Friday Wrap: Five Faves of the Week

Hello, friends! We’ve had a happy and memorable week at the Andersen house filled with birthday parties, Valentine’s treats and jewelry-making projects. The fun keeps truckin’ this weekend with a date night, basketball game and possible visit to my brother’s farm. So what do you say we ring in this weekend already? Here are our favorite highlights of the week – so far!

{ONE} Neon Ninth Birthday

Avery and Clara turned nine this week and we had a glow-in-the-dark, neon party to celebrate. We used black lights and tons of neon decorations to create a glowing good time.

Neon Birthday

Top left: Avery and Clara getting their dance poses ready; top right: dance party U.S.A.; bottom left: That would be Brandon getting the DJ booth ready; bottom right: My son and his best friend getting into the spirit of the night. They were brave to hang out with screaming and dancing third grade girls all night.

Glow Stick Chandelier

I had to show you the glow-stick chandelier I made! Look at the center of the pic. I took a garden hanging basket and hung it from the ceiling. Then I hung glow sticks from the rim. It turned out to be one of my favorite decorations of the night (other than the neon paper chains made with poster board! That took the prize for the least-expensive-highest-impact decor.)

{TWO} Monogrammed Sweatshirts from Initial Twist

Okay, y’all. My friend Karrie has a business called Initial Twist where she does applique’, embroidery and vinyl designs on the most comfortable shirts in the world. She can pretty much do anything, so message her through her Facebook page and she’ll hook you up. Tell her The Neat Nook sent you!

Monogrammed shirts

I ordered these cute, monogrammed shirts as birthday gifts for the girls. So cute!!

{THREE} Kate Spade Inspired Earrings

If you’re looking for the easiest and prettiest DIY project this weekend, you HAVE to do this. A sweet and super creative friend of mine showed me how to do this one. The best part, they look just like Kate Spade earrings, but will only cost you about $5 total. Not. Even. Kidding.

Glitter Earrings

This is all I did…took these fun earrings from Walmart and painted a layer of clear polish on top. I sprinkled glitter on top, let it dry and did a few more layers (paint then glitter) until my desired look!

{FOUR} Mother & Daughter Necklace

I received an early Valentine surprise from my darling husband. I showed him a picture of this beautiful necklace by Erin Pelicano on Pinterest (because I was so touched by how sweet it was) and he ended up ordering it for his special girls – that would be the twinsies and I. I’m in love all over again. That guy. I tell ya. <3

Mother Daughter Necklace

The smaller hearts have an A and C stamped on them for Avery and Clara. My own heart is the one melting.

{FIVE} Strawberry Heart Kabobs

The kids had their Valentine’s Day parties at school yesterday. I volunteered to make sweet treats, and ended up making this easy-peasy strawberry number. It was a hit – and didn’t send the kids spiraling into too much of a sugar craze. Win-win.

Strawberry kabobs

I found short bamboo sticks in the Martha Stewart party section at Walmart. The trick for the strawberries is to scoop out the tops. Then when you slice them in half (which is all you do), they look like little hearts. I slid them onto the skewers and served with fresh whipped cream. Yes, please!

I hope you have a fun weekend planned and have an extra sweet Valentine’s day!! If you want more details about ANY of the things mentioned above, let me know and I’ll either email you the deets or post more details next week.

Be sure to check out the rest of the ladies on Five on Friday. I know they’ll have fun things to share, as well!

FiveonfridayXOXO

-Kate

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Inspiring Lessons from The War of Art

The War of ArtIf you haven’t had a chance to read Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art, I can assure you it will be worth every special minute of your time. It’s incredibly motivating – like the kind that kicks you in the couch potato pants and gets you moving in the direction you were meant to travel.

In fact, this is one of my favorite passages that inspired me to write today’s post:


Are you a born writer? Were you put on earth to be a painter, a scientist, an apostle of peace? In the end the question can only be answered by action.

Do it or don’t do it.

It may help to think of it this way. If you were meant to cure cancer, write a symphony, or crack cold fusion and you don’t do it, you not only hurt yourself, even destroy yourself. You hurt your children. You hurt me. You hurt the planet.

You shame the angels who watch over you, and you spite the Almighty, who created you and only you with your unique gifts, for the sole purpose of nudging the human race one millimeter farther along its path back to God.

Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.”


Talk about motivation. I don’t know about you, but that last line is a bone-chilling challenge. Let’s accept. What do you say?

