Valentine’s Gift Ideas for Him (And Secretly For You)

Valentine’s is a perfect day to gift your beau something special. But hey, there’s no rule stating you can’t reap the benefits from your romantic gesture. Here are some gift ideas that you both can enjoy this year.

Brewery Tour

If your gentleman enjoys a good craft beer, set up a date to visit a local brewery. Local breweries generally offer tours with inexpensive samples. You and your man will enjoy sampling various beers and leave feeling like a beer snob. Check out CraftBeer.com to discover breweries near you. If you don’t have a brewery in your area, create your own craft beer tasting. Visit your nearest Whole Foods Market and select a mix of beers you both would be interested in trying. While you’re assembling your buffet of beer, grab some snacks to compliments the beverages.

His Childhood Board Game

Prior to V-day, stealthily ask your BF what his favorite board game was as a child. Pickup the game and present it to your special guy right in time for Valentines. Pour some wine and you’ll enjoy reliving your youth through classic games. The fun doesn’t have to halt after Valentine’s. Schedule an ongoing game night and invite friends to join in the festivities.

Donuts

You can’t go wrong with a box full of his favorite donuts. And with so many punny donut-themed cards available, you can easily tie in this sugary treat with V-day. Check out Etsy for cute cards like “Donut forget I love you” or CafePress for just the right card to express your love for him and breakfast desserts. If he’s the right guy for you, he’ll share his savory gift without you having to ask. A win-win!

Record Player

The vinyl renaissance is among us. If your man doesn’t already have a record player, it makes for the perfect Valentine’s gift. Urban Outfitters offer a variety of players in an array of colors. Pick up a few records of his favorite artists or set up a date for the both of you to browse a record store. You’ll enjoy record shopping together for years to come.

Netflix and Chill

A Netflix and Chill night can never be overdone with the one you love. If you don’t already share a Netflix password, jot down your account info on a thoughtful card proclaiming that you’re ready to take things to the next level. If he has an account of his own, you can gift him Chromecast. Although Chromecast has been around for a few years, it’s still a foolproof gift to those who have yet jump on the bandwagon. Connect Chromecast and he’ll be able to cast Netflix, Hulu, and a variety of other streaming shows from any device to his TV.

Date Night in a Jar

Date Night in a Jar is an adorable and affordable way to put the spark back into a relationship that’s gone on autopilot. To make this simple DIY present, decorate a mason jar and jot down a variety of date night ideas on popsicle sticks or colorful note cards. If you’re in need of inspiration, checkout the Budget Girl’s blog on this fun idea. Your significant other will love this gift because he won’t have to come up with romantic ideas and you’ll love it because you’ll have full approval of every date!

New Year, New Gear: Workout Gear to Keep Your Fitness Goals Alive

We’re a month into 2016 and you’ve already blown your New Year’s resolution to hit the gym? Don’t cancel your gym membership or give up that ClassPass! It’s not too late to adjust your course from McDonald’s to SoulCycle. Motivate yourself back into the gym or studio with fabulous fitness gear.

Here are 5 sites for gorgeous fitness attire that will inspire you to turn the treadmill into your very own catwalk.

Bandier

Bandier is a utopia of chic activewear. The site offers a meticulously assembled collection of designer fitness ensembles. With a variety of unique styles and designs, you’ll want to wear your Bandier outfit to barre class in the morning and brunch with the squad later that day. As if their fabulous collection wasn’t enough, Bandier even curates and shares their own workout mixes on Spotify. You’ll have the perfect soundtrack to go with your athleisure gear.

Stride Fitness

Your workouts may be serious, but your outfit doesn’t have to be. Stride Fitness Apparel offers comfy graphic tees with memorable one-liners and notable characters. Fandom shirts include Star Wars, Freddy Krueger, Tomb Raider all with a witty fitness-related twist. Rock the “Don’t Talk To Me When I’m Stretching” tee and never worry about awkwardly being hit on while at the gym again.

