STRESS LESS THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

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“It’s the most wonderful time of the year” or so Andy Williams would have us believe in that much loved Christmas carol, at least it is supposed to be, so what simple things can we do to make sure the sentiments from this legendary Christmas song actually become our reality? I want to experience Christmas this year without all of the frantic stress and tension that so often come along with this holiday and rob me of the “spirit of the season” leave me feeling jaded instead of jolly. We assembled some tips for reducing stress that don’t require any unrealistic commitments of your time, which there already is not enough of, but rather can be incorporated into the to do list you already have attached to your schedule.

1. Take Time For A Simple Act Of Kindness

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While you are rushing around finishing up last minute details, stop and open a door for someone,  bring back coffee for a co-worker or spouse, let someone who looks “really stressed” go ahead of you in line. These are simple things that studies show actually reduce your stress level.

2. Take In The Sights, Sounds and Smells Of The Season

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Instead of stressing out over getting that last parking spot close to the door, intentionally park far away; use this as an opportunity to get some fresh air and exercise, relish the invigoration of the crisp winter air as it touches your cheeks, listen to the enchanting sound of the salvation army santa’s bells or christmas music surrounding you, observe the beauty of the decorated lampposts and sparkling lights. Breathe in the smell of fresh pine trees as you pass by the Christmas tree lots. Being mindful of and enjoying your surroundings immediately lowers your blood pressure and reduces stress.

3. Wrap It Up

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Make gift wrapping an event. Plan a movie excursion for hubby and kids, make yourself your favorite beverage; hot chocolate, tea, coffee with a little baileys maybe, put on your favorite holiday music, sit by the fire, have all of your wrapping tools out and organized and enjoy wrapping each gift with attention to detail. This time to focus on one task will put your mind at rest and the tension of the day will just melt away.

4. Take Note

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Pick a handful of people who have had a special impact on your life this year and take a few minutes at the beginning or end of your day to actually write them a personal thank you note/Christmas Greeting expressing how they blessed your life in 2016. Expressing gratitude makes you feel mentally stronger and reduces frustration and irritability.

5. Establish New Traditions That Suit Your Lifestyle

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Most of the stress we experience in our lives is tied into expectations we are striving to live up to. A belief that events SHOULD be executed in a certain way. Forget the should surrounding where you should go, what you should do, how you should celebrate, who you should get a gift for; lose the expectations you normally place on yourself and instead be open to establishing new traditions that fit into the lifestyle of you and your family.  This time of year is all about enjoying and sharing with the ones we love; instead of the full Christmas dinner perhaps a tapas style presentation of a few simple hot hor d’oueves & cocktails or soup and salad bar would be just as fun and give everyone a chance to mill around visit and enjoy one another instead of being relegated to an assigned seat at the table. Agree to just one gift per person, draw names. Decorate a tree outside in the yard with lights and ornaments instead of making a mess inside. Celebrate with different parts of the family different days or host an open house where people can drop by whenever they have time. Participate in a santa run for charity which will eliminate any arguments over whose house you have to visit at what time.

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Remember to live in the moment. Don’t miss the magic of the season, embrace the additional to do’s and events it added to your schedule as a welcome change, step out of the mundane for awhile, find that spark of childhood wonder where the world is full of hope, excitement, and all things good.

 

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HOLIDAY TRADITIONS OLD AND NEW

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With the Holidays right around the corner, we here at Posh at Play are getting into the Holiday Traditions, both old and new. The Holidays are great time to reflex and reflect on not only the past year, but also the new year to come. It’s a time of giving and sharing, and a time to reflect on how and why we do the things we do. What are the Holiday Traditions that bring us “home” every year, and what are the new Traditions to investigate to make each holiday season special and unique? We want to hear from you our readers. What are some of your favorite “must-have” Holiday Traditions and what are some new Traditions you would like to try this Season? To give you a head start, we’ve gathered a list of Old and New Holiday Traditions we love. Take a look and let us know what you think.

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ADVENT OR ELF ON THE SHELF?

A much loved Holiday Tradition for young and old alike is counting down the days until Christmas Day. A favorite is the Advent calendar, tracing back to19th Century Britian, with the first known published Advent calendar produced in 1851. One door, featuring a Christmas image or small present, is opened per day starting December 1st, and continuing  through the 24 days of December, building anticipation and excitement for Christmas Day. We love the beautiful selection of Advent calendars found at Byers’ Choice Lmt. A newer Holiday Tradition many are embracing is the “Elf on the Shelf,” a tiny Elf doll who is sent from Santa starting December 1st to monitor good behavior each day of the month. Each night, the Elf flies back to the North Pole to report to Santa all he has seen and heard and “reappears” in a new hiding place each day. The fun is to find where the Elf may be hiding each new day. Which countdown to Christmas do you prefer?

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REAL OR ARTIFICIAL CHRISTMAS TREE?

