Have you ever thought it may be possible to enjoy gift giving and the spirit of the holidays without feeling overwhelmed? The time is here again and we’ve made a comprehensive list of helpful holiday tips for strategic shopping and sparkly gift giving to support you through your holiday countdown.
Holiday Strategies to Keep You Sane
– Organize your shopping list
– How to shop
– Steps to organizing your time
The holidays are a hectic, stressful time, to say the least. It’s important to balance out your family, friends, food and shopping. Time management as well as logistically planning to maximize every spare moment will help keep holiday shopping productivity at its best.
1. Keep Yourself Organized:
– Making lists are key- List by importance, when you will need the item or when the item may be on sale or available.
– Try to keep shopping locations close and map out the easiest routes and parking options (valet, off-site with shuttle, etc.) to avoid parking lot madness and frustration.
2. Shopping Tips:
– Plan your day around what needs to get done and by when, instead of tackling everything without a plan. Attack a few tasks at a time and remember to take breaks throughout. Take some time to appreciate the decorations and spirit of the holiday season.
– Remember to stay hydrated with water and bring nuts and dates to sustain your energy levels while shopping.
– Take coffee/tea breaks and, if possible, shop with friends to fit in social time while getting tasks done. Plus, who doesn’t appreciate second opinions?
– If you can, swap babysitting times with a friend who will take the kids while you shop and vice versa. This will be a huge help for both of you and will allow you each time to shop uninterrupted.
3. A Few Things to Remember When Shopping with the Kids:
– Make sure that they are well fed before heading out. A hungry child can get very upset very quickly, especially in a busy shopping mall. Pack small snacks and water to offer when hunger kicks in during the middle of a shopping trip.
– Pack small toys, or activities that your child can use to keep them busy while standing in line.
– Take breaks. Not only is it helpful for adults to stop and take a moment, but equally important for kids. Remember to take your child to see the decorations or step outside to get a change of scenery and fresh air.
– If your child has sensory sensitivities, bring headphones or other helpful tools to help diminish the overload they may experience. If behaviors surface due to sensory overload, find a quiet spot away from the noise and crowds so your child can regain their composure. Try 4 drops of Dr. Bach’s Rescue Remedy in water or under the tongue to soothe the spirit.
Finally, remember to treat yourself when you have it all completed. Whether you schedule a massage, manicure/pedicure or simply reward yourself with time to read a great book, taking time out to take care of yourself will help you get through the holidays with good cheer.
Your Shortcut to Safe Shopping
Here are some safe tips for purchasing kid’s and adult toys. Avoid materials where the most hazardous substances tend to lurk – think hormone-disrupting chemicals, such as plastic (avoid flexible plastic), lead and cadmium in metal trinkets, and anything requiring flame retardants such as pajamas. Here are some better options:
1. Buy USA made items
2. Toys and gifts made of natural wood
3. Toys that use water based paints
4. Gifts made with natural fibers like wool and cotton
5. Avoid materials listed as fire resistant or waterproof
Non Toxic Retailers
– Ava Anderson: Personal care and home products.
– Green Toys: Toys made from recycled plastic and environmentally friendly materials.
Healthy Gift Giving
Teachers and teacher’s aides have a big influence on the way children view the world around them. Most of these dedicated professionals take their job very seriously and are passionate about making a positive impact in your child’s life. The holidays can be the perfect opportunity to say thank you by giving them a special gift to show your appreciation. We’ve gathered 6 creative gift ideas that can be used to honor these special people.
1. Heartfelt Notes & Cards. Write a thank you note to your child’s teacher for their vision, sensitivity and commitment. One of the best gifts you can give a teacher is acknowledgement for their hard work and dedication. This is a simple, yet impactful gift that’s likely to be remembered for a long time to come.
2. Offer Your Time. Show your appreciation by volunteering your time to help out in the classroom. Remember, gifts don’t have to be tangible things. Some of the most appreciated gifts are just you being there.
3. Sponsor the Holiday Party. If time is tight, but money is not, offer to sponsor the classroom holiday party. Remember if you bring in food or drinks, it’s important to inquire about food allergies so all the kids can enjoy the holiday goodies.
4. Ornaments. Give a seasonal ornament that can be hung on a tree, in a window, or as a small mobile. A great thing about giving a seasonal ornament to a teacher is that it can be boxed up with the rest of the holiday decorations and become part of a yearly collection. Your child can fashion an ornament masterpiece for his/her favorite teacher using a three-inch Styrofoam ball, glue and glitter. The perfect size, small but not insignificant.
