Have you heard of the “White Elephant”?

This time of year we all usually have lots of holiday parties to attend for our places of employment, friends and family.  More than likely you have come to know the “White Elephant” gift exchange.  It is also referred to as the “Yankee Swap” or “Dirty Santa”.  There are tons of versions of this game / gift swap, but here are the simple rules:

  1. Each player brings one wrapped gift to contribute to a common pool – 
    The organizer should provide information on what type of gift people should bring. There can be a theme for the gifts, a monetary limit for the amount or no rules at all.  
  2. Players draw numbers to determine what order they will go in.  
    This can be done by drawing numbers from a hat, order of arrival to the event, or the order can be set by the organizer prior to the event.
  3. Players sit in a circle or line where they can see the gift pile.  
    Everyone should sit in the order in which they will take their turns.
  4. The first player selects a gift from the pool and opens it.  No hiding your gift!  Everyone needs the opportunity to see it.  
  5. The following players can choose to either pick an unwrapped gift from the pool or steal a previous player’s gift. Anyone who gets their gift stolen in this way can do the same – choose a new gift or steal from someone else.  A present can only be stolen once per turn, which means players who have a gift stolen from them have to wait to get it back. This rule doesn’t apply at the end of the game. 
  6. After all players have had a turn, the first player gets a chance to swap the gift he or she is holding for any other opened gift. Anyone whose gift is stolen may steal from someone else (as long as that person hasn’t been stolen from yet). When someone declines to steal a gift, the game comes to an end. NOTE: For this last “extra” turn, the swap rule from step 5 doesn’t apply. Players can keep swapping until someone decides to stand pat, or there are no other eligible people to steal from.

Sound like fun?  It is!  But let’s take a look at what makes a good White Elephant gift? It can meet one or all of the following criteria:  Funny, Weird, or nice.  

For the organizer, here are some tips: 

  1. Communicate – Make sure all guests attending are aware of the gift giving game and make sure they know to wrap their gift prior to arrival
  2. Set limits – Help your guests out by providing a monetary limit such as $5 or $10.  This keeps the game light and fun for all.  
  3. Allow for enough time for the game.  – It’s no fun to be rushed at the end, that’s when the game gets good!

So where did this game originate?  Well, I checked out Wikepedia and here is the answer: The term white elephant refers to an extravagant, but impractical, gift that cannot be easily disposed. The phrase is said to come from the historic practice of the King of Siam (now Thailand) giving rare albino elephants to courtiers who had displeased him, so that they might be ruined by the animals’ upkeep costs. While the first use of this term remains a matter of contention among historians,[4] one theory suggests that Ezra Cornell brought the term into the popular lexicon through his frequent social gatherings as early as 1828.[5]  

Explanation provided by http://www.secretsanta.com is as follows:
The game derives its name from the term white elephant as defined by something of dubious or limited value or an object no longer of value to its owner but of value to others. Thus, in its basic form the game calls for people to bring “gag” gifts or gifts they received that they have no use for.

I hope you all enjoy your holiday celebrations with co-workers, family and friends!  Happy gift giving!

What’s in your Christmas Stocking?

Christmas morning is always the greatest thing ever.  Watching your family gather around the Christmas tree in their adorable holiday PJ’s and seeing the wide eyed kids marvel at all the gifts that appeared under the tree overnight.  Did Santa eat the cookies they left out?  Did they drink the milk?  How did he get here and when?  All the wonderment just minutes before your family rips into the oodles of fun gifts you (and Santa) have carefully wrapped for them this year.  

What about the Christmas stockings?  In our family, we wrap each gift found inside this special stocking.  There is candy, gadgets, pretty hair bows, fun socks and much much more.  In our family, we do stocking stuffers for kids and adults alike.  I wanted to take a second as we are all working diligently on our holiday lists to give you a few fun stocking stuffer ideas for kids of all ages. 

For little girls: Little girls and little boys have different ideas of what a great gift is.  Here is a fun list of ideas for the little girl(s) in your life: Mini-toiletries such as hand lotion, soap, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, body scrub, etc., A small change purse, A gift card to her favorite store, A personalized mug (for tea or hot cocoa), Zipper pulls for her jackets or backpack, Comb and hairbrush set, Hair accessories such as barrettes, ponytail holders, scrunchies, headbands, ribbons, etc., Perfume samples (you can find these at department stores), Small, magnetic travel games.  This list can go on and on, but be sure to not miss the classic (see below)

For Little boys: Along with the basics, the following are fun thing to drop in your little one’s stocking: Action figures and hot wheels, candy (Their favorite or even new fun candies), batteries (most likely they will need them this time of year and it’s always good to add it to their stocking), Pez Dispensers (This is and oldie but a goodie!), bike wheels LED Lights, prank gifts kids can play on each other (Whoopee cusion, fart boxes, disappearing ink pens). Don’t forget the classic items (see list below).

