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HOLIDAY SURVIVAL GUIDE
By: Amy Arnott
Date: 2006-12-14 05:18:21
 
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ChristmasYou find yourself suddenly in the thick of the holiday season... This is supposed to be a joyous time, right? So why are you tired-out, stressed-out, and maxxed-out? Here are some guidelines to help you not only get through it, but get through with that all important yuletide cheer.

GIFT SHOPPING
Keeping your mental and financial stability intact when it comes to shopping for Christmas gifts can be tricky. Follow these tips to keep it light and fun.

First, get everybody’s Christmas wish lists EARLY and add your own ideas. Next, set a budget for your total spending and for each person. If you sort all this out early on, you can keep your eye out for gifts during your daily activities and pick things up as you see them. Then you can avoid, or at least minimize, the desperate last-minute dash to the stores when the merchandise is picked through, the lines are long and your fellow shoppers are beginning to foam at the mouth with mall-rage.

This mayhem can, of course, be avoided by shopping online or by catalogue. However, if you do choose these methods, make sure you get your orders in WELL BEFORE the Christmas delivery deadline. There are bound to be postal delays and back-ups this time of year and "present on order" just doesn’t cut it Christmas morning. When it comes to the price of gifts, if a couple dollars is the difference between getting someone the perfect gift or one that’s just okay, go for the good one. Otherwise, stick to your budget. You set those limits for a reason, and gift-giving is NOT worth going into debt for.

The general rule to keep in mind is: crafting first, drinking later, to avoid glue-gun injuries.


SEASONAL SKIN CARE
The cold and wind are brutal on skin, so take extra precautions to protect it. Moisturize every day and drink LOTS of water. Keep a lip balm and travel-size moisturizer with you for reapplication whenever you feel dry or chapped. If you’re going to be outside all day, wear sunscreen. Just because its cold doesn’t mean the sun can’t harm your skin. Sure, you look young and gorgeous now, but sunscreen is key if you want to STAY that way. If you really want to treat your skin, go to a spa for a moisturizing facial, body wrap or paraffin treatment that will leave you irresistibly touchable, and fabulously de-stressed.


HOLIDAY PET SAFETY
If your family has a four-legged member, read on. First and foremost, tinsel on the tree is a no-no! That glittery stringiness is very enticing and when a pet eats it, it gets wrapped around their intestines. Not only is this hard on your pet, but an emergency trip to the vet is not cheap!

Second, we know all too well that there is an abundance of chocolate around the holidays. Resist the longing looks and begging antics of your pet because chocolate is like pet poison! If you want to give them a special treat, try to avoid commercial products which can include harmful chemicals and "animal byproducts" (could mean anything from moldy food not fit for human consumption to blood-soaked sawdust).

ChristmasInstead, check out natural or organic treats, or look up a dog biscuit recipe on the internet and bake them yourself! Finally, when walking your dog in winter weather, consider putting booties on them. Ignore the hateful and embarrassed looks you’ll get because it’s for their own good. Road salt erodes the pads of the paws and has similar effects on the tongue and stomach when they lick it off. If it rusts a car, imagine what it does to your poor furry friend. Also, you may want to consider a pet jacket if yours is not particularly furry. Fit is important, and of course style, and finding a jacket that suits your pet’s personality. Shop around to get the perfect one. There are just so many personalities and so few jackets!


CHRISTMAS ACTIVITIES
The holidays provide tons of excuses, I mean opportunities, to let loose and have fun. Here are some ideas. You could turn something you have to do anyway into a party. For example, a tree-decorating party or a present-wrapping party. Add a little eggnog and these holiday "chores" are suddenly a blast. Add a lot of eggnog and the tree and presents might not turn out that great, but you’ll definitely make some memories.

If you and your crew enjoy being silly, a tacky Christmas sweater party might be just the thing for you. Thrift stores usually serve up the most tackelicious threads on the market, and the result is a party with unlimited potential for hilarity. Don’t forget the camera! If you’re the competitive type, try a gingerbread house or snowman making competition. The gingerbread you can eat afterward, the snowmen will get you outside in the fresh air, and both will get those creative juices flowing.

Speaking of creativity, Christmas crafts and baking are not only fun to do, but you could get some gifts out of the way at the same time! The general rule to keep in mind is: crafting first, drinking later, to avoid glue-gun injuries. Finally, candy cane tug-o-war is a fun "snacktivity" for you to try during the holidays. To play, you put a candy cane in your mouth with the hook end out. Hook canes with someone else and pull. Whoever’s cane breaks or drops first loses.

You could even have a candy cane tug-o-war tournament and declare a champion at the end. No matter what activities you decide to do, you’ll get the most out of your holidays by not taking things to seriously. Have fun!
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