September 29, 2017

Go Big On Festivities This Christmas

Now that the summer is over, and we're well into Fall, it's likely that you've started to think about Christmas. Christmas is a wonderful time of year that millions of people around the world celebrate. It originated from the birth of Christ, but people from many other religions and walks of life now join in with the festivities, since the holiday has become more commercialized over the last century. Even if you’re not a fan of Christmas, I’m sure you can appreciate why it’s such a special time for people around the globe, and especially for children. Here’s some ideas on how you can make Christmas extra special this year.

Putting the Christmas tree up as a family generally marks the beginning of the festive holidays. The tradition of putting the tree up on Christmas eve has died a bit, as now many of us decide to put our tree up earlier on in the month (or year for some people).

If you’ve never had a real Christmas tree, then you should consider trying it at least once in your lifetime. It adds that little bit of extra magic to the look of the tree, and the smells that radiate from it will create a warm fuzzy feeling every time you enter the room.

If you can’t, or simply don’t want to, then why not buy yourself a bigger and better artificial tree for this years celebrations? There are so many available in stores these days that you will be spoiled by how many choices there are! You’re now able to buy different colored trees too so if you wanted to match it with the rooms' decor, then you now can!

Once you have got your tree sorted, now the magical part begins -- decorating the tree! If you’ve got small children, why not buy some make your own baubles for them to decorate accordingly? They’re super cheap to buy and will keep the children entertained while you tackle the job of untangling the Christmas lights, even though you know you put them back neatly last year.

If you don’t have children, and want to keep your tree looking as sophisticated as your decor does, head out to your nearest home store and check out their range of baubles and tinsel to see if you can find anything you like the look of. If you don’t, you could always make your own too!

Finally, the tree is decorated apart from one tiny detail - the star or angel that goes on top of the tree. If your tree-topper is looking a little outdated, why not make your own using some silver wire, a bit of glue and some glitter?
Outside of the house
You’ve seen the houses around town that put loads of effort into the exterior displays on their house right? If you’ve never tried it, you can easily achieve a festive and magical look on the exterior of your house, and without having to climb any ladders!

If you’ve got a shrub or tree outside of your home, consider buying some outside lights to wrap around it, so that at night your home will sparkle. Another great idea would be to wrap some lights around any hanging baskets you own, as well as any other interesting points of your garden that would make your home stand out from the crowd. Of course, the obligatory “Santa, please stop here” sign will need to be displayed too.

Having a wreath is another popular trend which people like displaying on their doors. Why not have a go at making your own, using holly and spray paint? Getting the children involved (be careful with the holly) will certainly give you a personalized touch to your home.

Instead of trying to fit lights onto your home, why not try lights that you can put up for display on the inside of your windows so that it gives your home a really festive look? Plus, when all the lights and lamps are off at night, being inside of that room will really give you a festive feeling as you watch the Christmas lights twinkle.

Over the coming months you will begin to see an array of Christmas-like attire fill the shelves of all of the clothing stores in town, so why not join in with the fun? Having a Christmas top especially for that day somehow makes the day even more special. If none of the shirts in the stores take your fancy, you could always find shirts online, or even sweaters too!

In the mood to go all out on attire this year? Consider buying yourself a Santa suit so that you can make the experience even more special for any children that you’re celebrating Christmas with.
If your parents brought you up to believe in Santa, think back to how magical the night before Christmas day was. Making the effort with little details will not only make you feel more festive, but it will make the experience for your children that little bit more magical. Here are some ideas on how you can do this:
  • Snowy footprint using flour and a big boot.
  • Reindeer tracks and footprints outside (depending on if it snows, this could be really exciting).
  • Milk, cookies, and carrot eaten by the time the children wake in the morning.
  • A left behind Santa hat by the chimney.

Anything that can give them the impression that Santa was in their home will make the day even more special. Even though Christmas is a time for spending quality time with your family and other loved ones, it’s really about making it extra special for children, so go all out and make these precious years count.

