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STUDENT HEALTH CENTER

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December 2009

Tips and Tricks to Surviving the Holidays

The holiday season is to be full of love and joy, however being humans we can never leave well enough alone. Between shopping, sending cards, parties, decorating, cooking ... Our stress level goes into overdrive.

Here are some tips that might help bring back the love and joy and decrease the stress and the cost.

Gift Wrapping Get Together: Have several friends bring their gifts, tape, and paper. Turn it into a wrapping party, serving munches. This way you always have that extra set of fingers you always need. Also you can swap wrapping paper and ribbon. 

Too Much Food to Cook at One Time: Let a friend help by doing some at her house.  Then return the favor. Many foods can be prepared, weeks ahead of time. By planning ahead, all you will have to do is pull it out of the freezer, and bake. Just think all the good smells, with almost no mess.

Bored Kids: If you own some holiday DVDs, this is the time to dig them out. Swap out with friends. You can even rent them for almost nothing, and some libraries even offer them for lending.  Or if you would prefer something a little better, set-up a little craft area. Stock it with all the basic supplies: white paper, construction paper, scissors, glue, colors, pipe cleaners, scraps of fabric, scraps of wrapping paper, and if you dare.......glitter. You will get a little peace, and they will have something to be proud of.

Holiday Grocery Shopping: can be a killer if you work. See if you can take off early one day. Grocery stores are almost empty during week-days. Then enjoy the time you would normally have to be in the store, doing something you never have time for.

The Food: Don't try to lose weight during the holidays. There is something to be said for just holding onto the pre-season weight. Arrive a little late, and leave a little early. Less exposure to food can't hurt. Keep the hands busy, offer to help the hostess with music, dirty dishes, taking pictures... anything but serving!

If you are in a situation, where you are expected to host a party, but the time and money budgets simply can't handle it, do a pot luck. The trick is you don't have to call it a pot luck; it's a "Holiday Sampler Party". Instruct each guest to bring the one food item that has a special holiday memory for them or just their favorite holiday food. Then at the party, have everyone share the story behind their item.

Emergency Decorations: Grab a nice looking goblet, place a colored votive candle in it, tie a matching colored Christmas ribbon around the base or stem. Remember if using a candle near the area where you will be serving a meal, use unscented candles. Scented candles often don't mix well with food.

  • Centerpiece idea: Simply wipe some gold gilding on apples and pears, place in a glass bowl. Take some fresh fruit, moisten with egg whites, roll through a bowl of sugar and you have frosted fruit! Arrange on a Christmas plate or glass dish. 
  • Napkins rings? Pull out some of that Christmas ribbon, from the closet. Gently tie round napkins. If you glasses are stemmed, a simple matching bow there will make it looked planned. Using paper tubes from bath tissue or paper towels, cut into pieces about 1 to 1 1/2 inches. Cover with scrap fabric, ribbon or even yarn. If you want to fancy it up a bit, glue on little jewels.

Emergency Gifts: You have finished all your shopping, used the extra gifts you had stashed, and now you find that you missed someone. There is no time to make something and the thought of going to the mall or discount store sends a shiver down your back. Try shopping at the local grocery store. Most grocery stores carry more than just food.

  • For the average person - Grab a nice looking coffee mug and small package gourmet coffee, several packets of gourmet hot chocolate, fill with candy or a small plant
  • For the kid - Grab a pail or plastic tub/bucket, Permanent marker, along with art stuff: water colors, crayons, colored pencils, ruler, stickers... (these items can be found in school supplies) Write the kid's name on the pail or tub, than fill with the goodies.
  • For the person that has everything - Grab a basket or flower pot and fill with bath stuff (oils, lotion, bubbles, sponge...)
  • For the hobbyist - Pick up a magazines that specialize in the hobby, call or mail an subscription for the person and wrap the copy you bought with a note tell them their subscription will start in a couple of issues.
  • For the health nuts - Pick up a nice large bowl, flower pot, or basket, fill with fresh fruit.

Hard to impossible to Wrap Items......No problem: Tickets, and gift certificates, and other small flat gift are normally placed in an envelope. If you wish to be different, place them in a "Cracker Wrapper". Simply use either the cardboard from bath tissue, or cut the cardboard from a roll of paper towels, or ever wrapping paper. Place the item in the tube, wrap by rolling the wrapping paper around the tube, gather the ends and tie off with ribbon. This will also work for small gifts that came without a box.

Bikes, trikes, and riding lawn mowers, are just too big to wrap. Not to mention a real pain to get in the house. There are two ways to handle these. Take a picture of the item, and wrap the picture. Wrap something that goes with it, and watch their face as figure out what is happening.

Boxes too big for wrapping paper. Spray paint the box; add some Christmas stickers, and a big bow. Christmas bags can be handy; of course they don't hid the gift well. If you choose to use bags, buy some white garbage bags, using a stencils spray paint Christmas designs on it. Tie if off with a matching ribbon.

Christmas Cards/Letters: Make a list, figure how many cards and stamps you will need. Need a zip code? U.S. Postal Service

Here are some basic rules of Christmas letters:

  • Thou shall not solicit. This includes for charities, having a Tupperware party, and especially that new business you are starting.
  • Thou shall not brag. If you got a promotion, mention it, skip the $$ details. Hit only the high lights of the kids’ activities, not a blow by blow listing of how little Joey won the state championship.
  • Keep it personal, after don't forget the reason you are sending it.

Take care of yourself! If you allow it, you holidays can take a toll on your mind and body. This won't only ruin your holiday, but might bring down others around you too. So head the problem before it starts. Don't worry about the small stuff! So what if the gift isn't wrapped perfect or the cookies are store bought.  No one is perfect, and the odds are no one will really care.

Time Management: There are only 24 hours in a day, so don't try to do 26 hours worth of stuff. Allow yourself enough time to sleep your normal time length.
Pamper yourself - Limited time and money is no excuse not to. Even if it's just a hot bubble bath, a cup of your favorite coffee or tea, or even 10 minutes alone with a chocolate candy bar. Do something just for you.