How to Be Kinder to Yourself During the Holidays

Whether you need a getaway in Kennebunkport or a quick fix for a cookie exchange—here are the insider secrets to a balanced holiday.

Christmas present

Photo illustration by C.J. Burton

Holiday Smart, Not Hard

December should be merry for everyone—you included.

The Problem: You’ve invited your SO’s family over for Hanukkah dinner, but your work schedule is as intense as the recipes you scoured the food blogs for.

The Solution: Put away the apron and pull up a seat. Mamaleh’s is ready to simplify your dinner plans with all the takeaway latkes, sufganiyot, and braised brisket you can eat—just heat ’em up and light the menorah.

The Problem: Your month is jam-packed with galas, company parties, and festive dinners, but all you have in your closet is the same tired black dress you wore last year.

The Solution: Up your holiday fashion game with help from a personal stylist. For $130 an hour, Samantha Dowson will work with you on a strategic styling plan that could include purchasing one versatile getup to accessorize for different occasions, or efficiently renting the runway for several festive looks.

The Problem: The idea of hitting Newbury Street, the Pru, and the Natick Mall for every last present on your list, then spending the next two weeks wrapping them, seems about as fun as shoveling your car out of 2 feet of snow.

The Solution: Hire a few friendly elves to do it for you. The team at Lerner Concierge is full of unique gift ideas (how about a first-edition novel from the year your favorite bookworm was born?) and are pros at flawlessly wrapping even the most awkwardly shaped presents. They’ll keep everything until you give them the green light to deliver when the kids are at school and the house is empty. All of this for only $55 an hour—no sleigh required.

The Problem: You were supposed to make 100 peanut-butter blossoms for your cookie exchange, but, well, you had a few other things on your mind and forgot.

The Solution: Don’t pull an all-nighter; instead, let someone else do the baking. Boston-based Top Shelf Cookies will deliver its freshly baked eggnog sugar cookies and ginger chews on trays (starting at $30 for a tray of 25), so you can plate them and bring them to the party on your in-laws’ china. For those willing to ’fess up, they can also wrap them nicely for you. —Abby Bielagus

Give Yourself the Gift of…

Sometimes presents aren’t something you can wrap and put under the tree. Four ways to treat yourself this month.


Let the butcher and the baker come directly to you with help from Mercato, which delivers specialty items from gourmet merchants such as Boston Public Market, Savenor’s, and Formaggio Kitchen right to your front door.


Finally take that holiday you’ve been dreaming of with aid from D.A. Luxury Travel, a Back Bay–based concierge service that’ll help you plan a once-in-a-lifetime yachting trip or unforgettable Asian food tour, sans Google-induced paralysis.


Why not soar into the New Year with a 30-day pass ($150) to Swet, which specializes in the exhilarating art of aerial yoga? The studio offers meditation classes, too, for those who prefer to completely Zen out.


Upgrading your winter wardrobe is as easy as making an appointment at Southie’s Alice Walk showroom, where you’ll find gorgeous dresses and well-cut jackets made to order on- site in your choice of luxe fabrics. —Kara Baskin

Get Away from the Crowds

’Tis the season of constant social interaction—which means you might need a place to run and hide.


10 minutes: When you can’t possibly fill another reusable bag at the Seaport’s holiday pop-up market, take a brisk walk over to Martin’s Park, a peaceful new green space near the waterfront. Stroll the boardwalk, then let the kiddos loose on the slides and pirate-ship climbing structure while you take a much-needed breather.

Three hours: Escape town (or pretend to, at least) at the Hub on Causeway’s recently opened ArcLight Cinemas, which shows movies from local filmmakers alongside Hollywood blockbusters. Bonus points for the plush, ergonomic seats and craft cocktails, among other creature comforts.

One day: Ditch the Christmas list entirely in favor of a chill spa day at Rowley’s new farmhouse-style Briar Barn Inn. A CBD-oil-enhanced massage or acupressure foot treatment should help you recharge in the midst of the busiest season, as will a meal of locally sourced pan-seared scallops and baked oysters at the inn’s restaurant, Grove.

A weekend: When the weather cools down in Kennebunkport, so, mercifully, do the crowds. Be sure to time your visit with the town’s Christmas Prelude, held this year from December 5 to 15. All you have to do is step outside the charming Kennebunkport Inn to see Dock Square decked out with lights and wreaths, or partake in sleigh rides, caroling, and a visit from Santa on a lobster boat—this is Maine, after all.; —K.B.

Read more about how to be a better Bostonian this holiday season