And do check out Stacey Curnow's great blog. She also happens to be have a guest post up today on Christine Kane's blog.
You may not feel like you have the time or energy to create special gatherings with your friends, but studies show that maintaining good friends has great benefits and is truly worth the effort.
Research shows that people who have a large network of friends live longer than those who do not, whereas close relationships with children and relatives, in contrast, had almost no effect on longevity.
A study out of Brigham Young University showed that it is, in fact, a strong correlation—almost as strong as the correlation between smoking and mortality.
Another recent study showed that people with a strong social network have fewer cardiovascular and immune problems, probably related to lower cortisol levels (a stress hormone).
Companionship provided by friends seems to help people cope with stress, ward off depression, and boost self-esteem. And there’s the simple fact that friends often encourage you to take better care of yourself.
So, for all those reasons, and for plenty of other ones, why not get some friends to come over for the holidays?
Three Great Ideas for Gatherings:
1. Keep it simple. Instead of planning a huge Christmas party in just a week, gather with your girlfriends only (that’s what I’m doing this Friday).
Send a quick invitation (evite.com is great for this) and plan a super simple meal and one signature cocktail or ask everyone to bring their favorite appetizer and a bottle of wine.
2. Have a post-holiday party. Between work and family, it simply may not be possible to see our friends over the holidays. One of my favorite parties in past years was held on Boxing Day.
In Britain the wealthy had a tradition of giving gifts to their servants on the day after Christmas. (And let’s face it: if we lived over 100 years ago, we would have been the servants! So let’s celebrate it!)
Ask your friends to bring holiday leftovers and least favorite presents for a silly gift exchange. If this date is still too close to the hubbub, look to a date in mid-January. Your friends will be excited to put something on their 2010 calendars.
3. Host a “giving back” day. The holidays are a great time of year to focus on what is truly important—our ability to give to others.
In lieu of (or in addition to!) your annual holiday party, invite friends and family to join you in preparing food for a homeless shelter or wrapping presents for moms and their children who are in a shelter from domestic violence. You’ll be amazed at the thanks you’ll receive—from your guests. Making this sort of giving easier and more fun is one of the greatest gifts you can give your friends.
(If you like the idea of service to others, but it would truly over-extend you to plan a party around it, please join me in supporting the entrepreneurial efforts of women all over the world with the Midwife for Your Life Lending Team.)
Four Tips for Hosting a Great Gathering:
1. Here’s my best advice: Be a guest at your own party. That means that you have everything done before your first guest arrives so that you can really enjoy your company.
2. Be like Santa: Make a list and check it twice. (I’d be happy to send you my list. It includes everything from menu planning to house prep. Just press reply to this eZine, let us know you want it, and we’ll email it right to you.)
3. Ten minutes before the start of your party, pour yourself a drink or simply take time to breathe and appreciate all that you have done to make this party possible.
4. Try to be the first person your guests see when they arrive and the last person they see when they depart. Greet each guest warmly. Ask to take their coat and immediately offer them a drink and show them to the food.
So—this holiday let’s celebrate what’s truly important: valuing ourselves and our connections to others, being of service, and enjoying ourselves while we’re at it!
Reprinted with permission from the author, Stacey Curnow (www.midwifeforyourlife.com).