Gift Wrap Like a Pro

While shopping for holiday gifts can
be fun and exciting, often times the
wrapping of those gifts can be...

read more

Survive High Calorie
Holiday Meals

The holidays are filled with festive
gatherings of friends and family,
and unfortunately these gatherings...

read more

Homemade Spa Treatments

Sometimes the most meaningful
gifts we give - and receive - are
those that are homemade...

read more

Gift Wrap Like a Pro


While shopping for holiday gifts can be fun and exciting, often times the wrapping of those gifts can be tedious and time consuming. And - if you are like many parents - it is done under deadline pressure, with Christmas morning just hours away! Here are some tips to help you gift wrap like a pro this year.

  1. Plan Ahead: Even if you put off the actual wrapping until the last minute, make sure you have all the supplies you will need. There is nothing worse than realizing on Christmas Eve you don't have enough tape! Be sure to stock up on not only paper and ribbons but also tape, scissors and gift tags.

  2. Pick a Spot: It is helpful to find an area in your home where you can not only store gifts but also all your wrapping supplies. This will enable you to keep track of what you bought and for who and also make it very easy once you decide to begin wrapping. Give yourself a smooth, flat surface to wrap on with plenty of space.

  3. Awkward Size? No Problem!: It's every gift wrapper's worst nightmare - the large, oddly shaped present! No worries - consider using a plastic, disposable tablecloth or an old sheet tied with pretty ribbon.

  4. Butcher to the Rescue: Another great idea for gifts of any size is butcher paper. You can find large rolls at the craft store, but did you know that home improvement stores offer essentially the same paper at a much cheaper price? It is sold in the paint supplies section. Buy a roll of this paper and decorate it with stamps or children's drawings. Or, leave it blank and accessorize with pretty ribbons.

  5. Color Code: Consider using one color or pattern of wrapping paper for each family member. This makes Christmas morning run a little smoother and can also make for very pretty presentation.

  6. Tame Your Ribbons: If you have rolls of ribbon unspooling all over your house, we have the solution for you! Buy a pants hanger with multiple rows (for 4 or 5 pairs of pants) and slide your ribbon spools onto the hangers. Perfect!

  7. Pre-Wrap Boxes: If you know you will have some last minute shopping, consider pre-wrapping a few gift boxes with paper adhered separately to the top and bottom of each box. This way, you can slide the gift in and simply tie a ribbon around the box and be done.

  8. Two Tone Paper: Consider pairing complementary patterns of wrapping paper and wrapping a portion of the box in one paper and the other portion in the other paper. Tie a coordinating ribbon around the seam and the gift will look professionally wrapped!

  9. Get Creative: Use alternative materials to decorate your packages. Consider twine instead of ribbon. Use an ornament instead of a bow. Buy some of the fun patterned duct tape and use that instead of ribbon!

  10. Include a Recipe: If you are using butcher paper, consider carefully writing a recipe for a Christmas goodie on the paper - pretty and functional!

Get into the holiday spirit by visiting Santa at one of our local shopping centers!

Westfield Galleria at Roseville: This year Santa loses the "wait"! Why wait in line when you can pay online with Santa's FastPass? Visit santasfastpass.com to select a date to visit Santa, pick from many great photo package options, receive a free Shutterfly Card with your package, and of course visit Westfield Galleria at Roseville to see Santa sooner with your FastPass.

Sunrise Mall: Take a holiday photo or picture with Santa in 10 minutes or less? Absolutely! Never wait in a long line again with Sunrise Mall's Virtual Santa Line! Visit sunrisemall.com and click on the "Santa Link" then stop by the Santa Set at Sunrise Mall and give the host your cell phone number or text toll-free 516-537-XMAS (9627).

Arden Fair Mall: Everyone say "Cheese!" and save on family portraits! Grab the family and save 35% on the Rudolph Package, which includes (2) 5x7 portraits with Santa; (1) 5x7 family portrait; (3) 4x6 portraits, (4) 3 1/2 x5 portraits and (12) wallet-size portraits along with a digital download and a $20 online credit to MyAlbumPics.com.

