4 min read

12 Days (Dates) of Christmas

Photoshopped? Kinda, but the paper is real, I swear!

What have you done lately to strengthen your relationships?

This is something I’ve chatted a little less about, since I changed my blog over. That is, just how important relationships are in you finding success in anything, not just weight loss or fat loss. Just like anything else that we do in life, from going to the gym to eating or manipulating your environment, there are certain things you can do to strengthen your skills and bonds that can ultimately lead to more success in your pursuits.

Particularly in weight loss or fat loss endeavors, a social support network is critical, and if it’s the person you spend the most amount of time with that provides the most support, you may not even realize just how lucky you are. Even if you are lucky, you still have to spend time developing relationships like you would developing muscles.

This idea is brilliant, it’s not my own (my girlfriend actually recommended it) but it’s so brilliant in fact I’m going to share it with everyone I know. I’m not just fishing for brownie points here, I actually think you’re going to love this idea too, especially if you’re in a relationship, or have been in a relationship for a long time.

If you’ve been in in any relationship for a long period of time, you know you are prone to periods of distress, discomfort and confusion. Relationship are work, they don’t just happen, so I think what I like most about this idea is that we’ve set time aside deliberately for us.

It has been easy for me, in the wake of a creating a fitness business and a tech start-up to get completely dialed in to work, and potentially ignore my relationship altogether. For my long-term well-being, this obviously would not have been a great choice, nor could I, or can I sustain that for a long period of time.

This idea was a fresh reminder of just how lucky I have been, and how important my relationships are in contributing to my success in other areas. Some of you may be able to relate.

The idea is called The 12 Dates of Christmas.

Essentially we each wrote 6 things down on pieces of paper, like the sample provided above. These were all inexpensive things and often (for us) active things we could do as little mini-dates every night leading up to Christmas.

If we missed a day — which we did because I was away in Whistler boarding for an evening — we would simply double up on a mini-date or find a way to double-down on them in a singular fashion.

We threw them all into a hat and drew them, then assigned a date for completion leading up to Christmas, occasionally rearranging some of the bigger ones to fall on weekend days so we’d have time for them for sure, and some of the smaller ones to be done in the evenings. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just deliberate and planned.

Here are some ideas for inexpensive dates you can do to strengthen your relationship (or relationships) over the holidays:

  1. Go for a Bike Ride
  2. Go for a 30 minute walk
  3. Go for a 30 minute swim
  4. Take a Yoga or Pilates or another physical class together
  5. Throw the ball around together, kick a soccer ball, play some tennis or something else active and engaging
  6. Go for a hot tub, steam or sauna together (we’re lucky to have such amenities in our building)
  7. Walk to a cafe and have a coffee or tea (One of our favourites in town is JJ Bean or 49th Parallel)
  8. Take Public Transport somewhere together, sit and talk, then go for a walk at your destination (SkyTrain or SeaBus for us)
  9. Walkt to a Restaurant or another Food Establishment in the area for a small healthy snack just to take in the place
  10. Have a normal dinner at the table just under candle light instead
  11. Turn off the T.V. and give each other your undivided attention for 30-60 minutes
  12. Wash the dishes by hand together
  13. Do a workout together at the gym
  14. Go to lunch together in the middle of the week (brown bag it if need be!)
  15. Make Brunch (or Lunch) together on the weekend
  16. Walk the dog together
  17. Cook dinner together over some jazz music, blues, acoustic guitar, spanish or other soft and mutually enjoyable music
  18. Make appies together and enjoy with a glass of wine
  19. Walk the SeaWall (a benefit of living in Vancouver)
  20. Shop together (we buy 1 big Christmas Gift together, instead of shopping for each other, so this year we’re buying a new knife set and some other cooking utensils)
  21. Give each other massages, candle light optional
  22. Create a playlist together
  23. Do some gardening together (probably indoors…)
  24. Walk to a special location from your relationships past
  25. Go for a hike if weather permits
  26. Snowshoe if the weather does not
Now I know what you’re thinking.
“I didn’t know Darren was such a hopeless romantic,” well I’m not. I just try to appreciate the smaller details in life, this is one of them.

In part the big reason I believe this idea is a great one is because it really tunes into the true nature of Christmas and other holidays. Holidays bring people together in positive spirit to enjoy the company of one another. In a world where we’re constantly plugged-in to work, email, smartphones and getting stuff done, we forget that we need planned periods of downtime. This exercise forced me to plan periods of downtime with a loved one and so far, it’s been a great experience.

Got any ideas for mini-dates over the holidays? Throw it in the comments below!