Posts tagged under Holiday. Show all posts.
Every year, I am shocked once again by the fact that my “must buy for” gift list has become a pyramid that could rival the ones in Egypt. Of course there’s the top tier—the kids and my beloved, then the next tier—the in-laws, close friends, nieces and nephews…but we’re all used to that. What I can’t get used to is that last tier that seems to be unique to moms—the teachers, the hockey coaches, the babysitters, the friends of the kids whose parents insist on buying for my kids every year (the list goes on). To keep myself sane, I track everything with a spreadsheet, including a budgeted amount, actual cost and then whether or not the gift has not only been bought but also wrapped and delivered.
But my real sanity saver has got to be online shopping. I don’t know how I ever lived without it! Whether it’s the kids’ gifts from online stores like Mastermind, books for everyone from Indigo or big orders of cute personalized stuff from mom-run online boutiques like Kathy and Kim Originals for all the random kids on the list, I am definitely letting my fingers do the shopping. And of course, I am also stocking up a gift basket filled with small things I have picked up here and there (a gourmet sauce, a helpful book, a handful of affordable kids’ toys) just in case I have that surprise situation where someone shows up with an unexpected gift. What’s your seasonal sanity saver? I’d love to know.
‘Tis the season for shopping, parties, handling sick kids, baking, more shopping, visiting with next-to-everyone you know, still more shopping and maybe, if you’re lucky, the chance to sit by the fire and relax for a few minutes…if you’re lucky. There’s truth to the statement: “I need a holiday after the holidays.”
I know I tend to overdo it during the season. With so much on the ‘to do’ list, it’s easy to relate to how Santa must feel scurrying around in his workshop dealing with presents, frantic, over-worked elves, travel plans and staving off any unwanted seasonal illnesses. So it is one of my goals this year to stay sane and actually allow the holiday to be just that: a holiday. The temptation to overbook has been squelched by my newest idea that rivals Santa’s Naughty and Nice List. It’s my Holiday Checklist of Do’s and Don’ts.
Don’t: Feel I need to take the kids to every single holiday event going on in town.
Do: Make sure I spend some time with the kids doing something that we will all enjoy together that doesn’t require a) a major budget or b) a lot of travel. Cozying up by the fire with a holiday story and some hot chocolate, or making cookies together is what memories are made of.
Don’t: Force myself to buy ‘unique’ gifts for absolutely everyone. It is okay if the babysitter and the next door neighbour get the same gift (here are five great ideas).
Do: Limit my shopping excursions so that I don’t spend the whole season hunting through stores or websites. Buying in bulk is okay!
Don’t: Overbook my evenings with parties or events. Sleep and down-time is equally important.
Do: Remeber to enjoy myself.
I’m interested to know what’s on your Holiday Checklist to help you manage holiday stress. And stay tuned for next week when I reveal the results of our recent SavvyMom Holiday Stress Survey and share what moms across the land find most stressful about the holiday season. You’re definitely not alone if being responsible for the entire gift list stresses you out!
I’ll admit it made me feel a bit better when the results of our survey came in confirming that 58% of moms feel anxious around the holidays and basically wish Santa would provide them with more time and money. To me it’s no surprise, but it’s always fun to get some numbers to back up our intuition.
We conducted the survey with limelitePR and made a few interesting discoveries.
Apparently ‘togetherness’ holds the top spot in moms’ priority list over the holiday season, with 60% saying they love family traditions, 47% love visiting friends and attending parties and 46% love having the kids home and spending quality time with them.
But (as we can attest to) all of that comes with a price, leaving moms with their #1 concern of “how to pay for everything”, and more feelings of anxiety for “not being able to afford more”. Santa, where are you?
In terms of feeling overwhelmed, 50% of the moms surveyed do the majority of holiday preparations and an additional 33% report that they do it all, with no assistance from other family members. For those with significant others, their partner’s contribution is primarily limited to decorating the outside of the house (32%). Well, there’s a surprise!
If you’re feeling stressed, at least you know you’re not alone!