If you’re a painter, paint. If you’re a teacher, teach. If you’re a leader, lead. If you’re a mom, mother. The people in your world need you.

For those who aspire to be writers or artists, and who fall near and dear to my heart, here’s an added challenge.

  1. Accept you’re a writer or artist. Another brilliant quote from Pressfield suggests, “If you find yourself asking, ‘Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist?’ chances are you are. The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.” The more scared you are about a calling, the more you can be sure you need to do it.
  1. Get started. Grab your computer or paper and pen. I’ll wait… Okay, now start writing and don’t stop until you’ve hit at least 1,000 words. What should you write about? Anything. It could be about a crappy day you had, your best friend in grade school who always made you laugh, or your obsession with Snicker’s bars. Need more inspiration? In the movie “Finding Forrester” the character played by Sean Connery, who is a reclusive writer, asks his student to take an existing piece of work as a starting point. The student transforms it into something unique. You could try that, too. Take lines from your favorite song and create characters and a storyline around their relationship. You may surprise yourself with where you end up. The goal isn’t necessarily in the masterpiece. What matters most is that you’re writing – and doing what you were put on this earth to do. If you’re an artist, do the same exercise, but draw or paint for at least 30 minutes. Do this every day, and the great masterpiece will be your life.

Here’s to you and your amazing talents. Now go get ’em!

-Kate

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Creative Habits

IMG_5301Habits are a funny thing. Sometimes we want to kick them and other times we want to form them. I’m always in fluctuation between the two. Right now I’m desperately trying to drink more water during the day. I religiously drink coffee every morning, so you’d think remembering to water myself would be a cinch.

Water on Head

More water!

Just like anything, there are good and not-so-good habits when it comes to creativity. Keeping a sketchbook and people watching (a favorite pastime) are fun habits and can do wonders for creative thinking.

Sketchbook

Sketching is awesome!

Other habits simply make you lazy and turn off your brain. That’s not exactly the recipe for developing imaginative ideas. For instance, I have a habit of driving the same way to work, which literally keeps me from seeing new sights. Remember the scene from National Lampoon’s European Vacation when they keep driving past Big Ben? That’s me…constant loop.

national lampoons

Look kids, Big Ben!

It’s easy to fall into routines. When you do them long enough, you create a well-worn path that deepens into a rut, making it harder to get out. I never want to be the kind of person who “phones it in” when it comes to offering creative ideas.

So I’m in the process of assessing my habits, and I’ve decided that instead of kicking stale habits, I’m going to shake them up. (Thanks for the motivation, T. Swift.)

Here are a few ideas:

  1. Rotate artwork and photos in my office. The family pics don’t have to rest on the desk. I can move them to a side table and bring a fun piece of art from the living room into my office. It’s gettin’ crazy up in here.
  2. Sit in the visitor’s chair. My office has several chairs reserved for guests. Why not become a guest in my own space? I wonder what new ideas I’ll think of from the other side of the desk?
  3. Use a different restroom. Since “bio breaks” tend to be the only times I actually leave my seat (another bad habit), the least I can do is head to the next closest bathroom in the building and potentially run into new people along the way.
  4. Take a short break (other than going to the bathroom) and talk to someone new – on purpose.
  5. Listen to a new station on Pandora. This means giving up Blind Pilot and JT for a while, but I’m okay with that. I have a feeling there are a few country singers out there who have a lesson or two about life I could use. Consider this student “present”.
  6. Pull out a sketchpad instead of the laptop. I enjoy sketching, but when it comes to thinking of ideas for work, I tend to lean on the computer – literally. I’m going to kick it old school and sketch my next round of thoughts. Sketchnoting, here I come.
  7. Use different color ink. Black and blue are for bruises. I’m going to mix it up with orange or green and just see what happens. Maybe nothing, but at least my notes will be prettier.
  8. Go outside and park it on a bench for a few minutes. Nothing beats stale ideas like some fresh air and new surroundings. It seems simple, but I don’t get outside nearly enough during the day. My Fitbit would agree with me, too.

I hope you’ll join me in trying some of these ideas or thinking of a few new ones yourself. Please share!

In the meantime, have an enormously creative day.

-Kate

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Five Must-Read Creative Books

creative booksIf you have a shred of desire to be more creative and leave a beautiful or thought-provoking mark on this earth, I believe it’s essential to always be on a path of trial and knowledge. And some of the most necessary fuel for exploration and learning is found in books.

