The Spirit of Holiday Entertaining

With the holiday season upon us, many are planning special celebrations with family and friends.  Opening your home to share with others is one of the great joys of the season.  However, with so much to do this time of year, sometimes big celebrations can create stress. 

When planning your holiday party, it’s important to minimize the stress so that you can truly enjoy your guest.  You don’t want to run yourself ragged and feel frantic rather than fantastic!  When hosting a holiday celebrations, your spirit will set the mood for a successful celebration.

With these thoughts in mind, today I am sharing ideas that I like to keep in mind when I open my home to share with my family and friends. My hope is that these thoughts will allow you to approach your holiday entertaining with joy and avoid some of the stress that can be overwhelming this time of year. 

  1.  Let Go of Perfection  –   Setting yourself up for perfection will do nothing but create anxiety and stress.  Instead of worrying about creating the “perfect party”, concentrate on the comfort of your guest.  When you put the focus on doing for others, you think less about yourself.  Nothing is more welcoming than a hostess who really cares about the comfort of her guest. 
  2. Set Your Priorities  – Remember often less is more.  Plan for what you know you can handle with grace and ease.  Stick with what you know and are comfortable with.  No need to have a multi-course meal.  Plan a few amazing appetizers instead.  Serving buffet style is simpler than a sit down affair.  Keep it casual and fun!
  3.  Make a list and check it twice!  –  Planning is a key ingredient to successful entertaining.  Begin planning your party preparations as soon as possible.  Try making a manageable daily schedule assigning yourself a small task for each day.  Begin with decorations and nonperishable items that are easy to stock and purchase in advance.  Order items on-line whenever possible to save time.  Shop for grocery items a few days in advance and plan to prepare a few items the night before.  Even better, prepare a few dished you can freeze in advance.   
  4. Delegate Whenever Possible  –  Don’t feel like you have to do every little thing on your own.  Enlist a good friend or your spouse to help.  Consider ordering desserts from a bakery or appetizers from your grocer.  Do not feel like you have to prepare all food items from scratch!
  5. Plan a Beverage Station  –  Consider serving a premixed beverage for your guest like a Sangria or Champagne Punch.  Have these drinks in containers in the frig and ready to go.  Set out glasses and and ice bucket in a convenient location and have guest serve themselves.
  6. Be Ready!  –  Prepare the table and all the decorations the night before.  You can even do fresh flower arrangements a day or two in advance.  Nothing says “Welcome to my home” like having simple fresh flowers and candles burning filling your home with delightful aromas.
  7. Make a time schedule  –  The day of the party, make a time schedule for whatever tasks need to be completed.  Make sure in your schedule you allow yourself some time to relax and refresh!
  8. Relax and Enjoy!  –  Greet your guest with a smile and a hug!  Remember to put the focus on their comfort and enjoy!

True hospitality consists of giving the best of

yourself to your guest.  

–    Eleanor Roosevelt

Wishing you all great joy this holiday season!   –  xxoo Gerri

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Celebrate Life!

In our family we do celebrations.  We celebrate all occasions, the big and the small.

We celebrate weddings and graduations.  We welcome a new life with great joy and yes, celebration.  We all come together, crowding into the hospital room,  to share the new parents joy and to welcome the precious new life our family has been blessed with. 

We celebrate birthdays, no matter how young or how old. 

We gather in our home.  Sometimes it’s just family. Sometimes we include close friends.  We share a meal together, setting the table with great care, including flowers, candles, whatever it takes to make the event feel special.  The menu is planned with great care to include the personal favorites of whoever is attending. Of course, there is a special desert and presents. 

The goal of the celebration is for those involved to know how much they are loved and treasured as a part of our family. Life wouldn’t be the same if we couldn’t come together and honor them on their special day. 

Not only do we celebrate birthdays.  We celebrate preschool programs, dance recitals, sporting events.

We plan ways to make our time together fun, special, memorable. On hot days we have watermelon,  blow bubbles, fill up a kids pool to splash in.  

On cold days we light a fire, make hot chocolate, bring out the pillows and blankets so we can all snuggle together.

Our celebrations do not have to be elaborate and expensive.  They can be small, simple, filled with things that are easily attainable.  We use our ingenuity as a resource to create an atmosphere of festivity, saving our pennies when needed. 

Sometimes we celebrate for no reason at all, just to enjoy our time together.

The importance of our celebrations is to spend time together in a way that is filled with love and laughter, sharing and caring. 

It’s important that we spend as much time celebrating life as possible. Celebrations enrich our lives, give us purpose, and strengthen relationships.  Celebrations take an ordinary day and fill it with joy and love.

 

 

My Hygge Obsession

Lately, I have been obsessed with the Danish practice of hygge, pronounced hue-gah.  I’m not quite sure for the reason for my obsession.  Perhaps because it seems to be the embodiment of all that I am longing for in my life.  It gives validity to  the peace and serenity that I so long for and have been trying to create in my own little world.  It has a name and that name is hygge.

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I have long been a fan of coziness.  Sitting by the fire, lighting candles, and buying fresh flowers to have in my home are not new concepts to me.  Craving a simpler, less hectic life and taking pleasure in simple, everyday things is what I strive for.  Spending quality time with friends and family, but also treasuring alone time, cuddling up with a good book or on occasion, cooking a fabulous meal for my husband, are things that I am passionate about.

