Archive for "Holidays"

Holidays Vivian | 07 Jul 2011

A New Year’s Eve Party at Home

New Years Eve… A night to say good bye to the old and ring in the new.. For many people it is a night of revelry and fancy festivities. At our home it has always been a night of family and friends gathering together for food and fun. When our children were little, and we were much younger, they hated for us to go out on New Years Eve, even when I bribed them with their favorite babysitter, who I had booked months in advance. When our oldest got to be 6, she told me that she all she wanted for Christmas was for us to stay home on New Year’s Eve and have a big New Years Eve party with the kids.

From that little request, our family began a New Year’s Eve tradition that lasted over 10 years. We invited friends over with their children, family with the cousins and began holding our “Ring It and Sing It ” New Year’s Eve party. No fancy outfits, no costly dinners or expensive parties and no babysitter. That tradition turned out to be one of our family’s favorite holiday celebrations. Now that the kids are older and out on their own, I still get melancholy on New Year’s Eve as I remember all the fun we had when the house was noisy, chaotic and filled with kids. We would let them decorate the house with New Year’s decorations, get hats, balloons and noisemakers. They would make Countdown Cards for the number of kids that would be there each year. If there were 15 of them, at 11:45 as the big clock on the Dick Clark New Years special would countdown, they would each come parading into the main room doing silly dances or cheers, holding their Countdown Number as the clock ticked down. Everyone else would applaud each one and blow their noisemakers! The kids were always each hoping that they would get the #1 card and be the last one before we all crowded around the television to watch the Big Ball in Times Square drop down to officially signal the start of the New Year!

Sometimes all the adults still gather here but it is not quite the same without all the kids and their enthusiasm to stay up til midnight and enjoy the hoopla of the New Year’s countdown. Last year our 2 oldest children asked if they could plan a reprise of our old New Year’s Eve parties at the house. Sure enough, they did and it was wonderful and great fun.. perhaps a new tradition is in the making. So if you are contemplating what to do this New Year’s Eve.. maybe a family New Year’s Eve party at home with family and friends could be an option for your own group.

Holidays Vivian | 30 Jun 2011

Americans Slow to Warm Up to Christmas Tree Tradition

When many Americans think of Christmas, images of a beautifully decorated tree piled with Christmas gifts underneath probably comes to mind. Images of a fat and jolly Santa Claus making his way down a chimney to leave presents underneath a huge tree that has been joyfully decorated for the holiday season.

Santa Claus and Christmas trees. How did such a fun Christmas tradition begin? Some say it was good old Saint Nick who decided a decorated tree might be a good place to leave all the Christmas toys and goodies he loaded on his sleigh. Perhaps, but Santa really had nothing to do with the reason that Christmas trees came about.

While it may surprise some, the truth is, Americans were a little slow in catching on to the jovial holiday tradition. Not just decorating the tree, but with celebrating Santa Claus and Christmas gifts in their festivities as well.

Up until the very end of the 1800s, Americans saw Christmas as a very religious holiday. There simply was no room for chubby men in red suits, bright decorations and candles, or even a Christmas tree.

The holiday tradition of tree decorating started in Germany and later became popular in England after the Royal Family started decorating a tree for Christmas.

Eventually Americans did catch on to celebrating December 25th with decorated trees, lights, and holiday cheer. Then in true American fashion, Americans not only took on the tradition of Christmas trees and decorations, they improved on it. Everything had to be bigger, better, and more festive. Americans decided they liked their trees big, so big that they touched the ceiling of their homes.

With the invention of electricity in homes, Americans took Christmas decorating one step further. Trees were braided with strings of multicolored lights. Homes were covered with decorations of every color, blinking lights, and Santa Claus statues with his sleigh of reindeer. House after house, whole neighborhoods lit up for the holidays. Even towns and cities started setting up Santa Claus displays around Town Hall, as well as Christmas trees that reached to the sky.

The holiday tree, Santa, gifts for Christmas, and holiday cheer are all now firmly rooted in American Christmas traditions along with the spiritual and religious celebrations. Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all.