As a busy mom, I don’t always have time to sit and read. The growing stack of books on my nightstand is enough to prove that point, but there are certain books that come along and change things. They help shift priorities and feel worthy of an all-night reading binge.

Here’s a list of five books that fit this description, and what I consider must-reads for creative types.

These are in no particular order and include a few of my favorite excerpts from each.

{ONE} Creativity, Inc.Creativity Inc“Always take a chance on better, even if it seems threatening.”

“Ultimately, what we’re after is authenticity…You’ll never stumble upon the unexpected if you stick only to the familiar. In my experience, when people go out on research trips, they always come back changed.”

{TWO} Imagine: How Creativity WorksImagine“In fact, the only way to remain creative over time, to not be undone by our expertise, is to experiment with ignorance, to stare at things we don’t fully understand.”

{THREE} The War of Artwar of art“Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”

“Put your ass where your heart wants to be.”

{FOUR} Steal Like An Artiststeal like an artist“You are, in fact, a mashup of what you choose to let into your life.”

“Be curious about the world in which you live. Look things up. Chase down every reference. Go deeper than anybody else–that’s how you’ll get ahead.”

{FIVE} The Creative Habitthe creative habit“Creativity is the product of preparation and effort, and it’s within reach of everyone who wants to achieve it. All it takes is the willingness to make creativity a habit, an integral part of your life.”

It’s your turn! What’s your favorite book on creativity? How did this book help you? Tag and tell me on Twitter or Instagram @katejandersen.

Have a creative day!

-Kate

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Creative Tip: Take a Field Trip

One of the best motivators to clean your house is to invite guests over. Am I right? Well, the same goes for visiting nearby museums. Sometimes it takes a visitor to get you out the door.

That’s what happened this weekend. It’s been forever since I’ve trekked (all of 18 miles) up to Bentonville to visit Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. When family came to visit this weekend to celebrate my father-in-law’s 80th birthday, we decided to spend a day touring the museum. #bestdecisionever

State of the ArtRight now CB has an exhibit called State of the Art, which is incredible. It’s only here until Jan. 19th, so I would have kicked myself if I missed the chance to see this American wonder.

To quote the ads, “Over the course of a year, the (curatorial) team logged more than 100,000 miles across the United States and visited nearly 1,000 artists looking for people who haven’t been fully recognized on a national level, yet.”

The result is an exhibition that draws from every region of the country and offers a diverse look at American art. Everyone should have a chance to review and absorb this beauty. The museum feels this way, too, which is why admission is free of charge.

This field trip did wonders for my creative spirit. I didn’t realize how stagnant I was until I saw such inventive and thoughtful art.

I snapped a few pics of my faves to share. It was tough narrowing these down, though.

Compilation

(L to R) 1. Avery & Clara in the crocheted tunnel by Jelia Gueramian; 2. Hand-cut paper moth by Hiromi Mizugai Moneyhun; 3. “Forever” by John Salvest made with secondhand romance novels; 4. “World Map” by Emily Erb made with dye on silk. I wanted to wrap myself in this veil of softness – but that would have ended our visit all too soon.

Forever Books

A close look at some of the books in “Forever”.

crochet tunnel

A wide shot of the crochet tunnel. It was wild and colorful – like a page out of a Dr. Seuss book.

Lottery Tickets

“Ghost of a Dream” by Adam Eckstrom and Lauren Was made with discarded lottery tickets. There’s a closeup pic on the bottom. Can you believe someone found beauty in a scratch ticket?

Ghosts of Consumption

Here’s another ghostly image. “Ghosts of Consumption” consists of objects and trash found in ocean water off the coasts of Hawaii, Alaska, Greece and Costa Rica. I spy a bike petal. Whaat?

 

Telescope

A telescope made from holes in the drywall by Chris Sauter. Brandon had to point out how this was made – and it was even cooler once I made the connection to the wall. Thanks, sweet B.

Circle

I was really drawn to this painting by Kelsey Brookes. It’s reminiscent of 60s culture, and the center of the painting “moves” as you walk past the art. Super interesting.

Compilation2

I love this collection pulled together in one picture. (L to R) 1. Emergent” by Isabella Kirkland, an artist and scientist who has documented endangered and extinct animals; 2. Daffodils encased in glass composite by Flora Mace; 3. “Anthropocene 1” by Pam Longobardi painted on copper

Stairwell of String

This pic was snapped in the stairwell where hundreds (maybe thousands?) of multicolored threads were stretched from wall-to-wall creating a gorgeous spectrum by artist Gabriel Dawe. A sight to see!

