Holiday Etiquette

The holidays are high time. Between happy hours, holiday parties, and company parties the list is endless in how to celebrate it. One of the things we must tackle today is holiday etiquette.

Invites and the NO Game

We know that for most of us we are going to get swamped by so many invitations. Keep in mind that you have to understand that not all invitations will be a go. I used to be the type that felt like I had to spread myself thin trying to accommodate everyone’s event. That is not the case now. Between working, my family, blogging, friends, it is impossible to be everywhere at the same time. For that my NO muscles gets worked extra during this time of the year. I get so many people caught in their feelings but what I remember most is that others will do the same so I have to take care of me and mine. Do Not feel obligated to attend all events. Do you know how much it cost? You may need an outfit, transportation, a hostess gift, a regular gift depending on the event, babysitter if you have kids like me and everyone wanting no kids to be included, and just man hours to juggle it all, someone is definitely getting a NO. I have the holidays to prepare for on top of all of that and my own traditions to uphold too. Juggle but don’t break or break the bank attempting to be something to the very folks that wouldn’t extend themselves to you.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Gifts, Gifts, Gifts

I love giving gifts. However instead of buying for everyone I find ways to one cut my cost. I stick to my budget and I always come under it. I hate attempting to feel as if I am overspending. I have goal and none of those goals will be accomplished if I am feeling guilty and having to recover after the Holidays from spending too much. There are ways to get around the whole spending too much. Instead of attempting to give each kid a gift in the family, make family baskets, filled with holiday classic movies, popcorn, candy, etc.  What you have created is a great family day in. The snow is going to come and that is the gift that keeps on giving especially where little kids are concerned. I also like to give the gift of entertainment. I can get families with children a gift card to an activity that I know they would love. Trust me with 3 kids of my own, someone paying for my kids on activities they know I am already going to attend is a savings. I also elect not to do gifts. If I am meeting up with friends, having dinner or drinks, sometimes just the gift of time is priceless. This means that us getting together and me spending time brunching, etc is a gift in itself. I have one friend that we meet up New Years Eve and do an early dinner.

Dranks, Pour it Up!

Be careful who you are around and the company you are keeping as you indulge. If you are at a company event, be smart. Have a drink or two but never more than that if you know that you are the type that has loose lips or will behave out of character. Worst than a one night stand walk of shame is the walk in shame the day or weekend after the holiday party where you got a little too loose. Don’t let this be you. Get a Uber or Lyft or have a designated driver. Do not drink buzzed or drunk. Trust me the price is more than you are willing and can afford. The most devastating time is having someone die at the hands of a drunk driver and around the holidays. Be careful.  Limit the amount of drinking you plan on enjoying. Make sure that you know your limit. Do not test your limit in a mixed crowd.

four champagne flutes with assorted color liquids

Photo by GEORGE DESIPRIS on Pexels.com

Pot Lucky Unlucky Moments

Please do not be a hero making a new dish to bring to the potluck and it’s a meal that hasn’t been approved. This is not the time to flex. Opt to bring the adult juice or at least something that is edible. Also if you have pets, for the sake of all of those involved even if you think it’s a great idea to have your cat or dog in your kitchen, leave them out while you cook for others. This is an issue as to why I always ask, who made that? Why? Everyone ain’t as clean and pet hair in my food is not what I call a Holly Jolly Time. Please practice hand washing and make sure you aren’t cross-contaminating with the food or cooking utensils either. How you cook is just important to what you bring to the potluck.

This is a small list. Like I could have included re-gifting items you don’t want. If you plan on doing so, make sure it’s at least a gift thar a person would actually like. Don’t give gloves just for the sake of not having a gift. Put some thought. Gift like you would want to be gifted. There are so many price points to keep in mind. If you are attending an event, attempt to go to the event. I have had times when emergencies have come, but be sure that you aren’t RSVP to something you have no plans on coming. Also be sure to limit your drinks. Nothing is worst than having to figure out as a hostess how to get your guest home.  Be considerate of others. They may have said no to your invitation because it’s too much for them. They may not want to come or they may just been bombarded by so many invites that it could be too much for them to handle.

