It's official: The holiday craze is among us once again. Amid the chaos of the songs, the sales, the decorating and the dining, it's often difficult to relax and enjoy the "most wonderful time of the year." So, for those overwhelmed by the holiday mania, here is a list of things from A-Z to tame the sensory overload.

*"All Ye Faithful": Whether you are religious, spiritual or just grateful for the life you lead, be sure to keep in mind the spirit of the season. Reflect on all that you are thankful for, and remember that the holidays are first and foremost a celebration of love. That way, no matter what kind of parties you go to or what gifts you receive, you can be happy.

*Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra: Let some of the area's most talented musicians fill you with festivity. Attend a Holiday Pops concert (Friday through Sunday), and allow yourself to hum along while Grammy Award-winning singer Debby Boone performs holiday favorites.

*Cut-out cookies: Indulge yourself. Set aside a day, turn on some festive music, and bake cookies from scratch. If you're feeling ambitious, you may even try to make your own frosting. Colorful sprinkles are necessary, of course.

*Deck the halls: Take charge of the decorating at your home. Does your house look better in colored or plain lights? Find out!

*"Elf": Who wouldn't want to see Will Ferrell running around New York City in yellow tights, impersonating a North Pole inhabitant?

*Form an igloo: Make like an Eskimo and build yourself a fort of snow (if we ever get any).

*Griswold family: Watch "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" and, while laughing hysterically, acknowledge your own family's relative sanity.

*Hablas espanol? Listen to Feliz Navidad by Jose Feliciano to lighten your mood and improve your Spanish vocabulary!

*Ives, Burl: Perhaps the best-known holiday actor/singer virtuoso, Burl Ives completes any holiday season. Whether you're watching his voice emanate from an animated character (the snowman narrator in Rudolph) or listening to him serenade you in Christmas carols, you must experience him through some type of media.

*"Jingle Bells": Perhaps "dashing through the snow in a one-horse open sleigh" is improbable, but who says sledding is out of the picture? Break out those toboggans, and get yourself to the nearest hill for some good, old-fashioned winter fun.

*Kris Kringle: No matter what holiday you celebrate, organize a "Kris Kringle" or "Secret Santa" event with friends. Draw names from a hat, and exercise your will power by keeping it a secret until the gift exchange.

*Living Nativity: Consult the websites for the churches in your area to see who will be re-enacting the first Christmas.

*Macaulay Culkin: He plays the main character in "Home Alone," a classic Christmas film about an adventurous and surprisingly independent young boy. "Merry Christmas, you filthy animal."

*Northtown Center: Visit this ice rink or any one close to you for a few hours of skating and chilly fun!

*"O Tannenbaum!": Convince your family to put up a live Christmas tree this year. Visit the following link to find a tree farm near your house:

*Pizzelles: These traditional wafflelike Italian cookies are both beautiful and delicious; they would surely be a stand-out at any cookie exchange.

*Quality family time: When the final bell sounds on the day before Christmas break, you are free. Take this time to catch up with your family: Play board games and watch old home videos to reminisce about your own Christmases past.

*"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer:" Do you recall the most famous reindeer of all? This Christmas classic is timeless and enjoyable for all ages. Anyone who does not include a viewing of this film in their holiday plans is seriously remiss.

*Starbucks: Visit the nearest coffee shop to test out various holiday beverages for 2011: Caramel Brulee Latte, Peppermint Mocha, Gingerbread Latte and Eggnog Latte.

*Tiny Tim: Do not forget to experience Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" at some point this season. Read the play, view a live production or watch one of the many film adaptations. "God bless us, every one!"

*"... Upon the highest bough": Remember to decorate your entire tree; if you must break out a ladder, so be it. Choose a festive star, bow or angel to top your tree!

*Visit: Give back this holiday season by visiting a local charity, such as St. Luke's Mission of Mercy, Response to Love Center or the Food Bank of Western New York.

*Winterfest on Ice: On Saturday, watch the Amherst Skating Club showcase its talent. (Northtown Center, $5).

*(e)Xperience Michael Buble: Listen to the 15-track holiday album recently released by the soulful crooner to maintain a festive spirit.

*Yuletide carols: Surrender to the holiday spirit and belt out a tune or two. Whether it's in a formal group, in the car with your friends, at home with your family, or even in the shower, sing. Tune in to radio stations Star 102.5 and Joy 96.1 for constant carols to sing along to.

*Zuzu's petals: Watch Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life" and reflect upon the ideas of family, community and love. (Tissues are advised.)

And have yourself a merry little Christmas!


Christina Seminara is a junior at Nardin Academy.