'Tis the season to light the menorah, gather around the Christmas tree, and ring in the new year. But there's something else that happens this time of year that you won't have marked on your calendar: Everyone gets engaged. It might be you, it might be your best friend, it could be your coworker, or it could be you all.
"Engagement season takes place from Thanksgiving to Valentine's Day," says Amy Nichols, owner of Amy Nichols Special Event Planning and co-founder of The Poppy Group. "It likely has to do with the sentimental aspect of holidays, and year-end always seems to be a time for reflection and to celebrate starting fresh. Getting married is definitely the ultimate transition into something new, similar to the symbolism of the new year." Plus, she adds, anyone vying for a proposal in front of his or her family will likely take advantage of the season's built-in get-togethers.
Here's how to handle the flood of engagement announcements coming your way, including your own.
Take note of every engagement.
It may be the busiest time of year, but that won't excuse letting an announcement go unacknowledged or brushed off. "Enthusiastically acknowledge the engagement as soon as you hear about it, in person or over the phone," says Irene S. Levine, Ph.D., psychologist and professor of psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine and producer of The Friendship Blog. "A text or email doesn't quite cut it."
Don't feel pressure to plan.
If you significant other pops the question this holiday season, you don't have to pause your yearly celebrations in order to start planning. "Wedding planning can wait until after Christmas or the new year," says Nichols. "Your prospective vendors and venue may be trying to take some time off to enjoy the holidays with their family, too, so it is totally OK to send emails after January 1."
Press pause on celebrations until the new year.
It's only courteous to extend an invitation to celebrate your friends' announcements over dinner or drinks. But it's OK to "make concrete plans to celebrate early in the new year," says Levine. "You'll probably find out that your friend is likely to be just as stressed as you at this time of year. This is also likely to be the first year that the couple will be celebrating the holiday with each other's respective families."
Take a break.
Depending on your situation, this could mean different things. For those who are freshly engaged and surrounded by family members, you may need to walk away from "overbearing relatives who have too many wedding opinions," says Nichols, while single women sick of seeing engagement ring photos might choose to sign off social media. Do what you need to do to get through the season with a smile.