Have some fun. Show holiday spirit but be considerate of others around you!

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Christmas Village Experience 2018

So as many of you know I came across the Christmas Village last year doing a Google search for free family fun. I then convinced my family to give the authentic outdoor German Market a try. We were impressed and excited to attend again this year. This year I was invited to take an intimate look at what the Christmas Village really has to offer behind the scenes. This year thanks to the renovations of the Love Park sign, it was even more special!

I was able to attend the opening ceremony to light “The Present.” Thanks to Mayor Jim Kenney who hit it home with his opening speech about giving towards others. This is the season to not just think about ourselves and our families but how we can best serve the people of Philadelphia. The Present is 27 feet in height, well-lit holiday present. It is in the middle of the Christmas Village.  Not only is it visually stunning, its set as a reminder to give to others.  If you are in the area you can give by texting and you will receive a gift tag that can be displayed on “The Present” that is a symbol of what the holiday is all about. You can actively give by doing the following:

  • TEXT PARKS to 501501 to donate to Fairmount Park Conservancy will go towards helping Philadelphia Parks
  • TEXT BOOKS  to 20222 to donate to Welcome America’s holiday book campaign for Parks and Recreation. Every $5 raised will purchase a total of 4 books. 
  • TEXT 80100 to donate to Project Home to help end poverty and homelessness

Inside “The Present”

“The Present is open starting today to the public all the way through December 24th. It’s free to enter and as you can see from the above photos it’s a beauty to see, take photos and walk inside!  I felt like the biggest kid. The colors and lights had me mesmerized. 

So I knew after watching “The Present” light up that I was off to a good start. The first stop on the tour was the German Grill. The open grill had all the best of the German deliciousness. From Bratwurst to Schnitzel, I was in pure Heaven. The open grill is such a delight and the smells pulled me in. I was completely satisfied.  As soon as I got home, I was upset as to why I didn’t take a Bratwurst to go. 

This took me to the second stop on the tour and that was to the open beer garden, The Alm. It’s always a good idea for beer. There are a lot of new items on the menu. Let me also point out for families with young children. This is a great spot to combine adulting and kids. It’s closed in. So this means a lot of play for the kids and drinks for the adults. This year they have a new beer mug. It’s a beauty to behold and you know that the bigger the cup, the bigger the gulp!

As if the beer wasn’t enough, I made my way to one if that’s right one of the wine offerings, German Gluhwein.  It’s a mulled wine. They offer a white and a red wine and both were amazing.

Next up was Käthe Wohlfahrt. This indoor gem blew my mind. This unique shop was full of mostly hand-made treasures. From one of a kind pieces to ornaments and decorations, it was a delight. Note there is no videography or photos for the public. However I was able to get you that inside look. What I will say is this is a must on your stops through the open village. Be careful as some of the pieces are pricey. So if you have little ones just hold their hands. I do believe once they see how well-lit and how beautiful the pieces are, they will spend more time asking questions than running through the store.

Next stop was the The Bacon Jams. I’ve never had bacon jam but today I wanted to buy all of them. These easy to spread jams taste super authentic to real bacon. The flavors were amazing. I tried every last one. From the maple bacon to the honey bourbon! All of them were a treat!

I believe I was turning into a foodie by the end of the night. The next stop was to Sweets where we tried some toasted chestnuts. I’ve never had any before but I was a believer tonight. Be sure if you attend that you make your way. There are other sweet treats as well.

Keeping in line with sweets we make our way to John and Kira’s. This was like chocolate Heaven! I tried for her first time honey bee chocolate made from local honey bee. First of all this gooey treat should be eaten in one bite. It’s honey flavor mixed with chocolate had to be the best that I have had in a long time. We also had some amazing sea salt caramel.