For the ladies in your life: Whether she is a wife, mom or grown daughter there are always classic favorites for ‘her’ stocking.  
coffee gift cards from her favorite coffee bar, toiletries (peek in her cabinet to see what brands she likes), her favorite chocolates, candy or snack, portable power for her cell phone, room spray or perfume, cozy socks.  And don’t forget the traditional items that are classics and should be in every stocking.  (see that list below)  

For the men in your life: Once the man in your life ages out of the novelty toys of his youth, it can be hard to know how to fill his stocking with things that are both neat and useful. Here is a quick list of ideas to get you started: Cologne, pocket knife, portable charger, tactical flashlight, money clip, cigars, mini bottles of liquor, funny socks and underwear.  Of course don’t forget the traditional items that are classics…  (see that list below)  

“The Classics” – This is a list of those traditional stocking stuffers that are fun every year.  They make the stocking complete.  Now that you have your list for each indivual stocking in your family, don’t forget these classics….Sweet treats of all kinds, Games and toys (Silly puddy, slinkies, yo-yo’s, bouncy balls and bubbles), the bath basics (a new toothbrush and toothpaste, bathtub soaps and bath toys), a Christmas orange (you read that right!), money (gift cards work to for things like ice cream, etc.).  These things are the basics you almost always find in your stocking.  They can be changed slightly to be age appropriate but they are always useful and fun things to get each year. 

In addition to the above (and they are suggestions, not a comprehensive list to check off).  I highly suggest having one item in each stocking that is a family tradition.  For me personally, I have a tradition each years with my daughter’s stocking.  She is ALWAYS losing her lighters and each year for Christmas she finds lighters (lots of them) individually wrapped in her stocking.  It’s a silly thing, but she can always count on her stocking having these in it to make her giggle Christmas morning (and to use all year).  

Now that you have your list, ever wonder where the tradition of Christmas stockings and stocking stuffers began?  After reading a lot on the subject, I want to share with you what https://people.howstuffworks.com/ has to say on the topic.  

Hanging stockings over the chimney is an integral part of Christmas, and these oversized stockings are reserved for smaller gifts like candy and action figures. But why do we hang stockings anyway, and how did the tradition start?

Although most countries have their own variations on Santa, the oldest reference to St. Nicholas goes as far back as the third century. The ancient town of Myra, located in what is now modern Turkey, is home to a shrine dedicated to Bishop Nicholas. Over several centuries, tales spread detailing the benevolence and generosity of Bishop Nicholas, and this is where the idea of St. Nick as gift-giver began [source: BSU].

One of the stories, it turns out, involves Nicholas passing by the homes of maidens too poor to afford a dowry– money that a bride gives to her groom for their wedding. The bishop would throw gold coins down the chimneys of these maidens, where they would fall into stockings, which were hung over the fire to dry.

Dutch children take part in another tradition — one that may have directly influenced the North American practice of hanging stockings. The children leave wooden shoes out by the fireplace, which are filled with hay for Sinterklaas’s horse (the Dutch version of Santa Claus not only has a different name, but a different mode of transportation). Santa replaces the hay with gifts, and it’s thought that Americans adapted this tradition sometime in the early 19th century [source: BSU].

I wish you all (young and old) a very Merry Christmas and happy holiday season!

Have a happy day, 

Mrs. Go To Girl

The Spirit of Christmas

As little children we are told of Santa Claus and get excited each year to think he is watching and we try our very best to be good little boys and girls.  Seeing a child’s excitement Christmas morning when presents appear under the tree and the cookies they left out the night before are eaten and milk has vanished.  Somewhere along the way as we grow into young adults, the mystery of Santa disappears and we stop believing.  Why is this?  Why do we let this magic of Christmas disappear?  