A winter tradition going all the way back to the Egyptian times, decorating with a tree during winter symbolizes the hope for Spring ahead. Right after the Pumpkin Patches start disappearing after Halloween night, the stands start stocking up their lots with a variety of real Christmas pine trees. A much loved Holiday Tradition is to pack into the car and shop for a Christmas Tree at the local stand a few days before Christmas. With the fresh smell of pine, a real Christmas Tree warms the home instantly. Some, however, prefer the easy-does-it set up of a pre-lit artificial Tree, for easy set up and take down. Artificial Trees are also suitable for those allergic to pine trees or those who love to decorate early for the holiday. We love the beautifully realistic artificial Christmas trees at Balsam Hill in a variety of sizes and styles. Which do you prefer? Real or artificial?

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TRADITIONAL OR THEMED HOLIDAY COLORS?

Red and green, the traditional colors of the Holidays, harken back to the Roman times when wreaths made of holly and ivy were given as gifts, looking forward to the promise of Spring ahead. Today, many still decorate homes, offices, and buildings with the traditional colors of Christmas from wreaths, to Christmas trees, to table settings. However, a current trend is to decorate around a Winter Theme, from “Frozen,” to Candy Cane Lane, to Winter Wonderland, complete with ornaments and decorations surrounding each specific theme. What is your favorite decorating Holiday theme?

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A favorite Holiday Tradition is the the iconic Christmas tree. Decorated with ornaments and lights, the real or artificial pine Christmas tree is seen all over the cities from homes to offices to schools to stores. Many love to host a “Christmas Decorating” party in which guests help decorate the pine tree  over socializing and snacks. A newer modern Holiday Tradition is using tree branches, lights, or other creative ideas to form a “Christmas tree” shape made out of other materials. Some even use the “Charlie Brown Christmas tree” with one lone red ornament and a tree branch as the centerpiece of the Holiday Tree. Do you decorate with a Christmas tree or go the modern route?

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CHRISTMAS DINNER OR CHRISTMAS MOVIE ON CHRISTMAS DAY?

On Christmas Day, a favorite Holiday Tradition is to wake up early, open Christmas presents, and then prepare for a big Holiday Christmas dinner with family and friends, enjoying spending time with loved ones over a feast of wonderfully prepared food and drinks. Check out the delicious and easy Christmas meal ideas at Food & Wine. In recent years, “family” has come to not only include relatives but friends, extended family, or those with no family to go to over the holidays lending to new Christmas Day traditions including going to see a movie on Christmas Day, as well as other festive activities like shopping, going out to a restaurant, or site seeing. Film companies often release their year’s top hits into theaters on Christmas Day. Check out IMDB’s film releases for Christmas Day and choose which flick you will want to enjoy.  How will you celebrate this year, with a big home cooked meal or try something new and unique, but just as festive?

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BING CROSBY OR IDINA MENZEL?

A great Holiday Tradition is holiday music blasting through the home and car all Season long, making things merry and bright. There are so many wonderful Christmas and Holiday albums worth enjoying throughout the Holidays. Enjoy old classics like Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” for a good old fashioned Christmas season, or go modern and pick up Broadway star Idina Menzel’s “Holiday Wishes” filled with updated versions of all the holiday classics. Which one will most likely be filling your home this Season?

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HOMEMADE GIFTS OR STORE BOUGHT GIFTS?

Traditionally, all presents used to be handmade toys, cookies, soaps, and woodcrafts that friends and family would spend time working on and keeping a secret from their loved ones until Christmas Day dawned. The holidays have since turned into a haze of shopping madness with stores pushing to buy more, more, more. This season, consider crafting your own homemade lotion, soap, cookie recipe, or other creative ideas found at Buy Nothing Christmas. If you do decide to buy your gifts at the store, thinking creatively, not expensively. Think from the heart and choose a gift that will mean something from you to them. Whichever way you choose to give gifts this year, remember the reason for the season.

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OLD FASHIONED SLEIGH RIDE OR ICE SKATING?

For a festive winter out, couples used to wrap in a cozy wool blanket, cuddle together, and take a ride in the sleigh, enjoying each other and the crisp winter weather. Some climates still allow for an “old fashioned” sleigh ride through the wintery white snow just like days of old. Instead of complaining about the frosty winter weather, consider enjoying a ride through the snow. A more modern twist is enjoying a skate for two, or gather the entire gang for a glide around the rink. Many cities today set up outdoor skating rinks during the winter season in the downtown areas. Check your local city for details and enjoy some fresh Winter Wonderland. Which festive Winter activity do you find most appealing?

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Holiday Traditions old and new are always a fun, festive part of the Holidays. Traditions warm our hearts and bring joy and cheer to end the year on a happy and thoughtful note as excitement builds for a fresh, new year to come. Whether you prefer old traditions like Christmas trees and handmade gifts, or new traditions like seeing a movie on Christmas or listening to Idina Menzel, make traditions a part of your festive holidays. We’d love to hear YOUR ideas on what the holidays mean to YOU. What are YOUR favorite Holiday Traditions from the ones we’ve listed? What Holiday Traditions do YOU love best?

HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM POSH AT PLAY.