Tag Archives: holidays

5 Tips for a Stress Free Holiday by Lisa Smalls

November 1st.

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

Halloween Mood Board

The spookiness is building. I’ve decorated my work office and started putting together a work appropriate Halloween inspired ensemble, but it isn’t enough. I’ve been trying to distract myself by expanding my Halloween board on Pinterest.

I don’t think I’ll be doing a smoking pumpkin this year, but it is definitely something I’d like to try at some point, at least for the photos. I am probably going to make some holiday inspired treats. Maybe some cobweb cupcakes… witches finger cookies… white chocolate mummies… who knows, there are A LOT of tutorials out there. This plaster cast centerpiece is really incredible; gotta love Martha Stewart, right? I wonder how many tries it would take for me to get it right… probably should buy a few extra molding kits, right?And of course these precious macaroons, I can’t even imagine the delicate touch you’d need to pipe those teeny, tiny details. Oh well, back to it, things to see, stuff to pin!


Images from here.

Holiday Recap

Aaaaannnndddd we’re back! I know the “holidays” aren’t really over until after New Years Eve, but my house is eerily quiet and I have to go back to the office so it feels like things are at least a bit “over”. I had such a great Christmas, and I wanted to share a bit of the second part of my week with you guys. Enjoy!

Christmas 1 Christmas 11 Christmas 9 Christmas 2 Christmas 4 Christmas 3 Christmas 5 Christmas 6 Christmas 7 Christmas 13

Christmas Eve and Day were a blur of cooking, cleaning, laughing and visiting with family. It was absolutely wonderful to have a full house for the first time in forever. My Uncle Brian won the prize for “Best Gift” with the Himalayan Rock Salt Lamp he made for my mother. She has been wanting a larger one ever since she got her tiny side table lamp and we all agreed that this was the prettiest one we’d ever seen.

Christmas 10 Christmas 17 Christmas 14 Christmas 12 Christmas 15 Christmas 16 Christmas 20 Christmas 21 Christmas 22 Christmas 19

Unfortunately, half of our visitors had to head home on Friday, but Andy and I took my mom and step dad to the Tallahassee Museum… after I fortified myself with a large mug of tea in my new favorite “Cat Mom” mug, of course. It was the perfect day to be out and about: sunny, but still cool enough for walking around to be enjoyable. All of the animals were enjoying the good weather as well; we got to watch the otter frolic around in his pond and the red wolves were having a blast playing tag. Even the farm animals were walking around their pens making happy sounds.

Christmas 18 Christmas 25  Christmas 23 Christmas 27

One of the best parts of the week was the mother daughter day my mom and I planned. We kicked things off with breakfast at Liams’ with two giant bowls of coffee and orange scented doughnuts. Then came quite a bit of shopping, most of it was window shopping, but we still had a blast. After we walked around enough to feel like our feet were about to fall off, we picked the boys up for dinner out. My poor mom was so tuckered out, she fell asleep in front of the fire. Apparently, the couch wasn’t close enough so she had to make her own place to lounge.

The Halls Are Decked!

I can’t believe it, it’s finally Christmas!!! Almost, but you guys know what I mean. The halls are decked, the gifts are wrapped, and the family is arriving. Aside from a little grocery shopping, we are ready to kick the celebrating into high gear! The cat’s are completely freaked. Yes the Christmas tree is super exciting and tasty, but there are all these strange cat toys hanging from it that mean mommy won’t let them play with. And there are strangers in the house, clearly they mean to kill them and steal their kibble, BEWARE! Yep, nothing like 20lbs of giant orange cat frantically trying to hide be hind your legs whenever the door bell rings. We are making a bit of progress though, our guest have been distributing special kitty treats, and now only 3 of the 6 are truly in holiday panic mode.

Christmas 6 Christmas 8 Christmas 3 Christmas 2 Christmas 4 Christmas 7Christmas 1

Yeah, I have a reindeer thing. I don’t know why, maybe something to do with the majestic antlers. Andy limits me to one a year so we don’t end up with boxes of them. And no you’re not seeing things, that card does indeed have a cat nativity scene on it. Andy’s brother Ben, and his girlfriend Karen, sent it to us, and I think it is the best card we’ve ever received. I might have to recreate it with our cat’s faces photoshopped in for next year.

Hostess Gift Guide

Thanksgiving is next week, which means November is almost over; when did this happen!? Even though I am currently in the process of doing laundry, locating our suitcases, cleaning the house, I am also trying for find some time to run to the mall. The impending week long trip will land Andy and I in a couple different cities and at a few different holiday tables. Since these lovely people are feeding us, and in some cases letting us stay with them, I think it is only polite to bring them a little gift to thank them for their hospitality. My host/hostess gift of choice is something indulgent that helps the recipient relax after they finally have the house back to themselves. Below are some of my top choices:

Hostess Gift Small


1. Teabag Tub Soaks
2. My Petite Spa Discovery Kit
3. Artisan S’mores Kit
4. Teavana Holiday Tea Collection
5. Capri Blue Candle
6. Shimmery Bow Slipper
7. Tea & Herb Truffles
8. Chenille Throw
9. Godiva Coffee Trio

Everything on this list comes in under $50, I know this time of year gets expensive and coming up with addition money for extracurricular gifts can be tough. If you aren’t label conscious you could probably even, with a bit of luck and savvy shopping, find versions of these choices for $20 or less.