4. Beware of Shopping Pitfalls
Shopping -- especially if you're worried about money or getting elbowed in the stores -- can drain the fun out of the holiday season. People who focus on gifts generally feel less holiday cheer than those who spend more time with close friends and family.
Also, despite your best efforts, your gifts may not express your love as well as you hope. According to a survey by Consumer Reports, up to 49 million people get gifts they don't want each year. Some people donate their holiday duds to charity, return them, or try to sell them on eBay. A few even post photos of "bad gifts" online. So, think about what your loved one truly enjoys. Perhaps lunch out together would be appreciated more than a scarf.
5. Get Creative in Your Gift Giving
Many families have had to cut back on holiday gifts. If this includes you, have a family meeting and get creative. "Some families draw names and each person buys for one person. Some families do handmade gifts or coupons," Dubin says. A coupon might be good for a massage or night off from doing the dishes, for instance. You don't have to go into debt to make the holidays special.
6. Play Games
Games can keep things fun and light at family gatherings. "Games are a good way to connect with each other and engage your mind, body, and imagination," says Levingston. The game is up to you. You can play games indoors or out, and they can be anything from a walk, treasure hunt, cards, or charades. "The key thing is, you are in the moment."
7. Postpone Family Feuds
There is a reason many people equate holidays with family strife. "When you have a group of people in a small area and everyone expecting to have a great time, it is almost a set up for arguments," Dubin tells WebMD. With so much emotion and expectation, the holidays are not the best time to work things out. If old family baggage surfaces, plan to talk after the festivities wind down. "It's better to address emotional issues in a more relaxed, private setting," Dubin says.