If you ever been to the Christmas Village you are full aware of the Raclette. It’s basically the best cheese I’ve ever eaten, that is melted under a special heated lamp and the cheese oozes onto some of the freshest bread Philadelphia has to offer. I was in cheese coma. Let me say that yes I took one for the team of non dairy, but I ain’t feel not ounce of shame.

For those who love unique cards you must stop at Love Pop. You can get pop up 3D cards. I enjoyed the tour and I plan to grab a few to give to special friends.

Our next stop was Mike’s Hot Honey. We were told that when you taste it, it would be sweet and then bitter and it was true. Mike’s Hot Honey is a spread that can be put on almost anything from bagels to chicken. I enjoyed it. I don’t know if I am getting a cold but if I was when I left I definitely felt like my palette was cleared. 

mike hot

girl

sign

Of course we needed something a little sweet so we headed over to Helmuts Original Austrian Strudel. They had your classics like cherry but they also had some that were a definite go back and true such as the meat and pulled pork puffs. They even have a mac and cheese one!  

helmut

cherry

One of the final stops before ending with hot chocolate was Truffleist. This is what the name says, Truffle. So between some amazing cheeses and salami, the truffle butter was everything. I mean everyone enjoyed it. They have an amazing selection and to be honest I could eat that truffle butter by the spoonfuls. It was that good. 

truffle

One more goodie before I end, I love hand blown glass. The colors are amazing. So I had to take a picture of the Mouth Blown Ornaments. 

blown

So the tour was everything and more. You and your family or friends will have an amazing time. I tried to give you a snippet of what it would be like. The only thing that I didn’t see was Santa but you can catch Santa in the Santa Hut for pics starting on the weekends and then close to the season being over he will be there everyday. I would make sure you go and see him if you’re trying to get on the Nice List. 

Special thanks to Philadelphia Christmas Village, the sponsors: Bank of America, Acme, Käthe Wohlfahrt, and Hernnhuter and all of the partners who helped to make this day. Also shout out to all of the amazing vendors who bring the Christmas Village to Life rain or shine. Remember its free to enter and you only pay for the food, drinks, and treasures you find. 

Special shout out to Kory Aversa and the Aversa PR and Events for having me. 

So head on over and grab your kids, your friends, your girls, or your boys and  have an experience to remember!

Hours:
Sunday – Thursday: 11:00am – 7:00pm
Friday – Saturday: 11:00am – 8:00pm
Christmas Eve: 11:00am – 5:00pm

Location:
LOVE Park, 1500 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102

Why I never forget my Kids for Valentine’s Day

I hear all the time people complain that Valentine’s Day isn’t for kids.  Meaning that you shouldn’t get them anything because it’s a romantic gesture.  For me I don’t and have never seen it in that light alone.  Yes its a romantic holiday but it’s not just only that.  I sometimes spend time with girlfriends, etc during that time doing Galentine’s day. It’s a season of spreading love and yes its man-made but love spreading is better than the hate that is being shown all over the world. I would rather spend 2.99 on a card then spending precious time debating and name calling someone online. Although my husband and I usually give gifts it’s not a major ordeal for us in the sense that we break down over them.  Some of my favorite gifts have not always been tied to these holidays man-made or not.

So with that in mind, I am about spreading love.  My kids biggest supporters is always going to be me and their dad.  We love doing things with and for my kids not just its a holiday or not.  Countless times we go out of our way to do things with them.  we are the parents that will notice a behavior change with them and immediately find ways to make sure that they are loved on and feel confident in whatever it is they are going through.  We are the  one who can find ways to make their day for pennies on the dollar.  Our local five below and arts and crafts stores knows us.  We will make anything from Pintrest to make them see things differently.

So for us until we can we will always make sure that we spread love and that will always be in our home first.  So I don’t think there’s anything wrong with getting them little Valentine’s.  The only problem I could see is if it was ONLY being done because someone was waiting until they had a Valentine then stop.  Do it for the right reasons.  Do it because you enjoy it.  Don’t use kids to substitute any emotional void.

We will probably be the parents that is still giving them Valentine’s even when they are in college.  It’s something they enjoy and we like to do.  To each their own!

