Christmas Traditions

Merry Christmas! The day that we have been planning for months has finally come. The presents have been wrapped and now unwrapped. Food is cooking and traveling has commenced. Every family has their own traditions and plans for this time of the year. I didn’t realize how different people’s traditions are until my husband and I met.

On Christmas Eve, we spend time with my husband’s family at his uncle’s house. There will be my husband and I, my husband’s parents, my sister-in-law and her fiance, our niece, his aunt and uncle, and two of his cousins. The first year we were together and went to his uncle’s house for Christmas Eve, it was awkward. We hadn’t spent much time with them, so I didn’t know how to act at first. I remember seeing all of the delicious snacks they prepared and only eating a little bit so I could save room for dinner. After about two hours, I realized that this was dinner. So naturally, I stuffed my face. It was so different from any party that my family has, so it was a huge surprise for me. We laugh about it now and I know not to worry about pacing myself. It will be quiet and we will be able to catch up on what has been going on in everyone’s lives.

On Christmas we spend time with my family. We will go to my aunt’s house which will be filled with about twenty people running around. We are a big Italian family, so it is both loud and full of an unimaginable amount of food. First there is a table full of appetizers, then a table and counter full of entrees, and last-but-not-least a table full of desserts. Granted, we wont be able to eat much of it this year, but that means we won’t leave uncomfortably full. My family will continue to feed us (regardless if we say we’re full) for hours. It’s always over-stimulating and everyone tries to talk over everyone else, but it’s family. We will receive our gifts from our Secret Santa and watch the children play until it’s time to go home.

I was talking with one of my friends recently and she told me about her and her husband’s holiday plans. They spend Christmas Eve with her father’s side of the family, Christmas morning with her husband’s family, and Christmas evening with her mother’s side of the family. Oh, and they have to fit her husband’s step dad’s family in there somewhere. I don’t know how they do it. That sounds exhausting!

No matter what your plans are this holiday, I hope you get the chance to sit down and relax. This is the time to reflect on the past year and focus on what you are most grateful for. Family is worth appreciating and spending time with them is what the holidays are all about.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

Holiday To-Do List

Deck the halls, sing the songs, and enjoy the merry Christmas season. This year, I have decided to make a “bucket list” of things that I want to do and experience over the next few weeks leading up to Christmas. What is on your “must do” list for the holiday season? Comment with your favorite things to do/experience in December.

  1. Tour of Lights: Growing up, we always took a trip to a local cul-de-sac that was impeccably decorated. Every year they would have hundred of lights, inflatable decorations, and Santa with Christmas music blasting. I want to visit those lights again this year and build new memories with my husband at a place that was memorable in my childhood.
  2. Dec(orate) the Halls: Some of our decorations are out, but we have yet to put up our tree. We will probably only have the fake tree up this year, but I will make sure our home is decorated for the holidays.
  3. Baking: I want to try making vegan cookies for the first time this holiday season! I am thinking an oatmeal and dried cranberry cookie, but who knows what I will find…Baking is definitely not my forte, but who knows, I may be able to pull it off.
  4. Dish to Pass: I think I have finally hit the age where I should be bringing a dish to family gatherings. Being vegan and having an extremely non-vegan family, we will need to bring all of our own food. But this year I am planning to bring a dish for everyone to enjoy at each of the parties we go to.
  5. Holiday Party: I think we will be hosting a holiday party with my husband’s school clinical group. I don’t know any of them, but I am going to make the best of it. I’ve been in the mood to host gatherings, so I will take any excuse to plan a party.
  6. Time to Relax: This year I want to finish all holiday shopping at least one week before Christmas. I always find myself braving the crowds on Christmas Eve, but this year I want to spend the days leading up to Christmas relaxing and enjoying family time.
  7. Rejuvenation: I vow to do one thing per day to positively affect my mental health. Whether it’s a bubble bath, journaling, coloring, meditation, or anything else I feel like, I am planning to take care of myself in this hectic time of the year.
  8. Singing Carols: I want to listen to Christmas music without guilt. In the car, at home, and at work…it’s only for a few weeks!
  9. Cinema: I want to watch at least two new Christmas movies this year. Yes, I am talking about those cheesy lovey dovey movies. I usually hate the romantic movies, but there is something about Christmas season that makes them charming.
  10. Eat Balanced: I hope to not pig-out on all of the junk at holiday parties. Sure, I am going to enjoy some treats, but I want to end my year in balance.

 

What are your ideas and plans for the holiday season?

Love Always,

Elizabeth

Gifts for that Tricky Giftee

Do you have a list of people to shop for that are tricky to buy for? I want to help you this year by listing some gift ideas that will hopefully spark inspiration for you (and me).

