Adults with ADD/ADHD: Ten Tips for Making the Most of the Holiday Season

Health Writer

For some adults with ADD/ADHD, the holiday season is a wonderful time. They thrive in the excitement and rush of holiday shopping, parties and events that become a part of their daily lives. For others, the holiday season brings out their feelings of incompetence. The hectic days are overwhelming and "to-do" lists become longer with nothing getting accomplished. They feel more distressed than joyful, more upset than happy. Whether you are attending or hosting a party, shopping or planning, the following tips will help you cope with the upcoming holiday season:

  1. Adults with ADD/ADHD sometimes blurt out hurtful remarks or interrupt others while they are speaking. If this should occur when you are at a family function, keep in mind that ADD/ADHD is often hereditary. The person that has made you uncomfortable may have ADD/ADHD (diagnosed or undiagnosed, treated or untreated). They may not be aware that what they have said was rude or may not have meant it in a hurtful way. Before feeling insulted or creating a scene, think about whether they might just be showing symptoms of ADD/ADHD and be sympathetic to how embarrassed they may feel afterwards.

  2. When attending parties or functions with your children, consider having a babysitter with you. If this is a family function, you might want to call a relative with a teenager beforehand and offer to pay them to watch your children during the party. Teenagers often become bored and restless during family functions and they may enjoy having a purpose and feeling needed. If there are no relatives available, consider using a high school person you know to come to the party with you and watch over your children. You can enjoy the party without continually watching to see what type of uproar your children are causing.

  1. Pay attention to where you sit during a party. If your chair is located in an area where there will be a lot of background noise or distractions, see if you can relocate or move your chair so that you are facing a different direction. This way, you will be more able to concentrate on a conversation with your neighbor rather that constantly being distracted.

  2. If you normally get fidgety or restless during a party, try to keep yourself busy. Your host or hostess may appreciate your help in the kitchen or refilling snacks and it will allow you to get up and move around, while still being able to socialize. Move around at the party to speak with a number of people, rather than sitting in one chair. Bring along games such as bingo or Trivial Pursuit to keep yourself occupied while having fun rather than sitting for the whole evening.

  3. If crowds become overwhelming to you, keep your coat with you or by the door so that you can excuse yourself to take a short walk for a few minutes and relax. Taking five minutes every hour or two to clear your head may make you more relaxed and more able to enjoy your time at the party.

  1. If you are hosting a party, consider asking guests to bring a side dish or dessert. Besides being able to enjoy a variety of different foods, this will relieve you of a great deal of preparation. Fixing only main dishes will be easier than trying to prepare entire dinners. If you are concerned about having too much of one item, such as all desserts and no side dishes, ask what your guests will be bringing when they RSVP so that you can keep track and offer suggestions to anyone that has not come up with an idea. Forget the holiday china and purchase decorated paper plates to alleviate the necessity of doing the dishes during your party.

  2. Plan your holiday shopping before you go to the store. Shop on the internet, even if for ideas for gifts. Keep a list with you so that you know exactly who you are shopping for and have a few suggestions for gifts. Shopping online will also help you curb your spending as you may not impulsive shop. Purchasing gift cards is also a great way to curb overspending on gifts.

  1. Limit the number of events that you will be attending and limit the number of activities your children can participate in. Offer to send in the paper supplies for the class party rather than baking dozens of cupcakes for each child. By limiting the events and parties, you increase your chance of enjoying those that you do plan to attend, rather than feeling overwhelmed and over-stressed.

  2. Make sure you include quiet nights at home to enjoy with your own family. Have an at-home movie night, make popcorn, turn out the lights and enjoy the time together.

  3. Set your expectations of the season according to your own situation, rather than allowing "fantasy" holidays to color your vision of what the holiday should be.