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Homemade Spa Treatments


Sometimes the most meaningful gifts we give - and receive - are those that are homemade. A fun homemade gift to share with a girlfriend is a homemade spa treatment. Make one of these special concoctions and package it in a simple Mason jar with a pretty label and you have a fun, unique and useful gift. And if you want to make the gift extra special - invite your girlfriend over for a night of wine or cocoa and spa treatments and then send her home with her own treatment goodies! Recipes courtesy of Sun Times Media.

Brown Sugar Lemony Body Scrub

This particular scrub has lemon, which works as a natural disinfectant. It will open up and cleanse clogged pores. The oils from the mixture will leave you with soft, healthy glowing skin.

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sea salt
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil or olive oil
  • 1 tbsp of honey
  • 2 tbsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp of your favorite essential oil

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl until it turns into a paste. Apply to moist skin in circular motion using your fingertips to help skin cells slough off faster. Rinse off with warm water. Apply your favorite moisturizer. Results: smooth, soft glowing skin.

Milk Foot Soak

Add 4 cups of warmed whole milk, 2 tablespoons of Epsom Salt and 6 drops of your favorite essential oil such as lemon, sandalwood or lavender to warm footbath. Soak for 20 minutes.

Invigorating Coffee Scrub

Coffee acts as an antibacterial, exfoliating and stimulating agent. Brew a fresh pot of coffee. Use 3 tablespoons of the fresh grounds and 1 tablespoon of salt and mix in a bowl. Scrub mixture over body within 20 minutes of brewing before oxidation occurs.

Avocado Conditioning Hair Mask

Mash an avocado (two for long hair) in a bowl with a fork until it is a thick, rich paste. Add a couple of drops of your favorite essential oil for fragrance (optional.) Spread the paste on the hair from the root to the ends. Leave on for 20 minutes; then shampoo out and rinse out.

Honey Oats Face Scrub

Combine 1 tablespoon honey, 1 tablespoon finely ground almonds, 2 tablespoons dry oatmeal and some lemon juice or yogurt to a luxurious and exfoliating facial scrub. Massage mixture gently onto face; then rinse with warm water and moisturize.

Yogurt & Honey Mask


Mix 1-part plain yogurt and 1-part honey and apply to clean, moist face. Let it set for 10-15 minutes and rinse well with warm water. The mixture moisturizes, hydrates and soothes the skin. Honey can be used as a minor acne treatment.

Banana Facial Cream

Mash 1/2 of a ripe banana until creamy. Apply on face and leave for 15-20 minutes. Rinse with warm water and cold water to close pores. Pat dry.

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Survive High Calorie Holiday Meals


The holidays are filled with festive gatherings of friends and family... and unfortunately these gatherings are typically planned around lots of calorie-laden food. If you find yourself facing lots of holiday dinners out or food-heavy parties, here are some tips for making good nutrition choices while also enjoying yourself.

  • When at a restaurant, order child-size portion. The food is just as tasty but typically half the size, which is actually a more appropriate portion.

  • Split your order or take half home for another meal.

  • For lighter meal choices, order an appetizer in place of the main course. Just be sure to avoid the deep fried items or those that come with creamy dipping sauces.

  • Think about your food choices for the entire day. If you're planning on a special meal or party in the evening, eat a lighter yet nutrient-packed breakfast and lunch.

  • Limit yourself to no more than one alcoholic drink. Alcohol tends to increase appetite and adds calories without any nutrients.

  • At parties, avoid the snacks. Don't waste calories mindlessly munching. Focus on one or two foods that you really enjoy and then have an appropriate portion of those.

  • Decorate your plate by focusing on making the most colorful plate possible. Fruits, veggies and any raw food will typically have more color than fatty, calorie-laden items.

  • Try to follow up any meal or food-filled party with exercise - either a late night stroll or some sort of activity the following morning.

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