Having bed bugs at Christmas and the holiday season is hard

small decorative Christmas trees

Everything becomes more complicated and expensive when you have bed bugs at Christmas time! You have to get some kind of treatment, whether it’s professional or D.I.Y, and you still feel the pressure to buy gifts and food. Maybe there is an expectation you will entertain, and meanwhile, your house may temporarily look like you’re planning to move as you prepare for treatment.

If you are preparing for treatment, your holiday clothes may be packed away. You might be worried about spreading them to your friends and family. Or maybe your family is uncomfortable with you coming over while your home is still infested. I haven’t even brought up the usual stress and pressure of expectations, and family stress that almost everyone experiences at some point during the holidays. And now that holiday stress is compounded by bed bugs!

Spending holiday money on bed bugs instead of gifts

Bed bugs take money to get rid of. Whether you are having heat treatment or a professional pest company in to help, or if you are doing a Do It Yourself bed bug treatment, it costs money. You can’t afford to save up for treatment, it has to happen as quickly as possible because of the bed bug’s rapid reproductive cycle.

Are you unsure how to pay for bed bug treatment?

Maybe you have had to go into credit card debt or borrow money for treatment, and you are really feeling that stress. Maybe savings earmarked for the holidays or vacation has now been used to pay the pest company. If the stress is getting to you and affecting your daily activity or sleep, counseling or therapy might help you to cope during your infestation. Remembering or trusting that your infestation is temporary is very important. You can read more tips for dealing with stress caused by bed bugs.

Look realistically at your energy level and finances

If you are keeping the bed bugs a secret from friends or family you can still keep doing that. It’s ok to keep it a secret and it’s also ok to tell. Only you can decide if it’s better to keep your infestation private or to share it with others. That is up to you and your individual circumstances. No one but you knows which is in your best interest. Sometimes you might not know either and that’s also ok because YOU ARE TIRED, freaked out and focused on eradication.

This can be one year where you wait to see what others want to do. If you are always the go-to holiday hostess, your family might not want to change holiday traditions. We can understand that. Those rituals are deeply meaningful for some people. Maybe they are to you too. Gathering together once a year may be the most connection some of us have with our families. Expectations can be a hard obstacle to overcome.

Family rituals and expectations can be a hard obstacle to overcome

You might need to say you need to take a break this year. Or you can say you have a lot going on, are tired, are remodeling, or getting rid of some things and your house is a disaster. You can also choose to share the ugly details, that you have bed bugs. That will usually convince even the most diehard family member that it might be a good idea to relocate the holiday festivities this year.
I’m not suggesting you lie, but I won’t judge you if you do. I’ve provided some diversionary suggestions above. Not lies, but not a full reveal. We all know people who are eager to probe every unfortunate detail of your ordeal, who may not treat that information with respect or discretion.

What about gifts when you have bed bugs? 

If you typically buy gifts and can afford to, do it. But be careful about not allowing the gifts or wrapping paper to be exposed to where bed bugs could accidentally find their way in to. Buying gifts is going to depend on your particular economic situation. Some options are:

  • Having presents gift wrapped at the store and kept in your car trunk, as long as you haven’t been putting bags of bed bug stuff in the trunk.
  • Storing wrapped gifts at a friends house.
  • Meeting at a restaurant or clubhouse to share a meal and unwrap gifts.

You could also decide to make gifts to a charity in the name of others. Or make hand-made gifts, which might not be realistic either when you have bed bugs. Most people aren’t feeling very crafty when they are battling bed bugs.

Some options for gifts that are easy and affordable

It’s hard when a family has a tradition of exchanging gifts. You can’t easily just opt-out. It feels weird, awkward, and uncomfortable. Some options for gifts that are easy and affordable are:

  • E-Books
  • Magazine subscriptions to topics people like
  • Donations to charities in their name
  • Simple kitchen gadgets
  • Gift baskets shipped directly
  • Specialty foods in an inexpensive dollar store Xmas stocking
  • Chocolate
  • Gift certificates
  • Gift cards

How to survive the holidays with bed bugs

Christmas snow globe

The best gift will be when your bed bug infestation is gone. There aren’t many “situations” that require so much time and effort to solve. Bed bugs at Christmas take so much time, money, and energy that you would be using to prepare for your holiday. Bed Bugs are different than other types of problems, and having them during a holiday complicates everything. 

Having bed bugs is awful. Having bed bugs at Christmas or any very social holiday is worse.

Suddenly you are faced with a host of issues and ethics you could avoid when it was just bed bugs and you. Now other people could be affected. What do you do? Should you try to keep bed bugs a secret from family and friends?

Let’s backtrack a little and acknowledge the ugly underbelly of the holidays in general.

  • People have very specific expectations about other people during the holidays. Maybe your family expects you to host Christmas or another holiday, even a birthday party.
  • People go temporarily crazy during the holidays and don’t want to let people down.
  • People can be judgmental or dramatic, really dramatic, even to the point of making any problem about them.

Your first dilemma may be who do you tell? Do you share with your family (unless you have already done so) that you have bed bugs and are/aren’t comfortable with having people stay or visit the house?

And try to remember to give thanks for the things that are not bed bugs, like friends, family, health, kittens, chocolate, whatever you can find no matter how small, to give some thanks for. It might be a challenge. You might feel frustrated, defeated, resentful, and exhausted. It might be hard to find anything to be grateful for right now. 

Maybe the next time you are awake in the wee hours, try to focus your attention on one thing you are grateful for. I know it sounds cliché, but I think it helps, and it sure can’t hurt.

You are not responsible for how other people react

If you are not emotionally or physically up for having company while you are dealing with either preparation or treatment, you have choices.

  • Make reservations and meet at a restaurant.
  • Have another family member host the holiday.
  • Skip the holiday altogether. Explain your issue and that you are exhausted and are worried about your health and the holiday is just too much this year.

You are responsible for your actions and words, but not how others react and act. If someone gets upset because you cannot participate this year it is because their expectations are not coming true. Ideally, your family would be sympathetic; however, we must remember that having bed bugs is sort of like having an illness.

No one can really know what it’s like to have bed bugs unless they have had them

Try to have tolerance or patience or endurance with those who don’t have a clue what you are going through. People will say things out of ignorance, like “I had fleas once,” or “when my kids had lice.” Don’t argue, you don’t have the energy for that. It really doesn’t matter if they “get it.” We can’t expect someone to understand what it feels like to have a serious illness or broken bone if they never have. Bed bugs are like that and bed bugs at Christmas is even more like that. Some people may shun you or associate a stigma of uncleanliness with bed bugs. You don’t have the energy to fight people and bed bugs so choose one, bed bugs.

Hang in there and don’t give up!

Remember also, that having bed bugs is temporary, and in the future, you will not have them anymore. If you follow all the precautions, treatment, and preparation you will eventually be bed bug free.

It is inconvenient. But it’s not the end of the world, just the beginning of the end of bed bugs in your life. If someone else acts like it’s the end of the world, try to assure them it’s not and holiday traditions will resume in the future. Some people love drama but you already have enough fighting bed bugs.

However you choose to deal with the holiday season during your infestation, you will get through it. Try to consciously make it easier for yourself by simplifying whatever you can. Remember to practice taking care of yourself, whether it’s a long hot soak in the tub, or grabbing some fast food instead of cooking. Make it easier on yourself this year. 

If bed bugs are driving you crazy – there is help!

If your stress is overwhelming you and you are having a hard time coping or feel suicidal you can find help right now here.

For now, have the best holiday you can and here’s looking to a bed bug-free New Year.

Wishing you a happy and bed bug free new year.