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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THOUGHTFUL Holiday Seasons

I don’t know about you, but sometimes getting around family brings out the need to find things to talk about with family you haven’t seen in awhile. I thought today I would put together some fun ideas to do with family during the holidays, turkey talk conversation starters, etc. Here you go!!

ImageGET THE CONVERSATION ROLLING:  I have a hard time listening to my father-in-law bark out orders to his wife, it can get a little awkward, so I decided to order the Thanksgiving and Christmas version of Melissa and Doug’s conversation cards. I think this will be a good way to get people talking and not barking!! They are around $9.99, but I can’t give you any great details because I haven’t received them yet.  They have good reviews on Amazon, so they should be worth the bucks. Here is a link to a bunch of different ones they have. http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_23?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=melissa+and+doug+conversation+starters&sprefix=melissa+and+doug+conver%2Caps%2C257

Here is another link to 101 conversation starters http://www.conversationstarters.com/101.htm

ImagePLAY: Many families take on the traditional turkey bowl for Thanksgiving, but you could also pull out board games, play tag with the kids or how about Charades. Everyone loves a good game of charades for any holiday. Here are a couple of links I came across with some charade word list ideas—http://www.greatgroupgames.com/thanksgiving-charades.htm   OR  http://www.purpletrail.com/partytrail/holiday_parties/thanksgiving/printable-game-thanksgiving-themed-pictionary   Other family play ideas could include a fun family game of just dance or karaoke, name that tune, relay races, pictionary, video games, etc.

ImageSHARE: Most families go around the table and share something they are grateful for, but you can even take it one step further and have people share highlights from the year—The Best thing that happened to them this year, a favorite trip memory, the funniest moments from the year, best moments of giving to someone else (Random acts of kindness), etc.  Then have the kids share one thing they love about their family or something they are grateful for. Don’t forget to get the kids involved in this!! Kids truly can say the greatest things.

ImageTALENT SHOW: Our family for the holidays does a funny talent show–We have had my sister strap on the electric guitar, a funny wig & jammed to her favorite 80’s band, one family dressed up like a crazy music video and danced the crazy moves like in the video, kids have made up dances, performed their latest recital piece…etc. have the kids share a talent or make a funny family skit. The holidays are about family, so join in the festivities & share your crazy!! —Dan in Real Life (the movie–above pic) has a cute family talent show scene.

ImageFUN FAMILY PHOTOS: We have all heard the photo booth image ideas, so that is always a possibility, but you could also put a fun family spin—whenever I have cousins over for a fun, themed party I always have them throw on a silly hat, a wig, hold a heart, pose with a pink flamingo, etc. So for the holidays you could put your own spin on the idea—have everyone where a feather headband and take individual shots or family shots, what about crazy aprons, chef hats, silly sweaters, Crazy hats, Santa hats, etc.—for Christmas my Mom always had everyone get “mug Shots” where we hold up a sign that says “Christmas year” and we pose like we are getting a mug shot.

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FAMILY GRATITUDE: JOURNAL: Begin a yearly Thanksgiving gratitude journal. When everyone gets together have them write down some things they were grateful for this past year. Don’t forget to date it! GRATITUDE JAR: Have all the family members write down 5 things they are grateful for from the year & put them into a big jar. Each year add to the jar. TREE: Have a small (or large–some people already put up their tree) and have guests to your home write down something they are grateful for on a slip of paper & then make them into a chain OR you could have pre-cut paper ornaments they can write on & you then add them to your tree.

ImagePHOTO BOOK: You could make a fun, family photo book from the previous year & gift it to your parents, so everyone at the festivities can enjoy all the fun moments. You could also make one tailored to your family & write a note about all the fun memories and moments together. I do this for my daughter Kate every year & gift it to her on Thanksgiving day & we express our gratitude for her in our life. Photos always make everything better.

ImageAdditional FUN IDEAS: DUCKIES–Over a fall weekend my family went to a cabin that had a hot tub. I purchased some plastic duckies & put a little symbol (heart, square, diamond–whtever you want) on a few of the ducks. We had all the kids in the hot tub & threw the ducks into the middle & the kids grabbed them. Those with the ducks that had a symbol got a prize. It was so fun!! & then for added entertainment the kids suctioned them all over their bodies—it was quite the picture event!! Imagine 8 little kiddos in the hot tub with little ducks stuck on their face, arms, chest—all posing crazy!! Priceless memories.  Here is a link to some Thanksgiving duckies http://www.amazon.com/Dozen-Rubber-Duckie-THANKSGIVING-favors/dp/B000V65CUQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1384874892&sr=8-1&keywords=Thanksgiving+duckies  OR Christmas duckies  http://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Holiday-Rubber-Ducky-Count/dp/B000E8S9WO/ref=pd_bxgy_t_text_y  OR LEAVES–If there are still leaves to rake, have all the kids pile them up & make a big bird nest & take fun family photos in the middle of it, or a leaf fight.

Whatever you do—make it memorable. Happy Holidays!!