6 expert ways to nurture friendships during the holiday rush

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(BPT) - The holidays aren't just a time to spend with family. They're also a great opportunity to connect with friends. In fact, according to a recent Bumble For Friends survey*, over half (54%) of U.S. respondents actually prefer to spend the holidays with friends they consider 'chosen family' over their relatives.

However, hectic holiday schedules can make it challenging to nurture our friendships. To help you stay connected to your friends this holiday season, Danielle Bayard Jackson — Bumble For Friends' resident friendship expert — offers her top six expert tips.

1. Be intentional with your time

The holiday season is jam-packed with "shoulds," from attending parties to shopping for the perfect holiday gifts for loved ones. Instead of focusing on what you "should" do this holiday season, fill your calendar with activities that bring you joy and allow you to spend intentional, quality time with friends. No matter what you choose to do together, show your friends that you are deliberately carving out time in your busy schedule to be present with them.

2. Check in on your friends

The holidays tend to be an emotionally charged season. Checking in on your friends — even the "strong" ones — is a simple yet powerful way to show you care. Take time to compose a thoughtful text, a quick phone call or schedule a video chat. Ask about their holiday plans, share your own, and really take time to listen. During this busy season, knowing you care can make a world of difference to your friends.

3. Make a festive food or drink together

Nothing brings people together quite like a meal. Plan a virtual or in-person cooking or baking hang-out with your friends to prepare festive treats. Encourage everyone to share recipes and cooking tips while enjoying each other's presence and the joy of the season. You can even turn this gathering into a dinner party, whether at your home or over video, so you can enjoy your culinary creations and catch up.

4. Mail a holiday care package

Surprise your friends with a thoughtful holiday care package! You can include some of their favorite treats, seasonal decorations, face masks, coffee beans or tea leaves and a handwritten note to tell them how much you appreciate their friendship. They'll feel the holiday cheer and your love when they receive their curated care package.

5. Have a holiday movie marathon

A holiday movie marathon is a classic way to celebrate the season. Plan a movie night at your place or use a remote-watching service to watch simultaneously with loved ones all around the world. Make a list of your favorite holiday movies and choose new holiday releases to experience together. A movie party may be a simple activity, but it's a fun and easy way to celebrate the season and create new memories together.

6. Create new holiday traditions

The holidays are built on traditions. This season, strengthen your bonds by creating new traditions with your friends. For example, you can establish a yearly ornament exchange, potluck or game night. You can even consider volunteering to give back to the community and celebrate the season's spirit. These traditions can become cherished rituals your friends look forward to year after year.

Maintain and form new connections

While the holidays may be chaotic, it's important to prioritize your friendships. Let these six tips inspire you to connect with friends even during the busiest season of the year.

If you’re looking to grow your friendship circle this holiday season and beyond: you're not alone. In Bumble For Friends’ recent survey*, nearly half (49%) of U.S. respondents shared that they're focusing on friendship instead of finding love this winter. Also, 57% said they're looking for a new friend to join in on hobbies/activities in the new year.

To start finding friends in your area that share your interests, download Bumble For Friends and take advantage of its many new features, including a Plans option to organize and join IRL group meetups.

*Research was commissioned by Bumble and carried out online by Censuswide in September 2023 amongst a sample of more than 1,000 U.S. adults 18+.