A Holiday Spirit Starter Pack for the Grinches in Your Life

In Turkey, for the non-religious, New Year’s Eve is a really big deal: people put up trees, buy gifts, decorate their homes…basically everything that smells like Christmas and looks like Christmas, but, you know, is all in celebration of January 1st. This is why, in America, my family sometimes felt like the sole benefactor of Target’s 70% markdowns on ornaments come December 26th.

After my parents immigrated from Istanbul in the early ‘90s, they continued to cherish the holiday season with an unbridled gusto they passed on to me. And as someone who now voluntarily resides in New England as an adult, I consider the holiday season my last hurrah before everything goes to shit. From January onward, the weather transitions from slushy to morose to downright incomprehensible. And so I’ve continued my mom and dad’s tradition of, shall we say, holiday enthusiasm, for all things Christmas, despite not being Christian, because really, what else do I have to look forward to before gluing myself to a seasonal happy lamp for the next five months?

All this is to say that I don’t “get” people who don’t “get” the holidays. I’ve heard this from everyone: friends, coworkers, my significant other. Unless the holidays genuinely make you feel sad, which I totally respect, I only see the upside of falling head-first into festive spirit. So if you, too, have loved ones with enthusiasm-related barriers to doing so, allow me to help you help them with the below list of foolproof suggestions, which I’ve compiled with the express purpose to de-Scrooge the crankiest among us.

1. Constantly loop holiday films

If I could put stability or a ho-hum news cycle in my shopping cart this holiday season, I’d have already checked out by now. Alas, that’s where ABC Family, Disney, and a host of other holiday moviemakers come in to fill the void. Their copy-and-paste plotlines are beyond comforting given our current political climate, and honestly, how refreshing is it to know that the most shocking thing about the leading male character is going to be that he’s secretly Santa Claus (and not a literal predator)?

Starter pack, in order of Rotten Tomato scores:
Jack Frost, 20%: The only holiday film perfectly tailored for fans of American Horror Story and Donnie Darko. Errant dad Michael Keaton dies and reincarnates (read: haunts) his family as a snowman.
Unaccompanied Minors, 30%: A successful dupe for Home Alone. Just substitute home for an airport, and burglars for the TSA (a sentiment anyone who’s handed over shampoo at a security checkpoint can empathize with).
12 Dates of Christmas, 51%: Imagine experiencing your worst blind date twelve times, with Jordin Sparks singing in the background the whole time.
The Mistle-tones, 57%: Like Glee meets Step Up, but with a lot of plaid.
The Santa Clause, 75%: Sure to be a hit with anyone who works in finance, law or another field that actually requires you to read the Terms & Agreements at the end of documents.

2. Tell them about the Christmas Sugar Rule 

Sugar is considered better for you than salad this time of year! It’s shocking to me that most people haven’t heard of this unwritten rule, which is why it’s so fun to tell them. Surprise! Here, sprinkle some more graham crackers atop your eggnog ice cream. Tuck into that sheet of peppermint bark––once the clock strikes 12 on January 1st, your body registers it as kale.

Starter Pack:
Chocolate Caramel Crack(ers) from Smitten Kitchen: The ideal baked good for you and your favorite Scrooge to make together.
Cookie Salad from Molly Yeh: Bless Molly Yeh and her interpretation of salad.
French Toast Casserole with Salted Frosted Flakes from Chrissy Teigen: For all those times when French toast isn’t indulgent enough.
Reversed Impossible Chocolate Flan from Melissa Clark: Would it be the holidays if you didn’t have the time to flip and reverse an already very complicated desert?
Christmas Tree Cupcakes from Martha Stewart: If you’re the person who eats the frosting and discards the actual cupcake, this one’s for you.

3. Swaddle them in velvet

Win them over with comfort. No one can actually be grouchy about the umpteenth holiday party where they have to make small talk about how it’s “so cold this year” and “wow, shitty media men, who knew, right?” if they’re draped in velvet. It’s scientifically impossible. If you’re still having trouble, might I suggest adding glitter?

Starter Pack:
These boots from Madewell and Strategia. These have zippers, which is why they’re sensible.
This dress from Rhode Resort. Pair it with tights, and you’ll be set to dominate in some drunken calisthenics at your next holiday event.
This blazer from J.Crew. Just crying out for an embroidered scarf tied around your neck.
These bow pumps from Tory Burch. Nothing says it’s the holidays like gratuitous bows.
MR by Man Repeller velvet sandals!!!
And a velvet from Self-Portrait (on sale!). For those who refuse to let the off-the-shoulder trend die.

4. Make them a playlist of “indie” holiday music

I empathize with the malcontents who say they’ve heard Christmas classics one too many times in malls across America, but that’s no reason to shun to the world of alternative holiday music that exists. “Jingle Bells” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”, these are not.

Sufjan Stevens Christmas: If this was a particularly trying cuffing season, Sufjan Stevens’ holiday music is your soundtrack for extensive crying jags.
Punk Rock Christmas: Just when your parents were counting their blessings for not having to brave Hot Topic for your Christmas presents anymore!
A Very She & Him Christmas: Probably not being played in Macy’s, but definitely being played in an Anthropologie.
Holidays Rule: A compilation album that contains both The Shins and Andrew Bird, so it’s actually a tribute to your douchey high school ex.

5. Placate them with some gin-nog

The absolute best part of the holidays is how socially acceptable it is to drink at nearly any time, in any format. Consider the hot toddy: all the comforts of a cup of tea, spiked to give you the confidence that you can make it through the next time someone makes an off-color political quip over dinner. The holidays are, in a way, like freshman year of college all over again: most everyone is giddy over something or another, and there’s copious amounts of booze (and the better quality stuff is reserved for the older folks).

Starter Pack:
Santa’s Sleigh: Somewhere between a milkshake and a mojito
Spiked Apple Cider: Decidedly better than whatever version of this you drank at fraternity holiday parties.
Fairytale of New York: Isn’t the name just enough?
Lady Irish: Paint your nails green, add some glitter, and pose with a glass of this drink.
Coquito: Guaranteed to get your cousin who won’t stop talking about how amazing it is to be a vegan really, really wasted.

Collage by Kelsey Lim.

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