Fabletics

If you need motivation to stay active, take one look at Kate Hudson’s inspiring physique. She combined her love of fitness and fashion to help create Fabletics, an athletic apparel company that offers high-quality gear with budget-friendly prices. VIP members will receive discounts on pieces through a subscription service. Take advantage of Fabletics current deal that offers new members their first outfit for $25. Keep in mind that if you sign up as a member, you will be charged monthly unless you opt to ‘Skip the Month’ between the 1st and 5th day of the month or you call to cancel your membership.

SIX:02

When I first came across SIX:02, I had no idea it was part of Foot Locker. SIX:02 is Foot Locker’s women’s only fitness destination, but don’t confuse it with Ladies Foot Locker. SIX:02 is a sexier brand that offers styles that are both trendy and functional. They’ve also partnered with some of your favorite fitness gurus and influencers on limited collections to inspire your new gym look.

YOGASMOGA

YOGASMOGA took traditional yoga styles and engineered textiles to create high-grade performance gear. My favorite feature of their proprietary fabric is their advanced moisture management, meaning moisture and bacteria escape the fabric quickly and easily. In addition to their smart textiles, their ethics align with the philosophies yoga teaches. YOGASMOGA offer eco-friendly products manufactured in the US, so you’ll not only look good but feel good about sporting their products.

5 Winter Breakfast Recipes To Cosy Up To

When it comes to winter, it’s easy to feel down and, with the passing of the holiday season, it might feel like there’s not a lot to look forward to until spring. Getting through the cold snap is all about taking care of yourself, starting from the moment that you wake up. Beginning the day with a hearty breakfast is a great way to put a spring in your step, even if the real season is still months away. When it comes to winter breakfasts, it pays to be even kinder to yourself than normal and, while these recipes might seem too indulgent to whip out every morning, allowing yourself them once or twice a week is more than enough to cheer up any gray day.

With minimal work and maximum flavor, these tasty breakfast treats are guaranteed to make it feel like a sunny day, even if it’s still January.

Breakfast Casserole

Sometimes, you want a breakfast food that covers all corners and incorporating a number of ingredients into one dish is a great way to go. Whipping up a breakfast casserole couldn’t be easier and in the heart of winter, is the perfect way to get that cosy feeling from the start of your day. This one comes packed with sausages, cheese and a crispy dough base that is bound to keep you going for hours. Make it the night before and finish it off the in oven; you won’t say no to grilled cheese, even at 7am.

Gingerbread Pancakes

We all know that pancakes are the breakfast of kings – or should that be queens? – but even they can stand a little adaptation from time to time. Finished off with ginger, vanilla and molasses, these gingerbread pancakes are as sweet as they come. If the recipe is a little on the saccharine side for you, you can try cutting down on the extra sugar or syrup and serve them up with a side of fresh fruit. Complete with a cup of coffee, these will more than put a smile on your face in the morning.

Breakfast Frittata

Packed with potato, smoked haddock and the fluffiest eggs you can imagine, the breakfast frittata takes a lot of beating. While it has all the makings of an omelette, the frittata comes filled with a little extra flavor punch, which will keep your senses alive in the morning. If you’re not a fan of smoked haddock, you can try substituting it for a different type of fish such as mackerel, or foregoing it entirely. The beauty of the recipe is the ease with which it can be adapted; you’re always in charge.

Blueberry Breakfast Cake

When the words “breakfast” and “cake” come together in a sentence, you know that you’re in for a treat. Packed full of buttermilk, this breakfast cake is as light and fluffy as they come and is in no risk of drying out after a day or two. While the recipe calls for a large quantity of ingredients, it means that batching out the cake into smaller portions is much easier. You can slice up your breakfast for the week to come or, if you want to be really nice, hand slices around when you get to the office. You’re guaranteed to be the most popular member of the team.

