12 Tips for the Holidays ...

As the holidays approach, there is a hint of excitement in the air! For some of you however, there may be more dread then excitement. There's the in-law's, the parties you have to host, the gifts you have to buy that no one ever seems to like, the decorations to put up...and all the extra stress you have to cope with. The good news is, there are a few things you can do to make this holiday season easier on you and every one around you! And they really work! Tried and true. So, here you go, 12 tips for a smooth ( and sane! ) holiday season!

1. Save $$$ on Decorations

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Having a party at your place? Don't feel the need to rush out and buy all new decorations! Make do with what you have! For a totally new centerpiece with a modern vibe, grab some of your old ornaments and spray them with silver, gold or glitter spray paint. Then pile them into a huge glass bowl for a fresh new look! Another thing to remember- a little greenery and red velvet ribbon goes a long way for decorating doorways, windows and mantles. And candles always look festive and bright!

2. Crank up the Tunes

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Whether that party is in full swing, or you are at home alone wrapping gifts, play christmas music in the background. Nothing gets you into the spirit quite like the jolly sound of jingle bells! If you have digital cable, just turn it to the holiday music channel. You can even unplug the the video output cord from your cable box so the screen stays dark if you prefer. If that's not an option for you, keep a stack of christmas CD's on hand or create a playlist on your ipod. You'll be ready to go in no time!

3. Skip the Huge Dinner Buffet

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It doesn't matter whether it's a few friends coming over for a quite celebration or your family who invited themselves over for dinner. Don't feel the need to slave over a stove all day when you've got a million other things to do on your checklist. Instead of a huge buffet, offer hors d'oeuvres little finger foods. Keep it simple. Crudites with hummus and crostini topped with Brie and apple slices, a vegetable tray and fruit platter and festive christmas brownies will be just fine.

4. Establish Boundaries

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Going home for christmas? Or maybe home is coming to you! Either way, it's important to establish boundaries with your family when you will be spending a few days together. Every family is, to some degree, dysfunctional so enjoy what you love about your gang and laugh about the rest. Taking some time away from each other may be crucial. Slip out to catch a movie or to fit in 20 minutes of yoga. Take a break so that you can have fun all weekend long and not just the first day until things get strained!

5. Drink Lightly

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I'm not a fan of alcohol myself, but I realize that others are. If you plan to drink, do it in moderation. Too much alcohol mixed with your nephews wresting around and long simmering resentments towards your sister on top of all the chattering in the background can result in big-time family conflict! Keep it light and merry, have a champagne or two and save the heavy drinking for later if you really feel you must.

6. Pay Attention

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Encourage your cousin to open up about life as a new mom or your ask your brother to explain his new job. Connecting with your family on social and personal interests makes it more likely that you'll fee satisfied instead of left out or let down at the end of the day. And your interest in their life will possibly spark curiosity in them toward YOUR life, leading to greater understanding- always a good thing among family!!

7. Giving the Perfect Gift

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Every year, we all know there's going to be that one gift that we don't know what to do with or where in the world it came from. And sometimes it can be hard to find the perfect gift for your loved one! To remedy that, ask your friends and family what they would like to receive or have need of. If that doesn't work, try giving handmade gifts or gift cards. And the same thing goes for you! Drop hints as to what you would love to find under the tree! You can't complain about what you get if you don't make it obvious! Remember also that giving the perfect gift isn't the only way your loved ones show you how much they care about you. If you've tried all these things and you just can't seem to find the right present or receive things you really like, suggest skipping gifts and pooling your resources for something you would both enjoy. For a girlfriend, a day at the spa, or for your boyfriend, a weekend of skiing are two examples.

8. Cure That Cold

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Holidays are stressful enough without having to add a cold into the mix! There's nothing more annoying than battling the drips and snuffles. In order to avoid feeling horrible physically, take plenty of vitamin D. People who pop a daily supplement of vitamin D are 40 % less likely to come down with the flu! Seasoning with garlic can also help you average less sick days. And yogurt has bacteria that can help bolster the white blood cells that fight of viruses! So load up on these three essentials and you'll be doing great!

9. Boost Your Happiness

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With these foods! Brazil nuts, Avocados, Trout, and Whole Wheat Pasta. Why? The nutrients and vitamins found in these foods are top stress-busters! Zinc, Vitamin B, omega-3 fatty acids and fiber-packed carbs will help to release feel good hormones and give you a calmer sensations. Preventing emotional highs and lows during the holidays may not be completely possible, but you can at least lessen them. Isn't that refreshing news?

10. Squeeze in Some Exercise

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Whether it's a 10 minute jog, a 15 minute brisk walk or 25 minutes of yoga, working some exercise into your schedule can do wonders for your emotions! You'll feel happier, more cheerful and a lot more festive thanks to those feel-good endorphins being released in your brain! It doesn't have to be a daily thing, or even weekly. Just do it when you start feeling stressed beyond the max and you'll notice the difference right away! Even a quick set of lunges, sit-ups or jumping jacks can help release that tension and loosen you up. Who knew!

11. Eat Toast

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Yes I'm serious! Research shows it's a favorite comfort food from our childhood for most of us. The good memories associated with the distinctive aromas and the crunch and flavor will help you feel as safe and loved now as you were back then. Give it a try! Add your favorite jam or spread and just take a moment to enjoy your toast and relax.

12. Give Yourself a Break

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No matter what you do, you probably won't have a story-book perfect holiday. But that's OK! Stop beating yourself up over the things you didn't get done and just enjoy your holiday! It's your time off work with your family and friends, time to hang out and eat good food and just be yourself. So just have at it and stop being stressed and worried over small details! Have yourself a merry little christmas!

I hope these tips truly help you to have a smooth holiday and that you enjoy your time with your family. Stress-free of course! Merry christmas to you and yours!!!

Top Photo Credit: Netfalls

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