Perhaps it’s because I feel such a strong connection to this latest wellness trend that I feel so obsessed.  It’s like “Hey, new friend.  You really get me!  You understand what I am all about!”  You know that feeling when you meet a new person and you just immediately connect. Yeah, that’s how I feel about hygge.  And I have to say it’s a really good feeling!

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Today, we are experiencing 100% chance of rain.  It is pouring right now.  Temperatures will drop into the 40’s again tonight.  I know that’s not especially cold compared to the weather in Denmark, but it’s cold enough for me!

Tonight, for Valentine’s we will probably have a fire and light some candles. ( I picked up fresh flowers yesterday.)  We will definitely be staying in.  We have no desire to fight the crowds at restaurants on Valentine’s Day!  We will have a wonderful home cooked meal and maybe a glass of wine.  I’m sure it will be a very hygge evening!

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I think our world needs a little more hygge right now.  Valentine’s Day is a day of love, a day to show kindness, to reach out to others and show them you care.  Today, consider calling a friend who might be alone, maybe an older relative who has lost their spouse, or anyone you can think of who might need a little lift.  Share your love and fill our world with a little hygge.  Who knows, if everyone makes an effort, maybe we can raise the hygge quotient around the world.

Peace and Love to all on this Valentine’s Day!

xx00  Sending Extra Hugs Today  – Gerri

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Photographs of these precious children are property of To Create Sunshine.  Thank you for not using them for other purposes.

A hygge state of mind

It’s a dreary winter day complete with a dense fog that has set in and plans to stay awhile.  So how about seizing the moment with a roaring fire and lighting some delightfully scented candles to enjoy the day.

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Apparently this is a concept that the Danish have mastered. They refer to it as hygge, pronounced hue-gah, which translates to cozy,  although it really means so much more.

Even though there have been several books written on the subject,  I only learned about the Danish word hygge recently.  Apparently, Oxford Dictionaries selected “hygge” as one of their Words of the Year for 2016.  I suppose that is why “hygge” is getting so much attention lately.

You see the Danish have incredibly long, cold winters with very few hours of sunlight. However, they embrace their winters by taking pleasure in ordinary everyday things, like a crackling fire, scented candles and cozy blankets with warm socks.  If I had to endure long, cold winters I’m sure I would be craving these things as well!

 

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From what I’ve come to understand, hygge is really a state of mind;  an attitude full of contentment with life. It’s about savoring the moment, relishing simple everyday life experiences, and enjoying time spent with friends and family.  It’s all about embracing the moment and living in the present.

I don’t think you have to be Danish to have hygge in your life.  Life can be hectic and stressful.  It’s important to find ways to step away from the stress and enjoy simple pleasures in your life.  Sometimes we need to slow down and enjoy the moment.  This may mean a quiet evening by the fire or it could be spending time reading a good book, listening to music, or pursuing any activity that brings you joy.  It might mean sharing a meal with close family, or using some alone time to soak in a hot bath, or go for a long walk.

Whatever it is that brings peace into your life, I hope you will take some time to embrace the simple pleasures of everyday moments.

Wishing you a very “hyggelig” (enjoyable) day!   xxoo Gerri

 

 

Gratitude for My Home

If nature is my happy place, then home is my sanctuary!

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On Sunday, temperatures dropped to a chilly 37 degrees.  Since we hadn’t turned the heat on in the house, it was a bit cool inside when we first awoke.  Although it turned out to a be a simply gorgeous day with the sun shining bright, we did light the fire to help take the chill  out of the house.  Our first fire of the season.

There is something about having a fire going that makes you just want to relax and stay close.  We kept the fire going all day, not because it was terribly cold outside, but because it was so nice to have the cozy ambiance of the fire going again. We didn’t leave the house at all, except to walk the dogs of course.  That’s an event that can’t be missed or our schnauzer will definitely let us know about it!

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To me, these are the best kind of days.  The weather was cool, but gorgeous. We puttered around the house, I cooked! and my son stopped by for dinner.  It was a great day to shut out the rest of the world and simply enjoy being at home together.

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These kind of days remind me of why my home is so special to me.  I need that break from the real world to relax and spend time with the people who are most important to me. My home is not a place of grandeur with everything in it’s place, although I do try to keep it tidy.  It ‘s a cozy place to gather with family and friends, to share a meal and conversation, and on a chilly day we can gather around the fire.

This week we will be hosting Thanksgiving in our home.  We will be breaking bread with a collection of family and friends, some that we have known forever,  some that we have yet to meet.  It will not be a quiet day, but a day filled with joy and laughter, sharing and relishing the time we have to spend together.

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In a world filled with stress and negativity, I’m grateful to have the sanctuary of my home to retreat to.  It gives me a place to slow down and savor a quiet day with just my husband. On other days we open our home to share with others and I’m grateful for the opportunity to do this.

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It’s easy to allow the stress and negativity to take over your life.  However if you stop and pause and allow yourself to embrace gratitude for your blessings, it does help to relieve the stress and anxiety that we all face in our everyday lives.

I’m wishing you all a blessed Thanksgiving and hope that you will face the day with gratitude in you hearts!  xxoo Gerri