Survival Guide to the Holiday Hugs
Breaking Down The Holiday Hug
Let's face it, hugs are just a part of life. Love them or hate them, they are always going to be there. And like most things in life, not all hugs are created equal. Prepare yourself with our guide to the holiday hug.
The Classic Hug
It's warm, inviting, and reliable. There in times of sorrow and of joy, helping to heal and to celebrate. For the classic hug, the best approach is to just dive in. You're both on the same page, so there's nothing to fear.
Imagine a human sized avocado and you want to know know if it's ripe, that's the sort of pressure you want to start with. From there follow the pressure of the second party. If they give more pressure, feel free to match, but you're not trying to make guacamole, so not too much.
Classic hugs can range in duration depending on context...seeing a dear friend you haven't seen in a few weeks, that's like a 1-2 Mississippi, embracing your special someone after you open the jewelry box under the tree, let it linger. Always pay attention to the grip and pressure of the second party. If they loosen, you have two options, follow suit and let the hug end, or double down, pull them tighter and let them know "this hug ain't over yet!"
This one is versatile. It's warm, loving, and consoling. Use it freely with people you love, or to a lesser extent with acquaintances during especially important moments. Tread softly with strangers. A rag-tag group of oil rig workers help blow up an astroid on a trajectory towards Earth? Go ahead and turn to the stranger next to you and celebrate with a classic hug.
Another classic hug to try:
The Tiny Hug
It's does it's job, an exchange of necessity and warmth, without being too much of a thing. Often used in place of a handshake or a wave goodbye.
Pressure should be on the lighter side. The general rule is that your pressure shouldn't be enough to pull the other in. For this hug, it's really a meet-in-the-middle thing.
Tiny hug is a sprint, not a marathon. At the point of full embrace, begin your disengagement. You shouldn't have enough time to ask yourself whether the hug should end, if you're having those thoughts, you are in classic hug territory already.
It's a friendly hello and goodbye, or a quick recognition of something mildly important (if it's something you would text about, but not bother to call about, it's probably tiny hug worthy).
Here's another tiny hug:
The Big Hug (AKA the Bear Hug)
If we're being honest, this is where it's at. Of course, we've all found ourselves in the grasps of an unwanted bear hug, but in those times when it's warranted, there's nothing better.
It's all in the pressure with this one. If you're initiating, give it your all, really engage your core. Obviously keep the comfort of the huggee in mind, you want them to be wrapped in the warmest of embrace, you don't want them blacking out. If you are the recipient, then just let it happen. Attempts to reciprocate the pressure will be in vain and often will be met with a tighter grasp. Instead, just dig in and enjoy.
These can go for quite a while, but big hugs can also be surprisingly short. If you feel like the bear hug is ending too soon, grab on and turn it into a classic hold to keep the embrace alive.
This one is celebratory in nature. Rarely will this be appropriate for consultation or for anyone less than a dear friend. This is for the epic reunion, the life changing news, or those rare moments of shared victory.
Like all hugs, sometimes you're just not into it. For the bear hug, the best strategy is to dead weight. Literally just turn into a sack of raw potatoes and let your body go limp. If the hugger has extraordinary strength, shift your body slightly before the impending lift, then dead weight. You'll most likely slide slowly and awkwardly out of their grip, or make the lift weird enough for them to release quicker than planned.
We have a large hug if you need one:
The Awkward Side Hug
Not always a bad thing, the side hug is more of an acknowledgement then an embrace. Similar to nodding your head instead of saying hello or waving. Often this is the hug for those who do not want to hug, but feel socially obligated to.
Really, just don't add pressure. Added pressure will further confuse the odd mixed message that a side hug already is giving. All you need is enough pressure to justify it being an actual hug.
Keep it super quick. Again, no one really wants to be in this hug, just get through it and move on.
Often this hug is implored during a multi-person hugging session, be them family or friends. This is when people anxiously look from person to person to gauge the amount of physical contact will be required or allowed. Use the side hug to get through those awkward or unsure moments, and for people you've met enough to know, but not enough to want them pressed up against you.
You can also use the side hug as an escape route...someone you are not too comfortable with moving in for a classic or bear hug? Slightly turn and engage in the side hug. They will more than likely catch on, and the coming awkwardness will be mostly averted.
The side hug can be sweet, especially when there's no real occasion at all. Just a sweet little 'I love you' to someone you care about. In these cases, you can follow our guides laid out for the classic hug. A nice head lean-in adds a little extra to this one.
Here's a less awkward side hug: