The 2012 Fall to Holiday Season Issue
It's fall and soon the holiday season will be upon us. Whether you are a college student or getting ready to visit your aging parent, this merge2gether issue has something for people at all stages and all ages: people who are interested in making the most out of living with one another.
This season's issue offers ideas about how to make your holiday season schedule work and how to give gifts that truly say thank you, thank you, thank you!
From College Bound to Roommates, from Couples and Blended Families to Extended Families , identify what phase of life you are in and learn how to blend your eating habits, social style and home decor preferences with the people you live.
10 Ideas to Make the Holidays Happy
Organize and Plan Now
It is only October, but merge2gether suggests that one of the keys to a happy holiday season is planning, communicating and scheduling celebrations with family and friends sooner rather than later.
The modern family’s holiday season can be a scheduling nightmare. Stepfamilies, divorced couples and aging parents can create additional demands on a family’s time. Meanwhile, the 40% of American families who live far away from their parents and grandparents have to worry about travel and, in many cases, which family members to travel to. Holidays can go from “yah!” to blah if scheduling issues cause conflict and stress before, during and after the celebrations. Here are some suggested guidelines for holiday planning:
Children with Shared Custody
If children are involved, then holiday planning can be more complex. Email or talk to the other parent before talking with family members. There may be legal agreements that take precedence over people’s preferences. Try to get a multi-year agreement in place to minimize the need to revisit the topic every holiday season. Put all agreements in writing and get the agreed upon dates on everyone’s calendars.
Think of the Big Picture
Think of all three (or four) holidays: Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Christmas and New Years. Also, look at multiple years when developing plans. Consider sharing time with each other’s families by alternating years for each chosen holiday.
Values and Traditions
Consider the importance each family places on the holidays. If one family loves New Years more than Christmas and vice-versa, it will be easier to make plans based on obvious family preferences.
Create New Holiday Traditions
It may be easiest to have two Thanksgivings: one on Thursday with one family and a second one on the Saturday with the other. To maximize joy, everyone needs to be flexible and creative.
Think Long Term
Just because Thanksgiving is always at grandma’s doesn’t mean it always will be. Sometimes grandparents get tired of hosting the holidays and would like to pass the carving knife on to the next generation. Which sibling(s) picks up the hosting responsibilities should be part of the long-term planning process.
Meet in the Middle
If the distance and expense is not too great, or if the families can afford it, meeting in a neutral location can be fun. There are many destinations that lend themselves to winter holidays, such as a mountain resort or New York City; the fun is in being together.
Be Less Than Perfect
If the holiday season becomes logistically and geographically too complex, then some things may need to give. For example, surrender to store-bought versus homemade holiday pies and cookies.
Consider Costs: Both Time and Money
When making a plan, factor in various family members’ budgets and travel time. People’s financial situations can change from year to year, so adjust accordingly. If people are paying more money to travel
Gifts that Say "Thanks!"
The Holidays are Almost Here
Right around the corner, Thanksgiving will kick off the 2012 holiday season. Then, in the blink of an eye, Hanukkah, then Christmas and finally, New Years will have come and gone.
The winter holiday season is about giving thanks, appreciating one another, kicking off a new year and celebrating family and community. When considering a gift-giving list that can include the postal carrier, teachers, friends and family members, gift giving can be expensive and stressful. All too often, presents lack meaning for both the giver and the receiver. merge2gether.com has ideas for gifts and traditions that reflect an attitude of gratitude while still staying within a set budget.
Tip #1: Start Thinking Now
Be on the lookout for things that people say they want and need. Listen to people’s everyday comments and complaints for clues that will help with gift ideas. In addition to being delighted with the gift itself, loved ones will be thrilled to know that someone listened to them. Waiting to the last minute to purchase or make gifts in usually where gift giving can become stressful not meaningful.
Tip #2: Say It with Style
For big water drinkers, put a personal message in a healthy stainless steel water bottle and give it with love.
Along the same line, Starbucks has a Create-Your-Own Mug . It costs $15.00 and, when fitted with a personal message and the recipient’s favorite coffee or candy and the pleasure will be immediate as well as long lasting.
Start a family tradition with a white tablecloth and a Sharpie. Before the meal, give people a few minutes to write on the cloth what they are thankful for or what they hope for in the New Year. Once everyone is done, have those who care to do so share their message out loud. Wash with care and use at the next holiday or the next year.
Another idea: homemade treats with a personalized message hit the heart and the tummy.
Tip #3: Personalized Service
Lend a hand and a few hours of childcare to a parent or couple needing a night off.
A home-cooked meal is a big treat for someone too busy to cook. This roasted lemon chicken recipe is easy to make, and the leftovers are great.
Massage those tired feet or sore shoulders. For people who like a massage, this gift is a great treat, whether personal or professional.
Tip #4: Create a Memorable Moment
People are more likely to remember and cherish a shared experience than a trinket, toy or tool. A day trip, weekend rendezvous or full-blown vacation are all good options. Look for online deals to take advantage of sharing an adventure with a loved one.
Tip #5: Give a Gift that Keeps on Giving
Live and learn and learn some more: give the gift of classes, such as crafts, physical fitness, hobbies or education.
Contribute to someone’s continued or future education. For most families, every little bit of money for college helps. If you start early, the money will add up over the years. If the child ends up not going to college, the money can be used for travel or other agreed upon purposes.
Donate to a family member or friend’s favorite charity. Individuals and bequests contribute approximately 80% of all philanthropic dollars. With a gift like this, everyone wins. Every little bit makes a difference.
Photo books are a great way to show your love, especially for family members who live at a distance and don’t get to see you in your day-to-day life. If you are feeling really creative, make a