Stuffed French Toast

Starting your day off with a hearty breakfast doesn’t mean that you have to forgo healthy eating entirely and if you’re looking for a way to eat well and stay full, then this french toast recipe might be the answer. Adding whole grain bread, coconut oil, almond butter and fresh berries into the mix, this recipe is a great deal nicer than its name suggests and won’t leave you feeling heavy for hours afterwards. Serve it up with freshly sliced banana and a green tea and you’re onto a healthy breakfast winner!

While eating well is a great way of feeling your best during the winter season, allowing yourself an indulgence from time to time is the perfect way to treat yourself when the outside world is blowing a storm. Making your mornings all about great food ensures that you will feel much happier throughout the day, even if things elsewhere don’t go entirely to plan. There’s always tomorrow for that!

How To Step Into The New Year As The Real You

New year, new you. At least, that’s what we’re told at the start of another calendar year. While positive mantras might encourage us to overcome our insecurities and fight to be the very best version of ourselves that we can possibly be, actually going through with it can be a very tricky thing indeed. Shedding the expectations that other people place on you is something that even the most confident people struggle with and if, this new year, you want to feel  a little more comfortable in your own skin, you’re going to have to get a little savvy about it.

Inspirational posters are all well and good but if you want to go ahead with verve and confidence, you will need to take a few active measures in order to achieve it. Starting with a few simple adjustments could be all it takes, however, and pretty soon, you might notice a real change in the way you carry yourself.

Be Aware Of Who You Are

It might sound like an incredibly simple thing to do, but actually recognizing who you are as a person is a very tricky thing to do. When we are around others, we tend to mimic parts of their behavioural style in order to fit in with their world view. While this is a normal part of socializing, doing it too often can be detrimental to your confidence and sense of self. Although you don’t have to be the most confrontational person in the world in order to get your voice heard, it is ok to disagree with the people around you when you really can’t see eye to eye. Understanding how you react with those around you is a great way of understanding how you function as a person. If there are any things you don’t like about how you interact with those around you, think about why that is and how you can go about changing them. You shouldn’t have to go against your beliefs to fit in with the people around you.

Understand Where You Get Value From

Determining where value stems from in your life is one of the most simple ways to understand how you see and appreciate yourself. If the people in your life that you value don’t seem to reciprocate your feelings, it’s worth asking why you have kept them around for so long. Often, we hold on to bad relationships or friendships because we lack the confidence and self-worth to cut people like this out of our lives. Ultimately, the person you should value the most in your life should be yourself and those that you spend time with should merely compliment this fact. If you are having to change things about yourself to fit in, it might be because you don’t value yourself enough to wave goodbye to bad relationships. Cutting ties doesn’t have to be a bad thing and the sooner you do it, the closer you might be to finding people who value you back.

Find Things You Believe About Yourself

While we might all have a long list of things we feel about ourselves, we rarely focus on the things that we believe about ourselves, and that are unquestionably true. Instead of thinking that you’re not good enough, or that you don’t have enough confidence, try focusing on the things that you know you can do. If you’re a really great cook, focus on this part of your life. If, on the other hand, you’re a great sibling, or friend, look into why this is so, and how you act differently in this area of your life. Taking influence from areas of your life that make you feel happy and confident is a great way to transfer these behaviours to other parts of your life that you want to improve.

Seek Others Like You

While we might believe that we have many like-minded people in our lives, it’s not always so easy to find people who are emotionally compatible, especially when it comes to relationships. Finding traits in potential partners that don’t really exist is something that many people do when they try to form attachments, leading to problems further down the line. When you’re getting to know someone, try and be as objective as you possibly can be, and take all of the information they’re giving you in. Our brains often have the tendency to overlook negative signals in favor of positive ones, giving us a skewed perspective of the people that we let into our lives.

The relationships that we have in life with others can shape the person that we turn out to be but essentially, the most important relationship is the one that we have with ourselves, as we will always be in our own lives. This new year, let yourself be your greatest love; your future relationships will thank you for it.

Simple Ways to Connect Over the Holidays

With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, we tend to monopolize our time with errands, checklists, and to-dos. We can lose touch with the people who mean the most to us over the festive season.