We had a little media response to our recent survey on holiday stress experience by moms this weekend with a mention in the Vancouver Sun by columnist Shelley Fralic, who wrote a great piece on gift-giving and used some of the data from our survey in her story. Minnow was also interviewed on Victoria’s CFAX radio, sharing some of our holiday stress saving tips, which made me think we should share those tips here too (since you probably didn’t get a copy of our press release). So without further ado, some holiday stress-busting tips for you:
Our SavvyMoms love the holidays. Once everything is bought, wrapped, opened and everything is checked off the list, there is calm after the storm. That’s when we get to relax and spend time with our families and have a bit of a rest.
I’m actually spending time with my family on a sunny beach right now so I couldn’t be happier (seriously, I’m not sure I have ever been happier).
Before I left, I spoke to most of the team and found out what they were doing for the hols this year and here’s what some of them told me. Some are going far and some not so far but everyone is looking forward to the downtime for a few days at least.
Here’s what Martha Cass, our Toronto scribe emailed me:
“Holiday greetings to all of you from sunny Mexico. Our holiday celebrations are already done (we celebrate Chanukah, which finished last weekend) and this year was fantastic! We love to invite friends and family to eat latkes (my husband Randy’s favourite food) and jelly doughnuts on the first night of the celebration. For my boys (Benjamin 7, Nathan 5 and Daniel 2) it’s all about the presents (it’s pretty much like Christmas in that way).
But for me, my favourite part is lighting the candles each night. It makes the house glow and my heart feel warm. On the first night we say a special prayer to express our joy for reaching this happy season. That is my holiday wish for all of you. May you feel all the joy in the world this holiday, however you celebrate. Thank you so much for reading SavvyMom!”
Sheila Colman, our very savvy scribe in Vancouver also has big plans to spend time with her gorgeous family:
“For me, the holidays bring a much needed break from the school routine, the soccer pitch and the hockey arena. All good things start with S for my family this Christmas: snowshoeing, skiing, shopping the sales in Seattle and (of course) sipping Shiraz while savouring scrumptious suppers.”
I know Sarah will be spending time with her in-laws in Saskatoon and then her own family in Canmore, Alberta with lots of skiing, hiking and family time with all of the cousins.
Angela is in Costa Rica (can you stand it)? Heather is skiing in the interior of BC and let’s not forget about Patti Ryan who is in Cambodia. Because why wouldn’t you?
There’s more to the team…and we all wish you a very relaxing week filled with health, happiness and of course, SavvyMom emails.
Some parts of Canada have been celebrating Family Day for longer than others (and others still don’t). In Ontario, our first Family Day was celebrated in 2008, making it a fairly recent phenomenon and one that I am still getting used to. The first year it happened, it kind of passed by many of us as we didn’t have a chance to really prepare for it, but by 2009 it had become more of an institution. And as much as I love a day off with my family, I found it amazingly disruptive for one day off from work after finally getting back up to speed from the Christmas break, and since it’s the third Monday in February, it will often, as it did last year (and will this year), get all mixed up with Valentine’s Day. (Is it just me or does spending quality time with the entire family kind of preclude you from leaving the kids alone to have a romantic dinner alone with your beloved?)
However, forwarded is forearmed, and this year I vow to make the most of that long weekend for our family (even though the hockey and ski racing schedule means the Saturday and Sunday are still pretty ‘programmed’). So on the Monday, I am hoping we can all get out together for a fun family ski day at our local hill. We’ll start off the celebration with a cheese fondue on Sunday night. And for the ski day, I will bring a fancy picnic with everyone’s favourite treats including some Valentine’s Day sugar cookies, and we’ll share some hot cocoa at the end of the day before we’re back to reality on Tuesday. What are you planning? I would love to know.
They say on St. Patrick’s Day everyone is Irish. So in celebration of that,we wanted to suggest a few fun things to explore on Wednesday. After all, St. Pat’s Day is all about luck, and we could all use a little of that (as well as a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, of course).
So here are some quick and easy ways to celebrate.
Pull out all that green clothing from your closet and make it a green-themed day. Make dinner all about green goodies (it’s a great way to get the kids to eat those veggies!). Add a little Dr. Seuss to your world and create green eggs and ham. Or simply add a bit of green food colouring to those mashed potatoes. Food colouring also works well to transform white cupcakes and icing into green goodies, and for good measure, add a chocolate coin on top!