A fantastic way of adding extra magic for children is to have Santa ‘revisit’ your home while they are happily playing. Keep some of their presents back and hide them until you can safely ‘deliver’ them for the children.
Wrapping paper
Wrapping paper is widely available in pretty much all stores around the Christmas period, but why stick to the designs that the shops are offering to us? You’re now able to design and print your own wrapping paper. Imagine the possibilities with being able to personalize the wrapping paper for each of the gifts you’re wrapping. You’re even able to print the faces of the people the gift is for to add a little bit of comedy to the day too.
When you think of the smell of Christmas, it’s likely that you imagine the smell of dinner cooking, alongside any new scents that you have been gifted for Christmas. There are now reed diffusers, candles, wax melts and room sprays that you can buy with a Christmas-like scent such as cinnamon or aromatic spices. Adding a festive scent to the air will be sure to get you all excited for the big day.
Remember the days when you were younger, where the only thing that could distract you from the fact that Santa was coming were the Christmas movies shown on the TV? We are at an advantage these days, with watching movies much more easily than before through the use of Netflix, DVD players, sky movies, and other streaming programs. There are hundreds of movies that you can choose from to help keep you in the Christmas spirit, and here are a few examples:
  • The Grinch
  • Home Alone (any of them)
  • Elf
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • The Santa Clause (any of them)
  • White Christmas
  • The Snowman
  • It’s A Wonderful Life

There are loads of other ideas that you could watch, so don't forget to add your favorites to this list! Some people choose to watch their favorite films, regardless if they’re related to Christmas or not!

Christmas Eve Box
Even though on Christmas Eve, your children are likely to be in bed earlier than they have ever been, a great way to entertain them the night before is to create a Christmas Eve box for them. These consist of pretty much anything you like, but many parents choose to put some new pajamas in, a movie for them to watch, and some snacks to have in their bedrooms so that the night before they have a way of occupying themselves.

The boxes are really easily made, and you can make one at home simply by covering an old shoe box in wrapping paper, and filling it with goodies for the children to open the night before.

So there we have it, nine fantastic ways of making Christmas even more special this year. Remember, it’s not about how much you’re buying for people. Christmas is a time of year that should be spent on togetherness, and not turned into a competition on how much you can spend. Make sure that no one you know is alone this Christmas, and spend the day with everybody you love. Happy holidays!

 *This is a collaborative/contributed/partnered, compensated post. The copy, content, images & opinions are not my own.

September 26, 2017

How To Enjoy Christmas... Even If You Hate It


Many people associate New Year’s Eve with the relentless pressure from all sides to enjoy yourself, but for me, that uncomfortable brand of enforced joviality hits hardest of all at Christmas time. Unlike most religious celebrations like Eid, Hanukkah or Passover, Christmas has become a ubiquitous celebration that transcends faith and has become virtually inescapable with people from all denominations (and even none at all) embracing the holiday to at least some extent. Many Jewish people, for example, give presents on Christmas day without celebrating Christmas proper.

Religion aside, Christmas can be a difficult time for a lot of people. For a variety of reasons, there are some people who just dislike Christmas. Since everything from big box stores to supermarkets start stocking up with festive accoutrements as early as late August, many people begin to experience feelings of dread. If you're reading this and think, "This sounds like me.", then you can breathe a sigh of relief because there are ways to find something special in this contentious time, even if you hate Christmas.

Who could possibly hate Christmas?
Quite a lot of people, believe it or not. Christmas can be a source of anxiety and depression for a large range of people. Parents who wring their hands at their children’s long and expensive Christmas lists, people who’ve had traumatic experiences around that time, people who have depression, are feeling down, anxious and stressed or, of course, people who will be spending the day alone without family and friends that make it such a special day. It can be a wonderful time, but it can also put pressure on people to spend money they don’t have and celebrate when they don’t really feel like they have much to celebrate.

Nonetheless, even if you don’t have the highest regard for the festive season, there are still plenty of ways to enjoy it...

Be open and honest with your loved ones
There’s nothing more counterproductive than keeping your feelings bottled up inside. If you don’t tell your family about any anxiety you may be experiencing around the Christmas period, don’t be surprised if they try a little too hard to get you into the swing of things - and that may make you feel worse. If you tell your family how you feel in advance, then they’ll be better prepared and give you space and/or someone to lean on depending on what you need.

Participate as much or as little as you like
If you want a clean break from Christmas, go right ahead. Although, if this is what you’d rather do, it’s a good idea to give yourself at least something to look forward to (more on that later). If you want to escape altogether, though, be sure to tell someone where you'll be so your friends and family don't worry about your absence. If you’d just like to give gifts for a handful of people then go right ahead. If you’re feeling anxious about what to buy whom, you’re lucky enough to live in the digital age. 