While the tour ended here, the impact of the outing has stayed with me. I was reminded how important it is to get out of our comfortable homes and workplaces every now and then to see what the rest of the world is up to. I certainly I felt a jolt of inspiration on this visit, and I wish this upon every creative soul out there (and that includes you).

When I started this creativity blog, I told Brandon how sad it is to hear people say, “Oh, I’m not creative.” That simply isn’t true, and I want to help people connect back to their creativity.

If you woke up and dressed yourself today, you are creative. Look at the fabrics, the colors, the accessories, and the way you styled your hair. You made creative decisions all morning! The secret is to recognize and be grateful for your expressions – and more opportunities to feel this way will show up.

It’s okay to start off by following other people’s lead. My daughter Avery came home from our field trip and started painting her own version of Sonya Clark’s “Albers Interaction” series.

Avery's Art

Avery’s painting is at the top. The bottom art is by Sonya Clark who wrapped colored thread around stacks of hair combs. Clark actually makes a direct reference to Modernist painter Josef Albers and his “Homage to the Square”. So it’s like inspiration inception!

Avery started to dismiss her work by saying she just copied what she saw. I told her that her work is just as important because she made it her own. Once she got it, she felt inspired to keep going. That’s the point. Keep going. See what new paths you can carve, and don’t stop there. Even if it takes being inspired by someone else to get you started.

Trust in yourself and your creative voice. It knows the answer to everything. Sometimes it just takes stepping out for a bit to hear what’s inside.

Avery Admiration

Avery contemplating our visit at the museum  – or just looking for some fish 😉

What’s your favorite place to visit for inspiration? Share with us here, on Twitter or Instagram. Use #CreativeTipTues or tag me @Katejandersen.

Most creative wishes to you!

-Kate

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Start the Year with a Vision Board

Yogi Berra quote

I’ve always liked this quote. It’s funny, yet carries buckets of truth.

January is one of the most inspiring months. It delivers a fresh start filled with hope for an exciting year. My husband and I have a tradition each December where we wake up early on a Saturday (which we did this past weekend!), brew a few cups of coffee and plan for the year ahead.

We love our coffee visits. Any time. Any place.

We love our coffee visits. Any time. Any place.

Brandon enjoys planning as much as I do. We’re not overly type-A, by any means. We just like having somewhat of a plan in place. Our annual session always culminates in a vision board, which is a motivational thing for us. It includes words and pictures that represent our goals.

This article offers great thoughts on building a vision board to help your creativity.

To start, here’s the process Brandon and I go through to create our vision boards. Hopefully some of these steps (and a good cup of coffee) will help you, too!

{ONE} Determine Goals

First we just talk. We share personal goals and create family goals for the coming year. We try not to overanalyze. We quickly jot down ideas and assign rough budgets to everything. We’ve come to learn if we skip the money part, our plans are harder to achieve. Even if it requires saving over the course of several years, things and events won’t happen without saving and planning for them now.

{TWO} Pick a Word

Once we’ve chatted, each of us picks a word of the year. It’s a word that has a personal meaning, reminds us of our overall goals, and sets off a spark of motivation when we hear it. So if we’re in a slump or feeling defeated, simply saying the word can jumpstart our engine.

Last year my word was “emerge”.

I found myself in a bit of a rut, occupied with general busyness. You know the kind that keeps you from sitting still and asking what you really need to be happy? That was me, in a hamster wheel afraid to find out what would happen if it stopped. I finally grew tired of feeling dizzy and drained, so I jumped. I spent some much needed time figuring things out.

I ended up changing my work schedule, starting a blog, volunteering more at the kids’ school, and saying “yes” to more social invitations. I found myself “emerging” in new ways and feeling okay with it all. There were tasks that were terrifying, but I did them anyway. I made mistakes, but I learned to stop scolding myself. I embraced imperfection for the first time and kept walking in new directions – regardless of how awkward I may have felt at times. While I will always be on a journey of emerging, I decided to add a new word this year: action. As in, “get up and go, already!”

Now that I have a little more confidence under my belt, I think I’m ready to march toward some dreams I never thought were possible.

