Christmas, by the numbers

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Christmas is an enormously popular holiday and the numbers back it up!

  • 85% of American consumers stated they would be celebrating Christmas in a November 2020 survey. 
  • Americans are shopping more online. 63% said they would do their Christmas shopping online last year.
  • In 2021, 43% of Americans started Christmas shopping in October or earlier!
  • In 2021, Americans anticipate spending an average of $21 on Christmas cards and postage.
  • 51% of respondents said they were having turkey for Christmas dinner. 
  • 28% of resopndents said when they get a present they don’t like, they keep it and pretend to like it. 
  • Only 18% of respondents said they planned to go to church on Christmas Day. 
  • 60% of respondents say they watch at least one Christmas movie with their family during the season.
  • The highest earning Christmas movie at the box office was Home Alone, which I have never seen (the charm of that brand of comedy completely escapes me, sorry). It grossed $285.76 million dollars.
  • The most popular Christmas movies among Americans are It’s A Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story. 



Cool Yule Watch Party: While You Were Sleeping

Let’s watch this 1995 movie starring Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman. If you haven’t seen it, I know you will enjoy it. You can rent it on YouTube or Amazon Prime Video. Here is the preview.

Pre-Shopping Cranberry Smoothie

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Leftover cranberry sauce? Put it in a smoothie! This makes one serving. It’s refreshing and filling (yogurt has protein) so it will keep you going through a morning of Black Friday shopping.

To a blender, add, in this order

  • 6 ice cubes
  • Splash of juice: cranberry, apple or pomegranate
  • 1/2 cup whole berry cranberry sauce (or any kind)
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • Small dash of ground cloves
  • Orange zest

Blend and enjoy!

Cool Yule Watch Party: Miracle on 34th Street


Twas the night before Thanksgiving

And all through the house

We all were so grateful

To put our feet up  for a bit.

Gee, that didn’t rhyme at all, did it? But, the sentiment! This evening, put your feet up and relax a little and watch a movie that takes place on Thanksgiving! On the menu tonight is Miracle on 34th Street. Not the old classic, the remake. The 90s one. The lighting, colors and cinematograpy are beautiful in this 1994 remake. I think you’ll love it!

I’ve picked a holiday movie for every Wednesday during the season. If you’d like to watch, too, you can rent these movies on Amazon or YouTube and watch online. 

November 24 – Miracle on 34th Street (1994)  Elizabeth Perkins, Dylan McDermott

December 1 – While You Were Sleeping (1995) Sandra Bullock, Bill Pullman

December 8 – Serendipity (2001) Kate Beckinsale, Jon Cusack

December 15 – 12 Dates of Christmas (2011) Amy Stuart, Mark Paul Gosselaar

December 22 – Last Christmas (2019) Emilia Clark, Henry Golding

December 29 – Bridget Jones’ Diary (2001) Renee Zelwegger, Colin Firth

Thanksgiving, by the numbers

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Did you ever wonder if it would be cheaper just to eat out for Thanksgiving?

Well, before you make reservations, check out this finding from Statista. According to their research, a traditional Thanksgiving feast for ten, including pie and coffee, cost an average of $47 to prepare in 2018.

Turkey is the most expensive part of the meal. A 16 pound bird tends to set you back more than $21.

Unquestionably, turkey is the main event. 81% of people said they are eating turkey for Thanksgiving and 65% said mashed potatoes will also be on the menu. But only 23% plan to serve sweet potato pie for dessert. The most popular parts of the meal, according to a 2020 survey, are turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing. And less than 5% of people said they would not be eating pie, while nearly 3/4 of respondents said they would be making their own pie from scratch (not me, I am happy with a store-bought pie)!

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The Three Present Rule

There’s a guideline I have used that I think could make the lives of parents who celebrate Christmas a lot easier. That guideline involves setting some limits around Christmas presents.

I’ve always believed that Christmas is more than presents. There are so many wonderful things to celebrate about Christmas — Advent, music, cards, food, stories, good works, donations, movies, lights, decorations, the tree, church. Presents are nice but only a small part of the celebration.

But if you’re not careful, commercialism can take over your Christmas. And you definitely don’t want to pass down a legacy of commericalism to your impressionable children. So consider the three-present rule this Christmas.