Searching for Christmas gifts ideas 2017 can help you find something for just about anyone. And don’t sweat it if someone buys you a gift and you don’t reciprocate. People genuinely do give for the sake of giving, not because they expect something in return.

Give yourself something to enjoy
Whether you choose to participate or not, it’s important to have something to look forward to. Take a little break away for a few days or simply line up your favorite movies, grab some snacks and hunker down under some covers and relax. Even if you want to get yourself just a little something from you to you, you owe it to yourself to share the enjoyment of the festive period.

 *This is a collaborative/contributed/partnered, compensated post. The copy, content, images & opinions are not my own.

September 21, 2017

This Christmas, Vacation In Style


Vacationing in style is often hard to do. Many people have different tastes, and reconciling these different ideas & ambitions can be difficult between those planning as there are simply so many things to do in one place. One of the best ways to overcome this is to take a vacation in a season which you'd rarely do so. The season switch vacation option offers you the opportunity to change your approach completely. Winter is fast approaching, and that means winter vacations can soon become a reality. For those of you mostly interested in the summer vacation in the effort to grasp a tan, this may seem like something completely out of your comfort zone. However, winter weather can be the most rewarding to vacation in, especially when celebrating something as fantastic as Christmas Day.

Here are some tips for celebrating Christmas with family and friends in a way which can give you warm memories for some time.

Stay In Lapland
When people think Christmas, they think Santa Claus. Why not visit him with your family in a coveted Lapland getaway? Lapland has plenty of facilities and resorts where you can visit Santa and a cast of his helpful little elves, which can truly imbue Christmas with a sense of magic. Why not translate this feeling along to your accommodations by finding tree hotels in Lapland, which allow you to view the local landscape from a beautiful position which is sure to rest in your memory for a long time? Doing things differently in an already unfamiliar landscape can add to the fairytale magic of the entire experience.

Head To Disneyland
Many people vacation in Disneyland as part of the summer celebrations, because they often offer competitive ticket prices, sometimes even letting children in for free to drum up business. However, visiting solely in the summer, while wonderful, can deprive you of a whole other beautiful experience. Disneyland in both Paris and Florida simply come alive in the Winter time. Park decorations are given a facelift and as well as celebrations regarding certain films.

You can expect to see plenty of Frozen decor around this time which is never a bad thing. Disneyland also keeps the Christmas celebrations going, offering competitive rates on winter lodges. For a beautiful and memorable experience, heading to these parks and recounting the beauty of your favorite films could be your best step forward.

Winter Activities
For those who aren’t well versed in skiing or snowboarding, heading to Austria, the Alps, or Switzerland can afford you some adventures worthy of passing down through stories to your friends and family. Winter expeditions, mountaineering, skiing, cross country travel and husky mushing can all be offered in these environments and are absolutely worth your time. Simply experiencing these adventures once can be the introduction to a long lifetime hobby which proves to stimulate you even further the better you get at it.

These tips can help imbue your holiday schedule with the variety it might sorely need. There’s a big world out there, and as a result, it’s important to experience as much as possible during your time in it. Be sure to have fun, and never let your adventurous spirit be tempered.

 *This is a collaborative/contributed/partnered, compensated post. The copy, content, images & opinions are not my own.

September 19, 2017

Saying Goodbye To A Long-Time Friend

couple, hug, hugging

It's a terrible feeling when you lose a friend because they’re moving away or due to another aspect of their life. When people leave their job, move to another city/state, or have something else change, they often have to say goodbye to others that they love. This is a normal part of life, of course, and most everyone will experience it at some point. Not that it makes it any easier, though. To make the adjustment a little less painful for you & your friend, this post will be going through some of the things to do for your final meeting with someone in this position. So, when that time comes, you’ll be well prepared to see them off.

When someone is leaving, it’s likely that they are losing more than just you from their life. They'll most likely be going through an emotional rollercoaster with several people, and you only have to do it once. For this reason, it’s important that you prepare your emotions for your time together. Being sad or upset will make it harder for your friend to leave, and will also make them feel worse about it. Instead, you should try to be upbeat, focusing on the exciting parts of their new life. This sort of approach will make you both feel better about the situation.

