The Countdown to Christmas

Thanksgiving is now over and the countdown to Christmas has begun! The Holiday season seems to become hectic and sometimes we lose sight of why we are celebrating. We also tend to forget to enjoy our family and friends. I know a little organization can go a long way to alleviate stress. Here are a few tips and a simple ‘to do’ list to help with the stress during the Holidays.

Make your list of gifts (if you haven’t already) and wrap as you buy them. Online shopping is a time saver but order your items NOW so you have plenty of time to wrap them.  Also wrapping gifts right away will help keep little eyes from finding out what Santa is bringing. For out of town presents, a good rule to follow is to make sure out-of-town presents are mailed by second week of December.

Ah yes, Decorations. Get out your lights, ornaments, wreaths, and lawn ornaments. Is anything broken, need replaced, or is it time for an update? If you have a lot of decorations try to tackle a room a day. Have the family help and make it festive by playing Christmas music!

Do you send Christmas cards? Buy your cards and start addressing them.  If you’re too busy to get them addressed and mailed during the first week of December, consider putting them off until after the holiday rush.

Another big stressor is hosting Christmas dinner. Shop for nonperishable items a week or two out. A couple days before your meal make sure you hit the store for the last-minute vegetables or fruit you need for meals.

Most of all enjoy your family and friends and relish the traditions you share.

Festivus for the Rest of Us!

By Jenni Purcell

I have to admit one of my guilty pleasures is reruns of Seinfeld.  I have seen every episode at least five times and can relate my daily experiences to one of the episodes. Kramer, George, Elaine, Jerry…love them all.  Since it is the Holiday Season, we are quickly approaching ‘Festivus.’ According to the Seinfeld show, Festivus is celebrated each year on December 23rd. However many people celebrate it other times in December and even at other times throughout the year.

The slogan of Festivus is “A Festivus for the rest of us!”  You might ask, what does this tradition involve?  Here are the basic components of Festivus:

  • A tree is manifested in a simple aluminum pole, contrasting the normal Holiday commercialism (you can purchase them online!)
  • Those attending Festivus may also participate in the “Air of Grievances, “an opportunity to tell others how they have disappointed you in the past year.  This can’t end badly. (sarcasm) I feel like most family gatherings, sooner or later, end up in some type of Airing of Grievances!
  • A Festivus Dinner is usually included. The official beverage of Festivus is chocolate milk (wink, wink) so make sure serve that with your dinner.
  • Finish the evening with the “Feats of Strengths” where the head of the household must be pinned.  And who wouldn’t want to pin someone (especially the head of the household) during the Holidays?

Festivus is a silly way to let your hair down and enjoy the Season. Your family might have their own traditions that are a bit ‘out there’ but are near and dear to your heart. However you celebrate the Holidays, enjoy friends and family! Treat your body well by eating nutritious food and keep active each day.  Be thankful for what you have and TRY to relax and ‘de-stress’ to gear up for the New Year! “And if you get frustrated this Holiday season, just remember, ‘It’s a Festivus for the rest of us!”.

National Pastry Day! Yum!

By Diane Ruyack

What is light, puffy and filled with delicious fillings?  Pastry!

December 9, 2011 is National Pastry Day! It is a day of celebration for these divine baked goods! There are many different types of pastries including shortcrust, flaky, puff, choux, and phyllo. Pastry chefs must use a varity of culinary creativity and flavorings to create these amazing treats.

Continue reading

Unique Gift Ideas

By Mary Nicholson

What in the world do you get for someone who has everything? For many folks on your list, you probably already know exactly what you plan to give them – they’re the easy ones! But there are always a few who are a challenge. My dad was one of those. He wasn’t into having many material things, although he found things like Billy Bass amusing, much to my mom’s chagrin. What made gifts fun for Dad was the presentation. One year I bought him a big container of peanuts. Not too creative, but it was a suggestion from Mom, and it was something that he would use. It wasn’t much in the way of gifts, but the wrapping was the fun part. It was a round, tall container, sort of like a fat oatmeal box. I wrapped the outside with plain construction paper and found a perfectly sized picture of Paul Newman’s handsome face to put on it. I topped it off with a construction paper cowboy hat, and voila! (The cowboy hat was a critical part of the décor, as my parents had made several trips to San Antonio and my dad came back with a pair of cowboy boots and a few bolero ties).

Continue reading