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13 Disasters That Can Ruin Your Holiday (And How to Fix Them)

Don't let the weather—or an uncle's bigoted rant—make your festive season any less bright.

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Holiday disasters - toxic Christmas treePhoto: Shutterstock

Your Christmas Tree is Toxic

You’re cozied up by the fire, the carols are playing and the twinkling tree is… Slowly killing you? Fir-tree allergies cause congestion and even asthma attacks from pollen and mould. Find festive, reusable Christmas tree alternatives, such as cardboard sculptures or fabric wall hangings.

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Holiday disasters - Santa secretPhoto: Shutterstock

Your Favourite Kiddo Just Found Evidence That Santa Isn’t Real

This doesn’t have to ruin the holiday magic. Many children simply won’t accept it—and if the little ones keep asking pointed questions, perhaps it’s time they be let in on the secret.

Read the funny ways 20 people learned the truth about Santa Claus.

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Holiday disasters - winter heartPhoto: Shutterstock

You’re Alone for the Holidays

Spending the holidays alone doesn’t have to be lonely. Volunteer at a soup kitchen, wrap presents for underprivileged kids or visit nursing homes.

Here are more great Christmas day activities you might not have considered.

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Turkey in the ovenPhoto: monkeybusinessimages/iStock

The Turkey Isn’t Done and Your Guests Have Arrived

Don’t panic. Increase the oven temperature by 50 degrees, cover the bird with foil and recheck the temperature every 30 minutes until it reaches 68 to 71 C.

Check out more turkey tips from chef Shahir Massoud.

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Christmas dinner feastPhoto: Shutterstock

You’re  Stuck with an Overcooked Bird

Slice the meat as if to serve and bake for 10 minutes at 148 C in a pan half filled with broth, then serve with gravy.

Check out more of our best kitchen hacks.

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Practice humility at holiday dinnerPhoto: Shutterstock

Politics Get in the Way of a Peaceful Meal

Uncle Bert’s deep into a bigoted rant, and your blood pressure’s rising. Don’t silently fume. “Refocus the conversation by talking about something you’re all grateful for,” says Toronto family therapist Joanna Seidel.

Here’s more practical advice on how to avoid politics at your family’s holiday dinner.

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Holiday disasters - airport at ChristmasPhoto: Shutterstock

Your Travel Gets Disrupted

When the holiday season hits, Canadian airports groan under the strain. The busiest day of the season at Toronto’s Pearson Airport is December 21, with 135,000 passengers coming and going. Prebook your seats to make sure your family can sit together on a crammed flight, and leave plenty of time between connections.

Don’t miss these 27 simple habits that relieve holiday stress and anxiety

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Car driving on snowy forest roadPhoto: Shutterstock

You Have to Brave Snowy Roads

If you’re driving, play it safe. Common hazards? Distracted driving caused by cellphone use, pressured driving (when stressed commuters speed or make aggressive lane changes) and fatigue.

Learn the 13 winter driving mistakes that could put you in danger

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Holiday disasters - Christmas depressionPhoto: Shutterstock

You Have the Holiday Blues

One in four adult Canadians say their holidays are more stressful than fun. All the emphasis on togetherness can magnify depression and anxiety, especially if you’re divorced, grieving or struggling with a dysfunctional family. “Go where your support system is—that doesn’t have to be your blood relatives,” says Seidel.

Need a quick pick-me-up? Here are 30 funny jokes for the holidays

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Dog sitting next to Christmas treePhoto: Shutterstock

You Haven’t Pet-Proofed

Pets face extra risks during the holidays. Keep chocolate and grapes out of reach of dogs (they’re poisonous), and keep ornaments off the floor, where they can end up getting swallowed and require emergency surgery to extract.

Find out more holiday safety mistakes you didn’t know you were making.

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Holiday disasters - Christmas overeating weigh on scalePhoto: Shutterstock

You’re Poised to Overeat

Avoid fasting all day to “save room” for a dinner binge. “You’ll make it harder to sense your body’s fullness cues, which leads to overeating,” says Toronto nutritionist Tara Miller.

You should also avoid these 12 holiday foods that aren’t worth the calories.

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Holiday disasters - ugly Christmas sweater overindulgedPhoto: Shutterstock

You’ve Overindulged

Wolfing down too many latkes can lead to guilt in the new year. Let go of self-judgment: “You’re not a bad or good person just because you ate more or less at dinner,” Miller says. “It’s a privilege to be able to enjoy a meal with people who care about you.”

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You Busted Your Budget

Four in 10 Canadians say they went over budget for the holidays last year, and 20 per cent start the new year with holiday-related debt. Set a spending limit for gifts, decorations and eating out, and commit to a repayment plan.

Don’t break the bank! Here are 50 great Canadian gifts under $50.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest Canada