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One of my favorite holiday traditions is our trip to the Tallahassee Nursery to pick out our Christmas tree. This is something we’ve been doing for 5ish years and it’s a trip that never fails to be a lot of fun. Admittedly our visit got off to a soggy start this year; it was alternating between pouring and sprinkling when we arrived. Andy and I joked that at least our tree would be super clean (it was) and that portion of the trip with rather brief. We quickly found our tree and had the handy helpful tree guys put it into its stand and secure it to the top of our car.
With the important part of the trip out of the way, we spent the next hour running from building to building, visiting all our favorite spots like the koi pond, the holiday dinosaur, and of course the Christmas Shop.
The Christmas Shop is always a great place to poke around for fun seasonal finds. Even better, since it was raining out, the two cats who live at the nursery were inside. Oh, and they have spiced cider. It’s awesome. I will admit that I probably spent more time playing with Tally and Willow than I did looking at decor this year, but with those two cuties, who could blame me? I also found a really great ornament for our tree and a cute little bird for my desk at work. A damp, but fantastic trip.
One of the biggest mistakes I think a host can make is not taking into account if you’ve invited a guest with dietary restrictions. I can tell you from experience there are few things that can ruin your evening like being the awkward person not eating while everyone keeps trying feed you things you can’t eat. That’s why I try to check with all my guests and make sure that there is an item or two on my table that works for everyone. Recently I hosted some work friends for some Christmas crafts and coloring and I had them try out these two recipes. Vegans and omnivores alike were both impressed by how delicious they turned out.
These are without a doubt the easiest of these two recipes; I threw a batch of these together mere minutes before my guest arrived. Heck, they were still warm and my guests were eating them as I was putting them into the bowl. A great recipe and one of those things that your other guest won’t even realize is vegan.
Now I will admit, this one takes a bit of pre-planning, and a lot more work, but one of my co-workers gladly took the left-overs home and even made a special stop for extra chips on the way. While the recipe says that you can make this and serve it after a mere two hours in the fridge, I think you should make it the night before. First, it will give you more prep time, and second, it gives the flavors longer to saturate a really mature. And you do not want to try this without a good food processor.
What foods do you like to serve at your holiday parties? Have you had any interesting experiences cooking for people with dietary restrictions?
For some (probably more than would admit), this is the day fall is over and the holiday season ensues. Pumpkins are tossed, trees go up, and Christmas music plays. Okay, maybe November 1st is a bit eager, but this is definitely true the day after Thanksgiving.
Yet, research suggests engulfing yourself in the holiday season too early is likely to cause feelings of stress and anxiety. Are we surprised? This day in age, November and December are plagued with feelings of financial, physical and emotional strain. That’s because society puts so much pressure on us to cook the best meals, host the best parties, and buy the best gifts. In our striving to please our families and friends, we miss the whole point of the season.
To ensure the most wonderful time of the year doesn’t pass you by in the blink of an eye (and you would even use the word “wonderful” to describe it), here are five tips to enjoying the holiday season stress-free:
Throughout the next couple of months, find moments to be still. When you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, take a deep breath. Deep breathing is known to combat the detrimental effects of stress and anxiety by lowering blood pressure and slowing your heart rate.
Take a Sabbath
Historically, taking a Sabbath means observing a day of rest from work. During the craziness of the holiday season, taking a Sabbath may not be a bad idea. As humans, we have limits. We were designed to rest. In fact, one day of rest a week may just be what we need to stay sane through December 31st.
Here’s the cool part. You have full authority to define what your Sabbath looks like. It doesn’t have to be on the weekend; it doesn’t even have to be a full day. The key here is to pick your Sabbath, whether it’s Wednesday afternoon or all day Sunday, define it, and finally, protect it.
Perhaps your Sabbath is taking a break from shopping (online or in-store). Maybe you unplug for a couple hours all together. Decide what your Sabbath looks like, and then prioritize that time above all else when the day comes.
Sleep is vital all year long, but especially around the holidays. Considering your sleep is most likely suffer during the last couple months of the year, it’s important you protect it.