Try Your (Craft) Luck
The nice thing about St. Patrick’s Day is that there are lots of great themes to work with. Rainbows, leprechauns, four-leaf clovers… all of them can be transformed into fun crafts. Consider making rainbow-beaded bracelets (with a few gold beads thrown in for good measure). Take the idea of ‘green’ to heart and recycle an old cardboard box to create your own painted rainbow, clovers or gold coins. Large yogurt containers can become the top part of a lucky leprechaun hat. Place the wide brim on a piece of thick cardboard and trace a circle. Then, trace a wider circle around that. Cut out both circles and slide it down over the yogurt container until it’s down at the bottom like the brim of a hat. Paint everything green (or use construction paper over top). If you’d rather, transform the containers into special lucky ‘pots’ by painting them black. You can use them for the hunt below.
Hunt for Gold
Who says Easter is the only time you can go on a chocolate treasure hunt? Hide some gold-wrapped chocolate coins around the house and send your kids off with their own pots (see above) to collect them. Or make it a bit more savvy by creating a series of four-leaf clovers out of construction paper. Add a riddle to one that leads to somewhere in the house, where a second one is hiding with another clue, etc. The final clue can lead to a special spot where your pot of gold treats is waiting.
Or, you could simply ad a bit of flare to your dinner (Irish stew, anyone?), then sit back and relax with the family with a St. Patty’s Day-themed movie (Finian’s Rainbow, Darby O’Gill and the Little People, The Luck of the Irish) and a mint-flavoured hot chocolate.
In any case, we wish you lots o’ luck this St. Patrick’s Day.
How do you celebrate the holiday?
With the long weekend approaching, you’ve quite possibly got your calendar full of activities to explore locally with the kids. Or maybe you’ve got some time planned out for a nice brunch with the family, followed by some low-key outdoor fun.
Or maybe you’re in a total panic because you’ve got three days with the kids and you haven’t got any plans whatsoever.
Here are some fun ideas I like to do—most come from memories of my own childhood.
When all is said and done, there’s always firework displays to enjoy! How do you like to spend your long weekends?
Over the years at SavvyMom, we’ve celebrated Father’s Day hockey-style, golf-style, grill-style and just plain old sentimental style. But one thing remains constant—we hear from our scouts out there that Dad (just like us) wants a little time alone on Father’s Day and a little time with his beloved family. So we’re making some arrangements for Dad to get out on the course, court or rink and then planning to gather round en famille later that day to celebrate him and all he does.
What are you plans for Father’s Day? We’d love to hear them.
‘Tis the start of the season for ‘spending’ and at SavvyHQ, we’ve been talking about ways to keep ourselves from going completely over budget when it comes to buying holiday gifts. I, for one, am trying to get my head around effective holiday shopping with kids in tow—that is enough of a distraction to stop me from being smart when it comes to buying gifts.
An article on holiday spending from our archives was a good refresher on the subject. Here are some of those tips:
This holiday, I’m going to take a note from Santa: make that list and check it twice.
Shopping, wrapping, decorating, entertaining, baking, cooking…so many action words associated with the holidays, but at the top of my list every year that is often forgotten (or seemingly impossible to check off) is relaxing.
We asked our readers on Facebook what they did to stay sane during the hectic holiday season and here’s what some of them shared with us:
Shannon Kinnear Silvey likes to ‘eat chocolate and drink lots of red wine’. Reagan Calder makes ‘lists, and likes to do as much as possible online! One of her favourite places is Ape 2 Zebra toys because they have awesome selection and customer service. Andrea Firmani starts early with her online shopping because it saves her the stress of battling crowds while Sarah Eddenden shops for little things all year long—like adornments for gifts. She shops online for the unique stuff and buys gift certificates for kids between 7 and 27 years of age. Then she can breathe easy.
Brave Amanda Shaw-Yagoub actually likes to ‘ditch the lists’! She hits the stores and browses for a gift that fits the recipient, rather than running around trying to track down specific items. Grace Sanchez MacCall is a real traditionalist who likes to drink her tea in proper china. With friends. And cakes. It slows the world right down!
