The holidays are an important reminder of the reason you and your extended family members live under separate roofs.  

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love my family. But the fun and games comes to a crashing halt when someone spills on Roberta’s rug or when the check-out policy is not strictly adhered to. 

And every day you are reminded that traveling with children is a work trip, and not a vacation. I always catch myself thinking “Kevin McAllister had it easy in Home Alone.” His entire family left him, stuck to his own devices… Ummm…sign me up (minus the menacing burglar situation, that seemed like a real disaster).

So if you too, are preparing for an onslaught of semi-unsolicited family time, join the club. Here are some items you MUST pack or bring, to be prepared for any scenario, all in the name of surviving not thriving. 


There’s always that one family member who “drinks too much wine” and it’s usually me. Why? Because with each sip I am closer to reaching a spiritual nirvana that can (almost) stave off any judgmental comment thrown my way. 

Speaking of judgement, here’s where a catch-22 comes in. If I pour another glass, it gives someone (AHEM, MY MOTHER) more room to passive aggressively monitor my intake. If I don’t pour another glass, no amount of potato latkes or holiday cookies will do the trick. 

The solution is to purchase a water bottle that can safely hold and conceal an entire bottle of wine. Done. 

Sparkling Champagne Water Bottle | S’well

Spiked Naked Water Bottle | BKR

Blanc Crocodile Water Bottle | S’well

Corksicle Canteen


I have a theory that no one can argue with someones love of reading. I use it to my full advantage. 

If you find yourself needing some precious alone time, blame it on that great new book “you just can’t put down.” 

P.S: Reese Witherspoon’s book club gives us life and I’m saving her December pick (below) for my sweet escape. 

The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine

Not a reader? I suggest staging a binge watch session with any of the following: 

1. The Crown

2. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

3. Stranger Things Season 2


Christmas pajamas are the easiest way to stay festive AF, despite your family. Also, it doubles as a cute Instagram photo opp to convince your friends that you are having a better time than you really are.  

Whale Isle Waffle Knit Pajama Set | Vineyard Vines

Shine Bright Pajama Set | Target

Elf Pajama Set | Top Shop


It all comes down to this simple rule: NEVER give your mother-in-law an opening for judgement. As far as she knows, you have your sh*t together. And, what gives off the impression that you have your sh*t together the most? Nail polish that isn’t chipped. 

JUST IN CASE…pack the same color you walked in the door with. Can’t find the exact color? Bribe your nail technician at the salon to give you the bottle. If you have to offer your social security card as collateral, do it. 

Speaking of, here are some shades that I’ve deemed festive and appropriate for the occasion: 

Diamonds And Pearls | Deborah Lippmann

Ring In The Bling | Essie

Steely Stare | Nails Inc

Chicago Coast | O. P. I


As I’ve mentioned, Roberta enforces  house rules and they are not to be taken lightly. Holidays are NOT excluded. 

For a quick recap, shoes are prohibited on any carpet or rug within the home. It’s best to take them off before you even look at a rug or carpet to be safe. If Roberta sees your feet without house shoes, socks, or not completely in the bare…GOODBYE. 

Knitted Bootie Slipper | Target

Fair Isle Slipper Sock | LEMON

Plaid Slippers | Make + Model


Another notable “Roberta-ism” is the fact that she owns absolutely NO toys or entertainment for children under the age of 20, other than a variety of small sterling silver objects. 

If you are in the same boat (or have the slightest inkling that you might be), do yourself a favor and BYOF (Bring Your Own Fun) so you don’t have to sacrifice yourself as the recreations director. I suggest bringing something that’s no assembly required because…no explanation necessary. 

I also consider bringing adult coloring books a major life hack. The kids are entertained but at the same time, it alleviates your anxiety and the need to talk to family members. 

Color Me Stress-Free Coloring Book

Sequence For Kids Game

Color Me Calm Coloring Book

Hedbanz Original Game


There is no such thing as playing it too safe. If life becomes too hard to handle, let the healing aromatherapy benefits of lavender lead the way. I’m not suggesting you make a scene by spritzing the entire room like a Peruvian shaman, but until champagne is available as an essential oil, lavender is my go-to. 

Lavender Facial Spray | Mario Badescu

Vanilla Lavender Fragrance | Lavanilla

Aromatherapy Roll-On | Aura Cacia


The simple act of putting a sleep mask on is powerful. It’s like saying, “I’ve completely checked out but feel free to leave a message by the door” without having to verbally say it. 

Also, Tylenol PM

Wine Not? Sleep Mask | Perpetual Shade

Silk Eye Mask | Slip

I Woke Up Like This Sleep Mask | Journelle

Goodnight and good luck.

Xo Clea + Joanna

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  1. “Until champagne is available as an essential oil” = best line of this whole blog piece. Thanks for a thorough and helpful gift/survival guide!

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