After all, sleep only amplifies stress. So the more hours of shut-eye you miss, the more likely you are to fuss over the family holiday card, burn the Christmas cookies, and ultimately, get coal from Santa. All this to say, you’ll want to prioritize sleep if you’d like to enjoy the holiday season and make it to the New Year without pulling of of your hair out.
Not to mention, giving the gift of sleep is totally underrated. What most people wouldn’t do to get better sleep. Whether that means gifting cozy pajamas or actually purchasing a new mattress, we often underestimate just how valuable a good night of sleep can be for our physical, mental and emotional health. My advice to you—don’t only prioritize sleep this season, consider gifting it to others.
P.S. Did you know mattresses now come compressed and rolled in a box? AMAZING. Who would have thought you could actually wrap a mattress?!
Say “yes” to saying “no”
Ceaseless invitations flood your mailbox. How many Christmas parties, bonfires, and dinners can one get invited too?
Around this time of year, the pressure to say “yes” to social events, familial obligations, and those once a year bargains is greater than ever. In fact, some of us feel enslaved to the word “yes” as if uttering the words “no, thank you” would mean we’d never be spoken to again.
Here’s the thing. It is okay to say no. Actually, it is healthy to say no. Don’t bring unnecessary stress upon yourself. When a decision presents itself ask yourself these three questions:
- Do I have physical capacity to take this on?
- Do I have the emotional capacity to take this on?
- Do I have the financial capacity to take this on?
If the answer is no to ANY of these questions, you’ve got your decision.
Remember the reason we celebrate
Sometimes we become such a frenzied mess during the holidays, we blink and they are over. We miss the whole thing. Even worse, we miss the whole point.
Regardless of whether you are religious, remember what this season is for—celebrating family, friends, and all of life’s blessings! Don’t let it pass by in hectic blur, but remember to stop and appreciate the reason why you are doing the activities you are doing—hosting meals to commune with the ones you love, giving gifts to family to express your love in a tangible way, and reflecting on just how blessed we are.
Image from here.
IT’S FINALLY TIME! I love Christmas like whoa baby big time, but my husband is a stickler for not celebrating holidays before other holidays are finished so I have been doing my best to rein it in. No more, my friends! Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, it is all Christmas all the time until December 25th. There a dozens of tiny things that I do every year, but here are a few of the highlights that I know I want to hit.
- Find the perfect Christmas Tree
- Pull our Christmas decorations out of the garage
- Deck the halls
- Get a holiday themed pedicure
- Mail out our Christmas Cards
- Trim the tree
- Make real hot chocolate from scratch
- Find a festive holiday dress
- Decorate my office
- Rock some holiday red lipstick
- Finish off my holiday shopping
- Random Acts of Holiday Kindness
- Host a holiday craft night
- Bake holiday treats
- Spend an evening listening to Christmas music and wrapping gifts
- Put together a gingerbread house
- Buy our Christmas Eve pajamas
- See the Nutcracker
- Make paper snowflakes
- Watch Christmas Movies
- Go to Victorian Christmas in Thomasville, GA
- Drive around and look at Christmas lights
- Wear some quirky holiday jewelry
- Sing Christmas Carols
- Make Spiced Cider
I am lucky enough to have my mom visiting for a couple of weeks, and she is as excited about the holidays as I am. It also gives my husband a chance to bow out of some of the merriment and have some manly quiet time.
Image from here,
The only thing better than a little bit of sparkle and shine this time of year is a lot of sparkle and shine. With Thanksgiving a scant week away, there is still a bit of time to pick up something special for your table. This year I am finding myself very inspired by items with a lovely warm golden tone. Here are some of my favorites.
- Gold Antler Place Card Holder – Pottery Barn
- Hurricane Glass Candle Holder – Crate & Barrel
- Gold Magnolia Garland – Crate & Barrel
- Dorota Highball Glasses – Anthropologie
- Herb Garden Napkin Rings – Terrain
- Mimira Dinner Plates – Anthropologie
- Gold Twig Flatware – World Market
- Brass & Glass Globe Centerpiece – West Elm
- Oak Branch Candle Holder – H&M
The other thing I like about these pieces is that they aren’t holiday specific – they’re all things that can be utilized throughout the year. I’m generally willing to spend a bit more on something if I feel like I can get plenty of use out of it.