Me? I like to get all the family gifts—aunts, uncles, cousins, teachers, etc. crossed off the list by the end of November so I can breathe in December. I always save a few last minute gifts because it just feels more festive to shop the week before.
Whatever your strategy is, there are lots of ways to avoid too much stress before and during the holidays. So make sure you add a little relaxing on your list this year. And thank you to all those who shared their tips and tricks.
Do you have any more ideas? I would still like to hear more.
We recently heard from Savvy reader Lily Chiu of Smallerfootprints.ca, an online giving site, about a wonderful holiday tradition she and her friends hold every year. It’s an annual skating party they host as a ‘gift’ to friends and family. They ask everyone attending to bring mittens, socks, hats or anything that’s warm to support local public school George Anderson P.S. in Toronto.
As Lily shared: “It’s a great school with the majority of students coming from immigrant families trying to make it work. What that means is that kids often go to school with leaky boots, socks with no front to it because that’s all they had, and sometimes sent to school hungry. Can you imagine being in a school where they have a main bin in the office for children to BORROW mittens/gloves for recess, and return them after? My heart breaks when I think about it. Giving a little something to this school each year puts smiles on everyone’s face, especially mine!”
What a wonderful way to celebrate the holidays while teaching a great message about the importance of giving, not getting, and a super alternative to piles of gifts that are not really appreciated. Congratulations, Lily, for creating such a wonderful tradition.
Do you have any traditions with your friends and family to encourage giving and help us reflect on the true spirit of the season? We’d love to hear them.
I always get sentimental around this time of year because I truly believe in the spirit of Christmas. Pulling up to the house and seeing everything lit up makes me happy. Watching my 11 year-old running off to school in his Santa hat puts a smile on my face.
But there is so much commercialization and over consumption around the holidays that it’s easy to be cynical. At the end of the day, though, it’s all about giving and receiving and families being together. No amount of marketing can take that away from us.
Conversely, nobody can take away the fact that there are sick children who are spending the holidays in the hospital this year. That just doesn’t feel right to us, so we’re running our third annual Holiday Giving Campaign in support of the Kids’ Interactive Technology Fund this year. We’ve raised about $3,000 of our $20,000 goal so we have a long way to go. It only takes 400 SavvyMoms to donate $50 each to reach our goal or 1,000 SavvyMoms to donate $20 each.
Let’s see if we can help put a smile on more faces this season—it should put one on yours at the same time.
When the snow (or rain) comes a-fallin’, the kids are snuggled next to you (or in their beds) and the night sky is that lovely blanket filled with dreams of the holidays, there’s nothing better than putting on a film to embrace the seasonal mood. So since all of us at SavvyHQ have been enjoying sharing our fave baking recipes with you, we thought we’d compile our list of top holiday films that get us into the spirit of things.
Here are our picks (in no particular order):
What are your favourite holiday movies?
Will you be toasting 2011 quietly with (or without) the kids, celebrating with friends or doing something more unusual? This was the question posed at SavvyHQ just before everyone headed out for the holidays. Some of us were heading out of town, while others of us were home sweet home for the whole holiday break.
My husband, daughter and I are going to have a nice quiet evening at home together. We love exploring various nibblies on New Year’s Eve along with our traditional cheese fondue. It’s our chance to take a step back from the ‘busy-ness’ we’ve just experienced and relax together. I also have a special journal that I only write on January 1 each year. New Year’s Eve is a nice time to reflect back on what I’ve written previous years.
As per this season’s new tradition of sharing, here’s what some of us are up to for the last night of 2010:
“The girls have a dance party at daycare and Dave and I will spend the day shopping or going to the movies. Then, after the girls go to bed, we will probably watch a movie, eat some appetizers, countdown to 2011 and go to bed.” – Leslie, Sales Coordinator & Project Manager
“We will be staying in. Usually we order Chinese food.” – Maggie, National Account Manager
“Our family annual tradition of attending the ‘Party on the Pond’ in Canmore—an outdoor skating, bonfire, fireworks, hot chocolate event—with all five of us in bed by 11!” – Sarah, Publisher & Co-Founder
“We will be ringing in the new year with friends at their ski chalet in Collingwood and skiing on New Year’s Day!” – Denise, Director of Client Services
What are you doing this New Year’s Eve?