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Making the most of your holiday celebrations

(ARA) - As 2011 begins to wind down, the hectic holiday season is only getting started. It is important to remember that the beginning of winter means more than just presents and Black Friday - it's about kicking back and celebrating family, friends and good food. 

This time tends to be packed with fun and holiday cheer, but the last thing you want is to be partied out too early. Pacing yourself and not getting overwhelmed by the endless gatherings (and dessert trays) is essential. Here are a few easy tips to help make sure that you're enjoying this season to the fullest and truly celebrating a great year: 

* Make everything a memory: We all know that cleaning, cooking and decorating can be a chore, but by throwing on some music and making it a group or family activity, these can easily become some of your fondest holiday memories. 

* Try not to overbook: One of the most stressful dangers of the holidays is committing to too many parties. Keep a calendar and be honest with yourself-there's no need to make every celebration if you aren't going to enjoy them. 

* Keep it simple: Not a chef? Don't sweat it. Pick a simple, signature dish for the season and stick to it. Make a fruit salad or bake your favorite kind of cookies so you're not stressing about what to bring before every party. 

* Come prepared: We all say we're going to watch ourselves when it comes to eating this time of year, but the madness of the season makes "over-celebrating" an all-too-common occurrence. If for some reason the cranberry mold and side dishes get the best of you, make sure you have Pepto-Bismol on hand to keep you covered (use as directed) and trucking through the holidays. 

* Click to show you care: Sometimes, the best way to maintain composure during this time of year is to take a step back, appreciate all that you have and pay it forward. Did you know that helping others could be as simple as "liking" a photo on Facebook? Pepto-Bismol always has people's backs if they overdo it at Thanksgiving, but this year, it wants to also cover those less fortunate. With your help, the brand will help donate 2 million meals through Feeding America. By logging on to and "liking" the picture of a turkey made by Eric Stonestreet, you will help provide eight meals to people in need this winter. Giving thanks has never been easier. 

Before you get swept away by turkeys, decorations and parties, remember all that that the holiday season is truly about: celebrating with loved ones and reflecting on a year full of memories. These simple suggestions will help you keep the energy high and the stress low during these cold, yet heartwarming, months.

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