I was speaking to my Grandson recently and learned he no longer believes in Santa and I was crushed.  What about the Spirit of Christmas?  He looked at me confused.  We talked for a while about what Christmas means and why we give gifts.  In our family, we believe in Jesus Christ and we celebrate his birth on December 25th. (Christmas!).  This my grandson is clear about, but the spirit of Christmas is the magic that as kids, Santa brings.  As adults, there is so much more to it.  This is where “Santa” transitions into the “Spirit of Christmas”.  This young time in our lives and into our adult years is when we learn,  and many times we forget, what all of the little traditions at Christmas are really for.  Why do we do all the things we do this time of year?  Santa is a great way to start telling small children about all of the traditions of Christmas, but let’s not forget to transition this wonderful belief to a more adult understanding as our kids grow.  Don’t let them lose the Spirit of Christmas, instead help them develop it into a magical feeling that they can lean on year round.  

The Colors Red and Green

The color red is used at Christmas to represent the blood of Jesus when he died on the cross.  Green is another popular color at Christmastime signifying everlasting light and life. Romans decorated their houses with evergreen branches during the New Year, and the fir tree symbolized life during the winter. There is also a legend that when Jesus was born in the dead of winter all the trees around the world shook off the snow to reveal new shoots of green.

The Bell

Bells are rung during Christmas to proclaim the arrival of the season and to announce the birth of Christ.

The Candy Cane

This treat represents the shape of a shepherd’s crook. Jesus, often referred to as the Good Shepherd, was born on Christmas. His birth was God’s way to bring lost lambs back to the fold. The red stripe represents blood, Christ’s sacrifice, and the white stands for his purity.

The Wreath

The wreath is a circular, never-ending symbol of eternal love and rebirth. Holly also stands for immortality and cedar for strength. Today the wreath symbolizes generosity, giving, and the gathering of family.

Gifts and a Bow

The men who brought their gifts to honor the birth of Jesus inspired the concept of giving gifts during the holiday.   A ribbon is tied around a gift to represent how we should all be tied together in bonds of unity and goodwill during the holiday season.

The Christmas Tree

Regarding the birth of Jesus, the Gospel of John records, “Light has come into the world.” Jesus himself said, “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” Surely, it is appropriate that our Christmas celebration be filled with light as we celebrate Jesus, the “light of the world.”

And what about Santa Claus himself?  here did the idea of “Santa” come from? 

A Brief history of Santa Claus

Santa Claus was a real man. He lived about 400 years after Jesus. He was the Bishop of a church. He loved Jesus. Bishop Nicholas had a friend that had 3 daughters, but they could not get married because their father did not have the money for their dowries.So late one night, in secret, Bishop Nicholas threw 3 bags of gold into their living room. The bags landed in socks that were drying by the fireplace(thus the tradition of stocking hung by the fireplace). Later the Catholic Church made him a Saint, thus Saint Nicholas. The Santa Claus that we know today in America is a result of Clement Moore’s poem, The Night Before Christmas, written in the mid 1800’s.

The Gingerbread House Mystery

I have questions about holiday gingerbread houses. This year, my husband and I made our first gingerbread house. It was a blast, messy, but lots of fun. However, it was not at all what I was expecting. We bought a kit from our local store and bought it home and to our surprise the walls came pre-constructed. The icing was premixed and in a foil bag. The decorations were pre-portioned and there were even decorating instructions included in the box! It was like a paint-by-number page. I’m not really sure what I was expecting, but I half expected to half to bake the walls and mix the icing ourselves. That the kit would have simply included a recipe, cookie cutters and the candy decorations.
We built the house and had plenty of laughs along the way none the less. Since the construction of our tiny holiday cabin of candy and icing, he and I have noticed these little houses in every holiday movie and commercial. We have found ourselves discussing the construction of the ones we see and how we would like to enhance our house building skills in years to come. So my questions for you are as follows:

1. Have you ever built a Gingerbread house? Is so, was it a kit or homemade?
2. Do you eat it after you construct it? How long after you construct it?
3. Should eating your Gingerbread House be a Christmas Day tradition in my home?
4. Is it even safe to eat the boxed kit Gingerbread houses? After all, how long have they been sitting on a shelf or in a warehouse?