{THREE} Create a Vision Board

sample vision board

This sample vision board is from Martha Beck.

Once goals are figured out, and we have a word that can kick us in the pants when we need it most, it’s time to make a vision board.

You can either create one out of poster board and magazine clippings, or go for something digital. Brandon likes using the O Dream Board. You could also try Dream It Alive or any photo collage app on your phone.

I actually like using Pinterest. This year I’m creating a secret board, so I don’t have to share it with the entire world. The title includes the year and my word of choice, so something like: “2015 Vision: Emerge & Take Action.”

Spring hiking

I used this image on my vision board to encourage me to get out and enjoy our beautiful parks and trails with the family.

Next I’ll find images that represent each of the goals on my list. In the caption I’ll write action steps I need to consider. This helps provide guidance and direction for the vision board.

As Antoine de Saint-Exupery stated, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

I’ve already started my vision board. In fact, I just need to add a few more details, so I’m off to finish it now. Good wishes for your personal planning. I’d love to know your “word of the year” or what kind of goals you’ve set for yourself. Share it in the comments or tweet me @Katejandersen.

Your ideas could help inspire someone else – and that’s a beautiful thing to accomplish!

Much love to you all this year,

Kate

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Christmas Blessings

Hello, dear friends. It’s officially Christmas, and I hope you’re having a wonderful day filled with love, laughter and lots of good food! I gathered a few of my favorite sayings and song lyrics to celebrate the day. Feel free to share.

silent night

Source: Nest of Posies

sweetness

This one comes with a lesson in hand-lettering! Source: Skillshare (P.S. A great place to learn or hone your creative skills)

irish blessing

With my Irish roots, I had to include this family favorite. Source: Marie McKeown

Hugs and best holiday wishes,

-Kate

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Creative Tip: Collaborate with Kids

Creative InspirationDon’t you adore the carefree nature and creativity of kids? It seems the younger the child, the fewer filters they have for things that are silly or absurd. They’re incredibly open-minded and able to rationalize things that are seemingly impossible.

I remember a conversation with my son, Evan, when he was a little guy. He said the sun warmed the earth by reaching down with its invisible arms and zapping everything with heated light sabers. His complete confidence in the idea was not only adorable, but also inspiring.

It’s good to forget logic every now and then and play the “what if” game. What if the sun did have invisible arms? You never know when this type of harmless exploration could lead to great inventions.

At the very least, it encourages us to see the world with fresh eyes and broaden our imagination.

There’s an illustrator named Mica Angela Hendricks who believes in collaborating with kids to enhance her creative ideas. She pulled out a sketchbook one day and allowed her five-year-old daughter to add finishing touches to her drawings. The result was astounding. She began to work closely with her little girl to create beautiful and wildly imaginative pieces of art together.

A selection of Mica's work is available for purchase at Society6.

A selection of Mica’s work is available for purchase at Society6.

Give it a try for yourself!

I’m not an illustrator, so I might adapt this idea with cutting pictures from magazines and then working with my kids to build out the story. I saw something like this on Artmommie’s blog.ArtmommieAnother fun idea would be to create a book together. Start with a writing prompt, then take turns writing lines of a story from there. Here are Ten Terrific Writing Prompts I developed to help you get started. You can go back and add pictures once the story is written, and then have it published through a site like blurb.

blurb

Blurb is a great site for printing your own books.

I’m sure there are hundreds of ways to collaborate with your kids and ignite more creativity in your life. So be sure to share your awesome ideas in the comments or tag me on Twitter or Instagram with a picture you’ve created and use #CreativeTipTues.

As always, have a creative day!

-Kate

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Creative Tip: Embrace the “Yes, And…”

Improv Tips

More great thoughts on this topic at 99U.

Most improv classes teach the importance of “yes, and…” It means when something is given to you (a line, a prop, a gesture), you accept it and add something new. So if someone hands you a bike helmet and says, “Let’s fly to the moon,” you don’t look at them with crazy eyes and reply, “Um, nooo.” You might say, “Yes, and let me grab my elbow pads and oxygen tank.” You keep the momentum going and see where it takes you.

Embracing “yes, and…” is perhaps one of the best lessons in creativity – and life for that matter.

When it comes to creativity

Always be accepting of ideas that are shared by others or come to your own mind. Your instinct might be to shoot down ideas that defy logic, but some of the best and most creative books, photographs, paintings, movies, recipes, or gadgets didn’t always seem reasonable or even plausible at their inception.