Here are some ways you can connect with your loved ones over the holiday season.

Have a wrapping party.

Don’t let the task of wrapping gifts and signing holiday cards be a taunting task. Make a party out of it! Invite your closest friends over to wrap presents as you blast All I want for Christmas is You, sip apple cider, and munch on tasty treats. Even if you do more chatting than wrapping, it only means you’re taking time to reconnect with the wonderful people in your life.

Host a quote-along

Whether it’s Love Actually or Home Alone, we all have a beloved movie of the Winter season. This year, invite your loved ones over for a holiday movie quote-along. Vote on a favorite flick and be sure your subtitles are on (as if you don’t already know every line). Go a step further and share little known movie facts from IMDb throughout the party. The quote-along will leave you remembering good memories as you create new ones.

Attend a show.

The holidays are a perfect time to fit in a play, ballet, or performance with someone you love. The Nutcracker and Trans-Siberian Orchestra always tend to make their rounds to major cities across the nation. If you’re on a budget, don’t underestimate your local arts scene. Community theatres, churches, and local schools put on holiday shows at little to no cost. Research a show in your area within your budget and invite a companion to enjoy.

Volunteer.

There’s no better way to connect with people than to volunteer. Volunteermatch.org is a helpful resource to find volunteer opportunities at charities and non-profits you support. Rally your friends, family, even co-workers to join you in your cause. Don’t let time be an excuse not to volunteer. There are plenty of volunteer opportunities you can do from the comfort of your home. Help From Home lists a variety of microvolunteering projects from quilting blankets for children with illness to snapping photos of your environment to submit for a nonprofit study on nature.

Create a tradition.

Perhaps you don’t hold a yearly holiday tradition. Nothing will bring you closer to those around you than to start your very own. It could be a wrapping party, a quote-along or something completely unique to your group and town. Not only will you create connection with among your family and friends, if done yearly, your new tradition will connect generations to come.

6 Apps to Help Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

2016 is only a few weeks away. As with every New Year, we tend to get carried away with ambitious resolutions to lose weight, quit smoking, learn a new hobby, eat healthy, save money, and get organized.

Here are 6 apps to help keep those life-changing declarations throughout the year.

  1. Lose Weight.

By far, the most widely made resolution is to lose weight. If you’re looking for solid workouts that you can do from home, try Workout Trainer. This free app offers users thousands of free workouts complete with audio and video instructions. If you seek an app to help you stick to your fitness goals, try the Pact app. Pact allows you to wager money on whether you hit the gym or finish a workout. It verifies that you’ve met your goals by verifying that you’re going to the gym through your check-ins. If you reach or exceed your goal, you earn cash. If you don’t you have to pay. Having cash at stake is a great way to keep you invested in following through on your NYE vow.

  1. Quit Smoking.

An unfortunate battle that many of us face is the desire to quit smoking. Fortunately, there are apps available to help. One of those apps is called Smoke Free. The app tracks and notifies the user how long they have been smoke free, how much money has been saved, how many cigarettes have been avoided, and how health is improving. Visualizing success helps keep its users on track and encourages their new smoke-free lifestyle.

  1. Learn a New Hobby.

There’s an app for nearly every hobby. Whether your hobby is golf, bird watching or photography, there’s an app to help you get the most out of your off-duty time. Whatever hobby you choose, use a goal app to incorporate your new hobby into your life successfully. Apps like GoalsOnTrack, allow you to set goals with clear action plans.

  1. Eat Healthy.

Losing weight is not always the ultimate goal for living a healthy lifestyle. After all the pumpkin pies, gingerbread cookies, and cider, your body would benefit from a junk food break. One of the best apps for a eating healthy is called Substitutions. Whether you’re in your kitchen or roaming the aisle of you favorite supermarket, this app suggests alternatives for foods you wish to avoid. Another great tool to replace your meals with healthier options is Locavore. This app allows you to find local, in-season food at farmers markets, farm stands, and groceries in your area.

