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During the holiday season, many of us get the invaluable opportunity to reconnect with family and old friends. I find this to be a centering experiences – I get back in touch with my roots, strengthen my personal network of loved ones, and come out into the New Year feeling confident and at peace.

Unfortunately, not everyone has this experience. We’ve all encountered people who find the holidays the most stressful time of the year, as they are forced to ‘catch up’ with their old mates.

The contrast in experiences got me thinking – What are some of the best (most efficient) ways to reconnect with friends and family? How do we make it a fruitful experiences, rather than a burden?

After some thought, I’ve constructed a simple 3 step plan to get help us make the most of our holidays!

Step #1: Get the Small Talk out of the Way!

Small talk amounts to playing a game of catch-up: two people are easing into feeling connected emotionally by exchanging basic information about what they have been up to lately. Unfortunately, small talk doesn’t necessarily mean rekindling that cherished deeper connection that you once had with a person.

Fortunately, small talk can be avoided easier than ever. For example, Facebook allows us to stay up-to-date with the basic information about people’s lives (work, school, location, cool trips). If we briefly look through this information before meeting, we can skip over the small talk, and quickly transition into deeper conversation!

Better yet, PICK UP THE PHONE and CALL. Spend a half hour catching up on facts, and you’ll be much more equipped to maximize your time with the person when y’all meet.

Pick up the phone and get your 'catching up' out of the way!

Step 2: Maximize the chance of creating lifelong memories in a short frame. 

To do so, it is essential to share unique experiences. ‘Dinner and drinks’ is overdone. While it may be a great time, the chance that it serves as a strong memory a few years down the line is slim. When annually reconnecting with friends or family, the goal should be to increase the likelihood of creating a lifelong memory, and these will serve as a boon for your relationships for years to come.

This advice is easier said than done – coming up with exotic activities can be challenging, after all. To help brainstorm, try to find something that will allow you and the  other person to…SUFFER TOGETHER.

Perhaps neither of you are particularly outdoorsy – in that case, find the most challenging hike in the area, and put yourself to task! Perhaps you both tend to be on the shy end. In this event, y’all should locate the nearest karaoke bar, and start belting out your favorite 80’s tune with no reservations!

Maybe dinner and drinks is really all you can handle, or have time for. In that case, challenge yourself to try something new. If you can’t handle spicy food, locate the nearest Indian restaurant, order a dish you don’t recognize, and feast with your pal. It may be miserable, but y’all laugh about it later. Suffering deepens human connection, so make an effort to suffer together.

If nothing else is possible, get out of the house and take a walk together. This isn’t necessarily original, but it is an essential activity! Walking in tandem allows us to understand that we are with a friend, and that we’re headed in the same direction. With this, we become synchronized physically, step by step, and soon this translates to an internal synchronization. Taking walks allows that deeper connection to be reached at a much quicker pace. Try it!

Step 3: Have meaningful conversation, regardless of the activity.

The key to meaningful conversations is opening up. Sharing your feelings and thoughts with a family member or old friend that you haven’t seen in a while can be difficult. To overcome this, you must remember that you were once especially close with this person because they understood you on a personal level. With that in mind, opening up will be easier. Opening up helps the other person feel more connected with you as well, and in turn, they will also be more likely to open up. With this comfort level established, the chances for meaningful conversation increase.

Most importantly, be an attentive listener. Forgetting to recognize or skimming over the accomplishments of your friends or loved ones is a surefire way to show someone that you don’t care that much.

Do everything you can to reconnect with your family and friends this holiday season! It is essential to happiness and health!

Nurture your friendships this holiday season!

Have any tips for reconnecting with friends and family and making new memories? Share them with us by leaving a comment!


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