Think about how services like Skype would have sounded in a brainstorm: “What if people could login to their computer and be able to see and talk to their friends who live out of state – without any phones?” Someone was willing to say, “Yes, and what if it worked internationally?”

When given the chance, always be willing and courageous to add your “and.”

Wedding PictureThis translates to relationships, too.

Today is my 14th wedding anniversary, and I think about how much improv happens in this life that Brandon and I are building together. From the moment I said “yes” to his proposal, we’ve been adding “ands” ever since. Before we knew it, “Kate and Brandon” turned into, “…and babies, and a house, and a rabbit, and a new job, and a move…” It hasn’t always been easy, but our willingness and courage to accept each other – while being willing to add new experiences – has certainly made the journey more exciting. A little humor never hurts, either.

Here’s to more “yes, ands…” in your life!

Reflection questions:

  • When was the last time you said “no” or shot down an idea?
  • What would have happened if you said “yes?” List all of the possibilities, even the crazy ones.
  • What’s an idea you’ve been afraid to share? Write it down and add a “yes, and…”

Feel free to share your thoughts and use #CreativeTipTues or tag me. I’m on Twittter and Instagram as @Katejandersen.

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Creative Tip: Enjoy the Season!

Christmas kindness

Designed by The Neat Nook

There’s no question the holidays are a special time of year. I love catching up with friends, eating good food, and exchanging thoughtful gifts.

If we’re being honest, it can also be a bit stressful. The weeks leading up to Christmas are hurried and hectic. There’s the decorating, baking, shopping, wrapping, shipping, entertaining, and sometimes traveling to be done. When you’re a momma, you also have school plays, church pageants, class parties and teacher gifts to manage. Whew!

How does anyone stay calm and joyful with so much business going on? It’s not easy. That’s for sure, but if you have the right mindset, you can stay fairly calm through it all.

Try these five quick tips and see if you feel a difference. They won’t guarantee rock star parking at the mall, but they might help you ease up on the horn when someone snags your spot.

  1. Check in with yourself.
    • Stop in your tracks when you’re feeling stressed, and take note of what you’re doing. And I mean all the way down to the verb. Does baking pies from scratch and making the crust look like a string of holly berries (like the picture you saw on Pinterest) send you spiraling into tears? If so, change the plan and simplify. Get the premade crust or better yet, order from your favorite restaurant and call it good. No one will judge you.
    • Also notice what activities make you feel energized and creative. Allow yourself plenty of time to enjoy these things! Personally, I could wrap presents all day long. I adore playing with papers, tissues, boxes and bows. I would swap wrapping presents for making homemade pies any day.
  2. Do only what you can (and want) to do. Delegate the rest.
    • Write down your entire to-do list so it’s out of your head – where it only stresses you out.
    • Cross off anything that doesn’t fill you with joy and is also unnecessary. Synchronizing your outdoor lights to music – when you’re not technically savvy – would fall into this category.
    • Put a star next to anything you love and that only you can do – such as attending your child’s Christmas play.
    • Find a way to delegate or simplify the rest. Enlist a crafty cousin to make a few small gifts, or pay a neighbor with treats to help hang your lights. Get creative!
  3. Stay within budget.
    • One of the biggest stressors this time of year can be money. Plan a realistic budget that includes all of the details (like stamps for those adorable cards you ordered).
    • Keep track of your receipts as you go, so you know where you stand. If gifts are getting out of control, switch gears to something handmade or repurposed. If you’re thoughtful about the present, it will be appreciated – regardless of the price tag.
  4. Make a new friend.
    • Empathy can go a long way when you’re standing in line waiting to pay at the register. Strike up a conversation with the person in front of you and you might realize just how lucky you really are this holiday.
  5. Be kind to yourself.
    • Whatever you choose to do this holiday, make sure it makes you happy.
    • Don’t try to do too much, and certainly don’t try to make everything perfect. Perfection is unrealistic. If your 2-year-old won’t stop pouting in the family picture, let it be. If you burned all of the cookies for the school party, feed them  to the ducks and pickup some store-bought goodies. Serve them on one of your prettiest plates and you’re back in business.
    • The bottom line is, give yourself a break. And have a glass of wine while you’re at it. You deserve a happy holiday just as much as anyone on your gift list.

Cheers, my friends! Here’s to the most joyful and relaxed Christmas season, yet.

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