  1. Save Money.

Saving money is an ideal goal for many of us who have a tight budget after the holidays. We can even be afraid to check our bank accounts for fear of seeing the little amount that awaits us. Level Money is a streamlined app that automatically updates you on how much spendable cash you have for the day. Another great app is Unsplurge, that helps users focus on saving by providing visuals on long-term savings goals. This might include a trip to Paris or the camera you’ve always wanted. For some of us, visions and dreams is all the motivation we need to save.

  1. Get Organized.

The New Year symbolizes a new beginning and opportunity to get our life together. Organizational apps are perfect tools to help this effort. 30/30 is a task manager that uniquely allows users to divide their days into increments of 30-minute blocks of work. These periods can be adjusted accordingly but it encourages its users to stay on task and finish projects efficiently without feeling overwhelmed. If a cluttered and fragmented calendar system is the root of your problem, try UpTo. This app syncs together your existing calendars to one, concise platform.

How To Sleep More Soundly, The Natural Way

The difference between a good night’s sleep and a bad night’s sleep can make or break your day. Whether you suffer from late night stress, insomnia, restlessness or a combination of the three, bad sleep can really have a detrimental effect on your general attitude to life. If you fall into the category of a “bad sleeper”, then you could find yourself suffering from irritability, an inability to concentrate throughout the day, mood swings or anxiety. Sleeping soundly, then, is incredibly important.

While, the next time that you struggle to fall asleep, you might find yourself reaching for your medicine cabinet, taking a leaf out of mother nature’s book might just serve you better in the long run. Arguably gentler and with more effective results, natural sleep remedies can do just as good a job as their pharmaceutical cousins, and won’t leave you feeling awful the next morning. Sometimes, the key to a good night’s sleep is taking your time and winding down gently. And when things get really hard? Mother nature is always on your side.

Passion Flower

While it’s not something that many people will have in their (natural) medicine cabinet, Passion Flower can actually have hugely positive effects on your sleeping patterns. Taking the extract in tablet form at the same time each day can dramatically reduce feelings of anxiety and in turn, help you to fall asleep more readily at the end of the night. While you might not see immediate effects, keep taking them regularly; natural sleep aids take a few days to take effect but when they do, they can work incredibly well.

Regular Exercise

While not a natural “cure” per se, exercise is actually one of the most effective, non-medicinal ways to combat sleep problems. There is a huge difference between feeling physically and mentally tired and often, the latter kind can leave us feeling wired and unable to switch off at the end of the day. Tiring out your body during the day is a great way of falling into a deeper, more refreshing sleep during the night and getting there could be just as easy as taking brisk walk before eating, or going on an early morning run to set your body in motion for a better night’s sleep later on. Physically tiring your body is also a great way of getting your brain to switch off and stop focusing on all of those internal anxieties. When night-time comes around, you might fall asleep before your head hits the pillow.

Fish Oil

If you’re looking for a way in which to curb your midday caffeine fix, then fish oil could be the very thing. Fatty acids found in the natural supplement have been proven to help to reduce a stress hormone that commonly causes feelings of anxiety. If you feel more stressed than usual, you might find falling asleep an extra challenge, as your hormones will be out of balance. Regularly taking a fish oil can help to restore this balance and in turn, will prevent you from feeling tired throughout the day.

Mindful Meditation

Deep breathing techniques can be one of the best ways in which to shut off from the world around you and re-energize after a stressful day. Focusing on things which you can directly affect is a great way to channel your thoughts and reduce any feelings of stress or anxiety that you might have carried forward from your day’s work. Lying in a quiet room and breathing deeply can quickly help to relax your nervous system and enter into a state of rest. If you’re new to mindful meditations, you can try using a spoken guide which will talk you through the breathing techniques. Take 10 minutes for yourself; you might be surprised at just how effective it really can be.

