The holidays are the perfect time for a vacation— and celebrities think so too. Each winter your favorite stars retreat to relaxing getaways across the globe, from tropical retreats to snowy winter wonderlands. If you’re searching for star-studded holiday travel options, we’ve come up with 5 of the top winter destinations that are completely luxurious and absolutely celeb-approved. Continue reading
If you need a break from the busy rush of the holiday season, or just want to go somewhere special this year, there are plenty of holiday travel destinations just for you! From tropical to traditional, relaxing to adventurous, you’ll be happy to check off the next item on your to do list—enjoying your next vacation! Continue reading
Traditions are key to keeping families close, especially during the holidays. Parent & Child magazine is offering up some fantastic ways to get your kids talking about what really matters at this time of year.
As Parent & Child‘s December/January cover girl, Brooke Shields is opening up about her family’s Christmas traditions that keep her family of screenwriter husband Chris Henchy, and their two daughters, Rowan, 8, and Grier, 5, close.
Citing daily family meals sans cell phones as the family’s main face time, Shields says her daughters actually crave discipline and routine–even chores! “We have house rules, like making their own beds every day and putting their dirty clothes in the hamper,” she tells the magazine. “It creates a sense of structure, and they actually really like it.”
Meg Cox, author of “The Book of New Family Traditions: How to Create Great Rituals for Holidays & Everydays,” believes those rituals and traditions are heightened during the holiday season. “If you’re like a lot of people,” she says, “the whole history of your family is hanging on your Christmas tree every year.”
To take advantage of this special time of year and the opportunities for family bonding, here are great holiday traditions to get your own family talking.
1. Read all about it! Give your kids a different book on your family’s holiday tradition–Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa–over the course of a few nights leading up to the big event. Have them open them at the dinner table so you can discuss them together. The themes of the book can help echo and promote your own family’s values.
2. Make your own memory books. Help kids reminisce over holidays past with homemade photo and memory books. With the help of companies like Snapfish, your special books will last for years to come. Maybe this year the kids can help write the new one!
3. Painting ornaments. Shields grew up painting ornaments with her mother each Christmas. Now, she and Henchy get to celebrate that tradition with their own daughters.
4. Tree of stories. Each night before bed, turn off the lights, look at your beautiful, twinkling Christmas tree, and tell the story of how you came to have one of the ornaments and what each means to you. Snuggling is a must here!
5. A card a day. Wait to open holiday cards until dinner time. Let the kids take turns opening and reading them aloud. You can then talk about how you met the person who sent the card and how much the sender means to you.
6. Let them help. You make the big meal, so why not have the rest of the family set and decorate the table? It will help everyone feel a part of it–until they’re old enough to get in the kitchen and help!
7. Pay it forward.Give your kids a craft kit as an early present. They can use it to make presents and ornaments for friends and family–a tradition that will definitely remind them that this is really a season of giving.
Could storing and reheating leftovers be detrimental to your health? Shape magazine gives the scoop.
My Great Aunt Grace whips up a mean homemade banana pudding. When we get together for a family meal, whether on a special occasion or a simple Sunday afternoon, I’m not sure she’d be allowed in the door without the pudding in hand.
Thankfully, she makes plenty. So much so that there is usually enough for a few of us to take a bowlful home for later. But could a leftover bowl of pudding make me sick? I shudder to think …
No one wants to be down for the count with an upset stomach brought on by foodborne illness. Now that we’re through the holidays, I remember an article I read in the November issue of Shape magazine that had our health in mind. Now it has me wondering if it’s safe to eat leftovers like Aunt Grace’s banana pudding. According to Shape, eating leftovers is safe–as long as we follow four simple steps.
Suzanne Driessen, food safety educator with the University of Minnesota Extension, suggested the following to the readers of Shape:
- Food should go from stove to fridge in no more than two hours–and that totally includes the 45 minutes that it sits on the table. Any more than two hours and you risk bacterial growth.
- Chill leftovers quickly. To do so, store them in shallow dishes and make sure there is plenty of room between containers for cold air to circulate.
- Think days, not weeks. Driessen says foods like stuffing and gravy should be tossed out or frozen within two days. Meat, poultry and other sides within four.
- Reheat thoroughly. Leftovers meant to be eaten warm should be heated to 165 degrees.
And Grace’s leftover banana pudding should be eaten before anyone else knows you have it in the house. It’s just safer that way.
Fighting the battle of the bulge this holiday season? Though temptation is all around, you can win with strategies as simple as using a larger fork.
From now until New Year’s Day, when we swear we’re going to get back into shape, we’re going to be tempted with all manner of foods, drinks and desserts at family tables and holiday parties with friends.
But don’t feel like you just have to give up and give in. According to several studies, you do have options other than overindulging–and they don’t require the world’s strongest willpower.
Woman’s Day magazine’s December issue detailed five strategies for regaining your energy after a big meal–or for fighting the urge to splurge. Some of the obvious were getting in a morning workout, but nothing more than a brisk walk.
Other tips, like eating a big breakfast rich in protein and potassium or loading up on veggies, are pretty common-sense ways to stave off your typical holiday gluttony. Even drinking green tea (unsweetened and caffeinated) can fill you up like water does, plus it’s said to boost metabolism as well.
If it’s too late to enact those, spice things up by adding cayenne peppers, hot peppers and hot sauce to meals or condiments and spreads, like mayo and hummus. It’ll cut the urge to indulge and help you burn a few extra calories.
Another interesting strategy was mentioned in the November/December issue of Eating Well magazine. A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research suggests that diners who used larger forks (as opposed to smaller ones) were less prone to overeat, thanks to visual cues.
According to the research, those using larger forks would appear to eat more quickly and thus eat less. Those using smaller forks tended to eat more since it looked as though they hadn’t made as much progress cleaning their plates.
While the study was conducted at an Italian restaurant, it couldn’t hurt to do a little research of your own over the holiday season–or even well into the new year.
Your pets are part of the family. Keep them safe and healthy this holiday season by keeping a few tips in mind.
There’s so much going on this month as we prepare to celebrate Christmas and ring in the New Year. Your pets are noticing the changes in the house and in their daily routine. An odd tree is going up in the living room, new smells are coming from the kitchen, and you’re coming home later in the evenings after work, after running just one more errand.
With so much going on right now, it’s important to remind ourselves about the potential dangers for our pets that come into the house with that tree.
- Chocolate, onions and raisins. We all know these foods are dangerous (even deadly) to our pets, and it seems like there are more of them around the holiday table. Remember to keep such foods out of their reach, and don’t let your guests give in to those puppy-dog eyes begging at the table. Check out this full list of foods that can be dangerous to pets.
- Ornaments and ornament hooks. Have you ever dropped one of those decoration hooks in the carpet? They’re almost impossible to find and fish out, yet one of my cats can make quick work of running off with one. Instead of those metal hooks, this year I’m using festive red ribbon on all of my tree ornaments.
- Festive plants. We’ve all heard that poinsettias are poisonous to pets, but a quick search on the Internet will have you questioning that common wisdom. Some say yes; some say no. I say: Take caution with any new plants in the house. At the very least, ingesting a new, strange plant can cause an upset tummy in pets. How much extra time do you have to scrub the carpets right now?!
- The front door. Packages are being delivered, visitors are coming and going. Make sure your pets stay put and stay safe.
I wish you and your pets a happy and healthy holiday season and a merry Christmas! I hope they get everything they’re wishing for. Oh, and you, too!