All too often we look forward to the Holidays only to become overwhelmed, stressed out, and ultimately lose our joy. Here are a few things you can do to stay in the spirit of the season and enjoy it to its fullest.

First, ask yourself and your immediate family, How would you most enjoy celebrating the holidays?

This question will help you figure out what is most important to you about celebrating the holidays. It will also help you determine if you may be stressing yourself with false guilt, “should do’s” and fears of disappointing others. Take some time to talk with your family about what is really important to you and to them. Often times when we stop to ask the “how question” we discover what we thought was important to others really is not.

Next, begin looking at your schedule. Do you realistically have the time to do all the things you would like to and still maintain your sanity? Start by penciling in events on your calendar to help yourself manage your time effectively. Include things like decorating, cooking, shopping, and wrapping gifts.

Be willing to compromise. For example, if you have your heart set on decorating your house like Clark Griswald in “Christmas Vacation,” but time is of the essence, consider something simpler or eliminate something else.

Avoid perfectionist tendencies. For example: you want 12-ounce disposable cups for your party, but, when you get to Wal-Mart you can only find 8-ounce cups. Consider the time, energy, and frustration you will expend traveling to other stores, in the holiday traffic, to find those 12-ouncers.

Finally, to turn holiday hassles into happiness you can do some very practical things like setting a budget and sticking to it, paying in cash and avoiding the New Year’s credit card blues, and choosing recipes you can prepare ahead of time. However, if you really want to make holiday memories this year focus on relationships rather than activities. Consider giving the gifts of kindness and service. And keep your mind your personal reason for the season.