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After all the shopping, preparation, and parties are done, what makes the holidays truly special are the people you spend them with. (Image: Thinkstock)

The Essential Holiday Survival Guide

We all know the holidays are awesome. We work less, attend more parties, put up decorations…blah blah blah. But let’s get real. These same events that bring joy and happiness also tend to bring stress, extra work and family time (while important) is not always full of the Hallmark show experience we see on television. Whatever may be thrown at you this holiday season, I’d suggest exploring these key tricks to make sure you’re as prepared as can be.

We’ll start with the most obvious…

Stretchy Pants or Leggings: You can’t go to a party or friends house without the extreme abundance of food. This is where the “winter body” term originated and with drinks and desserts all around, it’s hard not to put on a pound or two during this time. There's nothing worse after a great meal then having your tight jeans digging into you. Leggings are always clutch when it comes to comfort. With the amount of adorable (stretchy) skinny jeans and patterned or leather leggings available, you can look chic and comfy at the same time. Get this faux leather pair from Nordstrom to ensure a polished and edgy look.

Hydrate: If you’ve ever seen the before and after pic of a woman that’s hydrated vs. one that is not, that’s enough to scare you into drinking the recommended amount of water a day. Not only does it help with puffy bags under your eyes and wrinkles, but gives you more energy and allows you to keep any over-eating at bay. Try adding lemon each morning for a fabulous detoxing effect to off-set the wine and deliciously salty foods from last night’s company party.

Keep Last Minute Gifts on Hand: There's always the neighbor or co-worker that gives you a present when you had nothing planned for them. As opposed to coming across inconsiderate, always keep backup gifts in your car for such occasions. Get a handful of $10 Starbucks cards, or cookies or treats from some of Seattle’s favorite bakeries such as Macrina Bakery or Hello Robin in Cap Hill. Or grab a couple bottles of local wine on hand since you won’t have to worry about keeping it fresh.

Always have a Back-up Plan: For more difficult in-laws or when the dinner conversation turns to politics, you never want to be stuck in a crazy situation. Always coming in with a future commitment (real or fake) will ensure that you have an out if you desperately need one. Give yourself a time limit and/or make plans that are easy to cancel. That way as the fruit cake appears, you can decide whether or not you want to disappear.

Schedule a Recovery Day: After all the shopping, preparation, and parties are done, what makes the holidays truly special are the people you spend them with. While there is plenty of obligation that comes along with family and work around this time, that’s even more reason to make sure to plan something fun or low-key with your people. Have a recovery day where you watch movies, play games, walk around South Lake Union, or just hang out. Whether you need the time alone or with your friends/family you choose, take a moment to reflect and breathe. And after Christmas is done and the lights are being taken off the trees, remember this; at least now the days will start getting longer which means we’re in the countdown until summer!