The holiday season is a time for giving, family and feasts, and lots of cheers — that is, clanking of cocktails. Whether it was one too many at the holiday office party, a coping mechanism for Christmas dinner with the in-laws, or just a way to unwind at the end of a long year, the holiday hangover is often as synonymous with the season as opening presents.

The good news is there are some things you can do to help avoid beginning the new year with a pounding headache. Consider these holiday-related hangover prevention tips before imbibing this season:

1. Avoid beverages that cause the most severe hangovers:

Obviously the best way to avoid a holiday hangover is to refrain from alcohol. But if you must imbibe, try to steer clear of the beverages known to cause the most severe hangovers. One major factor in hangover severity has to do with a drink's concentration of congeners, which are byproducts of the fermentation process. Drinks with higher levels of congeners are typically red wines or dark liquors. Brandy and whiskey are particularly perilous in this regard, so be wary of holiday hot toddies. Clear liquors such as vodka have been shown to be a safer choice, and if you're a rum drinker go for the clear variety. Oenophiliacs may want to consider opting for white wines.

2. Activated charcoal in your stocking:

If you've been over-drinking during the holidays, chances are you've been bad. But that lump of coal left in your stocking might be a blessing in disguise. Activated charcoal is a substance believed by some to filter alcohol compounds, shunting them into the lower parts of the small intestine. Poison victims in the ER are sometimes given a charcoal treatment under the same principle. If you want to find out if this treatment works for you, keep in mind that you'll need to ingest the activated charcoal supplements while or immediately following alcohol consumption. Taking it after the hangover has already set in is too late. It's meant for hangover prevention, not as a hangover cure.

3. Put plenty of asparagus on the dinner table

Eating too much asparagus is known to make your pee smell funny, but that's a small price to pay for waking up hangover-free. A 2009 study published in the Journal of Food Science found that the amino acids and minerals found in asparagus extract may alleviate hangovers, as well as offer protection against toxins in your stressed liver.

4. Make your cocktails with eggnog

Eggnog cocktails are an irresistible holiday treat for many people, and the good news is that you may not have to give them up. There are many who claim that milk can help prevent hangovers because it coats the lining of the stomach, reducing alcohol absorption. Milk is, of course, one of the key ingredients in eggnog. Though there is little scientific evidence to suggest a correlation between milk consumption and hangover reduction, it certainly can't hurt to dilute your alcohol intake. Just remember: You can always drink your eggnog non-alcoholic too.

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