Does the Holiday season conjure up that feeling of nostalgia? You know, that “Currier and Ives” kind of Christmas you had as a kid? Or do the holidays bring on a lot of additional stress and anxiety? How are you going to do it all, have it all, and be all to all people? Could you perhaps be striving for perfection?

Many working families, parents and students are living in fast times with little opportunity to enjoy the holidays at all. Jam-packed schedules, financial pressures and over commitments can lead to major “Holiday Burnout”. Researching at the local library or scouring the many online resources available, local residents can find a wealth of information on how to avoid the stress and enjoy the holidays with your family. Not only can you survive, but thrive during this holiday season.

Tip #1: Make it meaningful

Volunteer: There are many people who go hungry year round in San Diego County. The holidays can be an even tougher time for many families. Find out how you can help out: www.sandiegofoodbank.org

Spend time together, not money: Bake cookies, go caroling, walk your neighborhood and take in the sights and holiday lights. Other great low-cost ideas: http://www.cheapchristmasideas.org

Start a family tradition: Are you transplanted from another state, or are relatives far away? If you miss the traditions from your childhood, why not continue them here? Or start a new tradition that is all your own. Years ago, my family started a New Year’s Day beach walk and sunset viewing on the first evening of the New Year. We have years of great sunset pictures showing the sky the first night of a brand new year. Holiday tradition ideas: www.thefamilygroove.com/dec10tradition.htm

Tip #2: Keep your home safe:

Lights: Frayed cords and over connected lights can result in fires. Check and replace any areas of concern.

Trees: If your home has a live tree, keep it hydrated as much as possible. Candles and any open flames including space heaters should be kept at a distance of at least 10 feet from all trees, live or artificial. Ornaments, decorations and other materials can be a choking hazard to children and pets. Great resource: http://www.ehow.com/list_7526414_dangers-christmas-tree-lights.html

Space heaters/Furnaces/Fireplaces: Make sure to follow all proper safety procedures to reduce your risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, fire and other hazards. Information: http://www.homesafetycouncil.org/safetyguide/sg_heating_w001.asp

Tip #3 Stay connected:

Skype: Many great computer cameras are now available for under $30. Log on to Skype and call your friends and family anywhere in the world. Talk in real time face to face on your computer. My family used it for the first time last Christmas and talked with our cousins in Florida, which was so cool!

Visit: www.SKYPE.COM

Facebook: Now is a great time to share your recipes, photos and holiday stories with everyone you care about. Facebook – and other social networking services – makes it so easy to stay connected!

Visit: www.FACEBOOK.COM

Holiday letters: Cheer up Grandpa and Grandma with all the news. Use festive paper or any of the free holiday templates available.

Check out: www.familyfun.go.com/printables

Tip #4 Know your limits:

Eating right, exercising and getting enough sleep are great places to start. If you are worn down, you run the risk of getting sick and missing out on the fun. Spending too much money can stress you out too. Making a list, setting a budget and sticking to it should help alleviate any surprise bills in January.

Tip #5 Carve out time for yourself:

We all need time to decompress and de-stress. It’s essential everyday but even more so at the holidays. Figure out now what you can do to set aside some time for yourself. Downtime is essential for everyone. Turn off the TV, radio and computer and allow yourself some quiet time. Get more information at: http://www.lifescript.com