I’ve done a bit of homework on the subject and asked around. Here are a few fun facts on Gingerbread houses.
1. Gingerbread is made from Ginger, cinnamon, Cloves, nutmeg, Cardamom, anise, and sweetened with honey or molasses.
2. To be considered Gingerbread, Ginger must be the dominant flavor and use either honey or molasses as the sweetener instead of sugar.
3. Queen Elizabeth I is believed to be responsible for the first Gingerbread mas as she had them made to resemble visiting dignitaries and presented to the visiting dignitaries as gifts.
4. Unmarried women in England would often eat Gingerbread men for good luck in meeting a husband.
5. Since the early 1970’s, pastry chefs have baked, constructed and decorated a gingerbread house for the enjoyment of the First Family, the American people, and White House visitors. This gingerbread house is typically a mock of the actual white house as it is decorated for Christmas that specific year (window wreaths and all)
So the mystery of the gingerbread house is this, I’ve seen many holiday movies and many house constructed in our home by families and friends, but I’ve never seen them eaten.

MYSTERY….. What happens to these houses right after Christmas?
a. Eaten?
b. Thrown in the trash?
c. Put outside for critters to find?
d. Demolition derby by children (or adults?)

Looking forward to hearing what you do or have done.  In the meantime, Have a Happy Day!

The Hustle and Bustle

Its that time of year where no matter how hard we try it seems that we can’t slow down the clock and there seems to be more on our “to-do” list than there is time in the day.  It’s crazy how that happens year after year.  I have to share a few phone calls with you that made me just sit back and smile and reminded me that the world will go around no matter what I do and that is really just fine with me.

I spoke to my mother the other day.  She started a business a few years back and this is her busy time of year.  She has yet to put her tree up or trim her house in holiday decorations and I was surprised to hear this.  Her answer was that it will get done next weekend and she didn’t seem that rushed to do it.  It will get done before the holiday and before the family gets there.  That was what mattered.  It made me smile.  Now, I know she loves her decorations and I know she loves her morning coffee in front of the lights, but she reminded me without even knowing it, that everything will get done in due time.  I needed that reminder so very badly.

Around the same time frame, I spoke with my step-mom who had been ill for a few days.  She and my father have company coming for the holidays. Though the company won’t be staying in their home, they will be in and out and they want their home decorated for the holiday.  Due to not feeling well she said she felt like things just wouldn’t get finished in time.  My father and she looked around the house and decided that what was decorated would be great and  once the boxes were put away, what was set-up would be perfect.  Again, another reminder that we get what need to get done in perfect timing.  Another reminder for myself was that sometimes we set the bar higher for ourselves than others do and our friends and families love us just the way we are.

Ironically, for the first time since I can remember, I have my tree up and gifts wrapped and am not stressing over the holidays.  My biggest concern is making sure I am setting traditions and keeping traditions with my family.  I have a goal this season of making the most of the little things and finding the good in the smallest things. Its funny, with parents like mine, ever reminding me that life will go on and not to sweat the small stuff, I have learned to calm down and get the things that really do matter to me done and let the rest fall to the wayside.  I may not have the finest things in the world, but I sure do have the greatest family a girl can ask for.  They are crazy, silly, and full of quirks in all the ways you can think of, but I would not trade one of them for all the gold in the world.  I sure do hope you feel the same about your family.  Large or small, friends and family are the greatest gifts by far.  You can’t take it with you in the end so enjoy the life you are given and make the most of each beautiful day.  As always, have a happy day.

 

It’s time for cookies

I love love love this time of year!  There are so many reason to be happy and spread the cheer.  Cookies are one of the top things on my list to do each year.  I love to bake and I love sharing fun cookies with my friends and family.  This year will be no different.  Cookies are coming out of the oven this weekend.  I thought I would share a few of the recipes that my family has enjoyed over the years and encourage you to jump into the kitchen yourself.  If you are not much of a baker but have always wanted to, baking cookies is a great way to start.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

½ cup shortening

14 cup granulated sugar

12 cup brown sugar

18 teaspoon salt

12 teaspoon vanilla extract

12 teaspoon baking soda

1 Tablespoon Hot Water

1 14 cups flour (all-purpose)

12 ounces chocolate chips

12 cup nuts (optional, but if you prefer I suggest pecans)

1 egg, well beaten

Instructions:  Cream shortening then add granulated sugar, brown sugar and egg.  Dissolve baking soda in one tablespoons of HOT water and then add.  Add flour, salt, vanilla extract and mix well.  Add nuts and chocolate chips and mix again.  Drop teaspoonfuls of your cookie dough onto greased cookie sheet. (Note the change from Tablespoon to teaspoon size measure for these cookies, they will spread) Bake at 350 degrees about 10 minutes.