5. Handmade Art. Your child’s self portrait or a holiday card made by your creative little artist is a memorable and welcome gift. It’s a wonderful way to include your child in the giving spirit of the holidays. This type of gift is also a welcome surprise for grandma and grandpa.
6. Cash. Many teachers are underpaid, and a little extra green in their stocking could make a big difference during the holiday season. When you absolutely don’t know what to give, cash is a very versatile choice that everyone can use. To personalize your gift, have your child write the card.
7. Food Gifts. Most everyone loves something fresh and homemade to eat. Here are four easy to make items for the most discerning taste buds that will look beautiful dressed up in a glass jar with a ribbon. Using organic ingredients adds a touch of love to your gift.
Lemon-Garlic Vinaigrette – Gut Friendly Too!
– ½ cup Grey Poupon mustard
– ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
– 3 cloves of garlic crushed or diced
– Juice of ½ a lemon
– 1 teaspoon dried tarragon (optional)
– 1 cup of cold pressed olive oil
Directions: Mix together the mustard, apple cider vinegar, garlic, and lemon juice in a measuring cup until well blended. Slowly pour olive oil in a thin stream into the mustard mixture stirring with a fork consistently. You will notice the mustard and olive oil emulsify and become thicker. Keep pouring slowly and blending until all oil is in the measuring beaker and voila, vinaigrette! Pour using a funnel into a decorative glass jar from World Market, Pier One, or the Container Store. Use on salads, a bowl of steamed veggies, or as a marinade for chicken tarragon.
Cranberry Pear Jam
Adapted from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
– 3 cups pears – cored, finely chopped and crushed (peeled or with peels)
– ⅔ cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
– ¼ cup pomegranate juice or unsweetened apple juice or cider
– ¼ cup lemon juice
– 2 cups granulated sugar or 1 cup honey (can substitute with sweetener of choice)
– 1 teaspoon cinnamon, organic
– 3 teaspoons Pomona’s pectin powder
– 4 teaspoons calcium water (included with Pomona’s Pectin)
Directions: In a small bowl, mix together sugar or honey and pectin powder. Don’t skip this step, or your pectin will clump. Set aside.
In a large, non-reactive, stainless steel pot, combine pears, dried cranberries, pomegranate or apple juice, lemon juice, cinnamon, and the calcium water. Bring to a full boil. Add honey-pectin or sugar-pectin mixture; stir vigorously 1-2 minutes while cooking to dissolve pectin. Return to boil and remove from heat.
Ladle jam into sterilized jars leaving 1/4″ headspace. Wipe rims clean and screw on the lids. Process for 10 minutes in water bath canner, or if the pot is deep enough to allow the jars to be submerged, like a stockpot, you don’t need a water bath canner. Water needs to circulate below, as well, so use some sort of mesh or perforated rack underneath the jars. As long as you aren’t using tall jars, a standard stockpot should suffice. Makes approximately 5 cups. Jam will last about three weeks once opened.
This jam is not only delish, but it is has a perfectly balanced pH. The cranberries and pears have natural antioxidant power for keeping colds away. The pears are also high in boron, which is good for bone health.
Tasty Buttery Brown Sugar Oat Cookies
Ingredients (gluten/dairy free options)
– 1 cup butter (for dairy free use 1 cup coconut oil)
– 2 cups brown sugar
– 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
– 2 eggs
– 1 ½ cups flour or 1 ½ cups gluten free flour
– 1 tablespoon of Chia and Flax Seeds
– 2 tablespoons boiling water
– 1 teaspoon sea salt or himalayan salt
– ½ teaspoon baking soda
– 2 cups oats or gluten free oats
Directions: Boil water. Carefully whisk chia and flax seeds with 2 tablespoons of boiling water. Set aside to cool. Mix together butter, brown sugar and vanilla until fluffy. Beat in eggs. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, salt and baking soda and add to butter mixture. Stir in chia, flax seeds and oats. Spoon onto baking sheet.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Makes approximately 36 cookies.
Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Ingredients (gluten/dairy free)
– 2 cups peanut butter (can substitute any nut butter)
– 2 cups cane sugar
– 3 eggs
– 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
– 1 cup of dark chocolate chips
Directions: Mix all ingredients together well. Spoon onto baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Makes approximately 36 cookies.
About the Authors: Together, BIORAY Inc, Generation Rescue, and Healthy Child Healthy World are collaborating to provide information, offer solutions and be a support system for parents passionate about raising kids with a healthy mind, body and spirit.