Holidays Vivian | 29 Jun 2011

3 Christmas Traditions Perfect For Young Families

When parents begin having children, they become conscious of the need to create memorable holiday family traditions that their kids will look forward to year after year. Since Christmas lends itself to memory-making, here are 3 great yuletide traditions that are perfectly suited for young families that will stay relevant and enjoyable even when the children are teens.

– Christmas Campout

On the last full weekend before Christmas, how about setting aside an evening for an “Annual Christmas Campout?” This tradition takes a considerable amount of advanced planning, but the resulting fun is well worth the effort.

Starting at 8 pm, everyone gets to open a present: a brand new set of pajamas: even Mom and Dad! After changing into pajamas, the festivities begin. You can play games, sing songs, read stories, bake cookies, make a craft, or whatever you think is age-and interest-appropriate for your children. No TV is allowed! When the evening is done, spread sleeping bags out on the floor under the Christmas tree and sleep together. In the morning, how about some Christmas tree-shaped pancakes? As children get older, the activities can be modified: even teens love the challenge of having a family “stupid talent” show.

– 12 Days of Christmas

Beginning on December 12, start leaving gifts on a neighbor’s step anonymously. Your children will love being a “Secret Santa” to a neighbor widow or to someone who’s been through rough times lately: the kids will learn to think of others, which is what Christmas should be all about. The gifts should be simple: a plate of cookies, a 1/2 dozen red balloons, a little ornament, etc. Always include a “you are cared for” note and reference to the 12 Days of Christmas with the gift.

– Personalized Ornaments

The Christmas tree is always the center of the season: so why not make it a tree of memories? Online businesses sell ornaments in a wide array of designs that can be personalized with a family member’s name, a date, or anything else. Each child can start to collect his or her own set of ornaments commemorating Baby’s 1st Christmas, 1st Communion, 1st Day of School, Graduation, Hobbies, Sports, etc. Children will love unwrapping “their” ornaments each year and putting them on the tree: these ornaments create a sense of family unity and are a record of all of your wonderful Christmases together.

Holidays Vivian | 28 Jun 2011

Reduce Financial Stress at Christmas With 3 Steps

We enjoy giving gifts for Christmas. Many of us have experienced change in our financial situation in 2009,
so Christmas may be even more financially challenging and stressful than before. Below are three top things you can do to reduce stress this Christmas season.

  1. Set specific “gift giving” budget and stick to it.

    Pick the maximum dollar amount you will spend for gifts this Christmas. Set the budget based on the cash you have. Knowing that everything is paid for creates a really good Christmas for yourself, too.If you are willing to spend beyond cash beyond what you currently have, do not charge more than what you will be able to pay off by mid February. Have it all worked out before you buy the gifts. Avoid spending money you do not have, such as bonuses or commissions you expect to be paid next year.

  2. Prioritize your gift giving list.

    There are various groups of people on the Christmas gift giving list: kids, spouse, parents, siblings, friends, boss. Depending on the size of your budget, this year, try shortening your list of people who will receive traditional (store bought) gifts. Reach out and make specific agreements with each group – agreements that will work for everyone involved. Agreements could range from “Let’s set a limit of maximum $ per gift” to “We will not exchange gifts this year and will celebrate Christmas by…” You may be surprised at the warm welcome such a conversation brings.What about the non-negotiable list of people, such as kids?As a parent, you may have received a long “Dear Santa” list of what your kids want for Christmas. If the list stretches beyond this year’s budget, ask your children to select the most important gift on their list or to prioritize the gifts from most important to “nice to have.”

  3. Be creative with your gift ideas.

    Sometimes not involving money in gift exchange may be the best opportunity to give gifts of the greatest value to those we love. How about an exchange of family coupons, where the child gives the gift of cleaning his/her room for one year and the adult gives the child a certain number of uninterrupted hours of game play on the XBox or Nintendo?Another creative way to approach gift giving this Christmas is to have a family agree on replacing personal gifts with a contribution to an organization or charity that the entire family can align behind. Rather than spending money on yourself, you jointly give to others or a cause that matters.

