It’s the end of January and all  that’s left of the holidays are the credit card bills.  Looking back at the holidays, are you disappointed that you didn’t get what you wanted?  I’m not talking about the right gift, but rather the experience of connecting with family and friends.  

Driven by movies, TV shows and ads, we are conditioned to view the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day as one long string of perfect parties and celebrations with our loved ones.  Unfortunately, for a number of reasons, that may not have been your experience this year.   Perhaps you tried to do too many things and ended up more exhausted than anything else.   Perhaps your expectations were too high.

Whatever the reason, don’t let an unfulfilling holiday season set you back.   Instead use it as an opportunity to evaluate how you want to enhance your personal connections in 2014.   Here are some suggestions:  

 Determine which connections are most important for you to build this year

  • Do you wish you and your spouse had more couples time?
  • Are you craving more time with your kids that doesn’t involve chauffeuring them to practice or cajoling them to do homework?
  • Is it time for a girls night out?
  • Are there groups that you would like to be more involved with?

 Understand how to make those connections more meaningful to you:

  • When do you feel most connected?  Is it one-on-one, in small groups or is the energy of a big group most satisfying to you?
  • Do you prefer activity, conversation or a combination?

 Putting plans in motion to start and keep these connections going in a sustainable way should be your next goal.   For example, if you love fine dining and want to connect with girlfriends a few times a month but also have a limited budget, then going out to an expensive restaurant every week is not going to be viable.  Get creative, perhaps you can host potlucks so that you can enjoy good company and yummy food without breaking the bank.


If you are trying to find different ways to spend time with your kids, take your cue from them.  They will be most engaged if they have input into the activity.  Some kids would love to cuddle on the couch and have you read them a long book.  Other kids would prefer a bike ride or shooting baskets.  If you aren’t sure, just ask!  You can redirect if your teenage daughter says she wants to go on a shopping spree or your ten-year old wants to play a marathon video game.

Building meaningful and lasting connections is a gift that you can give yourself all year long, not just at the holidays!   Take some time to figure out what connections will bring you the most satisfaction; develop a realistic plan for achieving them and then follow-though.   It’ll be better than any present you could buy yourself at the store.