While the holiday season is my favorite time of year, it’s really easy to get swept up in the rush and before you know it, January arrives and it’s all over. This go ’round I’ve committed myself to be as present as I can for the entire month. Now that we’re about half through it’s good to take stock of how you’re doing. I’ve done my best to relish simple things like putting ornaments on my tree with my toddler or choosing my Christmas wrap scheme for the year. But what I’ve really cherished is making the time to connect with people I care about.

how to destress during the holidays on apartment 34

One way I accomplished this was hosting a mini retreat with California Closets. California Closets helps you love how you live. Virtually anything you dream up, they can design and build. I collaborated with California Closets for both my master closet and my pantry and my dreams were most certainly realized. So the December season arrived, I gathered a group of my favorite women in one of my favorite Bay Area escapes – Bolinas, CA – for a long, slow, dreamy afternoon filled with laughter, crafting (yes crafting!) and of course amazing food in a gorgeous setting.

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Taking time out can be really hard. There is always work to do. There are always to-dos that run off the end of the page. There is always someone wanting something from you. But you’d be amazed how enriching pressing the pause button can be. Taking even just a few hours out of the grind to take care of yourself feels indulgent, it feels luxurious – it feels freeing. It’s the best way to restore energy during one of the busiest times of year. As you drive north from San Francisco and turn west, reaching the crest of Mount Tamalpais and then descending through redwood trees to arrive at the edge of the Pacific Ocean, you cannot help but exhale. The sense of calm is palpable. This is the feeling I wanted to offer my friends and hope we all can carry through the year’s end.

how to destress during the holidays on apartment 34

This quote rings so true for me right now.

how to destress during the holidays on apartment 34

For our craft we created our own asymmetrical holiday wreaths (they were inspired by this post). The genius that is Natalie Bowen Designs guided our creative endeavor. Using evergreens, leaves, flowers, even mossy branches pulled from the side of the road, we had a ball letting our creativity flow – yes even me! Everyone’s final results were stunning.

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There’s also something really special about sharing a meal this time year. It lends an intimacy to the season that you just don’t get from cocktail hours or holiday parties. Our setting, the darling Eleven Wine Bar & Bistro offered soul-nourishing, local foods including oysters, cheese and the best sparkling rosé. There was nothing fancy or overwrought. Just fresh, local ingredients and simple timeless flavors. It’s a great reminder that you don’t have to beat yourself up if you’re not a gourmet chef. You can create a beautiful experience over pizza!

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I’m so grateful to have found a moment to take a deep breath and connect with friends this season. Even if you don’t have the ability to create a gathering like this one, you can do a few things to take care of yourself this season. I’ve included my top 10 below. I hope they inspire you to not only get through this season, but truly enjoy it.

 

10 WAYS TO DESTRESS DURING THE HOLIDAYS

  1. Make those lists – all the lists and check them twice. It’s impossible not to forget something this time of year.
  2. Bite off your to-do’s in manageable chunks. Can’t carve out four hours to write your Christmas cards in one sitting? Spend 15 mins a day getting a few out the door.
  3. Make things in advance. Cookie doughs, pie crusts and breads can be frozen. Sauces can be made the day before. A little preparation goes a long way.
  4. Yoga. Yoga is your friend.
  5. So is Love Actually, The Holiday and The Family Stone
  6. Make time for meditation. Even just five minutes a day is proven to calm your nervous system, lower your blood pressure and lead to clearer thinking. And there’s an app for that.
  7. Give yourself a night off. A bubble bath, a good scrub or body oil, candles and maybe that meditation app.
  8. Release the desire for perfection. You don’t need to throw the perfect party. You don’t have make the ultimate meal. You don’t have to make sure every single family member is happy
  9. Try making something. Like with your hands. While I usually shy away from DIYs, we made wreaths at our dinner and the end result was so satisfying.
  10. If all else fails, there’s always some egg nog nearby

 

For more holiday gathering ideas, CLICK HERE

 

placesettings via chairs & cups / florals & wreath making by natalie bowen designs / accessories via Found Rentals / location & menu by Eleven Wine Bar Bistro

photography by andrea posadas

This post is in partnership with California Closets. Thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. Thanks for supporting collaborations we’re excited about and that have kept Apt34’s doors open.

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