We always have great aspirations of keeping the holidays simple, don’t we? Then when they get here it can be a different story. What is important to remember is that we are in control of our own environment. If those around us choose to make the holidays overly crazy and tiring, you don’t have to choose that. Simplicity is a choice, although not always an easy one. Here are a few things you can do to make the holiday season a little more stress-free, simple, and budget-friendly.

The holidays do not have to be about the biggest and best present or the brightest decorations. Remember the true meaning of the holiday and think outside of the box for gifts from the heart. For example, give the gift of time: Babysitting services, yard work assistance or a wonderfully home cooked meal.

Sometimes quality time with loved ones is the best gift – it doesn’t cost anything other than your undivided attention and love. This holiday season quality time and simple holiday plans might seem a little modest, but perhaps the best formula for reducing stress and keeping the joy of the season alive.

It’s also time to let go of that feeling that you are not doing enough! Whatever you choose to do is enough. Sometimes when we have family with us for the holidays, we feel we must keep up with those extravagant traditions. After a while they simply become too much to continue year after year, and yet we continue to do them out of guilt. It might be time this year to make a change.

Have you considered starting a new tradition? Have you noticed the traditions of others that appeal to you? Go ahead, step outside the box and try something new. It could be the beginning of a tradition that would continue within your family for years. There are many senior citizens who may not have friends or family in their local area. What a wonderful opportunity for you to adopt a “grandparent” and make a new friend. Check with some of the local retirement centers to see if there might be an elderly person who would love to participate in the holidays with your family.

The holiday season is the perfect time to practice the exercise of gratitude. When we think about all the blessings we have in our lives, it can be awe-inspiring. Become mindful each and every day of the blessings that you have and carry the spirit of gratitude into the New Year with you.