We have come to the end of the year ready to celebrate and relax with loved ones. In the midst of the hustle and bustle that comes with the season, striving for the Paula Dean’s Christmas dinner, the Pottery Barn home, and Martha Stewart’s gifts puts a great deal of (unnecessary) pressure on us. It is quite easy to lose our sense of self, time, and money, and therefore I’d love to share a few ways to keep balanced (and sane) during the holiday season.

Instead of trying to create elaborate meals on your own while everyone else is cozy by the fire, have guests pitch in a dish of their favorite holiday side that can be easily warmed up. It could be an added bonus to have each person bring copies of their recipe to share.  This cuts down on your time in the kitchen as everyone can share their favorite holiday dish along with nostalgic memories they have associated with it.

Have children in the family that have a ton of things given by extended family? Take a family outing to see the lights in a festive neighborhood, a trip to the zoo, or the children’s museum as their holiday gift.  It will be something they remember long after the games and toys have lost their luster and it can be nice to experience the holidays from a child’s point of view.

Not sure what to give the person that has everything?  Coupons for an outing or donating to their favorite cause in their honor goes a long way.  Or simply writing a heartfelt letter letting them know how much they mean to you can really mean the world to them.

Enjoy exercise as a family!  Build a snowfort (if we get any snow this winter) and make snow angels or the funniest snowman!  Playing outside can help burn off the extra calories we consume during the holidays and just participating in a group activity can lift any spirit.  Also now is a great time to take advantage of later store and mall hours for quick power walking and getting last minute supplies.

Last of all: choose to be joyful! There is a difference between happiness and joy; while happiness comes and goes typically according to circumstances, you can choose to experience joy in any circumstances as you take your focus off of the now and look at how it fits into the big picture. When the ham is overcooked or the shopping lines are long… choose to be joyful! Exercising the facial muscles by smiling triggers ‘feel good’ chemicals in our bodies which in turn actually gives us more to smile about!

As always, let us know if you find other ways to balance your wheel and have a wonderful Holiday!!