What does a Blogger like me want for Christmas?

I was asked this question and at first I was like would anyone want to know that.  First let me say that this is not a blog to get a thang! I am good.  Nor is this blog to help or aid my husband in any of his gift giving endeavors.  He already gives the most amazing gifts and listens to me when I talk.  Not only that I have kindly made him a little cheat sheet a few weeks ago.

So for me I am a creature of habit and a creature of comfort.  I like the things that I have been eyeing all year-long over trendier items. If the item is in trend it has to align with something I was already thinking. Last year I wanted a laptop so I could bring more content and I got that.  I would have been super happy with that alone. Laptops ain’t cheap but the investment into my blog made it feel like it was a good idea.  It was.  My husband as he always does went above and beyond. Shout out to Marques for always thinking of me.

This year I made a list all year-long of things I wanted.  I got some of the items myself.  Like for instance I wanted some Daisy Perfume by Marc Jacobs.  One my most recent girls trip I got a bottle.  I had been eyeing it and made the decision of why not.  So that is how I like to enjoy holiday gifts.  I really make a list of all the things that mom guilt has told me to wait on and get them at the end of the year if I haven’t done so during the year.

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So things like new clothes or specific pieces that I may had my eye on.  I like things that are about comfort and will cost me less money down the line.  For instance gift cards to go to Soul Cycle sessions.  Gift cards are never a tacky thing for me.  I shop like I am rich after Christmas and you can’t tell me a thing.  So for some its an issue with me never.  I love stores like Starbucks, Target, Ulta, etc Anything where I can get what I want and not what someone things I want is always a nice thing.  One year I got over $350.00 in gift cards and you couldn’t wipe the smile in my face.  I felt like I was a shopping goddess and I had a lot of things that lasted.

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I love things that like gift cards to nail salons or facials.  Anything where I can zone out and make an excuse to increase me time.  When I go I make it my business to leave the little folks behind with their dad of course and I over extend my me time to the fullest.  Like walk every aisle with coffee really slow type of shopping. I don’t even like going to stores unless it’s after the holidays.  Other than that I get my typing fingers ready so I can make sure that I get the good deals too.

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This Christmas I am still in the comfort business.  Anything soft like a new throw pillow, pajamas that feel great, beauty products, etc I love.

The holidays aren’t about getting but if I am going to get I like it to feel like it’s the end of the year comfort party, but honestly the events of the holidays are what I really enjoy most.  This time is magical I plan on taking it in gifts or not!

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Ask Toi: We got some questions

Is it okay to air out a grievance about a company or individual who didn’t offer a good service or a faulty product? 

If they have a social media page for their work than yes.  Business is business.  In this social media age, how you deal with folks will air itself on social media.  So if you got to Toys R Us (I say them because last Christmas I aired them out) and they failed, reach out to their customer service.  If that gets you now where its fair game.  I find often times you can get them to respond better if you drop a dime on them on social media.  Make sure when you do that you are okay with others seeing it.  Most times these are not private comments.  To business owners, it would be in your best interest to make even mistakes right, social media has been known to end a business as customers have been known to drag someone for filth.

Is it okay that a grandparent doesn’t babysit a child? 

Yes grandparents are not expected to baby sit.  They are not the golden ticket to your social life now that you are a parent.  Many grandparents are out here living their best lives now that they are no longer tied down to kids of their own.  However grandparents should be involved in their grandchildren lives in other forms.  This means supporting them in school functions, attending birthday parties, holidays, etc A grandparent who doesn’t do these things should be held to a higher standard than them not simply wanting to babysit at will.  If you are experiencing other issues where the grandparents have checked out, it may be some deeper issues. I know some grandparents who do not and miss out on a lot of experiences and it comes out in how the kids interact with them.  Again they will lose precious time, try not to forget that.

How do you deal with a mate who has checked out emotionally?