  • Teachers: They are the people who mold the minds of our country’s future leaders – they deserve some pampering and goodies for their hard work.
    • Manicure Bundle: Place a luxurious hand lotion, nail polish, pair of comfy gloves, emery board, and peppermints into a cute little box (without the cap – you can find one at the Dollar Tree) and wrap it in cellophane with some cute curly ribbon.
    • Pampering Bundle: Use a medium sized glass vase and add a face mask, small candle, cute sleep mask, candy canes and/or chocolates, and an ornament before wrapping in cellophane and tying with ribbon.
    • Coffee Run Bundle: Add a small bag of freshly ground coffee to a cute mug, wrap it in cellophane and tie a Starbucks (or other coffee shop) gift care at the top with ribbon. You could also do this with tea!
  • Coworkers: Yes, I am talking about Secret Santa.
    • Movie night bundle: Place a few bags of instant popcorn, a couple boxes of candy, popcorn seasoning, and a local movie theater gift card in a reusable plastic popcorn bag (you can buy them on Amazon). Wrap the gift in cellophane and tie with ribbon.
    • Game night bundle: Place a deck of cards (or UNO) , left-right-center game, board game, snacks (trail mix, dried fruit, chips) into a cute box wrapped in cellophane with a ribbon.
    • Baking bundle: Set an oven mitt, kitchen towel, wooden spoon, and cookbook into a brownie pan wrapped in cellophane (and tie with ribbon – you get the idea).
  • Neighbors: If you like your neighbors, that is.
    • Cookie Platter: Bake a bunch of different kinds of cookies, put a few of each in a cute tin lined with parchment paper, add a bow and tah-dah!
    • Baking Jar: Make brownies in a jar or another recipe in a jar, attach a small wooden spoon (and the recipe/directions) with ribbon and deliver them to your neighbors.
  • Significant other: Focus on their passions, what they spend the most time doing, and what would make their life easier.
    • My husband enjoys learning about brewing beer and trying new drinks from local companies. One of the first holidays we had together (before he started brewing his own beer) I got him a beer bottle holder in the shape of the U.S. It was a good excuse for us to try new companies’ products to fill up spots on the board.
    • We both love traveling, so another gift I bought my husband is a scratch off world map. When we travel to a new state or country, we scratch off that area. It’s a satisfying gift that will entice us to continue traveling.
    • Amazon devices are great gifts too. We have an Echo, a dot and just bought a second dot (they are on sale for only $20 right now!) I also have a Kindle Paperwhite (for reading) which was a favorite gift of mine and is on sale right now too. With the Echo and dots we can communicate from different rooms, stream music, Google search, enjoy audio books, play games, and so much more. The Paperwhite gives me access to hundreds of books with only a couple of clicks (I have the Kindle unlimited subscription, so I don’t have to buy books individually, I just pay a small fee monthly for however many books in their library that I would like to read).
    • Subscriptions are great too! Like I said, I have the Kindle Unlimited subscription and I love it. It’s great for any avid reader with an Amazon Kindle device. If someone loves listening to audio books or loves to read, but doesn’t have a ton of free time to sit and enjoy a book, services like Audible are a great option! You could also buy them a year of Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu or other great services.
    • Handmade gifts are an awesome idea. One of my favorite gifts ever is this small wooden canvas that my husband used a wood-burner to engrave roses and a message to me. It’s sitting on our bedside table and I love looking at it every day.
    • I think the best gifts are experiences. Tickets to a concert, a trampoline park, a Broadway show, a hockey game…are all great options for a gift. These kinds of presents are perfect for a person who already has everything – they don’t take up much space, build memories, and give you an excuse to do something new together. Honestly, spending quality with the people we love is the best present anyone could ask for.
  • Parents:
    • Family photo session (gift certificate or already planned). You could also do a session of all of their children (and grandchildren if there are any), print out a group photo as a canvas, and give it to them as their gift.
    • Put together a date night for your parents! Include a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant, a bottle of wine, and some fancy chocolates. This gives them an excuse to go out together and have a good time (not that they need an excuse)!
    • Surprise family gathering: Do you have a sibling who lives far away and doesn’t get to visit often? Surprise your parents by helping your sibling travel home for the holidays. Having their kids work as a team to get the family together for Christmas (or any holiday that you celebrate) would be a great gift for your parents!
  • Friends:
    • Something that reminds you of time you spend together: If you and your friend drive around country roads on the weekends, maybe you should buy her a crystal charm to hang from her rear-view mirror. If you guys like to cook or bake together, maybe you should look at kitchen supplies such as a personalized wooden cutting board.
    • Something that you created yourself: If you enjoy crocheting, make your friend a scarf or blanket with their favorite colored yarn. If you enjoy photography, make a “gift certificate” for a photo session that they can use for themselves, as a couples/family session, or with their pet! If you enjoy calligraphy, you can personalize a stained wooden canvas with a saying or their last name. You can find a ton of inspiration for this on Pinterest! These are great gift ideas if you are on a strict budget this year, but they are also super heartfelt.
    • Something that will pamper them: Face masks, bath bombs, nail polish, body scrubs, soft sweaters, pajama pants, fluff socks, and other skin care products are awesome gifts to put together or gift separately.

 

I hope that this list of gift ideas helped to get your creativity flowing. Gift giving can be tricky, but you can do it! Don’t break the bank this holiday season – give gifts that are meaningful and affordable.

Love Always,

Elizabeth