I can’t believe it’s time for the holidays. It is such a special time of year for everyone, especially children. Of course they love getting presents, but I think it’s more than that. They love the decorations, getting out of school, festive holiday meals and spending time with family and friends. This year is especially exciting for me to work with Honeysuckle White® and Shady Brook Farms turkey. They asked me compose holiday survival guide for their December newsletter.
Here’s a look at my Top 10 Holiday Survival Tips:
1. Read a Book, Listen to Music or Both – A great book takes your mind off all that you have going on and helps you relax and escape while sharpening your mind at the same time. Jazz or classical music is supposed to relax you, but I say listen to whatever makes you feel good.
2. Exercise – Do what you love to do. My top stress relievers are running, yoga and weight training.
3. Play with Your Child and Pet – Throwing the ball with the dog or your kids is a great way to relax. In fact, why not take them along on a group walk or hike to the park!
4. Sleep and/or Naps – Getting extra rest when things are stressful always makes you feel so much better.
5. Cook or Bake – To me, cooking is therapy. Even if you don’t love to cook, baking with the kids is always a fun and relaxing time. Just enlist some helpers to contribute to cleaning up.
6. Build in “Me Time” – This is what I struggle with most. Try to slow things down and savor the moment. Also, schedule “me time”, a time out for yourself for a massage, a manicure or pedicure or simple things such as deep breaths, meditation, hot baths or whatever you like to do to refresh. Don’t think about the difficulties. Think about the moment, enjoying your family and enjoying life.
7. Learn to Say No – You don’t have to attend every party, kid’s party and function you are invited to. Trying to fit it all in creates more stress for you and the family.
8. Take a Vacation – Taking a family vacation during the holidays is a great way to de-stress, spend quality time with the family and get away from the holiday rush.
9. Holiday Movie Night – Watch a few old Christmas and holiday movies with the family with a cup of apple cider or hot chocolate and popcorn.
10. De-Plug – Take a break from your cell phone, computers and work and enjoy time outdoors and with family or friends. Getting away from it all really is true relaxation.
For a list of more favorites, check out Newsletters I wrote for them at the following links: http://www.honeysucklewhite.com/alisonlewis/ and http://www.shadybrookfarms.com/alisonlewis/ Hope you have also enjoyed some shots of New Orleans, a great holidays get-away. I highly recommend the Ritz Carlton.
As my kids have gotten older, I have realized the importance of creating meaningful family memories and traditions, especially on Thanksgiving. This is a great way to give back to your children and reinforce the meaning of family. Here are some ideas that my kids have enjoyed which I recently shared with Honeysuckle White and Shady Brook Farms. Now, I thought I would share them with you.
1. Thanksgiving Eve Meal – Since most moms, like me, are so busy cooking the day before Thanksgiving, make a tradition to do something fun, casual and memorable the night before. Is it pizza night, Mexican night or Asian? We usually visit our favorite local pizza restaurant. If you have been in the kitchen all day, this is a good way to take a break.
2. Create a “Thanksgiving Box” – I love the idea of creating a “Thanksgiving Box”. Choose a special box to be the “Thanksgiving Box” and have your kid’s help you pick out the “special” one. Every week or month during the year, have each family member write down on a piece of paper something they are thankful for. Each slip of paper is deposited in this box. During the week of Thanksgiving or during Thanksgiving dinner, read aloud the slips of paper.
3. Children’s Thanksgiving Craft – Create a kid’s corner or workspace with a small table where children can make a special craft and share with the elderly or someone in need. Deliver it with a small food gift teaching kids the idea of “giving back”.
4. Thanksgiving Games – On the afternoon during Thanksgiving, my family has the tradition of having a family-touch football game as well as taking our holiday card pictures on that day. We also like to go around the table and answer the question, “What are you thankful for?” Sometimes we make a game out of it, and vote for our favorite answer.
5. Create a Thanksgiving Scrapbook – Kids love art projects, and this is a great way to keep memories. Prepare a page for the Thanksgiving holiday and include pictures and papers from your “Thanksgiving Box”. This book makes a lifelong treasure that kids love to look at throughout the year.
6. Book & Hot Cocoa – Spend part of the morning or the day after Thanksgiving with hot chocolate and a good book. Spread out blankets and pillows in front of the fireplace for “reading time,” creating a warm memory.
7. Macy’s Day Parade – We love to spend the morning of Thanksgiving in our pajamas eating breakfast while watching the Macy’s Day Parade. It’s something my kids look forward to every year, and it’s great quality time spent together.
8. Afternoon Walks/Hikes – If you eat a Thanksgiving lunch, it’s always fun to take afternoon walks or hikes with the kids. It feels great to be together in nature, and this is also is a wonderful time for talking with no distractions of TV, computers, phones, etc.
9. Sharing – Since many people (college students, elderly singles, widowers etc.) do not have family or loved-ones nearby, why not invite them for the Thanksgiving meal? You can also invite them just for informal time, playing games, putting together puzzles and working on crafts with the children
10. Disconnect for Game-Time – This is a great family-time idea, which is easier said than done. Disconnect from cell phones, computers, video games and television for an hour or two and play a board game, card game or put together a puzzle. You’ll be amazed at how wonderful the laughter and conversation will be.
I feel so fortunate this year to have the incredible opportunity to work with Honeysuckle White and Shady Brook Farms who I wrote this article for originally. Hopefully, you can find some inspiration here for your holiday and family.
Since my expertise is in food and cooking, I sometimes struggle with décor. I want simplicity but beauty in my home during the holidays. All of these favorite ideas are inexpensive, and what I really love about them is that they can involve the kids. Below are some of my favorites.
My Top 5 Quick & Easy Centerpiece Ideas:
1. Decorate the mantel with pinecones, apples and garlands, or branches and leaves. Kids love to go into the yard to search for items of nature and help you incorporate them into the holiday décor.
2. Fill acorns in decorative candleholders surrounding the candles. Kids love to search for acorns and help arrange them.
3. Place gourds or small pumpkins on candlestick pedestals. Involve the kids in helping you display them.
4. Stuff hydrangeas in winter squash. Once you slice the squash, kids love to help remove the seeds and the insides of the squash.
5. Float green apples or pears in water in tall glass vases. Ask your kids to help fill up the vases and put the apples in them. This look is enhanced when the vases are surrounded by votives.
My Top 5 Table-Setting Ideas:
1. Use pears as place card holders with a string attached. Ask your children to help wash and dry the pears to get you started.
2. Tie fresh herbs with string and attach place card holders to them. My kids love tying the strings and helping me organize my herbs.
3. Let your kid’s create pinecone turkeys to put on each plate.
4. Have your children decorate or note cards and glue a fresh leaf to each.
5. Ask your kids to draw their favorite holiday picture, and place it by each person’s plate or napkin.
I feel so fortunate this year to have the incredible opportunity to work with Honeysuckle White and Shady Brook Farms. Hopefully, you can find some inspiration here for your holiday, as well. For more wonderful information, recipes and tips see Honeysuckle White and Shady Brook Farms.
Note: Dishes are from Pier One Imports