The holidays don’t have to be stressful; in fact, with a few tips in mind, you can make sure this is your most spectacular celebration season yet. Basically, it’s all about balance and knowing your limits – countering those extra desserts with a Zumba class or taking time for a relaxing bubble bath before or after a big party.

Do: Enjoy parties with friends

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This time of year, you can find yourself feeling overwhelmed with a lot of invitations to holiday parties, and sometimes the inclination is to not go to any if you can’t make them all. After all, you don’t want to offend one friend when another finds out on social media that you ditched his party for a different invite, right? Just plan early and be upfront with anyone whose invite you can’t accept. In this day and age, if you fake a cold, someone will inadvertently expose you on social media! But don’t play Scrooge and hide away in your home, just be realistic about how many events you can take on in one season.

Don’t: Plan a last-minute party and expect everyone to come

One solution to the problem of trying to see everyone at once may be to plan your own party. However, you have to be realistic and understand that everyone is over-committed this time of year. If you expect people to fit you into their plans in the last six weeks of the year, you need to claim your date early! Otherwise, you’re likely to find yourself disappointed as most of your guests are unavailable.

Do: Keep up your exercise routine

Alright, so most of us are not going to drop those extra 10 pounds between now and New Year’s, but you can still look great at your holiday fetes if you stick to your regular exercise schedule. Sweating it out at the gym also helps to reduce stress, and it can provide some much-needed alone time in your chaotic end of year whirl. No one can begrudge you an hour at the gym to take care of yourself, so be sure to work in time to work it out.

Don’t: Eat your last meal for two months straight

Sure, you’re going to indulge in some treats now and then, but many of us use the holidays as an excuse to eat like there’s no tomorrow. Then we wake up in January and our pants don’t fit. Not this year!

Do: Buy presents on your exotic vacation

It’s always nice to bring a hostess or a friend a little “thinking of you” trinket from your trip, preferably a local specialty that cannot be purchased in your hometown. You don’t need to go overboard to be remembered.

Don’t: Bring back junk from the sale bin at Disney

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Your adult friends and family don’t want Piglet coffee mugs. And they know you bought them on sale.

Do: Make time for yourself

Either after or before a big social night, take some time for a long bubble bath or your favorite guilty pleasure reality show. You need some down time to counteract the high energy social butterfly nights.

Don’t: Over-commit

The best way to avoid disappointing people is not to over-commit yourself.  If you know you can’t see someone during this time, make a coffee date for January when life has calmed down. Your friend will appreciate the coffee date more than you either having to cancel last-minute or being so distracted that you can’t focus on your time together.

Do: Enjoy yourself!

Take the time to appreciate your friends and family, and to enjoy the time you have with your loved ones. Sometimes, the quieter moments can be the ones we will remember the most.

Don’t: Expect perfection

Things will go wrong – your awkward relative will offer everyone his unwanted political opinions, your older brother will hurt your feelings or Aunt Lucy will have too one too many glasses of (spiked) eggnog. These are all facts of life during the holidays, and if you expect the holidays to go off without a hitch, you’re guaranteed to be disappointed. Take the bad with the good and you’ll get through the season with a smile.

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Keely Herrick is a freelance writer. Her work can be found on “