Ten Tips for a "Real" Holiday Season

With the holidays just weeks away, there’s no better time to
consider how to make the season less stressful and more
meaningful. For those of us who would like to remember this time
with gratitude and joy, follow these ten tips for keeping the
season "Real."

1. Set Realistic Expectations - No holiday is perfect. Sometimes
recipes flop, gifts don’t arrive on time, and decorations break.
Remember, the holidays are first and foremost about connecting
with the people who love us whether or not we get everything

2. The Holidays are Not a Competition – The only thing you’re
guaranteed to get from trying to out-decorate the neighbors is a
big electric bill.The same goes for trying to out-do what you did
last year.

3. Empathy is the Key to Gift Giving – Before you make that
purchase, spend a moment reflecting on the person who will
receive it. Does he really like goofy hats? If you're buying it
only because you want a photo of him in it, think again.

4. Happy Holidays are Not Generic – Greeting cards and TV
programs offer air-brushed ideas that lack the little quirks that
make the holidays memorable. Be creative. Let your personality
shine through.

5. Reassess Your Traditions - The kinds of celebrations and
activities that you enjoyed in the past may not work today. Maybe
your children have grown up. Maybe you have some new ideas. Maybe
it’s time to invent a new tradition.

6. Be Brave – As funny as it may sound, making a happy holiday
can take some courage. If certain people, places and events are
just too stressful for you to bear, try to limit your exposure to
them. Who says you have to give an entire afternoon over to that
uncle who won’t stop criticizing you?

7. Share the Burden – Wouldn't you prefer to pitch in and help
with the holiday preparations to avoid watching someone else
burn-out? If you are the main event planner for the holidays,
make sure everyone knows you welcome their assistance. Just don’t
expect them to do things the way you would. Allow for
imperfections and enjoy the surprises.

8. Redefine Generosity – We touch people most deeply when we give
of ourselves. Your time and attention are wonderful gifts and
they will create memories that are more valuable and long-lasting
than anything you might buy.

9. It's a Time for Gratitude – Nothing makes us feel better than
when we add-up our blessings. The annual holidays give us the
perfect opportunity to reflect on all the people and experiences
that make us feel truly rich. Make a list of those things that
fill you with gratitude. It may be the best gift you'll ever

10. Remember It's Only a Day - When things don’t go right, there
is always tomorrow. If the oven breaks, or the flu strikes, you
can always reschedule the celebration. After all, the true
meaning of the holidays is in the love we share with each other,
and there's never a time when that's out
of season.

About the Author

Toni Raiten-D'Antonio is a psychotherapist and author of The Velveteen Principles (Oct 2004), a Guide to Becoming Real. The Velveteen Principles offers advice on reclaiming joy, fulfillment and individuality drawing from the simple wisdom of the children's classic The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams. To Learn more, please visit

Toni Raiten-D'Antonio