by Vicky Sanderson
The holiday countdown in on, and for many, that means the stress meter is starting to approach the danger zone. That’s why it’s so important to remember that Christmas is a state of mind, not a competitive sport. So here are a few tips for ensuring that the holiday season is fun, festive and full of meaning.
Holiday baking and cooking can be relaxing and enjoyable, but not everything has to be made-from-scratch. So stock the freezer with good-quality prepared foods. Try M& M Meat Shops, www.mmmeatshops.com , where you’ll find everything from hors d’ouvres and dips to delish desserts. You can also buy fully prepared meals, including pot roast in gravy (perfect for the slow cooker or Dutch oven) and a whole Atlantic cod, topped with shredded potato, cheddar cheese and chives. The desserts are also fab — and we can personally recommend the raspberry macaroon tarts, especially when they’re paired with a dollop of whipped cream and a few fresh raspberries. To make things even easier, you can order online and pick up at your nearest store.
Pencil family time into your schedule and treat it like an appointment that you can’t break. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive. Instead of making your way in the car to an over-crowded, over-heated theatre, why not plan a long walk on a local trail before heading home for a game or a family movie night?
HMV www.hmv.ca has great options, including a boxed set of Cars, the 50th anniversary edition of West Side Story, the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows collectible box and the complete collection of Home Alone. Give one of these as a gift and you’ll be guaranteeing some quality downtime.
Music is a great gift for teenagers, and can be a real conversation starter. Families can share musical tastes easily with a small but mighty iHome speaker — for just $20 — that connects to an iPhone, iPad or MP3 players and lets the user take music wherever — from the family room to the backyard to the cottage dock. This is a can’t-miss gift. There’s also a funny Rubik’s cube speaker for $30.
Too much sharing, of course, can be a bad thing. So consider offering up noise-cancelling headphones. Toxix headphones’ extra-large speaker drivers deliver smooth, undistorted highs, clear vocals and are comfy and compact. And at about $25, they’re also very affordable.
If you’ve got a Star Wars fan in the house, pick up a string of Yoda and R2D2 holiday lights ($20) or a Star Wars USB key ($20) just for fun.
This time of year is about loving and giving. So remember that despite the hectic pace, the stress — and even the squabbles — you’re blessed with family and friends and a warm, safe place to live. In lots of places though, that’s just not the case. So think about sharing your good fortune by making a donation to your favourite charity.
One that touches my heart is World Vision www.worldvision.ca/gifts , which partners with local communities in developing countries to improve lives. (They also do good work right here at home.) Make a donation of $30 and a family receives five fruit trees, enough to start on the road to self-sufficiency. Fifty dollars buys two hens and a rooster to help a family hatch a business. There are also options for warm clothing for kids, medical supplies and even sports equipment and books. You can get special gift cards to share your message and it’s so, so easy to pick gifts online.
These gifts are perfect for the person who has everything, and are a wonderful way to model the true spirit of the season to your kids.
About the Contributor
Vicky Sanderson writes Hot Home Products, a widely-read weekly column on home improvement, décor and housewares that appears every Saturday in the Toronto Star. She also keeps readers up to date on new products through her blog, On the House, which can be found on www.yourhome.ca. She frequently shares tips, tricks and trends on such media outlets as Canada AM, Breakfast Television, CHCH Morning Live, and CBC Radio. Follow her on Twitter @vickysanderson