For many of us, this is the time of year that we look forward to the most. In the midst of our daily routine and monotony we dream of snowflakes, glitter, familiar tunes, red suits and twinkle lights. The season, for us, is loaded with celebration, family, delectable food, and a sense of wonder. Oh how we yearn for the festivities of the holiday season throughout the year.

But in the midst of this splendor, the enormity of the season can take us over. There are so many lists to make, presents to buy, so much money to spend, and gatherings to attend that the sparkle of the holiday season can quickly lose its luster. So, we are faced with the dichotomy of the season, the love of the spirit and the drudgery of the “to do” list. As we strive to strike a balance, here are a few suggestions to help keep the sparkle from fading.

Create a holiday budget.

One of the greatest stressors around this time of year is often money. To help alleviate this stress look realistically at your finances and determine what amount you can allocate to holiday spending. Once you have a dollar amount, figure out what you need to spend money on and allocate amounts for each. For instance, you may decide to spend $75 on new holiday decorations, $30 per gift for friends, $100 per child, etc. Most importantly, stick to the budget you plan. Hold yourself accountable by adding receipts and deducting from a ledger.

Implement Family Ritual.

Much of our holiday joy comes from the traditions we remember implementing year after year. Unfortunately, the busier we are the more likely we are to cut out those traditions. As a family, pick one or two things you want to do every year. Some suggestions could be cutting down a tree, making holiday cookies, caroling or family devotions. Keeping family rituals alive helps us to feel like we are amidst the holiday season, even if we feel busy.

Make a list of what you need to get done and accomplish a few tasks each day.

One of the biggest contributors to holiday stress is the list of things we have to do. To help manage this stress, write something down on a “To Do” list once you think of it. This accomplishes two things: you won’t forget about it, and it gets the ideas out of your head so you won’t think about the same thing over and over again. By assembling a list and getting things down on paper our thoughts are more organized and less stressful to us.

Choose one fun holiday activity to do with family or friends.

There are a million offerings to help us celebrate the season. There are parades, plays, parties, exhibits, concerts, etc. We are bombarded with fabulous things to do and see, making it impossible to partake in every offering. However, if we miss all the opportunities we can be left feeling cheated out of the festivities. Each holiday season, choose a new activity that you want to participate in. Over the course of a few years, you will experience nearly all the season has to offer.

Do something for someone less fortunate.

Finally, give of yourself each holiday season. Maybe that means working at a shelter or helping an elderly neighbor with holiday tasks. It could also mean participating in a gift or food drive with your children or delivering a plate of cookies to someone who is unable to leave their home. Giving back at the time of year when abundance is all around will increase the spirit of the holiday season, bringing to the forefront the blessings we have been given and blessing someone else in return.

The holiday season has arrived. Make the most out of the season and enjoy every possible sparkle. Happy Holidays!