German Chocolate cookies

Cookie batter

2 boxes German chocolate cake mix, dry

4 eggs

10 Tbsp. butter, melted

FROSTING

1 cup evaporated milk

1 cup sugar

3 egg yolks

½ cup butter

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1⅓ cup sweetened shredded coconut, for drizzle

1 cup chopped pecans

Instructions: Combine cake mix, eggs and melted butter in a large mixing bowl and beat until well mixed. Batter should be sticky and thick.  Roll into one inch balls and place on lightly greased cookie sheet. 12 balls to a cookie sheet. (Try using a Tablespoon Measure as a scoop to keep your proportions)  Bake at 350 for about 8 minutes. DO NOT overcook these cookies. Place on wire rack once they are out of the oven and let them cool completely. (Add frosting to completely cool cookies to avoid melting your frosting and having a drippy mess)

Frosting Instructions:  Add evaporated milk, sugar, egg yolks, butter and vanilla to a large pan and place on stovetop over medium heat. Stir to evenly combine and continue stirring until thickened (takes about 12 minutes). Once thickened remove from heat and add coconut and pecans. Beat until thick enough to spread. Spread frosting over the tops of cooled cookies.  You can always add an extra touch by melting some chocolate and drizzling over the tops of the cookies.  Before packaging, let the cookie set-up so the drizzle can cool and the frosting can stay thick.

Snickerdoodles (My Daughter-in-law’s favorite)

Ingredients

1 Cup (2 sticks) Unsalted butter

2 Cups Granulated Sugar

2 Large eggs

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

3 Cups All-Purpose Flour

½ tsp Baking soda

½ tsp Cream of tarter

¼ Cup Sugar (separate from the above amount of sugar)

1 tbsp Cinnamon

Instructions:  Combine butter with 2 Cup Granulated sugar and beat on medium speed until well creamed together.  Add eggs and vanilla extract. Mix into butter and sugar until egg is well beaten.  In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda and cream of tartar.  Slowly add into batter and beat on medium low speed until well combined and dough forms.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate dough for 1 hour.  Preheat oven to 350° F.  In a small bowl, combined cinnamon and a ¼ Cup granulated sugar and stir to combine.  Use a Tablespoon to measure your cookies proportionately and scoop cookie dough onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Roll each cookie dough ball in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Place about 2 inches apart.

Bake at 350° F 10-12 minutes. Allow cookie to cool on the baking sheet for several minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Oatmeal Raisin (My husband’s favorite)

Ingredients

¾ Cup Granulated Sugar

¼ Cup firmly packed brown sugar

½ Cup Butter

1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1 Egg

¾ Cup All-Purpose Flour

½ Teaspoon Baking Soda

½ Teaspoon Cinnamon

¼ Teaspoon salt

1 ½ Cups of Quick-cooking rolled oats

½ Cup Chopped nuts (Walnuts work great in this recipe, but nuts are optional)

Instructions:  Pre-heat oven to 375°F. Spray cookie sheets with nonstick cooking spray. In large bowl, combine sugar, brown sugar and margarine; beat until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and egg; blend well. Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well. Stir in oats, raisins and nuts.   Use a Tablespoon to measure your cookies proportionately and scoop cookie dough onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Roll each cookie into a ball prior to setting the dough on the Parchment Paper, and set each cookie about 2 inches apart.   Bake at 375°F. for 7 to 10 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets and transfer to a wire rack to continue cooling.

Peanut Butter Thumbprint

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour (Stir the flour and then scoop it, so it’s not packed into the measuring cup/spoon.)

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 Bag of Hershey Kisses

Instructions: Cream the butter and sugars together in the bowl.  Add the peanut butter, egg, and vanilla. Mix well and scrape the bowl.  Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the butter mixture all at once and mix well, but don’t go overboard.  You just need the ingredients combined.

CHILL dough for 2 hours in fridge. (This keeps helps keeps the dough in good form rather than melting into a flat cookie)  Scoop dough and shape into balls, about 1 rounded Tablespoon each. Place 2-inches apart on silicone lined baking sheets. (Use a Tablespoon as a scoop, this will help with your proportions)  Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 8 to 9 minutes. Remove from oven. Immediately place a single Hershey Kiss in the center of each cookie while still warm. Let the cookies sit on the tray for about a minute while the Hershey kisses set, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Here a few tips I’ve either read about recently or learned along the way:

Start your recipe with cold butter. It takes longer to soften in the mixer, but warm butter makes the cookies spread too much.

Refrigerate the dough before baking or you will have flat pancake cookies. 30 minutes is good enough, but an hour would be great.

