Whether you’re feeling the seasonal depression already or you’ve just finished your turkey and can’t even think about Christmas, getting into the holiday spirit isn’t always easy. Sometimes, it can be too overwhelming to detangle the giant ball of string lights that was packed away last season, or you’d rather curl up in a blanket and pretend it’s already January.

However, getting into a festive mood might actually help combat the holiday stress or alleviate any feelings of loneliness. But where to start? Here are seven ways to kickstart the holiday spirit during the season of merry making.

Hang up your tree and decorations ASAP

Forget the rule that the tree must go up on a certain day. This year, the tree can go up as early as you want it to! Take down those boxes of ornaments and lights, and spend a few hours de-stressing by decking the halls. Trust us, this will immediately start making your space feel more festive and get you in the holiday spirit.

Try out new holiday recipes

What better way to feel the mood of the holidays than by cooking the delights of the season? Cheer up your Sunday morning by baking some holiday cookies that you’ve always admired but never tried. Pop on a festive playlist while you’re at it for double holiday cheer.

A photo of holiday spirit with someone holding a tin of peppermint bark.

Host a virtual Christmas party

We can’t always celebrate in person with the ones we love. This year, try hosting a simple and informal video chat party for your friends and family. You can even add a virtual background for some “fake” décor, or encourage an ugly Christmas sweater competition.

Set up a gift exchange with friends

Who doesn’t love getting mail? None of these electronic messages. We’re talking about real, tangible mail, delivered by a mail carrier and placed inside a mailbox. Continue the Christmas celebration with a Secret Santa gift exchange. Here’s an easy trick: Assign everyone a number, and then use a random number generator to assign pairs, and let the exchange begin. Set a low price point to ease pressure and give everyone extra time to mail their Christmas gift out.

Do some window shopping

If your local shopping district gets all dolled up for the holidays, take a stroll past the storefronts to feel all that festive goodness. Bright lights, displays, and wreaths can make a Saturday afternoon walk along Main Street instantly festive.

A photo of holiday spirit with a plate of Christmas cookies next to a half colored in picture of Christmas trees with pears sitting next to the picture.

Craft homemade cards

Skip the store-bought packs and bring out the glue sticks and craft paper. Not only will making homemade holiday cards add a personal touch, but it can be a fun activity to do with the family. Throw on a holiday movie in the background, and there’s no way you won’t feel merry.

Give back

One surefire way to promote a feeling of cheer is to give back to your community. Find a local food drive or help the Feeding America campaign to end childhood hunger in America by sending a gift from the Harry & David “Season of Sharing” collection. Giving back can fill you with a sense of peace and gives you the opportunity to help others who may also need some holiday joy.

The holidays at home don’t have to lack holiday spirit. With a little creativity and focus on staying connected with family and friends, you can keep up your favorite traditions and maybe even start new ones.

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Rachel is a freelance writer and teacher. She writes personal essays on wellness, technology, beauty, family, and self-care. Her writing has been published in Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, Bustle, The Inquistr, The Tech Viral, Sinkhole, and others.

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