(Photo by Selma Komisky)
Holiday Boundaries (What to Do and What Not to Do in a Social Setting)
By Sarah Komisky
Tis’ the season to get your ugly sweater out of the closet. Yes, it’s the one time to get out those twinkling antlers and that little black dress you love. It’s time for holiday parties, and in next 30 days, I am sure you will be attending several of them. Juggling friend’s holiday parties, youth group get-togethers, office parties, gift exchanges, New Year’s events (and did I mention the beloved ugly sweater (heart)?), it’s time to consider some essentials beforehand (minus what white elephant gift you’ll be bringing). I’m talking holiday etiquette in mixed social circles. Yes, I know we are in the 21st century, not the Victorian Era, but seriously, you’ll be grateful if you consider some good holiday boundaries beforehand.
- Guard Your Game
No one loves a fun holiday game more than I do, but in a mixed group, things can get physical quickly if you aren’t careful. Once upon a time, I played musical chairs at a youth group holiday party and was so into the game that when the music stopped and I ran for the nearest open seat, I was unaware of the guy that was eyeing the same spot. Suddenly, we both sat in the same chair and I was in his lap! Embarrassing! Although this example was innocent, others aren’t. Let’s get real. Holiday games can also be grounds to flirt. Even co-ed teams can get flirty quickly. So get in the game, but remember to be on guard when it comes to healthy boundaries and your interaction with the opposite sex. A “good job” or high five is sufficient for a win.
“And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.”
– Colossians 3:17 (NLT)
- Monitor Your Mingle
Holiday parties are great ways to meet new people or chill with those you already know. Either way, holiday mingling is never meant to be an opportunity to maneuver your way to meeting your crush or someone you find attractive. Hold fast to your boundaries prior to the party. Loneliness is an epidemic during the holidays (especially for single people). When emotions are high, resist the urge to fill a void with any guy out of loneliness. Resolve to keep your heart safe. That means keeping the convo platonic instead of flirting or emotionally attaching. Choose to have fun in a group setting. Don’t be alone divulging your heart in a corner or in the back of the line caroling (we’ve all seen those people). Also, if he gives you a compliment on your peppermint bark or karaoke skills, simply say thank you and move on. If he is a potential relationship material, he will be willing to enjoy your company in a group where he can get to know you and vice versa.
As for work parties, keep work professional. Remember, you can always say no. That means declining an invite you feel uncomfortable attending (or one that would trigger you in an unhealthy way). You can always walk away from that guy giving one-liners, and you can always opt for apple cider instead of alcohol (getting drunk is never a good option and will only blur your good judgment to do something you will regret). Above all else, purpose to guard your heart. Pray beforehand and ask God to help you honor Him with your actions. If you struggle in this area or feel vulurnable this time of the year, don’t go to the party alone. Take a friend and ask her to hold you accountable.
“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”
– Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)
- Beware of Body Language
The holidays are a really warm time that makes us feel like hugging everyone, but we fail to think about how we hug. Ladies, it matters. We need to be aware of our own bodies (even if the guy is like a brother to you). High-fives are great and if you feel like giving a hug, side hugs are something you can never go wrong with. Also, getting in someone’s space can give the wrong signal. Being touchy-feely is another form of flirting. Think about what your touch means. Is it intentional or are you just a person who talks with their hands? What kind of message are you sending? Opt out of the infamous mistletoe or new year’s kiss at midnight and keep your moves on the dance floor honorable – instead dance in a group. Jesus wants us to use our holiday party time to also honor Him in our conduct. Our bodies belong to God, so we should honor Him with the choices we make to respect ourselves and others. So instead of giving our bodies away in a fleeting moment, let’s choose to walk in purity instead.
“Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.”
– 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NLT)
- Generalize Your Gifts
Years ago at work, there was a Christmas gift exchange, but I was totally unaware of it because I had pneumonia. When I finally returned, a guy I worked with who was my crush handed me a handcrafted iridescent jewelry box with bangles and bobbles inside. He said he noticed (at the time) that I wore things like that and thought I would like it. I gushed and swooned over how this guy took time to notice my likes, yet in hindsight, aside from his artsy and sensitive nature, I think he was merely just picking a present for the person he picked. For me, it meant way more. This is why Secret Santa’s never go well when its co-ed. Girls and guys misinterpret and read into the intent behind the giver and things get emotionally messy on both sides when we do. Instead, choose a generalized gift in a group setting or a funny white elephant present. Reserve Secret Santa with personalized gifts for your gal pals and pick a gift that anyone (guy or girl) would enjoy for mixed group holiday parties. That way, you aren’t focused on giving one guy a gift.
“So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
– 1 Corinthians 10:31 (NLT)
- Be Merry AND Modest
Here is something to think about while getting dressed: who am I dressing for? Yes, we girls have our own tricks and one of them can be manipulation, but manipulation isn’t honorable. Dressing inappropriately to gain attention is actually causing a guy to lust after you, not love you. Even dressing up modestly with the wrong motive to gain attention or validation is wrong. Check your motive as you check your outfit. Who are you dressing for and what message is it sending? Instead, shop intentionally before your event with a purpose to dress for Jesus, not a guy. If the dress is too tight, too short, or too revealing, say goodbye. Instead, choose something that is appropriate for your body type and something that you love (without a boy in mind) and walk in the doors of your holiday party confident in your value in Christ as the lovely girl He made, without the need of approval from guys.
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”
– Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)