If you are doing a “great cookie bake”, (baking several different types of cookies for sharing).  Try to make all of your cookies the same size.  Using a Tablespoon for measuring is a great way to help your portion control.

Use parchment paper rather than a greased cookie sheet.  This will help is you are using several different recipes or baking a lot of one type.  Unless you clean your greased cookie sheet between each batch, you may end up with severely cooked grease on your pan and a funny taste on the edges of your cookies.  You can toss the parchment paper after each batch and ensure a smoother trend across all of your cookies.

Use butter instead of margarine.  I promise, it makes a difference.  If you choose to use margarine, check the label and be sure it has at least 80% vegetable oil.

Happy Baking, Happy Holidays and as always, Have a happy day!

Enjoy shopping during the holidays

It’s officially December and holiday shopping is in full swing! If you are anything like me than you have the very best intentions for early Christmas shopping in the hopes of having this task checked off your Holiday “To-Do” list.  Though I do have the best of intentions, I always find myself, year after year, still shopping during December for my entire family.  There is just something about shopping for others during the holiday season that is just more fun.  The deals and sales are fun to find.  The glitter and sparkle of the holiday decorations in the stores and the hustle and bustle is fun to be a part of.  So, here I am yet again embracing the month of December as my holiday shopping month.  I thought I would take a look at a few ways to keep myself organized and hopefully not end up overwhelmed the day or two before Christmas.  Here are my top five helpful tips to help make the most of your holiday shopping by having fun, saving some cash, and not becoming crunched for time.

1.       Make a list of everyone you need to shop for.  Figure out who you will be celebrating with all month long and add them to your list.

2.       Put dates next to your names on your list.  Will there be a secret Santa for your company holiday party that you need to have a gift for by the 17th?   Is there a neighborhood Christmas party that you need to have an extra bottle of wine on hand to give the host?  Checking your calendar while you make your list will help alleviate the “OMG” moments of realizing you forgot a friend or relative on your list

3.       Plan for extras.  Leave a few blank spaces on your list labeled male, female, girl, and boy.  These will allow you to have a few general gifts on hand in case someone shows up unexpectedly.  Scented candles, lotion, pocket, scarves, blankets, and trendy toys are always great for these slots on your list.  (Just remember to make them things that will last or are useable by members of your own family in case you end up with the extra gifts under your tree at the close of the holiday season.)

4.       Set a budget and make it realistic.  This may seem like a tall order, but if you generally have an idea for gifts for the people on your list, write down a monetary value next to their names and help yourself come to a total once your move thru your list top to bottom. 

5.       Plan your shopping days.  Set aside time to actually go shopping and not be rushed.  Are you more comfortable shopping a few hours a week in the evening or would you more enjoy a full Saturday shopping extravaganza?  This is YOUR time to enjoy the gift giving experience.  Finding great items that you know will put a smile on a loved one’s face.  In your scheduling, remember to schedule some treats for yourself.  A great cup of coffee and a biscotti mid-day, or maybe a nice dinner during the week after you wrap up your shopping.  Spoil yourself a little and ensure that you keep the happy festive holiday mood throughout the month.  

There are a few other things I like to do to get and stay in the Holiday Spirit all month long.   Here are a few of those little things that make me smile almost daily. 

1.       Playing Christmas Music.  No, I’m not 24/7 holiday music kind of lady, but the days that
I’m shopping or maybe late in the evening, It’s so peaceful and calming to listen to. 

2.       Plan to watch your favorite holiday movie and if you can’t then record them for when you can.  My favorites are a Charlie Brown Christmas, Frosty the Snowman, and of course Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

3.       Dress comfortably, but festive.  When I’m shopping, I like to keep in style, but comfort is important.   I love to wear high heels, but on a full day of shopping, flats and a comfy sweater is perfect.  Also, I change my purse to a backpack purse or cross body purse.  There is nothing more annoying that having a bunch of bags to carry and trying to keep your purse on your shoulder as you pick them up and set them down. 

4.       Do a little decorating all season and if you enjoy wrapping gifts, don’t wait till the last minute.  Turn on some Christmas music and do a few a week or on the weekend.  It will make your tree look complete, help you to feel a sense of accomplishment and start to make little minds wonder what is in their box.

I hope this helps you to enjoy your holiday preparations this season.  The most important moments are those with family, friends, and enjoying the peace that is in our hearts.  Have a happy day!

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