The Gift Of Time And Peace Of Mind: Simple Suggestions For Surviving The Holiday Season.
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By Mia Bolaris-Forget
If your “one of those” who haven’t noticed yet, the weather has certainly taken a dive toward the blustery, chilly side. And, if that wasn’t enough to remind us that winter is just around the corner, our friendly neighborhood stores and malls are quick to remind us with rapidly appearing seasonal (and holiday) vistas. But along with all the merriment of gifts, galas, and gatherings comes the anxiety, anguish, and overload of stress from being in constant overdrive.
From holiday cards (that have become a holiday MUST), to time-honored traditions, plus the seeming (and impending) gloom and doom of holiday shopping leaves us more weary than cheery.
Some savvy survival tips for even the biggest holiday skeptics:
· Turn cleaning into a bonding experience for you and your daughter or you and a girlfriend. Make it a project to share over coffee, good fun, and a few laughs. And, if it’s a girlfriend who’s helping out, don’t forget to return the favor.
· Instead of a girl’s night out, host a girl’s night “in”. Invite a few friends over, maybe even include moms and daughters and have a gift-wrapping party. Exchange techniques and ideas, and you can even share and swap paper and ribbon….and by no means should you forget the munchies; just make sure they’re healthy.
· Freaking out over food? Can’t afford to cater? Consider again making it a group effort. Ask some friend or relatives to come over once a week (switching homes and locations throughout the month). Each of you can make a dish or two (but in excess) and share it amongst the group. Try to prepare well in advance keeping in mind that many foods can be prepared ahead of time then frozen. All you’ll have to do (at holiday time) is heat and serve.
· Children have the holiday blues and blahs? Why not let them help with decorating, cooking, shopping etc. If they’re still too young (or immature) for any of this, break out the holiday videos, and don’t forget to exchange with friends. It may even be a good opportunity to teach kids about different traditions, cultures, etc. How about setting up a craft area and allowing kids some creative license in making their own holiday ornaments, cards, or décor.
· Try to get your holiday groceries delivered if you can. Otherwise, designate a time and day for this very special task. Perhaps even take a day off or leave early and psych yourself up for all those tasty treats by taking your sweet time and not rushing through your list.
· Think ahead about all the trimmings you’ll be exposed to and start trimming calories way ahead of time, so that you can take advantage of the season. Remember, that you should satisfying your taste buds without over-saturating them, and always leave a bit of extra room.
Suggestions For Surviving (Holiday) Soirees:
Food and Drink:
· Do all your dieting “pre-season. Instead of trying to (continue to) lose weight (over the holidays), focus on maintaining your pre-holiday weight.
· Pick before you party. Never go to a party on an empty stomach. Instead much on something healthy, low fat, and healthy before attending and simply sample (some of) the fantastic holiday fare.
· Remove yourself from temptation. Make it a practice to be fashionable late, and to depart (if possible) a bit early (and prior to dessert). The less exposure to food and drink, the better.
· Lower your standards by choosing low-calorie foods and drink (or low-cal versions of tradition holiday fare), and also, try to avoid alcohol.
· Make sure you (and not necessarily your mouth) are constantly moving. If you’re going to engage your lips, engage them in conversation. Otherwise, try to help the host or hostess by taking charge of the music, cleaning up, taking pictures, anything but cooking and serving.
Home Entertainment (For “Children” Of All Ages):
· Consider setting up an arts and crafts section for kids (big and small) to keep their hands and minds occupied, since generally they are the first to get bored.
· Make sure you have entertaining (and lively) holiday (background) music playing. If you are musically inclined don’t hesitate to sit by the piano or pull out your guitar and entertain your guests, asking them to join in. Also, make sure you have some sort of festive movie either on TV, video or DVD. Keep it playing on low, and in an area accessible to guests.
· Consider setting up two different sections for adults to sit in. This will encourage people to meander from one room to the next, plus it will keep the noise level down. Keep a deck (or two) of cards or some other (simple) game accessible for them to engage in.
· Consider doing a gift swap. Wrap enough gifts for each guest to receive one. They can be simple items such as cookies or note pads. Have each person jot his/her name down on two pieces of paper. Place all the names in a hat or box. Proceed to draw the first name, and instruct the person to select the gift of his/her choice and open it. Continue by drawing a second name. This individual can either pick a gift of his or her own, or take the one chosen (and opened) by the first player. If they choose the other person’s gift, that person may pick a new one. Now, pick a third name and ask that person to either pick a new gift or take one of the ones already chosen. This continues until all the names have been drawn. By having each person jot down his/her name twice, it offers them the opportunity to retrieve their original gift.
Décor A La Emergency:
· Place a festively colored votive candle in a glass or goblet and tie a matching or complimentary colored Christmas ribbon around the base of the stem.
· Using (clear) fishing line hang some Christmas tree ornaments from the ceiling. But, make sure they are securely fastened and high enough so that everyone can walk under them. The fishing line will give them a suspended in air appearance, and use of a narrow ribbon with a small bow is a lovely accent.
