Have yourself a merry little Christmas. That’s what we’ll be humming but how can you help make your relationships shine brightly beyond the holiday season? Professional Matchmaker Julia McCurley shares some relationship advice on how you can create the love you want.

Let’s face it: the holidays can be a daunting time for both singles and couples. For Singletons, there is an expectation that you will be bringing the love of your life to the company/family/best friend holiday party instead of your Aunt Louise’s next-door neighbor’s nephew. For Coupled-Ups, it’s difficult trying to create a Norman Rockwell scene since families are all trying to put the “fun” back into dysfunctional, so to speak. In other words, holidays can be an extremely stressful time for everyone, no matter what your relationship status, so embrace the possibilities.

Attention married couples: I am glad the stockings were hung on the chimney with care, but this is a great time to acknowledge your single friend’s predicament as well receiving the best-decorated house of the month award from your HOA. For your annual holiday open house, why not go through your mental Rolodex and invite some eligible bachelors/bachelorettes? Remember how Charlotte from the show Sex and the City made all her married friends go through their address books and she got several dates out of it? Go Charlotte! I think many married couples don’t remember what it was like to be single and how you were so appreciative of introductions through friends rather than resorting to online dating. Here’s a tip:  Be sure to have the same number of single men and women in a similar age group to avoid awkward situations.

Whether you are married or single, most of us completely understand the holiday expectation of wanting to have someone to snuggle with by the fireplace, kiss under the mistletoe, and with whom to make a champagne toast on New Year’s Eve.

For all you fabulous Singles, holidays are a great time to step out of the box and embrace yes as your favorite word.  No matter who is hosting the soiree’, whether it’s a party thrown by some married friends, the Junior League, the tennis club, or any other organization to which you might be attached, you never know who will you meet. Married friends who happen to love matchmaking might have a Mr. or Ms. Right waiting to meet you. Also, if there is an eligible single at the event, even if there is no chemistry, they could be the perfect partner in crime to accompany you to future mandatory events,  or at least become a new friend. Flying solo can be daunting, but not impossible, so give it a try because it can really build your confidence. Remember, you have to love yourself before anyone else will.

For all of us the holidays are a great time to focus on giving back to your community. This can include adopting a family in need, working at the local food bank, going to the children’s hospital, women’s shelters, homeless shelters; the list is endless. No one can ever criticize you for your lack of holiday lights if you are busy at the soup kitchen.

One of the common pitfalls for single women during the holiday season is what we call the “winter boyfriend.” These are men you have dated in the past who come crawling out of the woodwork all of a sudden who want to re-kindle and old flame. Ladies, tread lightly in this situation. These players just want a date for their company party, someone to keep them warm, and to have as a fill-in girlfriend until January 2nd. Take it from someone who has been down that road and experienced this more times than I want to remember. Just say no to these Johnny-come-lately Casanovas. You’ll thank yourself for it.

A typical challenge for one of the spouses is being expected to go to parties where you may not know a soul, such as office parties. This is a situation where you need to “take one for the team,” otherwise known as a social obligation. It is a fact of life that you will continue to get invited to baptisms, graduations, Bat Mitzvah’s, and retirement parties for acquaintances. One can always come up with an excuse to bow out gracefully, but what comes around, goes around. Etiquette and protocol should always prevail over some episode of Mad Men you might to miss. Can you say DVR it?

The bottom line is that this year’s holiday season will come and go as it always does. Why not plan to make this the best one ever simply by focusing on giving to others and stepping out of your comfort zone? Get online, check out the top charity events of the season, look on Meetup.com for singles holiday parties in your area, and even Facebook can be a great resource of holiday event happenings. Now matter how you do it, get out there and be spectacular.

Original article published in the Society Diaries