It's that time of year again. If you're like me, you can easily get swept up in the excitement and anticipation of the holiday season (another eggnog, anyone?). Sure, it sounds like fun. But with all the festive parties to attend, decadent desserts to indulge in, and gifts to buy, I often abandon my resolve to do well by my body, my mind, and the planet. I go out and play a little too hard, trying to attend every holiday bash. Then, I eat too much in an attempt to relish each morsel of the season. And, finally, because I like giving gifts, I simply buy too much. Every year, I reset my intentions and plan to do better. Every year, I fail spectacularly.

Luckily, this season I know I can do better, thanks to the strategies featured in this issue for navigating the holidays without sacrificing my health or values. Here's what I learned.

First, choose gifts you feel good about giving. I often scramble to cover everyone on my list and end up buying presents just for the sake of buying something. Because our managing editor, Radha Marcum, did the legwork and found natural gifts for savoring, playing, and relaxing, I have more thoughtful and healthy options—from a flowering teapot and soy milk maker to fair trade silk place mats and all-natural biscuits for my canine friends. If giving stuff isn't part of your holiday plan, though, try an alternative: Make a donation in someone's name to a nonprofit organization. One such worthy group is the Vitamin Angel Alliance featured in our Evolve column.

Another lesson from this issue: Be realistic. I will be tempted to bake my favorite rich peanut butter cookies for everyone in the office, and I won't be able to resist sampling. Instead of beating myself up after the fact, I can be proactive and make all-natural Peanut Butter Kisses or one of the other featured recipes in our collection of healthy holiday cookies. Well, let me revise that statement: These cookies aren't healthy in the strictest sense of the word. Instead, they're what our senior food editor, Elisa Bosley, calls "healthier takes on classics"—lower in saturated fat and refined ingredients. Like me, you will probably indulge this month; here, we give a few better-for-you options that don't skimp on flavor and still satisfy those irrepressible holiday cravings.

Those are just a few of the gems I discovered as we put together this December issue. (And speaking of gems, check out the beautiful and ecofriendly jewelry featured in "True Jewels." What gems did you find that will help you stay healthy this holiday season? Please write and let us know.

Pamela Emanoil Bond
editor in chief