Photo of a single glass of wine on the arm of a deck chair in a backyard, a house in the distance to suggest taking space.


5 Scripts to Set Boundaries During The Holidays

November 1, 2023

I'm Jess. This blog is a collection of everything I've learned as I rebuilt my self-image from a burned-out-extrovert-wannabe to an at-ease-introvert-bookworm.
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The holidays should be overflowing with joy, comfort, and even a little magic. But let’s be honest – they’re usually overwhelming, overstimulating, and downright draining if you’re an introvert or an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) like me. In previous years, I’d white-knuckle my way through the season in order to meet every demand and obligation. When January 1st rolled around, all I could think was “good riddance” (which is not the energy I want to start a new year with). Now, I set boundaries during the holidays so I can enjoy the holidays too! In this blog post, I’ll share 5 of the most powerful scripts I use to protect my energy.

Sometimes the hardest part of setting a boundary is lacking the words in the moment. Coming up with the right language, that balances their feelings and your desires, can be hard to do so you go with the flow instead (I’ve been there!). That’s why rehearsing a script ahead of time can help you feel more confident setting boundaries; it reduces the guesswork.

Plus, these scripts are designed to be respectful and considerate yet firm. Even if you don’t use them verbatim, they might inspire your own scripts. The greatest gift you can give anyone this holiday season is honest communication. If you’re an introvert looking for ways to navigate the holidays with ease and grace, give these 5 scripts a try.

Photo of a single glass of wine on the arm of a deck chair in a backyard, a house in the distance to suggest taking space.
When you set boundaries during the holidays, you prioritize your well-being and protect energy. You also make it possible to show up as the best version of yourself.

Script 1. The “I Need Some Me Time” Boundary:

Introverts need alone time to recharge their energy. When you feel the need to step away from the holiday festivities, use this script:

“Thank you for inviting me (or ‘including me’)! I’ve had a great time, but I need a little bit of ‘me’ time to recharge and be at my best later. I’m going to step away, but I’ll be back in a little while. Don’t worry! I’ll join you again soon.”

Script 2. The “Scheduling Breaks” Boundary: 

Sometimes, holiday schedules can be hectic and it can feel like you’re sprinting from one activity to the next. Use this script to communicate your need for a break during a jam-packed day:

“I’d love to participate in all the fun, but I also need to pace myself so I feel well later. Can we discuss the schedule so I can have a short break during the day? This will help me recharge and be more present when we’re together.”

Script 3.  The “I’m Not Up for a Long Conversation” Boundary: 

As an introvert, you likely find small talk draining. During the holidays, it might feel like you’ve got a one-way ticket on the Small Talk Express. If you want to keep conversations short and sweet, try this script. (It’s a great way to respond to someone who’s asked how you’re doing.)

“I’m so glad to see you! I’m doing well but I’m feeling a bit drained today. I’d love to catch up for a few minutes, and then I’m going to take a little break.”

You can always add “Thank you for understanding!” at the end if you’d like.

Script 4. The “Turning Down Invitations” Boundary: 

Managing multiple invitations during the holidays can be challenging. While the holiday season feels grand, it’s really jam-packed into a few weeks. Use this script when you need to decline some of them:

“Thank you for inviting me to your holiday gathering (brunch, lunch, dinner, party, etc.). I truly appreciate you thinking of me (or ‘including me’). Unfortunately, I have other commitments, and I really want to prioritize balance this season.”

If you’d like to catch up with this person in the new year, add this sentence to the end: “Can we catch up in the new year when things calm down?”

Script 5. The “Setting Expectations” Boundary: 

Honest communication is one of the most generous gifts you can give year-round. But good communication is crucial during the holidays because people are more likely to be stressed during this time – even if they seem jovial on the outside. Being transparent about your boundaries can prevent misunderstandings. Use this script to set expectations with your loved ones:

“I want to be honest with you about my needs during the holidays. While I love our time together, I may need moments of solitude or shorter interactions. It’s not about not wanting to be with you, but about maintaining my energy so I can be fully present when I’m with you. I hope you can understand and support me in this.”

Photo of disco balls in a cardboard box refracting light on the inside of the box.
Even if you’ve put yourself last in previous years, it doesn’t have to be an ongoing holiday tradition. It’s possible to set boundaries during the holidays to make the most of the season.

Final Thoughts (+ 1 Bonus Script)

Setting boundaries during the holidays is crucial for introverts to enjoy the season without feeling overwhelmed. These scripts have helped me, and I hope they help you communicate your needs and expectations effectively. The goal is a more peaceful and enjoyable holiday experience.

In my experience, people appreciate when you’re honest about your needs, wants, and expectations. Especially when you communicate respectfully. However, some people might be taken aback. If someone were to react negatively, here is a response that acknowledges their feelings without invalidating your needs:

Bonus Script: Reinforce Your Boundary

“I’m sorry if my boundary upset you. That was not my intention. The reason I set this boundary is because it’s important for my well-being. It’s not a reflection of how I feel about you or the time we share. I hope you understand.”

Remember, setting boundaries is a healthy way to balance external demands like social engagements while taking care of your well-being and peace of mind. When you set boundaries during the holidays, you’re able to celebrate at your own pace and welcome the new year with more ease, comfort, and joy.

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