The festive season is upon us. Festivities abound, be they for Christmas or other holidays, or whether as other festive occasions such as office parties and the like. But we shouldn’t need ‘special events’ to have a sense of occasion…

Everyone loves a party. Well, most people do. There are party poopers or people who simply don’t like all the hullabaloo of a festive occasion. And that’s just fine. It takes all types. Okay, no one likes a Scrooge in their midst whilst trying to have a nice Christmas party, but, generally speaking, we’re all entitled to be festive in the way that we want.  This article doesn’t advocate how everyone should be a festive Pollyanna – rather, it advocates how to make the most of any occasion.

I have to confess that one of the main reasons I enjoyed living in the U.S. was the sense of occasion writ large that is unique to Americans. They really make a go of an occasion, be it Christmas, the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving or even a housewarming. Every single holiday is not only cause for celebration but enjoyed to the maximum. Festive colours, festive bunting, festive themes – it’s all there, everywhere. I know it could be overkill but I liked it. Yes, there are of course wonderful Christmas markets in European countries like Germany and Austria and the Bastille Day celebrations in France can be quite something too. But, as much as I appreciate the European lifestyle, there’s an underlying sense of cynicism amongst Europeans. There’s a tendency to be rather ‘ho-hum’ about things, with a kind of bored ‘been there, done that’ attitude that prevails.

And here’s the rub: one shouldn’t need a specific event like Christmas or a year-end function in order to celebrate. Having friends over for dinner? Then make it a proper dinner party. If I am invited to one more bloody ‘informal,’ ‘come as you are’ dinner I am going to vomit profusely. To hell with informality and a total lack of occasion, I say. Make a bloody effort, damnit! And, no, that doesn’t mean spending a fortune or having butlers dressed up like Jeeves or any pretentious twaddle. Pretension does not a party make. But does the dinner party have a theme? If not, why not?! Celebrate it, however big or small. Want to really enjoy the tacky tat that is the Eurovision Song Contest? Throw a party and camp it up royally. Ditto for the Oscars or a movie night or any other get together you plan. Been promoted? Feeling better after a really crappy illness? Finally broken up with that bastard? C-e-l-e-b-r-a-t-i-o-n, baby.

The more we make an effort to make events in our life more special, however small or even ‘silly’ they may seem, the better we cope. You need to trust me on that. It’s also about being kind to yourself. For example, during my most down times I have always pushed myself to just take some time out and make it a bit special. It can be as simple as taking yourself to a movie, gorging on popcorn and then going to a simple lunch and watch the world go by. Or simply do something rather spontaneous or a little crazy, if only to create a special time for yourself. Do it and see how much better life seems when you have taken the time to make an occasion a little bit more special – and it can take so little.

No one is saying that we need to love the crass commercialism of Christmas, which, let’s face it, can be hateful. Or even partake in ersatz celebrations like Halloween. But we should at least try to make some events in our life as different and even a little OTT as possible. Why not? What do you have to lose? A simple occasion made special can make a particular time of year somehow marked, as if a unique milestone had been reached. A sense of occasion is a very specific and wonderful thing. It’s a particular feeling and approach one has to an event or moment. The trick is to make it for any event or moment. It not only defines time but defines us. And best of all – you don’t need a reason to do it.