Susan Miller is InStyle's resident astrologer and founder of Her latest InStyle sign-by-sign column appears in the December issue, available on newsstands and for digital download now.

Dec. The Sign - Lead
Credit: Time Inc. Digital Studio; Illustration by Bruno Grizzo

December starts off with a whirl of activity, and you would be wise to draw up your list of gifts and go shopping immediately. Mercury will officially go retrograde from Dec. 19 to Jan. 8. This can be a plus in that Mercury out of phase will force us to slow down and reconnect with beloved family and friends we haven’t seen in ages.

The downside to Mercury retrograde will be that last-minute shoppers will be frustrated with retailers' lack of available stock. Once you finally find the ideal gift, the size, color, or model number may be wrong, with no ability to get the right one in time. It's never wise to purchase electronics when Mercury is retrograde, Dec. 19 to Jan. 8, and you will feel the undertow of Mercury 10 days prior to the date it turns retrograde. Be wise and shop early, avoiding frustrations, crowds, and the high costs of express shipments.

Shopping aside, the month starts out with you feeling excited and cheerful. Dec. 1 holds a lovely alignment between Mars and Jupiter, joining forces of the planet of action and planet of good fortune. It’s a time to become motivated and bolt out of the gate to achieve a dream that is dear to you before the year is out.

When Mars reaches out to Uranus on Dec. 6, we will all benefit from the mutual reception of two strong planets. A mutual reception is when the first planet travels in the sign the second planet rules, and vice versa—a hard condition to find in the sky considering wildly different, slow orbits of these planets, but one that will, remarkably, be felt most of the month. Mars is in Aquarius, the sign Uranus rules, and Uranus is in Aries, the sign Mars rules, allowing these two planets to act like buddies, helping one another do its job to peak performance. Your ideas will be original now, and moreover, you’ll have the drive to make them succeed. Go forward!

It will be hard to beat the jewel-like day, Dec. 9, when the mighty Sun and Jupiter will be in perfect agreement. It’s a day you will be showered with luck and happiness, so present an idea to your boss or client, launch a new product or, in terms of love, schedule a first date as a few examples. If you take a judicious risk you will win.

Who says grown-ups shouldn’t daydream? On Dec. 10 and Dec. 27, by all means, do. Mercury, planet of thinking, and Neptune, the planet of imagination, will team up to bring you a cinematic vision of the future you hope to have. It may be just out of reach, but keep trying—you will be able to grasp your goals soon. Make your New Year’s resolutions, for it you can think of a better future, you can materialize it now.

Over the weekend of Dec. 10 to Dec. 11, don’t overdo. Your list will be long and it will be easy to stretch yourself too thin. The Sun and Saturn conjoin, which adds up to a meeting of fire and ice, two strange bedfellows to say the least. It’s a day to remain practical and unemotional, even when criticized. Others will be overwrought—take any grumpiness aimed at you with a shrug and a smile. Things will improve in a day or two.

The full moon in Gemini will occur on Dec. 13, bringing two different forces at once—both happiness and pressure—for Saturn will be opposed to this moon, reminding us that others are counting on us, and that we still have a list of responsibilities to fulfill. Softening this, Jupiter will be in heavenly angle to the full moon, bringing happiness and joy, and helping us rise above the fray. This would not be an ideal time to travel—wait until Dec. 17 to Dec. 18 if you can, for by then you will see fewer delays.

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The two most enchanting days of December will coincide with holidays that many people the world over celebrate. Christmas and Hanukkah fall on the same day this year, and Kwanzaa falls the day after, Dec. 26. On Dec. 24, stable Saturn will work with genius Uranus to create innovative plans that are both practical and that can, with a bit of ingenuity, bring long-range gain. Promises made on Dec. 24 will be promises kept.

The following day, Dec. 25, brings gracious Venus, dressed up to the nines, meeting with three powerful dignitaries: Jupiter, Uranus, and Saturn, an exciting rare aspect of supreme enchantment, harmony, and joy. Even if you don't celebrate the religious holidays, it will be hard not to feel good will toward others in the air at this time.

The magnificent new moon in Capricorn arrives on Dec. 28, arm-in-arm with powerhouse Pluto, with Mars and Neptune cheering on the sidelines. This new moon will bring you the energy and motivation to make solid plans to make a dream a reality, a recurrent theme that we will feel over and over in December. Plan in the days following this new moon, but wait until Mercury goes direct in Jan. 8 to sign papers and get things rolling.

New Year’s Eve brings Mars conjunct Neptune in Pisces, a lyrical vibration that is just made for private celebrations for two. If you have no special someone, find friends and design a scaled down, jewel of an evening. The moon will be in Aquarius, the sign of the future, so on this evening, conjure up a dream of a happy future and hold it in your heart. In 2017, dreams do come true.