It's also a nice gesture to say goodbye to someone you care about by giving them something to remember you by. Of course, they will already have lots of memories to enjoy, but something physical can help to tie it all together. When looking for something like this, it can be worth considering options which represent transition and change. Moving home, job, or even retirement gift ideas can be found on a variety of sites. Your gift should also be very personal and well thought out, too.

It’s important that you remember your final meeting with someone before they leave your life. You may see them again, or you may not. Either way, this is a chance for you to cover any ground you haven’t had a chance to before, and you’ll want to keep it in your mind. To help you to achieve this goal, going somewhere or experiencing something you never have before will cement the day in your mind. 
In the modern world, it’s easier than ever for people to move far away and leave your life forever. Alternatively, it’s also never been as easy to stay in contact with people as they travel across the planet. Through the use of the internet and telephone technology, you can stay in touch with people long into the future. You have to keep in touch from the time they move, though, or it will be hard to stay in touch in the long run.

Hopefully, this post will make it just a little bit easier next time you have someone leaving your life. In a lot of cases, these tips will make a huge difference to your future relationship with someone, as they will help you to stay more connected. Additionally, it will also make the final time you spend together a lot more enjoyable.

*This is a collaborative/contributed/partnered, compensated post. The copy, content, images & opinions are not my own. 

September 18, 2017

The 5 L's Of Lisbon Portugal

Portugal is a country with an fascinating history -- but it's also becoming the one of the hottest tourist destinations to take a vacation. Not only is the weather amazing most of the year round, but this little country is really delivers everything a vacationer might want. You should definitely put the capital city of Lisbon on your map of places to see. Here are just a few of the reasons why:

Landscapes You’ll Love
Lisbon really does have it all. You can enjoy the cityscape on one side and seascape on the other. Nestled in between the two, you can find beautifully landscaped gardens and memorials, and even a country park to enjoy. In fact, there are several wildlife and nature reserves around the area to enjoy peace and quiet when you’re on vacation. Check out Parque Eduardo VII if you’re traveling with family. The people of Lisbon have managed to integrate the man-made with nature in many of their open spaces. Beautiful.

Lisbon has become quite a lively place over the years. Live music has become a popular attraction here, and there is even a film festival you can enjoy if you arrive at the right time. There are so many things to do in Lisbon that you'll need to be quite adventurous to enjoy them all during your vacation! If you do like music, try to find a Fado night. It's the national folk music style of Portugal, a unique musical experience not to be missed.

Laid Back
Beaches are plentiful in and around Lisbon. While soft sands are available, but many tourists prefer the long promenade or coastal walks. The sea breeze is usually comfortable and not too vigorous or salty. If you do come to the beach, feel free to sit, relax and listen to the waves lapping on the sand. Some of the best beaches have all the facilities you and your family will need. Best of all, you can pack up and head back up to a cafe to enjoy a cool drink when you’re done. 

Lip Licking Tastes
Portuguese dishes are known for their flavor. You can find plenty of eateries around Lisbon. Some have strict customary opening times (this means you might need to take your meals slightly later than you are used to); however, there are usually a few bars or cafes in the city that are open at hours that might suit you a little better. It’s best to check in advance if you know you’re going to be hungry! As Lisbon is on the coast, make sure you try the Monkfish!

Landmarks You’ll Like
St. George’s Castle is a must for anyone visiting the city of Lisbon. It is known locally as Castelo de Sao Jorge, and you can ride a trolley to get there. The Basílica da Estrela is the gorgeous late baroque style building with domes that you can see from the trams. The Palace of the Marquises of Fronteira is such a stunning building. It would undoubtedly make a perfect wedding photo backdrop. But it's the gardens that we find the most enchanting. The Portuguese really know how to design & landscape resplendent gardens! Will you consider vacationing in Lisbon?

*This is a collaborative/contributed/partnered, compensated post. The copy, content, images & opinions are not my own. 

September 15, 2017

Are The "Big States" Worth Visiting?

If you’re considering a vacation somewhere in the United States , there are usually three states that will primarily be mentioned in the rundown of places you should go. While they might not be the biggest in terms of landmass, when it comes to reputation for tourism, these three states are way above the rest.


The question for any eager tourist is whether or not these states are worth visiting. Sometimes, mass opinion of popularity doesn’t necessarily translate to a good time. Let’s examine their attributes a little closer and see if your next road trip or vacation should involve one of the big three.