Magnesium

Perhaps the answer to all of your stress-related problems, Magnesium is a supplement worth taking seriously. Used to help to restore cells and soothe muscles when you sleep, Magnesium is a very common cure for people with high levels of stress searching for a natural way in which to relax. While you can take Magnesium supplements, you can just as easily find the mineral in foods. Eating nuts, dark leafy greens and even seaweed regularly can dramatically increase your Magnesium stores and help you to lead a much more relaxed way of life.

Worrying about getting a sleep need not keep you up during the night; simply take time for yourself, listen to your body and, when things get really tough, take a tip from mother nature.

10 Etsy Shops You Need This Holiday Season

‘Tis the season to do some shopping and that means coming face to face with a thousand of conflicting ways to show your loved ones just what they mean to you. With any number of different retail giants pulling at your purse strings, finding a truly unique gift for the people you care about can be a real challenge. Go to any of the same old spots and you might be left with more of the same, wishing that you had stumbled across something one of a kind.

Luckily, however, there is another way. The world of Etsy is brimming with artisanal gifts, one of a kind pieces and handmade items. You can practically feel the love just by taking a glance at any page of any independent shop. When it comes to the website, however, there are a number of clear stars and perusing their unique offerings might just be the best way to show your loved ones how much they mean to you this holiday season. Are you prepped and ready? We’re about to do some serious shopping damage.

inSidegift

For the leather lover, you can’t do much better than inSidegift. Selling a bespoke range of leather goods, the Etsy store has nailed the world of unique, luxurious accessories. The man in your life will appreciate nothing more than the range of clean minimalist wallet designs, while soft leather passport holders make a great gift for any member of the family. If you like your leather goods buttery-smooth, then this is the shop for you.

Firebird

Winter is the perfect time in which to raid your beauty cabinet, take stock of your perfumes and load up on a whole new collection of new scents. If you’re on the hunt for a range of bespoke perfumed goods, then nothing will serve you better that Firebird. Stocked up with lip balms, soaps, body lotions and pure perfume oils, the store is the perfect place to peruse a scent or two and in the process, you might just end up picking yourself something, too!

ENDEsign

For the person in your life who has it all, you need ENDEsign. Selling a range of whimsical and unique ceramics, the Etsy shop is well stocked on one a kind cups and homeware. Lifestyle lovers should pay serious attention to the sets of porcelain head cups; in the gift scheme of things, they’re real head turners.

Shili Confetti

You can’t have the winter season without a few knitwear accessories and out all of the independent designers, Shili Confetti is one of the best out there. Presenting a series of brightly colored knits, pillows, throws and everything in between, the Etsy shop provides you with plenty of opportunity to stay warm this holiday season. Throw in a funky pattern or two and you might just be sold on the entire collection.

The Coffee Registry

If your holiday season is all about what you’re drinking, then you need to pay attention to The Coffee Registry. Selling a collection of bespoke filter coffee makers, the Etsy store is noted for its attention to detail and effortless design. There’s no better way to spend the holiday season then steeped in hot drinks and with The Coffee Registry you and your loved ones can do it in style.

Rue des Louves

If the French know about anything at all, then it’s chic style. Luckily, you can grab yourself a full Gallic look, all without having to hop across the pond. Rue des Louves is an Etsy shop with a difference; selling a collection of homeware, it specializes in French vintage, giving any room that finishing effortless style that everyone covets.

Mullein and Sparrow

Know someone that’s really into beauty? You need to take a look at Mullein and Sparrow. Manufacturing all of their products in Brooklyn, the Etsy shop specializes in all things hair, skin and body, selling some products that will change the way you approach beauty entirely. Finished in pretty vintage packaging, Mullein and Sparrow products will never disappoint.

