Our latest issue out now!Fall 2016
The holiday season is a wonderful and magical time of year…for many people but not everyone. While the approach of Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s can bring out joy in one person, it can also create dread for another. There is no right or wrong way to approach the holidays as we each have our own unique perspective that comes from childhood, life experiences and our current state of affairs.
A time that is filled with fun, laughter and joy is also often accompanied by stress over spending lots of money, feelings of anxiety and being overwhelmed with too much to do and even sadness or depression if your holiday isn’t living up to your expectations.
Perhaps it’s time to remove the obligation out of the holidays and try to find the joy. If you don’t relish shopping for gifts, simply buy gift cards. Maybe you don’t feel up to cooking an elaborate meal; instead, get really good take-out. And if you are overscheduled with too many events and parties, simply decline the invitation and don’t feel bad about it.
On the next few pages, you’ll find ideas and tips for simplifying your to-dos, taking the guesswork out of buying gifts and general ways to stress less and enjoy more! And always remember that this is your holiday, so celebrate in the fashion that makes you happy.
How do you approach gift-giving? Do you find something you like and buy it in multiple colors and hand it out to everyone you know? Or do you go with a gift card? Or do you try to find the perfect gift for each person on your list? Whatever your style, here are some tips for elevated gift-giving.
Before you purchase your holiday gift-wrapping supplies, clear out a few closet shelves or turn a small desk or unused area into a gift-wrap work space. If you have a designated area to store supplies and wrap gifts, it will keep the process streamlined and you won’t find yourself hunting for tape or scissors!
Here’s a list of what you should always have on hand:
Wrapping Paper — There are so many paper options, it can be overwhelming. To make it easier, you can come up with a wrapping style for the season and use that for every gift you wrap or have a designated wrapping paper for each family member so their gifts are easy to spot under the tree.
Gift Bags — If you stick with a neutral color like white, black or Kraft brown, you can doll it up with ribbon and embellishments and you can use these colors all year long.
Tissue Paper — White goes with everything, but it’s also nice to have black tissue and a few bright colors on hand as well.
Gift Boxes — Purchase a few sets of gift boxes in different sizes — there is nothing more frustrating than running out of boxes when you are trying to finish your wrapping.
Ribbon & Bows — Costco has a vast selection of wire ribbon that works beautifully on presents, and you can also find great deals at Michaels and Hobby Lobby.
Scissors — Pony up and buy a good pair of scissors — you will be amazed at how much easier the task of wrapping becomes when you have good supplies on hand.
Tape — The purple-packaged Scotch tape is the best for gifts.
Labels, Gift Tags and Gift Cards — Many already have the Cricut cutter, which makes great shapes for gift tags, or you can find tons of options at office-supply stores and any craft store. Look in the sale aisles — just because something is marked for a different season doesn’t mean it won’t work for the holidays.
Keep these gifts on hand or in mind for your next gift exchange or when you need to bring a hostess gift. These are some of our favorite items that never go out of style and will always be a hit.
For the Hostess with the Mostess
Personalized Party Supplies —
Put together a convenient kit of monogrammed paper products the recipient can use in a pinch or for her next gathering. You can find paper plates, napkins, cups, guest towels, coasters and so much more in any color or design — add a monogram and you’ve created an entirely thoughtful gift that is also quite practical. Price: Varies depending on order and customization. For information, visit thestationerystudio.com or foryourparty.com.
You Can Never Have Too Many of These
S’well Bottles —
Ok, there are a lot of similar bottles to choose from and the competition may be less expensive, but after thorough research, the S’well bottle wins! Visually, you can’t beat the color options and finishes and they really work. Your icy beverage will stay cold with ice intact for 24 hours and hot drinks will stay hot for 12 hours. There are three sizes — 9 oz., 17 oz. and 25 oz. — but the middle size is your safest bet. The rose gold metallic finish for the ladies is gorgeous, while the teakwood from the wood collection would be perfect for guys on your list. Price: $25 and up. For information, visit swellbottle.com.
For the Person Who Has Everything
Ancestry Testing —
What can you give the person who seems to have everything and need nothing? For something completely unique, give the gift of history with an Ancestry DNA testing kit. You can order these convenient kits online and the recipient will do the rest. Price: About $99. For information, visit dna.ancestry.com.
Customized Blanket or Pillow —
If this gift is for a close friend or family member that you have pictures of, go with a customized blanket or pillow. You can create a heartfelt gift quickly and easily that will be sure to please. Price: $29.99 and up for pillows; $59.99 and up for blankets. Look on Groupon for deals. For information, visit collage.com.
For a truly personalized gift, really think about whom you are buying for. Here are some questions to get you started.
Use your answers to find a gift as unique and special as the recipient. Once you hone in on someone’s likes, it’s much easier to come up with an idea for a gift you are proud to give.
Minimalist gift giving for kids
Don’t overdo or overthink the kids’ gift list — stick with this simple mantra for scaling back and give less in quantity but more in quality.
One Thing They Want
One Thing They Need
One Thing They Wear
One Thing They Read
Start with a large glass hurricane, and add in white non-scented candles and greenery. You can use herbs like rosemary or thyme, grab leaves from your backyard or use faux greens from the craft store. The combination is simple and pretty and perfect for an entryway table or as a dining table centerpiece. It’s oh so easy!
The tradition of caroling began in the early 1800s and is a fun way to celebrate the season for all ages. Choose a route within the neighborhood or go offsite and arrange to visit a senior home or hospital to provide extra cheer. As the hostess, you should provide a light spread of appetizers or even put together portable snacks for guests to take with them. A hot chocolate and coffee bar works nicely for this type of event too. Finally, be sure to print out a map of the route you plan to follow and song lyrics. Another nice touch is to provide jingle bells and Santa hats. Happy singing!
Simplify your bar this holiday – keep plenty of champagne on hand and a few add-ins and you have the makings for a beautifully festive holiday drink.
Champagne Cocktail: Champagne, Sugar Cube, Angostura Bitters
Tickled Pink: Champagne, Pomegranate Juice, Lime
Kir Royale: Champagne, Crème de Cassis, Cherry
Bellini: Champagne, Peach Puree, Grenadine
Creamsicle Fizz: Champagne, Vanilla Vodka, Orange Juice, Orange Slice