If you love Lifetime holiday movies full of toxic-yet-beautiful characters who fall in love by the time the credits roll, then boy, do I have a recommendation for you. It’s Holidate, a new, utterly unhinged Netflix flick starring Emma Roberts and Luke Bracey. (I hadn’t heard of him either, but his 5 o’clock shadow was scrumptious.)
The premise is as follows. Two strangers, Sloane (Roberts) and Jackson (Bracey), meet at the mall in that heady week between Christmas and New Year's Eve. They end up venting to each other about how horrific their holidays were. Then, they're struck with a brilliant idea: They'll be each other’s standing “holidate.” By that, they mean they’ll spend every holiday together, from Valentine’s Day to Cinco de Mayo to Thanksgiving.
While I'd never heard it referred to as "holidating" before, the concept itself is not unfamiliar. A quick poll of my colleagues and friends revealed that at least one person I know has done something similar (although she doesn't recommend it!).
But the holidays are notoriously difficult to weather solo, especially if your family, like Sloane's, aggressively questions you about your love life. (At one point, her mother shrieks, "No man wants to marry a smoker who lies!”) Why not rope a friend — or in this case, a stranger — into accompanying you to every holiday function?
As far as dating trends go, holidating is still relatively obscure, says Moraya Seeger DeGeare, licensed marriage and family therapist and the co-owner of BFF Therapy in Beacon, NY. (It's no wokefishing.) But while Holidate was the most chaotic and questionable movie I've watched all year, its namesake dating tactic may actually have some benefits.
Having a holidate can be comforting. “There’s a lot of motivation for not wanting to be or feel alone on the holidays,” DeGeare notes. If your relationship with your family is fraught, bringing along someone you have fun with or trust offers a buffer between you and that uncle who always brings up YouTube conspiracy theories.
DeGeare also says that this time of year, having a holidate might help people avoid any internalized pressure they feel to pair off for the winter (hello, cuffing season). As a result, they may be less likely to settle for a less-than-perfect match, she says. (Not that there's anything wrong with opting for a "right now" hookup, if that's what you're looking for.)
So setting up a holidate is not always a bad idea. But if you plan on lying to your family about the nature of your relationship, DeGeare warns, you might want to think again.
Dishonesty is exhausting, and will only add tension to your holidays. If you're going to try this trend, you may want to be up front about the fact that your date is only a friend — Sloane and Jackson took that route in Holidate. Sure, you might still have to field questions about your love life. But at least you'll have someone sympathetically rolling their eyes along with you.
Of course, 2020 is not a prime time to start holidating, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, the motto isn't just "no new friends" at Thanksgiving, it's "no one outside our already formed social pod."
So, can I see holidating becoming the next big dating trend? It's a possibility. I'd probably try it — mostly because I’m constantly looking for ways to make my life more like a Nora Ephron rom-com. Especially if my holidate had stubble like Jackson's.