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Get Through the Holidays Without Losing your Mind, Blowing Your Budget or Gaining Weight

Every year people go nuts during the holidays, often starting the next year with a host of stress and health-related problems. Not to mention broke. Well here are 15 simple tips that will help you get through the holidays like a sane person and keep you out of the poor house to boot.

1. Prioritize – You don’t have to be at every party or buy absolutely everyone you know a gift. Stop trying to keep up with the Joneses. (You’ll be bankrupt and they’ll still be annoying). Decide ahead of time the people who are worth your time and money. Or if you are having a hard time paring the list down, let your budget dictate who will get the expensive bottle of wine. Your Boss? Sure. Your neighbor? Not so much.

2. Take the High Road (Literally) - Every year do you get in a fight with your cousin? Does your sister-in-law make you want to commit a felony? STOP.BREATHE…and go find your keys. Do your best to avoid volatile situations by either not attending the party where your nemesis might make an appearance, or if you must go, don’t stay that long. If you can’t handle being humiliated by the post-meal-annual retelling if “The Third Grade Bathtub Incident: Slide show Edition”…be out by the time the pie hits the oven folks. 

3. Generic Gifting – When doing your shopping, try to find one or two small gifts (read: less than $15 a piece) that can be given to anyone, male or female. For instance, maybe a travel mug, water bottle, or gourmet popcorn or homemade cookies.

4. Eat Before You Go - Remember when your mom used to say, “Don’t eat that. You’ll ruin your dinner!” Good. If you’re going to an after work function. Try eating a salad or a half sandwich or even some Homemade Soup with a large glass of water before you go. That way you’ll be full before you get there, you won’t get buzzed so quick from any alcohol you may drink, and you won’t end up mowing your way through the cheese platter.

5. Keep Moving - If you already have a steady workout regimen Great! Keep going. If you don’t, the only way you can really help keep off unwanted pounds this season is by starting. But don’t run out and join a gym right away. (Leave that till January). Instead, do little things to help burn those calories. go for a walk on the weekends, park all the way across the parking lot so that you have a longer walk to the store. Get off the subway 1 stop early and walk the rest of the way to your destination. You can also do smaller workout like these I compiled on my Pinterest Workout Board. They’re fast, pretty easy and even just doing one circuit is better than nothing.

6. Don’t Drink So Much – Try to stay away from the heavily mixed drinks, because those tend to be calorically dense. That spiked eggnog is about 300 calories a glass, a 9oz. Mai Tai has 620 calories and 10oz. margarita has 540 calories. Try a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon (90 cal), Vodka and Soda (65 calories) or Rum and Diet Coke (65 cal). Instead of having two alcoholic drinks, start with a tonic water with a twist of lime, or a cranberry juice and soda, and then have your low cal aloholic beverage after. Drink both slowly and the host will still be convinced that you’re enjoying yourself. :)

7. Make Gifts – Get creative, and keep the cost down. Not crafty? Yo can still make Cookies In a Jar, or give Bath Salts or Body Scrub. And all you need to do is to know how to pour! Do you knit or crochet? Then grab some chnky wool and make some quick items, like this cowl, or scarf or even wrist warmers. If you like to cook, you could even make Infused Olive Oil or make a tin of Snickerdoodles. Here’s a great site if you like to get crafty.

8. Potluck It – I eat primarily a vegetarian diet, so in order to not give the hostess agita, I tend to just make and prepare my own dish. That way, I can keep track of what I’m eating easier. If it’s a casual party, check out Homemade Tortilla ChipsEasy Hummus, or this simple White Bean Dip. You can also bring a side-dish like Stuffed Peppers, or if you’re invited to a brunch, try these Simple Scones.

9. Regift Like a Champ - I love getting generic gifts from people, like those tins of sugar cookies), because I just hold onto it for about a week or so and I can give it to someone else! Now, just remember the Regifting Rule: NEVER give the gift to a person that knows the original gift giver! (That’s just rude)

10. Bow Out Gracefully – There’s really no reason to stay at a cocktail party longer than two hours unless you’re the one throwing it. Show up 30-45 mins after the party is suggested to start, and leave no more than 2 hours later. That’s why I always wear heels to a cocktail party. the moment my feet to start to hurt…I’m outta there.

11. Drink Plenty of Water (with Lemon!) – Not only will staying hydrated keep you from overeating, but staying hydrated keeps manage any alcohol in your system, and may keep you from getting drunk if you drink a couple of glasses of water between drinks. Adding lemon to your water can also curb your sweet tooth! (It’s like trying to eat syrupy pancakes right after you’ve brushed your teeth. ick)

12. Eat Early and Eat Often - If you’ve read Tim Ferris’ Book The Four Hour Body Then you’re already familiar with this concept. Try eating your first meal within 30 minutes of waking in the morning, and then eat every fours hours after that. No carbs, no sugar. Even if you don’t want to follow this type of diet daily, you can at least do it on the days that you know you’re going to a dinner party, or and after work function. That way, when you get there, you can just enjoy your self.

13. Bring Emergency Rations - Do you work in an open office where people are always bringing in cookies, cakes, donuts and those Nutella Bars? (yes.they’re amazing.I know.) Keep a bottle of water with lemon on your desk at all times (See #11 for why). Bring low cal alternatives like, Low-cal Chocolate Mug Cake or Homemade Hot Chocolate.

14. Make Time for Yourself - This is really hard to do, because, (if you’re anything like me), when your schedule starts getting tight you probably tend to start cutting into your personal time. Get your nails done, or give yourself a facial. Make sure you get plenty of sleep. A break that works for me is a foot soak. Why? You can’t go anywhere while your feet are in there! Make sure you do this at least once a week. You’ll be glad you did.

15. Give New Year’s Gifts Instead – Borrowing an idea from eastern traditions, I started doing this a few years ago and it’s saved me tons of headaches. Not to mention time and money. Living in New York, I have so many friends and clients that are either Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist or some other non-Christian religious affiliation that it was no big deal to them, and my family was downright relieved. The great thing about it is that I get to take advantage of After-Christmas Sales, no one is really expecting a New Year’s gift, (so the pressures off to get everyone something by a particular date), and if they don’t get anything at all, they don’t miss it. Brilliant right?

• What are some of your holiday tips/tricks to stay sane during the holidays?

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