Make the holidays Merry & Bright

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The holidays are a time where we have moments of stress and joy!! Like the darling apron I gave my mother-in-law, “Desserts” is “Stressed” backwards. Funny, right!!  For a fun-filled holiday we have to enjoy the good and the bad, so I am going to do my best to give you some great ideas to make your holidays a little more Merry and Bright. EnJOY!

Breakout of the USUAL: During the holidays try something new–if your family has never gone tubing, ice skating or caroling, a bonfire on the beach, fed the homeless or made homemade cards–maybe try it! Shake it up & do the unusual.  Last year we tried snowshoeing and made a great memory.

Keep a stash on hand: I know I am always looking for movies, stocking stuffers, or little gifts last minute to give to a neighbor or friend I forgot. If you have a stash on hand, you will have less worry.

Keep it casual and cozy: Many people would tell you to overdress for any occasion during the holiday, but I would say keep it casually nice and cozy. Where we live it is cold!! Recently we went with my extended family to a performance that was a dressy occasion & everyone kept reminding me, “dress up,” but I used my common sense & went warm. All night everyone was wishing they had dressed warmer.  Tips: Make Nice scarves and hats your new best friends–they dress up any outfit and keep you warm during the holidays. Also, keep it simple–black with a little sparkle fits any occasion.

Set the mood: I think candles and fresh scents stir the senses and make the holidays even better. Where we live it now gets dark around 5pm. Yikes. I begin to get tired even earlier and the darkness seems to zap energy. With twinkling lights, candles and fresh aroma’s of citrus and cinnamon simmering on the stove, the holidays are a little more cozy and relaxed.  Here is a link to some stove top recipes  http://www.spendwithpennies.com/homemade-air-fresheners/

Stop, drop and stretch: Even a little exercise is better than nothing. Doing simple stretches moves your body and keeps the healthy endorphins pumping through your body. This will help with any holiday stress. Here are some simple stretches from Real Simple http://www.realsimple.com/health/fitness-exercise/stretching-yoga/stretching-exercises

A little more activity: While you are out and about, take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park a little farther from the stores and enjoy a good snow shovel for a friend or family member.

Prepare and avoid the last minute low-down: If you wait till last minute you will begin to feel more pressure, stress and it will leave you feeling low. If you begin to prepare now for gift giving, card creating and overall holiday cheer—everything will be brighter. Make a list of friends and family that you want to send cards or gifts–check it twice. Decide how much you want to spend this holiday season & don’t overspend [this will leave you down after the holidays]. Remember: giving a gift from the heart (homemade cards, knit gift bags, personal photos, etc) are treasured and won’t cost you as much.

You can say NO: There will be many work parties, family, friend, neighborhood parties and events to attend. If you sit down with your family before the hustle and bustle of the season & make a list of the things you want to do for the holidays, you will see the things most important to those you love. So, when invites come, you know what you can and cannot do with the time you have during the holiday season. Remember,  “Holidays” means “Holy days”–so keep each day special with those you love. Cherish each moment.

Embrace the holiday spirit: Have a focus on the meaning of the season–giving, being like Jesus, spending time with family. Create special traditions to truly embrace the holiday season—see my other posts on traditions. Go out and pick an angel off an angel tree & wrap up the spirit of giving. Purchase a special book on the nativity or have a special night where you watch it with your family. Make the season memorable.

Remember this key thing—what do your children really want for Christmas? This will eliminate many of the $$ stress. According to child experts, what children really want more than anything else during the holidays are: 1. Relaxed and loving time with family  2. Realistic expectations about gifts  3. An evenly paced holiday season  4. Family traditions   taken from http://counseling.eku.edu/dealing-holiday-stress-0

Just Breathe: Take a moment and take a breath. When you are feeling overwhelmed by the foods you need to bake or the presents you need to make—take a breath.

Give the gift of gratitude: Give people what they truly need–praise, appreciation and the gift of a grateful heart. Call, Email, Write cards to those you love and include something you love about them.

Hope these ideas help you make your holidays a little more Merry & Bright

Love and Peace to you  -H

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