Glory Boon

If you want to get a little more ethical with your seasonal shopping, however, you should turn your attention to Glory Boon. Selling a collection of makeup and beauty products, the Etsy store follows a natural, cruelty-free production process, ensuring that none of their cosmetics harmed any animals when being made. Apart from being all round lovely in their approach to manufacturing, Glory Boon also create some pretty covetable products, which are sure to delight any makeup nut in your life.

jungwha

It’s 2015, and if you’re not into minimalist jewelry, then you’ve seriously been missing out on a trick. Producing some of the prettiest and simplest pieces on Etsy, jungwha follow the “less is more” approach in their line of jewelry, pushing out some of the best everyday pieces around. While their pendant necklaces and sweet bracelets are all worth looking at, it’s their collections of rings where their message really shines through. Stamp your gift with your loved one’s initial and be in their good graces for years to come.

Yao Cheng

One of the most talented illustrators out there, Yao Cheng sure can design some bespoke homeware. Selling a number of individual prints, cushion covers and towels through her popular Etsy site, the designer is at the top of her game, renowned for her attention to botanical detail. Home lovers can’t get enough of the delicate watercolor prints, so snaffle yours up before it’s too late!

How To De-Stress During The Holidays

The holidays are a time to get together with family, be thankful for everything you have and celebrate. With so much seasonal goodwill and joy being pumped through every media outlet out there, though, it can feel like being happy is the only acceptable way in which to pass December and while the holiday season is certainly one to celebrate, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and feel a little blue. As you’re hit by party after party and feast after feast, you might feel like you’re struggling to balance your regular responsibilities, job, family life and social calendar alongside it all and if that’s the case, then you’re probably not alone.  

This time of year is one of the most joyous and celebratory but also, it can be one of the most stressful. When you’re thinking about everything and everyone apart from yourself, it can be easy to neglect your basic needs and end up wallowing in a whole lot of holiday stress. Take a breath. De-stressing this holiday season is one of the best ways that you can ensure you give all of your loved ones your all; sometimes you have to be a little bit selfish in order to really give back.

But what are the best ways in which to destress and come out of the holiday season shining? After doing these things, you might just be the most relaxed person in the world.

Let It All Out

While screaming at your nearest and dearest might be the very thing that you’re trying to avoid, venting your frustrations can actually be one of the healthiest ways in which you can destress. If you’re feeling the pressures from all sides, letting someone know about it might make you feel a whole lot better. While you don’t have to erupt in a volcanic-like rage, you can grab a cup of coffee with a close friend and have a non-seasonal “discussion”. Simply putting all of your holiday-related anguish on the table will make you feel much better and able to keep going through the season. Sometimes, you need to be a bit of a Scrooge in order to carry on the festivities.

Smell The Roses

Our favorite scents can often be the most calming and comforting and simply being surrounded by them can dramatically reduce our stress levels. Taking time out to light a candle, or make yourself a mug of seasonal glogg can be like getting a warm, fuzzy hug, without actually having to talk to anyone at all. Spritz a pashmina or squashy scarf with your signature scent and drape it around yourself when you feel your blood pressure rising. One whiff of your favorite perfume will set the world right again.

Take It Slowly

The holiday season is all about multitasking and balancing chores but when you’re trying to juggle 50 things at once and you’ve run out of limbs with which to do it, the whole thing can be a little overwhelming. Focusing on one task at a time is the best way to not only reduce stress levels but also, ensure that the job gets done right, the first time. The holiday season is not about being a worker bee; take your time, linger in the moment and enjoy the time while it lasts.

Focus On Yourself

While you’re busy looking after everyone else’s needs and cooking daily feasts, who’s caring for you? Taking a little “me” time during the festive season is essential should you want to get anything done; sometimes, being selfish benefits everyone. Try doing one thing for yourself everyday, no matter how small it might be. Buy yourself a festive coffee, or linger in the bath a little longer during the evening. Allowing yourself small indulgences will remind you just how delightful the holiday season can really be. If everyone else is indulging, why can’t you too?

Find The Light

As the nights creep in and the days peter out, it can be easy to get really depressed about the holiday season. The sheer lack of natural light is enough to make even the most positive person feel a little less than their best selves and as a result, it is easy to let the little things build up. Your body clock can be negatively affected by the sheer lack of natural light during the winter months, so finding an alternative source is a great way of keeping your head above the water. Luckily, there are many light therapy solutions out there to keep your brain flooded with a sort of natural light, and your mood buoyant.

