The Christmas season has got to be the ultimate party time. Forget birthdays and end of exam celebrations because the festive season is party central. Let's face it, everyone is on the same vibe and there's always a group of people up and ready to have a good time, for any excuse because . . . it's Christmas! Yet a diary full of social obligations can create a lot of pressure and if we're not careful, too much going out will wear at us and burn us out. I remember well, and am constantly reminded, that I never turned up for one of my closest friend's birthday dinners last year. My friend got good mileage out of giving me grief; but all this achieved was to help me realise that perhaps I don't have to go out and support each and every event that is organised. I used to think that if I didn't support my friends' parties, I'd feel bad about it for a long time, but is it really that important? I don't think so. The problem is we let ourselves believe it will wreck the friendships we have, when really we are excluding our own needs to the provisions of others. If we explain truthfully why we cannot commit then real friends will respect that and for the ones that don't, then it's their problem, not ours. Quality time for yourself is equally as important as the time you give to celebrate your friendships. The true value of this companionship is expressed through experiencing the time you can devote to each other and not from endless face time and any excuse for a get-together. I am not advocating a total abandonment of social commitments or a hermit lifestyle as we all crave the opportunity to party on and have a good time. Just be aware that if your motivation for going out is based on pressure and for the sake of keeping the peace, rather than enjoying what's great about life, then you're fulfilling a need that isn't meeting your own. With that realisation understood, why not go out and celebrate it? After all - it's Christmas! David Simpson is an experienced youth counsellor and a regular SYP columnist.