  1. It is tempting to buy your children a lot of presents because you love them, or maybe you feel guilty for not spending more time with them. However, consider that no one with more “stuff” is happier for it. Remember the number one thing children want from their parents is their time: their love and attention. Don’t buy your chlld $200 worth of “stuff” at Christmas. Take walks with them. Bake cookies together. Teach them how to do things. Build snowmen. Color pictures. Volunteer. Pray. Snuggle and read together.
  2. The key to contentment is moderation. Exercise some restraint over your personal holiday spending and limit Santa’s contributions to three presents, maximum, per child. My son received three presents from Santa Claus. I did not make a big point about it. That’s just what he got. It was manageable for shopping and manageable for Christmas morning. Usually there was one “big” wish present and two more, less expensive ones. So, if your child receives a bike, guitar or dollhouse from Santa, the other gifts might be a board game, book or teddy bear. The stocking might contain a few small trinkets in addition to the candy.
  3. Teach your children to ask for one to three presents from Santa Claus, early in life, especially when they go to see Santa Claus. Some children make lists of many presents. If you want your child to grow up to grateful, gracious, balanced and generous, you must teach them also what greed looks like and to not be greedy.
  4. In addition to the Santa presents, my son also got a present from his Mom. The single present practice is a wise one for any family with school-age children. One present from a parent/parents and three presents from Santa. Mom gets one present from the child. One present from Grandma would also be a good rule to curb holiday excess. If you choose to exchange gifts with adult relatives, you might put a limt on it, like nothing over $25 or just one present.
  5. Home-made presents are very special. Show your child how to make home-made presents and give some yourself.
  6. Don’t choose necessities, like clothing or socks, for Santa presents or parent presents for children under 12. Choose games, toys, sports equipment, music, craft supplies and books, instead.
  7. Purchase gifts you can pay for in cash. Avoid going into debt for Christmas presents. If you are on a budget, your children will the acquire the value of living within your means from your example. Used toy trains and bikes play the same.
  8. Turn off the commercials. Children’s television programming markets to children. Naturally, they will want what they see on television. There is one really good way to get around this dilemma. Teach your children how to read, play games and do imaginative play. Get rid of your television. I am serious! My son did not have a television in my house growing up. We were SO happy without it. We were healthier without it. Otherwise, limit your child’s exposure to television. My elementary school students routinely report watching R-rated programming on television at home. If they could not see it legally in a movie theater, they should not be watching it at home. Your family will not be deprived without cable television. It is a terrible babysitter and an even worse teacher. You can watch Rudolph online or with a DVD player. Invest in YouTube premium for PBS programming (Sesame Street, etc).
  9. Make your house a video-game free zone. My son did not grow up with video games and he turned out just fine. Not only are videogames and the players expensive, but they make terrible babysitters. I teach children who do not do their homework or study because they play video games every day. There is some research that says video games teach problem-solving. That may be true but so does everything else in life. Fortnite, for example, is a violently bloody, technological plague for children. It is recommended for teens because of the violence yet it is actively marketed to young children, who play it. I did not have an elementary school student who did not play Fortnite. There is nothing remotely Christmasy about combat video games. You say they want them? Children should not get everything they want, especially if if it is not good for them. Would you give your children candy for breakfast, if they wanted that? Your children will not be deprived in your video-game-free home. They will find ways to play video games at the homes of their friends. If your teen wants them, your teen can work at a job and buy their own video games. But do yourself a favor and keep them off your holiday list.

Do you practice the three-present rule in your family? How do you teach your children to be content and grateful with what they receive and what they have?


Thanksgiving Planner

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Ready for another (and hopefully, last) pandemic Thanksgiving? It doesn’t have to be a bummer. Even if you are remaining safer at home, you can craft a day to elevate your spirit and connect you to a grateful heart.

Make a plan for how you will spend the late afternoon and evening. Some people mindlessly shop, eat, drink, watch sports or bicker on Thanksgiving. That’s understandable. A day off is a break in the routine that can put people at a loss on how to allocate their time, especially if they are spending this time with children or with family they don’t see often.

Monday, November 15

  1. Clean your refrigerator on “Clean Your Refrigerator Day.”
  2. If you are going out to eat, make reservations.

Tuesday, November 16

  1. Mail Thanksgiving greeting cards.
  2. Donate food to your local food drive.
  3. Watch A Garfield Thanksgiving (free on YouTube).

Wednesday, November 17

  1. Finalize your menu.
  2. Check the cupboard and fridge to see what you need.
  3. Complete most of your grocery shoppping. Buy some cloves, cinnamon sticks and allspice (Badia) to make mulled cider.

Thursday, November 18

Look through Pinterest for abundance affirmations, gratitude quotations or funny Thanksgiving memes to print. Post next to your bathroom mirror or on your refrigerator.

Friday, November 19

  1. Purchase or take out of storage any Thanksgiving decorations and candles.
  2. Purchase Thanksgving craft materials for kids (or adults).
  3. If you are visiting during Thanksgiving, purchase a gift for the hosts.

Sunday, November 21

  1. Watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving on PBS at 7:30 p.m.
  2. Plan what you will wear on Thanksgiving.
  3. Start defrosting a whole frozen bird in the refrigerator, if you are cooking one.

Monday, November 22

  1. Fill the car with gas if you are traveling. Pack your bags.
  2. Otherwise, do laundry and clean, vacuum and dust house.
  3. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer airs tonight at 8 pm on CBS.

Tuesday, November 23

  1. Make your shopping list if you are shopping on Black Friday.
  2. Decorate.
  3. Set aside time for self-care activities and extra rest. Maybe you would enjoy listening to a guided meditation on grattutde.

