The Co.’s Guide to Holiday Survival Jacqueline Parker The holidays are almost here and you can almost taste that first sip of eggnog as it hips your deserving lips. Unfortunately, you can also hear the kids screaming as they spiral into orbit with excitement about Christmas! So before you knock back the nog in an attempt to numb the holiday stress, here are five simple survival strategies to help you make it to the New Year with as little collateral damage as possible. Steer clear of the mall No one likes to shop in a crowded mall, kids in tow just days before the holiday. No one. Crowds and tantrums are surely not what you had in mind when you anticipated the magic of the holiday season so avoid the malls during peak periods. Schedule a playdate for the kids and hit the malls or stores first thing in the morning or at some point during the day when people are enjoying their holiday lunches. Give some business to local merchants who likely throw gift-wrap in for free. Shop online at sites like Amazon.ca who offer last minute items that you can have shipped in two days. Now that’s the kind of magic you had in mind, right? Neutralize the ‘nog’ It wouldn’t be a holiday party without one hell of a hangover. But with so many things on your still-to-do list, you can’t afford to let a hangover hang you out to dry. Boozy nights deplete essential nutrients so load up on nutrient boosting foods like bananas, soups and eggs. Hydrate by snacking on some watermelon and sipping coconut water. Ginger settles stomachs in a snap and a bowl of oatmeal replenishes those lost nutrients, neutralizes acidity levels, cleanses the abused liver, absorbs toxins and slowly raises blood sugar levels returning you back to the land of the functioning in a shorter amount of time. Avoid gifts that give… headaches Gift giving can be complicated. For example, Elf on the Shelf might seem like a no-brainer for little Bernice, your BFF’s daughter but did you know her Mom believes that using the elf prepares kids for a police state mentality? #GiftFail. Go for a GC instead. Mom will be happy because it gives her something to do while school is out and you’ll spare Bernice nightmares and despair when Mom returns the Elf to the… ahem…’North Pole. Say no – repeatedly The holiday season is for everyone and that includes you. If you spread yourself too thin, your entry into the New Year is going to look like a shell of the old you who desperately needs a holiday from the holiday. Limit the amount of invites you accept and suggest catch-ups in the new year when things slow right down. You’ll have more to talk about (like who did what under the mistletoe at the party you missed) and have more focused, one-on-one time. Blow it off Anything can go wrong at a Christmas dinner – from dry turkey to your brother’s wife driving you insane with all her food, air and fairy dust allergies. Instead of allowing yourself to feel overwhelmed, insulted and over-done – like the turkey, walk away and take deep breathes. Try to feel gratitude for the family and chaos surrounding you during this wondrous time of the year and mentally shorten the guest list for next year.