiday Hang-ups + 7 Simple Solutions. In No. 5, I'll discuss: Spending Money // Credit Card Probs // Shopping ‘Til You Drop.

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Erin Stanczyk | Lifestyle Design |