Yep, that’s right, folks. The turkey has been cooked, carved and devoured. Black Friday sales have wreaked havoc on local shopping malls. December has arrived. As our countdown to Christmas begins, here are five easy tips to get you ready for the holidays....

#1: Give your holiday playlist an upgrade

 Do you hear what I hear? If you do, then you should be hearing the latest tunes of the holiday season. Every ipod needs a Christmas Mix, for the long ride home, all that time spent cruising for a parking spot at malls and restaurants, or playing softly on your desk at your work.

It’s okay to pull out a few of the classic Christmas tunes, but it’s time that your holiday tunes got a facelift. Don’t be afraid to add in a few covers or brand new tracks from today’s up-and-coming artists and Indie singer/songwriters.

Here’s a few suggestions to get you started: Anything from Seabird’s new EP Over The Hills and Everywhere, “Cinnamon & Chocolate” by Butterfly Boucher from the Ten Out of Tenn Christmas album, and Coldplay’s new holiday single “Christmas Lights.”

#2: Know where the party’s at

They say we’re always looking for a reason to party, and the holidays are as good a reason as any. If you’re throwing the party, go bold instead of boring. Everyone needs an excuse to pull out a tacky Christmas sweater or dress up as the character from a favorite Christmas movie. White Elephant gifts are out, and Naughty Santa games are in. Okay, okay. So maybe it’s the same game with a dirtier name, but your guests don’t need to know that detail. And, just in case you heard otherwise, everyone still enjoys a well-placed piece of mistletoe.

#3: Enjoy a night out on the town

Whether it’s a night out with a friends or romantic date, December is full of opportunities to do something fun, festive and out of the ordinary. If you’re feeling brave, strap on a pair of skates and hit the ice. Public ice skating is available at the Centennial Sports Plex Ice Skating Rink in Nashville or on Market Square in downtown Knoxville. If you’d rather be warm and cozy, grab a cup of coffee and head indoors for some theatre or ballet. If you’re looking for something around the Nashville area: A Country Christmas Carol at Chaffin’s Barn Dinner Theatre from November 29 through December 31, The Nutcracker at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center’s Jackson Hall from December 9 through December 18 and A Christmas Carol at Franklin Theatre from December 8 through December 18.

If you plan on venturing over to East Tennessee: A Smoky Mountain Christmas" at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge from November 1 through December 30, Encore Theatrical Company presents Plaid Tidings at Walter State Community College in Morristown, and The Living Christmas Tree at Sevier Heights Baptist Church in Knoxville.

 #4: Get creative in the kitchen or at the bar

If you’re going to be packing on an extra five or ten pounds this holiday season, then you might as well as enjoy what you’re eating. Admit it, you secretly enjoy all the sweets that start showing up around the office in December. If what you’re making isn’t dipped in white or dark chocolate, drizzled in more chocolate, and then coated with some other form of sugar, then you’re not doing it right.

If you’re sweet tooth comes in the form of holiday cocktails, then break out the hard stuff so that everyone can have a good time. For a nice girly Christmas Cosmo, grab the Cointreau, the vodka, and some cranberry and lime juice. If you want something sweet, whip up a Candy Cane Martini with some vanilla vodka, Peppermint schnapps, cream soda, and dip the rim in crushed candy canes.

If you’re feeling like a Grinch, all you need is Midori liqueur, fresh lemon juice and a teaspoon of simply syrup. And don’t let the name fool you, because you might be anything but quiet after you’ve fixed yourself a Silent Night, by mixing Tequila, blue Curacao, Triple Sec with some pineapple and lime juice.

#5: Carry on a tradition or start a new one

The holidays are all about traditions, whether it’s secretly stuffing the family stockings on Christmas Eve, assigning a theme to the family’s Christmas tree, or awarding a prize to whoever finds the sacred pickle ornament hidden on the tree. The good thing about traditions is that it’s never too late to begin a new one. If you’re not going to be home for the holidays, then carry on a family tradition with your local friends or start up a brand new one with your roommates. If you need a few hints to get the creative juices flowing, start simple with something like watching the same movie together every year or adding a new ornament to the tree each year that represents a place you’ve visited or something you’ve accomplished.

So whether you’re celebrating Hanukkah, Jesus Christ, or Santa Claus, hopefully these five tips will help you find yourself in the holiday spirit. 

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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