THE BLOG
11/27/2013 09:49 am ET Updated Jan 27, 2014

7 Secrets to Having a Very Merry Holiday Season

Lisa Peardon via Getty Images

Whether you are home for the holidays, traveling or will be alone, you can still have a joyous time celebrating Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year with style and grace. Here are a few tips to make the most of the holiday season.

1. Holiday Photos. Get yourself all dolled up and put on your best smile. Visit your local portrait studio for quick same-day processing of professional photos. They usually have options for prints and digital formats so you can share with others. You can also take a holiday selfie and use fun photo-editing apps on your smart phone to spread holiday cheer through text and email. Or post on your Facebook account to share with your cyber-family.

2. Rent Your Favorite Movies. Bring back that holiday magic by watching some of your favorite classics like Miracle on 34th Street. Here is a list of classics you can rent, buy or watch on Netflix.

3. Start a New Tradition. Most holiday traditions have evolved to fit our advanced lifestyle. For some, the holidays can be bittersweet when you're stuck on trying to re-create past memories. Instead, start some new traditions this year -- something you can do annually to make the season bright in your own special way. My assistant started a tradition of Thanksgiving breakfast with close friends and family so that they could spend time together before having dinner later with other loved ones.

4. Decorate Your Home. Brighten your home with holiday decorations. For as little as $10 you can get decorations from the dollar store to spruce up your place and create a cheery atmosphere. Add poinsettias, strings of light and a little tinsel here and there to get you in the spirit. Holiday décor can improve your attitude and outlook during this time. You could also participate in lighting ceremonies around town or go out to see the decorations in your area. No one can truly deny the warm feelings that comes from seeing the beautiful light displays, hearing the bells and holiday music.

5. Give Gifts From the Heart. The best gifts are not always the shiniest or latest gadgets. Whether the funds are low or you really just want to give an impactful gift, try something homemade. Some ideas include a hand-written, heartfelt letter, customized coupons for a service or hand-made gift baskets. Here is a Pinterest board of other things you can give as well.

6. Volunteer at Your Local Shelter or Help Others in Need. If you find yourself sinking into the holiday dumps pick yourself and help others in need. Studies show when you help others your mood is improved and you're more energized. Revitalize yourself and lend a hand this holiday season. You can get involved with the animal shelter, homeless shelter, and food banks, or start your own holiday food drive. You can also make it a family affair! Everyone needs love and the best way to get it is to give.

7. Be Grateful. Make a list of ten things you are thankful and grateful for. Be sure to add everything great or small. According to the Wall Street Journal, people who feel grateful are more energetic, optimistic, have more special connections and happiness than those who aren't. They are less likely to be depressed or envious. They are also healthier. Grateful children have higher grades in school, feel more satisfied with their relationships, set higher goals and complain less. Gratefulness is key to making the holidays joyous for everyone. This season, focus on what you have from an optimistic perspective and you'll experience your best holiday season ever.