· Create napkin rings out of colored Christmas ribbon (but try to make sure it’s the material kind). Gently tie the ribbon around the napkins and for added coordination tie a matching bow around the base of stemmed glasses.
· Last minute centerpieces can be creatively crafted by:
o Wiping some gold gilding on apples and pears and placing in a glass bowl (perfect especially if your guest have allergies to fragrances and seasonal blooms)
o Make some frosted fruit by moistening some fresh fruit with water then dragging through sugar. Arrange on a holiday dish, plate, or in a holiday bowl.
Not enough holiday plates. One of the most palatable trends is mis-matched place settings. Make it work for you. Consider putting out a host of dishes from different sets or purchasing a few (in holiday colors) from various thrift shops or discount stores. If you frequent fast-food establishments, consider collecting their assortment of holiday ware (cups and glasses)…but keep in mind the trick to making this avant-garde table setting work to your advantage
1. Make sure no two pieces are exactly alike. However they should be similar in shape, type of material, etc.
2. Each person has a matching set, but no two persons have the same set.
Make your home where the heart is with this season’s most heartwarming décor:
· Swaddle windows (from top to bottom) in window scarves by draping some inexpensive but festive fabric from an existing rod and tucking under in raw edges on ends.
· Tie a piece of festive holiday ribbon around a plain cylinder and place on a pedestal or holiday dish.
· Spray paint some mixed nuts (still in the shell) with metallic gold or silver paint. Put in a bowl or bag and trim with festive ribbon. Make sure children and guests don’t try to crack open the nuts and eat them.
Last-Minute Gifts: Just in case you somehow missed someone or have an unaccounted for or unexpected guest.
· Get hold of a nice (but inexpensive) mug and add to it:
o small packet of gourmet coffee
o some packages of gourmet hot cocoa
o some holiday cookies, candies or treats
o a small plant
· Replace single mug with a set of (inexpensive) mugs and fill each with a different goody.
* Get or pail or plastic tub or bucket. Using permanent marker and maybe a few decorative stickers or rub on decals write the child’s name on one side and decorate. Fill with crayons, coloring books, storybooks, some holiday candy or cookies, etc.
For The Person Who Has It All:
· Fill a basket or flowerpot with products for pampering. Consider items such as oils, lotion, bath beads, sponge, some towels, etc.
· Fill a basket or flowerpot with something everyone (in the whole family can enjoy)….food. Consider items such as specialty cooking oils, pasta, sauces, wine, etc. Maybe even throw in a CD or two of background music.
The Hobby Enthusiast:
· Make a basket full of all the relevant items pertaining to his/her hobby. If it’s gardening consider some (inexpensive) gardening tools, some gloves, seeds and a subscription to a magazine catering to that hobby. Put a note about the subscription along with the most current issue in the basket along with the other goodies.
Health and Fitness Fanatics:
· Gather some decorative boxes (of varying sizes) and fill each with some fruit, nuts, health bars, etc. Stack boxes and tie with a large decorative ribbon.
Innovative Ideas For Hard To Wrap Items:
· Items such as gift certificates; dinner and theater tickets are generally placed in an envelope. You can certainly try to wrap the envelope or place it in a box and wrap that. For a more nouveau package, try placing the item in a cardboard tube. Wrap the tube with wrapping paper or material, gather the ends and tie (each end) with a ribbon.
· For larger, almost impossible to wrap items consider
1) Taking a photo of the item and wrapping it
2) Wrapping an item affiliated with the gift (such as keys, if the item is a car), sitting back and enjoying watching the expression on your loved one’s face as they put the pieces of the puzzle together.
For Really Large Boxes:
· Buy more than one roll of the same wrapping paper. Unroll both and tape two rolls together, making the paper double in size. Wrap (gift) as usual and finish off with very large ribbon and a very large bow.
· These handy, dandy items are quick and easy but don’t necessarily hide the gift very well. Consider wrapping the gift first (if you have time), then placing it in the bag. Don’t forget to fill bag with colorful tissue paper and tie the handles together with a large decorative holiday bow or ribbon.
Holiday Cards (or Letters):
· Get a head start filling out cards. Start by making a list and noting how many cards and stamps you will need.
· Looking for a zip code? Refer to the U.S. Postal Service
· Looking for a way to let family and friends know how you (and your family) have been doing this year. Consider picking up some commercial holiday paper or using your computer to design your own. Then make a letter (instead of a card) including family updates as well as a holiday blessing, but be sure to follow the rules.
1. Don’t use holiday greetings to solicit for causes, charities, or business.
2. Refrain from using your holiday greeting to brag about a promotion, new home, addition to your family etc. Mention only pertinent highlights such as a move, kids activities, etc….but keep details and specifics to a limit.
3. Make each personal and don’t forget the holiday greeting or blessing, after all that IS the reason for sending it in the first place.
4. Try to meet or beat the post office deadline. Keep in mind that deliveries usually take longer during the holiday season, which for many can start as early as September. So, with all the added letters and packages you may want to give yourself plenty of extra time to get your parcel or letter there on time.
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