TEXAS: Worth It?
If you’re talking about “big states” in terms of reputation, it’s impossible not to discuss the second-biggest state of all: Texas. Only Alaska beats the Lone Star State in terms of land size.

Texas is more like a country than a state. There’s the cool, musical vibe of Austin residing in the same state as huge oil cities such as Houston and Dallas. One thing you can be sure of is that the weather will be hot, so if that’s your thing, then Texas might just be the right call for you. 

NEW YORK: Worth It?
When people talk about finding cheap flights to New York and enjoying a holiday there, they tend to be referring to Manhattan. New York is more than the islands of the city of the same name, but let’s focus on the five boroughs, because everyone else does.

New York is a fascinating city with thousands of different historical sites; however, it’s also extremely busy and can quickly overwhelm a visitor.  It might be best reserved for a day trip than the entirety of your stay. If you’re happy to be constantly rushing to keep up, then New York can be an enlivening and exciting destination -- just be sure you’re content with the idea of non-stop pace before you go.


Some of the most iconic images from the USA come from California, from the Golden Gate bridge to “the rock” of Alcatraz. Given how popular the state is with tourists, it’s likely to crop up a few times when you’re browsing through your own possibilities.

The big cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco can be overwhelming, but not nearly as much as New York can. If you’d rather relax than explore a metropolis, then all of wine country -- along with its sprawling hills and cool sea breeze -- won’t disappoint. There’s something in the state for everyone, essentially, which given the size of it is no surprise. Bear in mind that California is a relatively expensive place to visit, so if budget is a concern, it might be best to avoid visiting over the summer months when prices traditionally surge.

As with anything regarding a holiday, there’s very much a case of your mileage may vary on whether or not you find these states worth the trip. Hopefully, you should at least now have a better idea.
*This is a collaborative/contributed/partnered, compensated post. The copy, content, images & opinions are not my own. 

September 14, 2017

You’re From The South, But How Well Do You Know It?

The United States - not to mention the rest of the world - is a big and beautiful place, and there’s a lot of fascinating places to see from coast to coast. Seeing a show in New York City? Sounds pretty great! Touring the West's stunning national parks, such as the Grand Canyon and Yosemite? Yes, sign us up! There's a misconception that you have to travel to far-flung destinations to have a good time. If you live in the South, then there are probably several things you haven’t yet seen. For your next vacation, stay local. Here are a few things you might want to do.


Do Something Different

When we travel, we’ll usually automatically find ourselves doing something that puts us out of our comfort zone. When we feel like we’re relatively close to home, then that’s harder to do. It's not an impossible feat; all it takes is a little bit of extra effort. For example, if you’re usually one for exploring museums and the like, then put on a backpack and hiking boots and start exploring some of the South's amazing trails. If you always want to be outdoors, visit one of the cultural attractions you haven't yet seen. Traveling is about growing as a person, and you can only do that if you’re doing something new!

Seeing the Sights

You’re within just a few hours drive of some of the best sights in the country and you probably haven’t even realized it. Take a drive to Nashville to discover the home of country music; even if you’re not a fan of the genre, it’s awe-inspiring to see so many music lovers gathering in one place, and you’re sure to learn a thing or two while you’re there. If you’re a history buff, head to Savannah and see the city that was so beautiful that it was left untouched during the Civil War.

Attending Local Events

When, for example, people visit New York, they most likely visit the Empire State Building. But the best of that city isn’t in its most famous attractions, it’s in the local life and small sights, and the same goes for the South. To really get to know your area in a new way, make sure you’re attending local events and roadside attractions. You can book yourself into the Econo Lodge Inn and Suites Jackson and attend the Tennessee Strawberry Festival, which has been running for more than seventy years. Or head down to Alabama for its annual Shrimp Festival. Go off the beaten track slightly, and you’ll be rewarded with unique experiences, and meet plenty of great people.

Switch Off, Plug In

If we’re traveling “locally,” then it’ll be all too easy to fall into the same rhythms of the everyday. However, you’ll get the most out of your trip if you treat your travels as a true vacation, so disconnect for a few days. Don’t check your emails, let the phone go to voicemail, and fully immerse yourself in the region of the world that you call home. 

*This is a collaborative/contributed/partnered, compensated post. The copy, content, images & opinions are not my own.