Wednesday Morning (the day before)

  1. Have the kids do Thanksgiving crafts.
  2. Last minute grocery run (go before dark). Maybe you need cranberry sauce, rolls, milk, whipped cream or a pie?
  3. Chop onions and celery and pre-make what you can.
  4. Watch Party: 1994 remake of Miracle on 34th Street.
  5. Enjoy a cup of herbal tea and put your feet up. Turn in early.

Thanksgiving Morning

  1. Take a morning walk and be grateful for the beauty of nature.
  2. The Washington National Cathedral airs a Thanksgiving service online from 10 am – 11 am.
  3. The Macy’s Day Parade is on at 9 a.m. on NBC. Or listen to a playlist of grateful tunes.
  4. Call famliy members you won’t be seeing today and wish them a Happy Thanksgiving before noon.
  5. Make Thanksgiving dinner (or go out).

Thanksgiving meal

Mindfully enjoy the meal you have prepared (or that has been prepapred for you) after giving thanks.

After the meal

Keep children/adults occupied with crafts, board games, card games, puzzles, word searches, yoga, etc. Teachers Pay Teachers has printables for kids. Keep in mind that most children under 12 read independently for a half hour each day in school and also write for nearly that long. You can assign your children daily reading and writing time while carving out periods of distraction-free peace for yourself.

If you are not occupied wth friends and family, check out the self-care challenge for November. There are gratitude lists, meditations, workouts and coloring pages.

Some people love to watch football after the meal.

It’s a good time to discuss holiday plans.

Movie theaters, Mount Vernon and Great Falls park are notoriously crowded on Thanksgiving Day. That’s frustrating for parking and unsafe in a pandemic. Pick a near-to-home walking trail instead, play football outside, rake leaves, or visit departed loved ones at the cemetery.

How do you plan to spend Thanksgiving Day?

Tips for Clean Your Refrigerator Day

Today is Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day. That’s a good idea as you get ready for Thanksgiving and Christmas cookiing, right? Home Depot explains how to do it.

While you’re hauiling everything out, you might as well get organized, too! Did you know?

The coolest spot in the fridge is the middle shelf? That’s a good place for your eggs and milk. Snacks you reach for frequently go on the top shelf. Vinegar-based condiments and dressings, olives and pickles go on th door shelves.

Cool Organizers

Have you tried using organizers in your refrigerator and freezer? Think baskets, bins and trays. Ever since I bought these “Fridge and Freezer Binz,” I am saving money because I can easily see what’s in my fridge and I know where everything is. Milk, for example, always goes in it’s designated bin, as does cheese and lunch meats.

Very helpful when putting away groceries! I purchased Binz at the Container Store but I’ve seen less expensive versions at stores like Home Goods. Binz are durable and easy to clean. 

Be sure you don’t pack your refrigerator too full, because air needs to circulate. That’s another bonus of cleaning the fridge; you free up space by tossing expired food or food you don’t really eat.

Speaking of freezers, did you know you can damage your freezer by packing it TOO full? That happened to my mom. Lesson learned: don’t block the blowers! A filled freezer works better but if there isn’t enough air circulation, that’s  not good. If you freezer is less than 2/3 full (about the optimum), put in more ice trays or freeze water to take up some space. I’m using Dollar Tree shelf organizers and plastic baskets in my freezer to maximize space.

Making space in the refrigerator

That turkey takes up a lot of room, doesn’t it? If you need more room in your refrigerator, you can store non-perishables you want to keep cold, like soda and water, on your patio, deck, porch or balcony as long as temperatures don’t dip below freezing.

Some foods don’t need to go in the refrigerator, like hot sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, ketchup and citrus fruit. And some things should not be stored in the refrigerator. These include

  • Raw potatoes
  • Fresh tomatoes
  • Fresh peaches
  • Raisins and other dried fruit
  • Fresh herbs 
  • Honey and syrup
  • Nuts
  • Chocolate
  • Champagne (chill before serving but store on its side at room temperature)

How about a chest freezer?

If you can afford it, a chest freezer is also a good investment, even for apartment dwellers. No only are they great for managing Thanksgiving leftovers, they can can help you save money year-round on items you buy on sale (like meat and frozen foods) produce in season (that you blanch and freeze) and leftovers (such as extra baked cookies or muffins or casseroles).

There are now energy efficient models that are not that expensive to run. You can get a new, small one for $149 – $169 at stores like Home Depot, Target and Best Buy, or save money and buy a used one on Facebook Marketplace. Another advantage of having a deep freeze unit is that you can make fewer trips to the grocery store, which is a good idea during the pandemic.

The prettiest dresses of the holiday season

According to this article, most women spend twice as much time planning what they’re going to wear at a party as the time they actually spend at the party! Wow! Well, maybe I can shave some time off that 8 hours.

Every year, I like to go online and find the prettiest dresses for holiday parties and celebrations. Here are my picks for 2021, for prices ranging from $16 to $200.

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Thanksgiving To Go

If a happy Thanksgiving for you means NOT cooking, you’ll be pleased to know there are an array of to-go dinners (order in advance) for just about every budget that you can enjoy while remaining safer at home.

Then, you can spend the day being grateful and watching Friends Thanksgiving episodes.

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