A cozy throw, warm sunlight streaming through the windows -- this is the perfect spot to hole up in. And yes, you need a spot within easy reach to put food, tissues and the remotes. Also a TV.
For the next two weeks, til January 2nd, we'll be doing our annual round-ups, bringing you the best posts from the last year. No intermission is complete without a musical interlude. This one is dedicated to those of you who might be having a blue blue blue blue Christmas and need some real honest-to-goodness apartment therapy. We've got home projects and songs, one for each of the five stages of newly-single holiday grief, from heartbreak to renewed optimism. Think of it as another kind of home cure.
Stage 1: The Drunken Denial aka The Drunken Dial
If you're newly solo, you could just be embarking on this phase which may include: using the holiday as an excuse to exchange blood for alcohol and potentially (probably) embarrassing phone calls/texts to your newly-minted ex begging for a second chance made during those moments when your BFF is not monitoring your communication privileges. Don't worry, we've all been there. Here's what we suggest:
Apartment therapy: Change up your bedroom. It can be as simple as buying new sheets or moving furniture around. We have one friend who uses this phase as a excuse to buy a new bed. Make it exactly as you want it. Don't be afraid to push it to the point of excess (you know, that point where you become defensive about it to friends and family -- "It's not THAT pink" or "Spartan is good for my mental health"). It'll give you something else to think about (and something else for your friends to listen to) apart from Sunday morning quarterbacking your relationship.
Eat This: Dark and Stormy, to reflect your mood and give you liquid courage to ask friends to set you up on blind dates.
Stage 2: Sweaty Mania aka Getting Your Clean Freak On
This phase is when the light is just beginning to peek through at the end of the tunnel. It's very confusing, and usually happens after you've found someone new to fixate on. Unfortunately, most of the time it's at the company holiday party and it's someone you never thought was attractive before you strapped on some very thick beer goggles. If that is the case, proceed with caution. This is also about the time you realize that you've gained weight, your new haircut is terrible and your friends have been lying to you about how bad you look (forgive them, they were trying to be supportive).
Apartment therapy: Clean out your closets and purge that junk drawer. Now is a good time to shred all old papers (but not old pictures and love letters from your ex. Don't worry, we'll get to that). Carting a load to Goodwill will not only make your home less cluttered, you'll feel lighter as well. Don't worry if you find yourself cleaning moldings with a Q-tip. Think of it as a soul cleansing. If you don't know where to start, check out this post.
Eat This: It's all about healthy snacks.
Stage 3: Blurry Anger aka Blind Rage
HOW DARE THEY! This phase is a trying time for your friends who have to put up with you railing on and on about how crappy your ex is, usually in excuriating tmi detail. But that's OK -- they have promised to love you no matter what, so vent away. This is also the phase where exercising can really kick into high gear. We recommend high energy sports. Perhaps not surprisingly, we've found kickboxing to be very therapeutic.
Apartment therapy: This the perfect time to tackle home projects you've been meaning to get to. Keep it simple. The trick is not to take on anything too complex unless you want to find yourself having a complete meltdown, sobbing hysterically over a broken cabinet door or malfunctioning toilet or, worse, going at it with a hammer. Here are some inexpensive ones to try.
Eat this: Between excercising and anger, you're burning a lot of calories. You know what that means. Bring on something chocolate, like this cake, made with Guinness. Even better if you can convince one of your friends to make this with (well actually for) you while you drink whatever Guinness is not going into the cake.
Stage 4: Extreme Sadness
This phase is also called the Sweatpants phase, in which you lose your will to shower and you start worrying about going out anywhere for fear that you will run into your ex with some new hot piece he or she has got hanging around while you are sad and lonely.
Apartment therapy: This is the only time when it's perfectly acceptable to decorate your sofa with wadded tissues. Plan accordingly: stock up on throws, new pillows and good sized mugs. Get a Netflix account and a Kindle, maybe even a new TV. You may also want to splurge on new towels to wrap yourself up in; you may find the idea of a long bath before bedtime particularly comforting.
Eat: The ultimate comfort food: mac and cheese.
Stage 5: Moving On
This is the magical moment in which you wake up out of your funk and realize how disgusting used tissues look on your sofa and that your bedroom looks like Malibu Barbie's -- or a Buddhist monk's (usually one extreme or the other).
Apartment therapy: Clean, in earnest. Re-evaluate your bedroom -- tone down whatever extremes you now find ridiculous and over the top. When you see a photo of your ex that was shoved under the bed, chuck it or shred it. This is also an excellent time to splurge on something new for your home -- be it curtains, a rug, new paint or a new piece of furniture. Here's a list of some stores you might want to consider.
Eat: Open up a bottle of champagne and celebrate! Throw a party for your long-suffering friends. You've just walked through the fire and back. Who doesn't need a drink after that? Your friends certainly do. If you're lucky, maybe they'll tote along someone cute and single.
Images: Follow links for photographer details. Image 1 from Troy's 750 Square Foot "Crowd Pleaser" Apartment; Image 2 from How To Clean Your House in 20 Minutes A Day for 30 Days; Image 3 from 25 DIY Projects That Cost Less Than $50; Image 4 from Carly & Jason's Cozy Charismatic and Glamorous Home; Image 5 from Top 100 US Furniture Stores