Holiday Hangover and 2014’s Grateful Resolve

I was torn about writing this post. As this blog would suggest, I love shopping and gift-giving but I need to elaborate about what that actually means. I see shopping as an activity, a spectator sport of sorts.  I can spend a day “shopping” and not buy a single thing. I am passionate about gift-giving because of how great it feels when you show a recipient that you know who they are and what is important to them, but I also believe you can give things like your time and attention or your talents and skills. Generosity, creativity and thought when put altogether can be incredibly powerful.

I started this Black Friday doing what I normally do, tweeting Black Friday sales from my @Gift_Whisperer account and checking out what other bloggers and retailers were doing.  Then I saw something horribly disturbing.  But I’ll get to that…

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Creating Holiday Hope: Some Assembly Required

Despair Or Hope Directions  courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Despair Or Hope Directions courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Whatever emotional riptide I am going through, the holiday season always seems to amplify it–if I’m happy and grateful I feel 100x more so and if I’m sad and lonely the same is true.

The most difficult holiday season I ever experienced was also the one that helped me realize how strong I was. It was my first Christmas as a single mom. My ex-husband and I had separated in May and we had done Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve dinner together at my mother’s house (like always) for the kids, but Christmas Eve where wrapping and assembling toys to go under the tree was now my responsibility alone and I had under estimated this task–not so much the wrapping, I loved that, but the assembling. I had a 3.5 year-old-boy and a 6 year-old-girl and when they get a present on Christmas from Santa, it’s not just a box in pretty paper. It’s put together so they can play with it right away. And Santa went to town this year. He got a pirate ship and an easel and some Barbie contraption–all “Assembly Required.” And while this probably isn’t an issue for an elf at the North Pole, as a newly single mom who just got fed another dose of reality at 11pm alone in my living room on Christmas Eve, it felt like my Everest.
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Holiday Parties: Getting In On The Food Deconstruction Trend

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Gingerbread House Against A Background Of Christmas Tree Lights, courtesy of digidreamgrafix / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Looking at the second half of November always makes me excited for the upcoming holiday season. In our family we celebrate Thanksgiving, Chanukah and Christmas but no matter what celebrations you may have in store, food is usually the common denominator we all share.

I really enjoy food deconstruction–taking well-known food concepts and constructs and presenting them in new, delightful and, of course, delicious ways–especially when you want to surprise your guests. I’m not a chef but I love to entertain and I love to cook and when there is a trend I like to mull it over and see if it’s right for me (I do the same thing with fashion–not every fad works for my shape and frame). Usually that means starting slowly, taking a toe-in-the-water approach. Here are the ways I tried to tackle the deconstructed food trend this year that will likely end up on my table this holiday season.

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Holiday Hostess Gifts

Image courtesy of Ron Bird / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Despite my passion for gift-giving and shopping (it’s kind of the whole premise for this blog) when it comes to the holidays, hosting and feeding my family and friends takes the cake–literally and figuatively. I love preparing the menu, decorating our house with my husband and kids–well, he watches and directs while we decorate but it’s still really fun–finding a fun activity for guests to break the ice and then pulling it all together. That said, I also visiting family and friends: our annual tradition of going to my aunt’s for Christmas Day, celebrating New Years Eve with my husband at “our” restaurant where we had our wedding reception, watching all the kids and grown-up men get sweaty and hungry playing soccer (or maybe it’s football) on Thanksgiving at my in-law’s.

Whether it’s an established tradition or a new invitation that finds you celebrating in someone else’s home, it’s customary to bring a token of thanks. I’ve written about hostess gifts before, and my “rules of the road” (a bunch of them will work for the holidays too so feel free to check them out again, particularly this one and this one) but these gift ideas focus on unexpected and holiday specific ideas to warm the hearts and homes of your hosts.

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