If you judged the holiday season by its merry cards, festive décor, and joyful tunes, you’d declare this to be an effortlessly happy time of year.

Of course, we all know the truth: while its intentions of good cheer and thankfulness are positive, the holidays can leave us feeling like a stressed-out Scrooge.

Masiello Employment works with many people between jobs, and we know this can be an especially challenging time of year, both emotionally and financially. Whether you’re employed or you’re looking for a job, here’s a round-up of our favorite ways to put the happy back in “happy holidays”:

1. Find Your Festive. The first thing we suggest doing this time of year is to first make a holiday to-do list – and then cross off any expectations that aren’t necessary. For example: you don’t have to send out holiday cards, you don’t have to decorate the exterior of your house with lots of lights and inflatable characters, and you don’t have to buy last minute gifts just for the sake of filling up the space under the tree. Find the amount of festive that feels right to you, and let it direct what you do, and what you don’t do.

2. Stay Social. When life’s ride gets bumpy, it’s natural to veer away from social interactions—but this is the time to turn to friends and family! Our advice is to attend as many holiday gatherings as you’re invited to, even if you only stay for a short time. While there, don’t over-indulge (limit yourself to a single cocktail and one trip down the buffet table) so you feel good in the morning.

3. Remember They Care. The thought of spending a holiday meal at a family table can seem especially daunting if you know someone is going to ask you about a sensitive issue, like your job search. Anticipate the question and be ready with a simple, straightforward answer, like “It’s going well with lots of prospects, please pass the potatoes.” If you feel ganged up on or the questions won’t stop, redirect the conversation or suggest you talk about it another time. Instead of getting defensive or down on yourself, try to appreciate their interest and be positive in your reaction.

4. Rethink Gifts. The retail industry is relentless in making you think you’ve got to spend a fortune on presents for the people in your life—friends, family, your mailman. You don’t have to, of course. A gift should be a way of saying, “I know you and I appreciate you,” but putting yourself in debt to do so goes against the very nature of gift-giving. Instead, consider showing your appreciation with something personal (if you like to bake, give cookies; if you like to write, give a personalized poem).

5. Take Care of Yourself. Prioritize yourself this time of year. Work in time to work-out, even if it’s just a brisk walk around the neighborhood. Avoid indulging in too much holiday cheer. Talk to people you trust about the challenges in your life. Celebrate the parts of the holiday season you like best.

Happy holidays from all of us at Masiello Employment! When you’re ready to gift yourself a new job, give us a call; our recruiting team is available for a free consultation.