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The holiday season can feel like such a mixed bag of emotions. On one hand, everybody’s looking forward to kicking back and celebrating in all the good cheer. After all, what’s not to like about hopping from one party to the next as you enjoy good food and even better company. It’s the perfect time to unplug, unwind and laugh. But that’s just the problem… as much as you may expect to make merry memories, the holidays are never completely perfect. Mishaps and mistakes happen. People argue at the dinner table. Something always happens out of nowhere to throw a wet blanket on festivities. To be honest, it’s impossible to have a totally stress-free holiday season, but that doesn’t mean you’re helpless to avoid some of the traps that usually ruin every! body’s fun. Here are eight common mistakes to avoid if you want to make the most out of the holidays:

     1. Last-Minute Shopping:
Whether or not you intend to host guests for the holidays, the closer you shop to the actual date of a holiday, the more crowds and shortages you’ll have to deal with. Make life easier and shop early.

     2. Dodging Chores:
There are two types of people during the holidays: the planners who prepare and clean everything up afterwards, and the slackers who only show up when dinner is served. Don’t be a slacker. Doing your part to pitch in is a great way to show your family and friends that you love them.

     3. Wingin’ It:
The only thing worse than shopping at the last minute is hosting parties or events without a plan. No matter how you intend to spend your time, if you’re going to share it with others, make a calculated effort to ensure their comfort and safety.

     4. Pigging Out:
Junk food reigns supreme during the holidays. However, just because you’re surrounded by delicacies doesn’t mean that’s the only food you should consume. Drink plenty of water, serve fresh fruits and vegetables as well. Keep the option to eat healthy open.

     5. Showing Off:
Sometimes it’s with decorations, and sometimes it’s with gifts, but the temptation to splurge money and impress people gets really intense over the holidays. Don’t spend! a fortune to prove a point that everyone will probably forget by New Year’s.

     6. Being Selfish:
You have all-year to be egocentric. When the holiday season arrives, try at least once to do something selfless for other people. Donate your time and resources to philanthropy. Volunteer. Do something to make this world a better place besides shopping for loved ones.

     7. Falling on Your Sword:
If you happen to be a control freak, don’t turn yourself into a martyr by taking over the holidays and molding them in your own image. Invite everyone around you to participate, and let your planning be a team effort. The party’s always more fun when every person is given a chance to contribute to a shared experience. 
     8. Talking Politics
Politics is poison, especially during the holidays. Even if you’re surrounded by like-minded people, be considerate and put away all political discourse. The last thing anyone wants to think about during a party is government.

Yes, bad things can happen unexpectedly during the holidays, but if you have it within your power to prevent chaos, then by all means do so. As you gather with friends and family this holiday season, always remember that the reason why we go through all the fuss of cooking turkeys and congregating together is because of one word – love. So as much as possible, do everything you can to ensure that the time you spend with others throughout what’s left of the year is filled with love, and packed with positivity. Be safe, and Happy Thanksgiving.