how to have a magical holiday season

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Only sixteen more days until Christmas! Can you believe that? I, for one, am really excited even though I honestly don't have any big plans. I'm just a big fan of the holiday vibes and everything that comes along with the season.

On the flip side, I know there can be a lot of unnecessary anxiety during the holidays. To be totally honest, I'm not one to have experienced it myself but I've been reading a lot of posts lately about people who feel overwhelmed by the season. Whether it's about finding the right gifts or dreading being asked about your career/love life by extended family members, or simply trying to meet expectations that you've set for yourself that ultimately don't really matter.

In reality, this time of year should be the best time of year and the most magical time of year. It should be all about enjoying the ephemeral moments that only come once a year like seeing the twinkling lights around your town or having eggnog with friends and family on Christmas Eve. It should be a really mindful time of year where we take the time to notice and appreciate the little things.

This year, I'm vowing to have a magical holiday season and it's really so easy, everyone can do it!

twinkle lights
Christmas isn't Christmas without twinkle lights, if you ask me. If there's one decoration you must have, it's these. String them up in your bedroom to carry the festive decor all the way through your house. You can use the traditional kind or try something more special like these from Free People.

rustic decorations
I've always loved the atmosphere of Christmas in the Harry Potter universe because everything is very rustic, with a festive, homemade quality. From the homemade crown that Arthur wears at the Weasley holiday dinner at 12 Grimmauld Place to the hand-knit sweaters Molly sends her kids and the decorations in the Great Hall, this is the vibe to aim for.

You can do this by creating your own homemade decorations like this origami star garland, these rustic twig ornaments, and this creative advent calendar.

classical music
I love listening to classical music anytime of the year. In fact, it's probably my favorite kind of music because of its ability to create a distinct atmosphere. There are some lovely classical holiday playlists on Spotify that you can put on while you're decorating the tree, baking in the kitchen, or wrapping presents. Some of my favorites are Christmas Peaceful Piano, Classical Christmas, and Winter Classical.

holiday markets
If your town or a city you'll travel to has a holiday market, plan to make a visit this month. These magical little villages pop up every winter and are a great place to sample cozy foods and pick up last minute, unique gifts for the people on your list. I recommend getting a hot chocolate or apple cider as soon as you arrive so you have something warm to drink while you peruse all of the cute stalls.

festive treats
You probably know that I'm a big fan of baking and the holidays are the perfect time of year to really get into it. Not only can you bake treats for yourself and your household, but these can serve as gifts to friends and extended family as well. Try baking some of the classics like gingerbread men and white chocolate cranberry cookies, as well as some unconventional choices like French apple tarts.

holiday windows
If you're in New York, the place to go for this is uptown where all of the big department stores show off amazing window displays for the season. But, most towns will have holiday shop windows of some sort. Not only will it put you in a festive mood, but you might see a few things you're inspired to buy for yourself or as a gift.

cozy culture
There are so many great books and movies to get you in the mood for the holidays. For books, you'll find a few options here. As for movies, I recommend The Family Stone, Home Alone, Eloise at Christmastime, and You've Got Mail / Shop Around the Corner. But, nothing will get you in the holiday spirit like The Nutcracker, so be sure to get tickets for your local production.

having gratitude
This is really the key to having a magical winter and holiday season. I've seen a lot lately about combatting holiday stress/anxiety and that makes me so sad because, for the most part, that stress and anxiety stems from putting unnecessary expectations on ourselves or our families and focusing on all of the wrong things about the holidays. Choosing gratitude over stress is truly the number one thing that will make your holiday magical.