It does seem that chaos and the holiday season go hand in hand. Here are some tools for making your holiday less stressful and yourself and your loved ones more comfortable.

  1. Expect a little chaos. There will be minor inconveniences, like crowded stores, difficulty parking, and long checkout lines, and more chaos at home if you have kids out of school. Get your shopping done early, and don’t sweat the small stuff.
  2. Enjoy the holiday cheer. The holidays bring a lot of positive energy. It’s part of why we love this time of year. Feeling it, even just a little, makes it easier to deal with any real Scrooges who may come along.
  3. Watch what you spend. This is important to remember, because you may not feel the pinch until after the holidays. Create a budget and stick to it. If it’s hard to keep track of your spending on credit, pay with cash.
  4. Enjoy the music. Holiday music can be uplifting, and it’s pretty much everywhere during the season. It also comes in every musical style, from classical to rap, so it’s easy to find something to enjoy.
  5. Feel the warmth. The holidays often bring out the best in people. This is a good time to get together with family and friends, have a little holiday cheer, and allow yourself the luxury of letting the love wash over you. It’s a great feeling.
  6. Don’t be the Grinch. Almost every family or office has one, the person who hates the holidays. Unfortunately, that displeasure can get projected anywhere the Grinch goes. You don’t want to be that guy or gal, so buck up, put on a red nose, and enjoy the party! It’s going to happen anyway so you might as well get something out of it.
  7. Make it about the kids, but don’t forget each other. Some couples are all about doing the holidays for their children, and they forget to give each other the same kind of attention. We all want and need love and attention, so share yours freely.
  8. Try not to overindulge. Food, alcohol, and candy are plentiful at holiday time, so it’s wise to remember that you have only this one body and eventually, perhaps tomorrow, you will have to pay for that extra piece of pie or that third serving of turkey.
  9. Be careful out there. Traffic and distracted holiday shoppers do not mix well. Take your time, be gracious, and plan to park at the back of the lot. The extra exercise won’t hurt. It’s easy to get into a fender bender or just frustrated while driving, so stay cool.
  10. Be okay with not getting everything you wanted or nothing at all. The holidays are not about presents; they are about presence. Being with those who care for you — or finding people who need your care — is what this season is all about.

May you have a wondrous and joyful holiday season, and may the gifts of closeness and love be with you and yours for the years to come.

Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, Calif., is the author of “The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time.” Follow his daily insights on Twitter at @BartonGoldsmith.