To me, surviving the holidays means reaching the new year without 10 extra pounds and a stress level higher than when December started. I'm not sure if I'm the only one who still goes to my parents' house for the holidays, but most people seem to go somewhere. My strategy in maintaining sanity while I'm out of my comfort zone is to bring items that will help me create the zone in my temporary home.
Here are 10 things I absolutely do not forget when I have to settle in to someone else's space.
1. Shampoo and conditioner: Most people stock their guest bathrooms so we normally don't pack these two cleansers. I say take them because you never know what will be in there. Check out 3Floz.com to find your brand in small sizes.
2. Wireless hotspot: WiFi is either really good or really bad in most people's houses. At my grandparents' house, they don't have it at all. I like the Verizon 4G LTE MiFi as an option if it doesn’t come on your phone.
3. Nighttime tank and wrap: You never know what temperature your host finds comfortable. It's usually never right for me, so I come prepared for both warm and cold at bedtime.
4. A bottle of wine: You never know what will be on tap, and if the family gets rowdy, you'll need something to help you unwind. (Hmm … maybe you should take bourbon instead.)
5. Justin's Almond Butter in chocolate or maple: Don't fall victim to eating sweets just because they're available. Get one plate of dessert and be done with it. Instead of munching throughout the day, bust open one of these to satisfy lingering cravings for more pecan pie. Plus, they're filling!
6. Running shoes: Access to a gym could be limited and I know you don't want to let yourself go completely. Enjoy a nice jog around the neighborhood. Maybe you'll throw in some push ups and crunches once you get your heart rate up.
7. Magazines I enjoy: These serve multiple purposes. If you leave magazines around the common areas, people will read them. Then, after the catch-up chit chat is over, you'll be able to discuss the articles. Also, when I can't sleep, reading makes me drowsy. (Fast Company is a personal favorite to insight conversation.)
8. 2 DVDs. Holiday television programming is full of reruns. Since I'm on vacation, I like to curl up and watch movies I love or haven't seen yet. Most people won't argue with your selections if they don't have to rent it.
9. Duffel bag. Even if I don't receive big presents, my bag is always overflowing when I try to zip it up to go home. Pack a duffel so you can effortlessly pack any extra gifts or purchases. Either check it on the plane or ship it via USPS.
10. Thoughtful card. Before I leave, I always make sure to place a funny or sentimental card to express my gratitude in a place where it will be found later. The gesture is unexpected so your host, even if they are your parents, will really appreciate it. Later I send a more official thank-you gift.