The holiday season is a time to be thankful for everything that you have and to celebrate with loved ones. Rather than letting the little things take over, try focusing a little more on your own needs and spreading a little festive joy where you need it the most. After all, what are the holidays for?

7 Tips For Stress-free Holiday Shopping

Holiday shopping time is here but the thought of traffic, crowds, and chaos is enough to keep us homebound. There are several ways you can make holiday shopping less stressful and more meaningful this season.

  1. Make a list, no need to check it twice. Make a list of people in your life you would like to express gratitude to this holiday season. Although it can be difficult to narrow down, try to keep the list modest to those people who truly mean something to you. Now for the hard part. Stick to that list and don’t stray away. It will feel uncomfortable when you receive an unexpected gift from an acquaintance. Naturally, you want to reciprocate but a last minute present hunt for the individual is not only exasperating, it’s disingenuous. If you would truly like to exchange the good gesture, offer to take them out to lunch or for coffee at their favorite local cafe. Sometimes, an authentic conversation is the best gift of all.
  1. Love at first site. Online shopping is your saving grace this season. While the concept of online shopping is nothing new, there are millions of sites and online vendors to choose from. Opt for online retailers with optimized holiday shopping sites to make the experience a pain-free process. Sites like UncommonGoods offer an array of gifts for everyone on your shopping list. The website allows you to shop by recipient, price, interest, or collection to find a thoughtful gift that matches the unique personality of your loved one. Another site that offers whimsical gifts at a wide range of price points is Pink Olive. From home goods to accessories, you’ll find something for the chic people in your life. Procrastinators beware: Double-check those delivery dates. If you wait last minute to order, your Christmas treasures will become an after New Year’s present.
  1. Concierge Shopping. If you are completely overwhelmed by holiday shopping, you can try a personal concierge service. These services are designed to fight the crowds on your behalf, saving you time and headaches. To find assistance near you, Google “concierge service” or “personal shopper” and your city. If you have room to splurge, try a personalized event service like TRULY Experiences. TRULY creates bespoke experiences for their clients from extraordinary dinning dates to luxurious spa days.
  1. Pinterest Please. Avoid the madness of the mall altogether and make the perfect gift. With sites like Pinterest, a world of DIY ideas awaits you. Design one-of-a-kind accessories or paint an original piece of art. Nervous about your crafting skills? Sites like Amazon offer complete kits with everything you need for your project along with directions. Newspapers, magazines, brown shipping paper, and even scraps of old wrapping paper can be utilized for an unconventional and creative way to wrap your crafty gifts.
  1. That’s a Wrap. One of the biggest nightmares of the holidays is the challenge of wrapping all those items. When you make your purchase, ask the cashier if they offer gift-wrapping. Stores that offer complimentary gift-wrapping don’t typically advertise it, so it’s worth investigating. Research charity gift-wrapping drives in your area. Local schools and non-profits will usually host these drives around town wrapping all your gifts in exchange for a charitable donation. If all else fails, you can’t go wrong with a festive gift bag and tissue paper.
  1. You Time. The person you neglect the most during the holidays is yourself. Between the shopping, the crowds, and the parties, make time for yourself these holidays. Schedule a massage or incorporate hot yoga into your day. Create a relaxing environment in your home with spiced scented candles and light your rooms with Christmas lights. The ambiance will make you feel warm and calm, just the way you should feel around this time of year.
  1. It’s a Wonderful Life. It’s easy to lose yourself in the hustle and bustle of the season. Don’t lose sight of what the spirit of the holidays is all about. Invite friends and family to cozy up around the television and watch It’s a Wonderful Life. Released in 1946, the film focuses on the life of George Bailey (James Stewart) who was given the opportunity to see how life would look like without him. George discovered what an amazing life he truly had and found a new appreciation for his loved ones just in time for Christmas. The heart-warming movie will lift your spirits and put you in a wonderful mood.