One you have to communicate and find out why.  Find out if that mate even knows it.  Sometimes they may have things on their hearts and minds and makes it hard to even know that they are missing in action. You are not a mind reader, simply ask. If there is resistance.  Give it some time and space.  However you will have to revisit and if the resistance is still there, try counseling.  Do NOT nag them.  Trust me no one wants that. You are both grown so talking and communicating although not easy still has to take place.

Do you have to exchange gifts for the holidays with your mate?

I think I may have talked about this before but no.  This is something that is between couples.  Some couples do so much all year-long that they don’t see the value in giving gifts to one another. They not only give gifts but they invest in their mate, i.e taking them to the things their mate likes, getting them gifts for no reason, bringing flowers just because its Friday, getting tickets to their mate’s favorite team-overall thoughtfulness. I would opt in some other tradition.  I think that couples should build together.  Maybe instead of gifts you make a new pot of savings.  Maybe make the pot a vacation together, purchase a house, etc. You can decorate it, and place money from both partners.  This way you have something visible to show that you are moving towards goals. However as many complain about these commercial holidays many don’t find out their partners love language and definitely do NOT show them they love them all year. Love is not gifts.  Love should be how you speak, how you protect, how you engage.  Do not give your mate the excuse of not giving gifts on top of an already raggedy relationship.  What is the point in losing all the way around?  No a gift will not mask things but everyone likes to receive.  Its better to have a solid relationship than a bunch of stuff but its horrible to have nothing both in gifts and treatment as well and then try to hide under the no holiday guide as well.  Do better in how you love and show love.  All the ones complaining about getting all year, don’t mean they AND their mate feels that they are being loved on all year-long. Only you know that, also if your mate still wants to give don’t make them feel bad or pressure them to have the same mindset as you do.  Give them a gift because they want to for the holidays.  Relationships isn’t about being one-sided or going along with the dominating mate either.  It should be mutually respected and enjoyed by all.

 

 

 

Mother’s Day Gift Giving Guide

Mother’s Day is around the corner literally and the struggle to get mom the perfect gift is on.  I have a few suggestions to help you along the way, but first let’s think what would mom want.  The gift that you give should be about making mom smile.  No amount of gifts will ever pay your mom or even can contribute to the amount of love that your mom gives to you and has given to you.  But be creative and think about HER.  This is the time to make her smile.  Do not get your mom anything related to health unless she has requested it.  I am a fit mom or trying to be it would not offend me because I am actively on that journey.  However showing up with a fitbit for a mom who is not ready for that or hasn’t expressed it could send mom into a whirlwind.  She may need it but the day is for things SHE wants.  Tread light on gifts that could be offensive.  Moms are still women and women and their body image is an issue.  Let mom get to a point than support her but Mother’s Day may not be the time.

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  1. Flowers-even if your mom gives you the whole I don’t want or need anything nothing says thanks than a flowers.  They are a simple but thoughtful gesture that makes everyone’s day.  There are flower stands all over the place even some along the road.  Don’t go to moms without any.
  2. Hand written notes even in cares are still appreciated.  Moms want to know what’s on your heart.  Cards are beautiful and a lot of moms save them but your words are best.
  3. Gift cards-If you get them and they can be gotten just about anywhere at least make sure they are stores she likes.  Please do not get her something that you want.  That is not cool. Let mom do her thing and shop and get what she wants.
  4. Macaroni Pictures-these are okay if your child is in elementary school, however if you are grown and you are making her something let it be from the heart and not something you scribbled down last-minute.  She is worth energy in your creativity.
  5. Upgrades-if you plan on getting mom a tablet or new phone do try to program it and spend some time helping her operate it.
  6. Church-moms love seeing their kids in church.  So go if you can.  Expect the parking lots to be full between Mothers day, Easter and Christmas these are high church times.
  7. Food-get upgraded favorites.  This is the time where mom can indulge in a few tasty treats.  Chocolate is good so make it a good purchase for her.  She would appreciate it.
  8. If you have small children and even if you’re co-parenting, she may not be your mom but you can help your child or children get her something nice. Kids don’t have jobs but they do understand getting mom something.  Don’t disappoint your child trying to “stick” it to your child’s mother.  You may not like her but you laid down and had a baby honor her for the work she puts in when you don’t have the responsibility of having to do most of the care for your child.
  9. Give mom a break-do you know that allowing her to go out WITHOUT the kids for a few hours is a gift in itself.  How about a nap?  How about dinner cooked if you don’t want to brave the restaurants?  Anything that takes the load off of her would be super appreciated.
  10. Pampering-if your mom loves a little manicure or pedicure or maybe she’s so busy handling it all that she doesn’t have the time, a certificate to get these things done is great, or make her appointment and take her there.  Relaxation is always a great idea.

