Women, this is not the time to buy that issue of Martha Stewart’s Living, or to pore through the latest issue of Real Simple (it’s not really that simple…)You’ll risk feeling all kinds of inadequate as you read lists of '10 Perfect Holiday Hostess Gifts.' Click To TweetPhotos of elaborate centerpieces will have you eyeing your own cluttered dining room with loathing, or at least guilt.

The best way to hold it together over the holiday season is to keep it simple (with a lower case “s”) and keep your eye on the prize—family, friends, health, happiness.  It’s not about having the perfectly decorated home, the ideal gifts for your kids’ teachers, or a pile of gorgeously wrapped presents for your family.

Rushing around to take photos for your holiday card midway through December? Do a New Year’s greeting instead. Everyone will look happier and more relaxed if the photos aren’t taken under duress. Or forget sending cards altogether. You can break your own rules if they are causing you more stress than pleasure.

If you do host gatherings, focus on being genuine in your hospitality, not “perfect”. Perfection is an unattainable illusion and it takes away from your ability to really be present with people you’ve invited into your home. Our house is typically chaotic, never entirely clean, and undeniably imperfect. Time and again, guests have said that our desire to host parties gives them confidence to host their own, since we don’t wait until everything is “just so” (the kitchen fully painted, the laundry all folded and put away, the weeds pulled) to have people over. At first I wondered if I should be offended that friends commented  this way on the state of our house, but I quickly took it as a true compliment, and I felt proud that I could inspire others to share their homes, their lives, in all their beautiful imperfection.

Reminding ourselves that was are “good enough ‘ (hosts, friends, parents, workers) is important, especially at this time of the year when there is so much pressure to attend and host events, buy or make gifts, and look like we’ve got it under control.  And allowing ourselves to be “real” about what we can and cannot do, what we do and do not feel capable of, serves to remind others that they too are “good enough” just as they are.