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Plan Now for Less Stressful Holidays

I know, I know: Halloween was barely over before stores started putting out their Christmas decorations and cranking up the holiday tunes on the sound system. There's a Christmas tree lot springing up at the end of my street, though the spring-like weather here--not to mention the fact that it's still mid-November--makes the thought of hauling home an evergreen a hard one to come to grips with. Tough as it may be to believe, the end-of-year holidays are fast approaching, and for many of us, this means a combination of excitement, anticipation, and unrivaled stress.

This year, I challenge you to do what you can to banish stress from that list. To assist in that effort, I'll be devoting the next several weeks' articles to ideas, practices, and strategies for squeezing as much fun and togetherness out of the holidays while steering clear of the frustrations and the excesses.

For starters, I recommend taking some time this week (when Christmas and Hanukkah are still a relatively leisurely stroll away on the calendar) to do some general planning for the holiday celebrations ahead. I'm not talking guest lists and menus, but rather overall parameters for what you want from this holiday season. As always, I encourage you to aim for quality over quantity and substance over fluff. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind as you plan.

Here's to the first week of your most enjoyable, least stressful holiday season to date!

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