Does your holiday season seem a little less festive than it used to? Maybe a little more stressful?

Sometimes, in the flurry of shopping and decorating and rushing to parties, we completely miss the point of the season. But who is to blame? The holidays can be busy and expensive and emotionally exhausting!

If your holidays are starting to feel like a ritual of obligation, it may be time to change the way you “celebrate”.

Here are five ideas to help you reclaim your holiday cheer:

1.Simplify Your Social Calendar
Choose a few parties that are meaningful to you and send your regrets to the rest.

2.Give the Gift of Appreciation
Rather than buying gifts for all your loved ones, set aside an evening and write personal cards with heartfelt notes of appreciation. Be specific about the qualities in each person that touch you; people love to hear what’s special about them.

3.Spread Some Love in the Community
Choose a few charities you would like to support and let your friends and family know that you are donating to these charities in lieu of buying gifts.

4.Share the Cooking and Baking
Find ways to share and/or reduce your time in the kitchen: cook together; ask guests to bring side dishes; do a cookie exchange with friends.

5.Savour the Time You Save
With these four steps, you can create a whole lot of time to enjoy this season. Why not try a relaxed weekend with friends and family or curling up in bed with a cup of hot cocoa and a long-neglected novel. Do whatever feels relaxing and meaningful to you. It’s your holiday… so follow your heart’s desire and spend it they way you want!