If you’re looking at your calendar and feeling like the next few weeks are going to be absolutely jam-packed, you’re not alone. Between travel, social obligations and finishing up year-end projects at work, the idea of completing everything on your to-do list and still getting in the holiday spirit may seem impossible. Since “feeling the warmth” is our specialty here at Walton Gas, we asked our co-workers to share their traditions and ideas for kickstarting the holiday cheer.

Kick your Christmas spirit into full gear by attending one of the state’s holiday parades, such as Moultrie’s Festival of Lights parade on Dec. 14.

  1. SEE a parade. If you missed the month’s earliest parades, don’t despair. There’s still time to catch one that will elevate your holiday mood, advises Kerie Garrett, data processing supervisor. On Dec. 7 festive floats and holiday music will fill the streets in downtown Athens and Madison. Further south, Moultrie’s Festival of Lights Christmas Parade on Dec. 14 is sure to entertain the whole family.
  1. CHEER a soldier. If you celebrate the season by sending Christmas greetings to friends and family, add a soldier’s name to your list this year. “Sending Christmas cards to soldiers stationed away from home is a way to show our heroes abroad how much we appreciate their work and sacrifice,” says Leigh Ann Sorrow, senior natural gas specialist. A number of organizations facilitate sending cards as well as care packages to soldiers. One is the United Soldiers and Sailors of America (USASOA) Christmas Cards for Our Troops program, which is accepting cards until Dec. 5. Soldiers’ Angels sends stuffed holiday stockings to service members and veterans. The deadline to participate this year is Dec. 8.
  1. DONATE to a worthy cause. Georgia has many charities in need of funds and items. Take time to gather groceries to donate to a local food pantry like the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia. Or, with a click of a button, help one of the nonprofit organizations — Annandale Village, Camp Twin Lakes, or Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta — in the Walton Gas Champions for Charities program. All you have to do is cast your vote for the charity you’d like to see receive a donation from Walton Gas. Vote for your favorite charity
Thousands of lights, animated displays, inflatables, a grand Christmas tree covered with more than 16,000 lights and a near-life-size manger scene combine to make the Hornsby home on Hightowner Trail in Social Circle a popular holiday destination
  1. LOOK at some lights. “We hop in the car and take a drive to see all the homes and businesses with beautiful holiday lights and decorations,” says Pere Ervin, member service specialist. A must-see is Christmas on Dixie in Madison. The family project, open free to the public, is celebrating its 10th season this year. Check the Christmas on Dixie Facebook page for hours and special activities.
  1. VOLUNTEER. “Giving the gift of time to help others, especially around the holidays, always reminds me of the reason for the season,” said Evette Jones, administrative assistant. Even if you can’t dedicate an entire day, there are plenty of volunteer slots that span just a couple of hours. Volunteer opportunities abound in every Georgia community. Feeding programs, food pantries and other organizations need all the help they can get throughout the year and especially during the holidays.
  1. ORGANIZE a gift-wrapping party. If you dread dragging out the paper and ribbon, turn this holiday chore into an opportunity to spend time with friends, suggests Donna Brooks, accounting specialist. Pool your wrapping supplies and skills — one boxes, one wraps, another makes bows. Add some holiday music and snacks to turn this into a festive way to mark the holiday.
Residents of Bethlehem perform a live nativity in the town center on Dec. 22 and 23.
  1. GO to Bethlehem. It may not be the actual place where it all started, but a road trip to tiny Bethlehem in Barrow County is certain to put you in the holiday spirit, advises Ashlie Franklin, commercial account manager. A bright star, made of light bulbs, shines brightly from a post in the center of town —a nod to its nickname “the little town under the star.” Share this little corner of heaven with others by sending cards and packages bearing a Bethlehem postmark from the local Post Office branch. One more reason to go: A live nativity is presented in the town center on Dec. 22 and 23 each year.
  1. GET Baking. “Baking helps me decompress, so I like getting in the kitchen to make Christmas treats,” says Savannah Chandler, communication coordinator. Pop on a holiday movie while you work to make it extra festive. Drop off warm baked goods at neighbors’ homes to brighten their day.
  1. HOST a holiday movie marathon. Take the night off from the season’s hustle and bustle. Set a pot of chili on your natural gas stove, then invite a few friends over for a binge-a-thon of the latest holiday TV movies or revisit classics like “Christmas Vacation” and “Home Alone.” To keep things easy, ask everyone to bring their favorite chili side or holiday snack to share.
  1. CURL up with a holiday-themed book. Get your natural gas fireplace going, then kick back with a fun rom-com-type book or mystery story that takes place during the holidays. “It’s a great way to spend a rainy weekend,” declares Connie Bentley, financial analyst. Selecting what you’ll read is also an opportunity for Gwinnett County residents to check out the community’s brand-new library at The Grove in Snellville. The Gwinnett County Public Library offers page-turners such as “The Christmas Spirit,” “In a Holidaze,” and “Christmas Card Murder.”
  1. SOAK up some self-care. Between holiday activities and year-end work projects, December can be harsh on our minds, bodies and spirits. Get off the anxiety train with some self-care. “Fill the tub with lots of hot water and add some essential oil, then soak your cares away,” suggests Sara Beddington, marketing specialist. “It’s the nicest gift you can give yourself at this time of year.”