Townhall is decorated with stringed lights, candy cane flavored ice cream is back, and the mall is playing its endless rotation of Michael Buble Christmas songs. All the signs suggest the holidays are already underway, yet the holiday spirit is noticeably absent. If you’re feeling more like a Grinch as the holidays approach, take a look at this guide to the season. It can help you banish the bah-humbugs just in time for the holidays.

  1. Master the homemade eggnog

Move over pumpkin spice. Though you may share the ingredient nutmeg, only eggnog can claim the true title of beverage king this season. The drink is practically synonymous with the holidays, and a single cup can go a long way to warming you inside and out.

Traditionally, it’s made with whole eggs and heavy cream, along with all the typical spices of the season like vanilla, nutmeg, and cloves. And let’s not forget a healthy dose of rum or bourbon. Celebrity chefs like Jamie Oliver and Alton Brown offer their tried-and-tested recipes for this seasonal drink if you’re ready to make your first batch.

Don’t worry if you’re low on time or motivation. You can find premade cartons of eggnog at the grocery store. They even sell non-dairy and vegan alternatives for those with dietary restrictions. Just add your own tipple of alcohol in your glass, and you’ll be good as gold.

  1. Make a personalized playlist

Music is a powerful mnemonic device that can help tap into memories of the holidays of yore when you were feeling a lot more festive. Songs tend to evoke emotions and other sense memories from when you first heard them or when you were exposed to them a lot at once. The Christmas music rotation on the radio only serves to heighten its ability to bring you back.

You can help recapture some of that old spirit by curating a playlist of your favorite songs.  Choose ones that you know will remind you of a better time, but don’t let these instructions strangle your creativity. It’s your playlist. Add to it rare covers by your favorite band or unusual versions of popular carols in a different genre. You can even listen to other people’s playlists by checking out Spotify or making a profile with Deezer. There’s no right or wrong way to listen to music.

  1. Embrace hygge

Hygge is a Danish term that describes a feeling, moment, or ambience that’s cozy, enchanting, or special in any way. This is a broad definition to be sure, but this extra wiggle room lets you put your own unique spin on it. For the most part, hygge means enjoying your surroundings — whether they include a good book or good people is up to you.

Aesthetically, it means those woolly socks, oversized sweater, and comfy joggers you’d never get caught dead wearing outside your home. It means a roaring fire in a room full of burning candles, throw blankets, and pillows. It means anything that will help you create a cozy atmosphere in your home, but you can even carry hygge outdoors to spend time with family friends. That’s because it’s about creating an intimate atmosphere with the things and people you love — like a bubble of comfort.

Reading by the window, sipping hot cocoa (or that fresh eggnog you made!), watching a movie, or cuddling under a blanket all count. Really, the only thing you shouldn’t do is glue yourself to your smartphone and ignore the people around you. Hygge is a bit of self-care that can help you de-stress as you tap into the spirit of the holidays.

  1. Challenge friends to a decoration contest

A house bare of any decorations can feel stark and unwelcoming when you’re used to elaborate displays, but it can be hard finding the motivation to deck the halls when you don’t feel like celebrating. And herein lies the vicious cycle. Without decorations, you can’t get into the spirit of the holidays, but without the spirit of the holidays, you can’t put up decorations.

If you’re finding it hard to decorate on your own, consider finding a different incentive — like trouncing your neighbors or friends in a decorating challenge.  Whoever outdoes the other wins bragging rights or, if you want to make it interesting, a homemade batch of gingerbread, a bottle of wine, or a new set of crystal balls.

The Christmas tree is a crucial feature of your plans, as are stringed lights, bows, and evergreen boughs. There’s no shame in looking at these resources for inspiration. Their displays can give you the competitive advantage over your friends.

But don’t stop at the obvious additions to your home. There are a lot of subtle, creative, and unique ways to add Christmas cheer to your spaces. Hang a sprig of mistletoe over your partner’s closet.  Buy a set of winter-scented candles and soaps from Bath Body Works. Customize an OnePlus 6 skin in the festive colors of red and green. This seasonal combo is just one version of the custom skins for your gadgets available online. Designers like dbrand have extensive catalogues for a variety of tech that include hardwood, marble, dragon skin, and black camo. These decals are an easy and inexpensive way to decorate your phone, whether it’s with OnePlus 6 skin or an iPhone XS skin. While you’re at it, you can download some of these holiday-themed apps to help decorate your phone on the inside, too.

It isn’t always easy to get into the holiday spirit, but these tips should help you find it. At the very least, you’ll have some delicious eggnog, a curated playlist to listen to in a comfy home, and bragging rights over your friend. If that isn’t enough to grow your heart three times, then tell us your tried-and-true methods of banishing the Grinch from ruining your holidays.