Tips for Keeping Your Digital Life in Perspective During the Holidays

With the holiday season come lots
of fabulous things - family
traditions, fun with friends,
the joy of gift-giving...

read more

Tips Easy, Festive Decorating

Easy, Festive Decorating
in the holiday décor department,
don't worry! It's not too late to get
that festive feel...

read more

Tips for a Successful Cookie Swap

A cookie exchange party can be
a fun, enjoyable way to connect with
friends during the holidays - with
the added bonus of going home...

read more

Tips for Keeping Your Digital Life in Perspective During the Holidays


With the holiday season come lots of fabulous things - family traditions, fun with friends, the joy of gift-giving... Unfortunately, there are some challenges that come with the holiday season, as well. Stress, exhaustion and emotional swings hit us all at one time or another. Our digital life can often add to those challenges. Here are some tips to help you put your digital life in its place so that you can enjoy the opportunities for peace, joy and connection that the holidays bring.

1. Put Your Cell Phone Away: While cell phones are a great convenience, they can also be a great distraction. Here's a challenge - during this month, turn your cell phone off when you are talking with a friend or family member. Show that person they have your undivided attention. This is a great way to really take advantage of the added social opportunities the season brings.

2. Ignore Facebook: Sure, the pictures of kids in Christmas outfits and the descriptions of everyone's Elf on the Shelf antics are fun, but how much time does Facebook eat out of your day? And how often do you log off of Facebook feeling a little inferior - as if you are not doing enough, or being happy enough, or festive enough... Remember that Facebook is not an accurate representation of anyone's life - and that the holiday spirit cannot be conveyed through the computer screen! Turn off Facebook this month and pick up the phone to connect instead.

3. Shut Down Your Screens: This month, make it a point to turn your computer, your tablet, your phone, even your television at least two hours before bedtime. This is something that is recommended every day of the year, but while that may not be realistic most of the time, for just this month try to make it a priority. The stimulation induced from the light of the screen tricks your brain into thinking it's the middle of the day, when your brain is really supposed to be winding down for sleep. This keeps all of us - kids included - from getting the good night sleep we need.

4. Trade the Video Games: This month, swap the video games for a good old fashioned jigsaw puzzle. While your kids may balk, you will likely find that the puzzle draws in the whole family. Set it up on a table where it can stay for a few weeks. You may find that it acts like a magnet - drawing family members in - and it may present a few opportunities for real family connection time.

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Easy Festive Decorating Tips


If your home still feels a little lacking in the holiday décor department, don't worry! It's not too late to get that festive feel. Here are some quick and easy tips that will ensure your home is ready for the holidays.

  1. Grab some garland: Pick up some pieces of greenery garland from your local craft store. Better yet, if you have evergreens in your hard, just cut a few small branches. Place the garland or branches down the center of your table and dot with either glass ornaments, pinecones or simple ribbon bows.
  2. Fill a bowl: Find a few clear glass bowls, vases or pitchers - the simpler, the better. Fill with ornaments, lemons, oranges, cranberries, limes - anything that matches your color scheme. Just stick with one type of item per bowl. The color will pop on your table or counter top.
  3. Go Natural in the Entryway: To spruce up your entry way, fill flower boxes or empty pots with pinecones or evergreen clippings. This will transform your entryway into a natural yet seasonal scene.
  4. Make Use of Candlelight: It's amazing what candlelight can do for your décor. Now that no-flame candles are so easy to come by (you can find tea light or full-size candles), you can have the beauty of candlelight without worrying about safety. Place them on your mantle or table with some greenery or ribbon.
  5. Use Ribbon: Simply wrapping a blank canvas (available at craft stores) with beautiful ribbon can create beautiful faux presents. Prop up these festive canvases on the mantle or around the fireplace.
  6. Get Creative with Candy: Christmas candy can be fun and festive all on its own. Fill a clear vase with candy canes. Take beautifully wrapped candies and place them in a solid color bowl. Scatter eye-catching candies around greenery on your table. This sweet décor is especially fun for the kids in your family!
  7. Put Gingerbread Men to Work: Use gingerbread men (store bought or homemade) as gift tags or place cards. Simply pipe the person's name onto it. A beautiful and sweet name tag!
  8. Cookie Cutter Décor: No time to use your cookie cutters? Put them to work as decorations! Use a variety of tin cookie cutters in holiday shapes. String pretty ribbon through them and hang them from a window frame. They make festive, simple sun catchers.
  9. Double Duty Wreath: If you have a gorgeous wreath on hand, consider putting it on the table rather than the door. Simply place one or more candles in the center and you have a breath-taking centerpiece.
  10. Check Your Mailbox: Make use of the gorgeous holiday cards that are arriving in your mailbox every day. Find a way to display them - whether propped on a table or hanging from a display rack. You'll feel the good wishes sent by friends and family every time you see it!

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Tips for a Successful Cookie Swap


A cookie exchange party can be a fun, enjoyable way to connect with friends during the holidays - with the added bonus of going home with a great selection of holiday goodies! But planning a successful cookie exchange can be tough. Here are some tips to ensure your party is a sweet success!

1. Invite twice as many people as you hope to have attend. During this busy time, many people accept invitations and then become overwhelmed and don't show. And don't worry about inviting non-bakers - simply assure those friends that whatever they bring is fine and you really just want the chance to spend some time with them.

2. Decide if you want to establish any rules about what kind of cookies guests can bring... "No chocolate chip cookies" is a common rule, as is "no store bought cookies"... However, if your guest list includes several non-bakers, you may want to leave all options open!

3. Encourage guests to bring at least one copy of their recipe - chances are, someone will ask for it.

4. Ask each guest to bring a specific number of cookies - anywhere from 1 dozen to 6 dozen - on a tray on which they can display them. The more cookies you ask guests to bring, the more cookies they will take home.

5. Set up a large table where you can display all the trays of treats.

6. Ask guests to label their trays in order to ensure that the trays make it home with the right owners.

7. Each guest will need a plate or container in which they can place the cookies they select from the display table - either provide the container or ask guests to bring their own.

8. Seeing all these delectable treats will make guests hungry! Be sure to have a selection of savory and sweet treats on hand for guests to snack on while they swap.

9. Get into the holiday spirit with festive décor, holiday music, maybe even an easy holiday craft.

10. Have fun!

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