Christmas is a great time for giving, getting together with old friends and new, and rediscovering the importance of family and of spirituality. But Christmas can also be hectic and even frustrating if we don’t manage our time and our moods correctly. I know. I run a book and game store that gets tremendously busy during November and December, and yet I also have shopping to do, parties to go to, a family that wants me to spend extra time with them, and so on. Since I talk to a lot of frantic people every year around this time, I have some words of advice that hopefully can help you get the best out of this wonderful season, without it getting the best of you.

Keep your perspective.

Remember what Christmas is about: a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. The concepts of “peace on earth” and “goodwill toward men” (and women) are universal and worth sharing. It’s sometimes difficult to remember this when you’re battling for a parking space in an overcrowded mall parking lot, but it’s worth the effort.

Plan ahead.

Why are so many of us shocked each year that it’s suddenly almost Christmas and we haven’t done a thing to prepare? How much better and easier to pick up gifts early, wrap them, and put them in a closet? You can even start Christmas craft projects in July! By the time December rolls around, you won’t have much to do except enjoy yourself—and you’ll be the envy of those of us who wish we’d been as organized!

Keep it simple.

Simplicity is a virtue. Holiday celebrations don’t have to be complex. Gift-giving should be about showing you care, not about making an impression. Don’t let yourself get snowed under by volunteering to bake a huge pile of cookies for the school Christmas party. Give of yourself, by all means, but don’t offer to give something you don’t have. Your family, friends, coworkers, community, and others all have claims on your time, so budget accordingly.

Be charitable.

Charity begins at home, but it’s not meant to end there. Are there families in your area whose children aren’t getting much this holiday? Why not buy an extra toy, game, puzzle, or whatnot whenever you go Christmas shopping, and give the extras to those in need? Volunteer to help with your school’s or workplace’s gift drive. It’s very fulfilling, and helping others is one of the best ways to defeat stress in your own life.

Plan some quiet time.

For some, this might mean attending early-morning Christmas services with other believers. For others, it might mean setting time aside each day for private reflection. But one way or another, plan to stop, pray, be thankful, and fill up your heart with God’s good things.