The idea is taking some time to love on mom.  Don’t make it about you.  Make it about her.  Give her a break. Show up with flowers.  There are so many that wish they could give flowers to their mom and instead will have to give flowers on a grave.  While you still have her, shower her with love and gifts.  She deserves them!! Happy Mother’s Day to all the ladies that put in that hard work when appreciation is far and few!!!

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Mother’s Day Do NOTS

So yes it’s Mother’s Day and the day can be super beautiful however there are a few things you don’t want to do:

  1. If a woman isn’t pregnant or at least hasn’t confirmed it with you, do NOT ask her when she is ready to have some.  Not every woman wants a kid.  This day can actually be hard for women who have been trying to have kids and for whatever reason can’t.  It’s simple, don’t ask about another woman’s uterus.  Let me help you out further, its called MIND YOUR BUSINESS.  It doesn’t matter if it your daughter in law, cousin, etc do NOT ask.  It’s non of your concern.  You are not helping by asking.  You are being OFFENSIVE.  I said it and it’s true.  MIND your own business.
  2. Don’t call mom-everyone knows you have to at least call.  So for those who still have her here, call her.  There are moms who have strained relationships that don’t get calls from their kids even on these types of days.  Its unfortunate.  You and your mom don’t have to agree but you can agree to say thanks and hi.
  3. Please refrain from male bashing.  I know it’s mom day and its a day of reflection. Some use this day to come at the father of their kids to remind him of what you do. Let me give you some advice, that man knows and some how will not care.  Stop wasting your energy on him.  Enjoy your day.  Yes you do a lot or even all of the work, but coming at his neck won’t make him realize the error of his ways. Tagging him all day on social media won’t either.  If you have been fine this far without him, keep it pushing.  Why even give him your energy?!
  4. Do not give your kids a hard time about the gifts gotten.  There is a mom would love your portion.  Stop with the pressure.  Not everyone can afford to lavish their mom with diamonds.  I love my mom and if I had it like that I would give her the world. However some moms make it a big extra where the giving comes from a place of not wanting to hear your mouth over real desire to show love.  Take it easy on your family and loved ones.  It’s not a competition.
  5. Chain mom posts.  We are beautiful mom, the tag a beautiful mom is not needed. We all work hard.  We all provide constant love for those who choose to.  Do not send chain texts.  We ALL know what day it is.  I am surrounded by a lot of amazing women in my life and a great network of mom friends.  I actually send them individual texts if I don’t call.  I know they are all being loved on but individual texts makes it more personal.  Not only that 9 times out of 10 you don’t even change the name and they know.  If you love them like that, them send them amazing text messages and leave it at that.

This is a simple list.  There are probably a dozen more things you SHOULD know.  Rule of thumb is to make sure you do for mom what you want someone to do for you.  That is the golden rule anyway.  Love on mom and leave drama at home.  Even if you and mom aren’t in full speaking terms its best to call or drop by and leave than to stay and mess up both of your day.

Lastly Mother’s Day is always best when dads who are around participate.  Nothing is more beautiful than a man showing his children how they need to honor their mother. My husband has lost his mom but the kids saw what they needed to do to honor me even at the point of death.  Teaching is always happening.  It’s important for kids to know how to make it work.  So do your part!!

Continue reading Mother’s Day Do NOTS