1. Get everyone prepared for the singular delight of your homemade gifts. By “homemade” we mean “found in your apartment.” Who doesn’t want a half-eaten jar of peanut butter? IT’S GOT PROTEIN.
2. Rehearse plausible explanations for your little nieces and nephews as to why Mall Santa appears hungover.
3. Get some health insurance so your mom doesn’t spend the whole time looking up ominous facts for you on WebMD.
4. Practice emergency-save-me-from-this-conversation signals to send to your siblings when your uncle starts in about Obamacare. Avoid Morse; he knows that one.
5. Procure a fire extinguisher for when your cousin’s new flamenco-chic sleeves meet the menorah.
6. Print out a defensible list of why freelancing IS a “real job,” Uncle Bob!
7. Perform deep breathing exercises in preparation for clients’ out-of-town email messages… just when you need their final approval.
8. Begin building alcohol tolerance. Dad isn’t going any lighter on the ‘nog. He’s made that clear, okay?
9. Recite the following phrase to yourself over and over again: “Political debates are not resolved by YELLING. Political debates are not resolved by YELLING. Political debates are not resolved by YELLING.”
10. Scope out thrift stores around you that might really enjoy a December 27th donation of “fun” sweaters.
11. Check out a yoga class and get your sweat on… in preparation for the inevitable sleeping-on-air-mattress-partial-paralysis.
12. Text an old friend from your hometown about getting together! Tell her not to bring Debbie, for chrissakes, if you hear her talk about Craig one more time you’ll go stark raving mad. Make her promise not to bring Debbie*.
*Brace yourself to hang out with Debbie.
13. Buy a festive, sexy holiday outfit. Prepare to exclusively wear it while hanging out with your parents, both of whom will be in what may justly be described as “adult footie-pajamas.”
14. Strike a balance between all holidays by painting the walls of your entire apartment in stripes representing Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa colors: red, green, black, blue, and white. Your roommates won’t mind.
15. For God’s sake, absorb your lesson from last year and forego the candy cane-eating contest. How many throats have to be pierced by razor-sharp mint shards before you’ll learn, you crazy animal?
16. Get a jump-start on New Year’s by making your resolutions now! It’s okay if #1 is likely to be “never drink Dad’s ‘nog on empty stomach again” and #2 is “take more aspirin, work to eliminate all loud noises.”
17. Eliminate holiday travel stress by calling your airline ahead of time to make sure your flight is on-schedule*.
*This tip not helpful if you find listening to hours of hold-music stressful.
18. Take time to enjoy heartwarming classic holiday movies with your family, such as Die Hard 2. Bonus points if your 4-year-old nephew inadvertently learns the phrase “Yipee ki-yay, &*#&!!**!^@#!” and blurts it out at dinner.
19. Don’t forget to give charitably this holiday season. No, listening to Debbie’s romantic woes does not count as “charity.”
20. Don’t be a Scrooge! Nobody likes when you dress up like a Dickensian old man, okay? The sideburns alone are really too much. Just… go with Tiny Tim this year, instead.