What creative and fun ways can you and others on your list bring in any holiday or celebration with less stress and a great gift to yourself, too?

Holidays Vivian | 26 Jun 2011

Night Before Christmas… Significance of the Poem

揟was the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a creature stirring, not even a mouse.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

In hopes that St.Nicholas soon would be there?..

The more we read it the more we love the lines.

An evening in winter…children…the elders by the fire side…one of them is reading out 揟was the night before Christmas…?or 揂 visit from St. Nicholas?by Clement Clark Moore…This evening is the evening before Christmas. One can hear the giggles of the children outside…the shopkeepers are too busy to meet their demands…the world never appears as beautiful as it is today. Everybody seems innocent in the land of Christ.

It is a very popular tradition of American families to read the poem by Clement Moore on every Christmas Eve. This is the poem from where we get a refined picture of Christmas and Santa Claus. Moore changed the image of Santa Claus. Prior to the publication of the poem St. Nicholas was conceived as a lanky, stern Bishop who championed the cause of dispensing both gifts and discipline. The poem portrays Nicholas as a cheerful, rosy-cheeked elf who gives out gifts to the children. Christmas came to be known as the occasion of exchanging gifts.

Santa turned out to be the loving persona. The research on this issue reveals that Santa laughs 揾o ho ho?unlike what the people actually do. He has got 揳 little round belly/ that shook when he laugh’d, like a bowlful of jelly? Santa was never associated with reindeer in the past. Clement Moore changed the traditional notions in such a way that now it is difficult to distinguish between the original and the revised version. We not only believe in reindeer but also memorize their names- Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitz en.

Thus we get from the poem a new image of Santa, a whole lot of names of reindeer and the mood of the event a day before the actual one starts. The poem is so popular that we have different versions of it. Joyce Luke wrote ?Twas the week before Christmas and all through the school/ not a pupil was silent, no matter what rule. 揓ust like Moore’s poem this one also ends with 揂s she looked at the Christmas tree glistening and tall, / she smiled as she whispered, 揗erry Christmas to All.?Moore’s poem has been widely used for parodies. The parodied version for the gamblers goes like this-

揟was the night before Christmas, I hit the casino,

I went there to play, more than just Keno.?/p>

It can have another version for love craft-

揟was the night before Yuletide and all through the hole

Not a creature was stirring, not even a Dhole.?/p>

People nowadays decorate their tables according to the details given on Christmas and Santa in the poem. The table should give the impression of a snowy landscape. White sheet is spread out on the table and thus we have snow at the center of it where Santa and reindeer will be placed. Christmas candies are sprinkled on the table to make it more realistic. It seems Moore’s lines have shaped both the ideas and activities concerning Christmas.

The night before Christmas is the day of setting up the Christmas tree, participating in the candlelight service early in the evening, attending Midnight Mass and enjoying the turkey or ham. Children will wait for their gifts even if the Puritans frown on the materialistic aspect of the event. While reading out the poem everybody thanks Moore for giving the hope of receiving gifts and meeting the jolly secular Santa.

Decorations done…the dinner was also wonderful…it’s time to say 揼ood night?..but on 24th December we love to end our day with the last line of the poem 揟was the night before Christmas?

揌appy Christmas to all, and to all a good- night!?/p>

Holidays Vivian | 24 Jun 2011

Fourth of July Songs

The 4th of July is a day to celebrate the pride and honor of America. A day to remember our glorious past, celebrate the grandeur of the present and look forward to a brighter future. While fireworks, food, decorations mark the grandeur of the day, another very important aspect of this day are the patriotic songs. Independence Day has sparked off some very powerful lines and fervent patriotic songs through decades in the history of America. Here are three songs for Fourth of July that are replete in the spirit of freedom and in spirit of America as a proud nation.

God Bless America ?/p>

God Bless America.

Land that I love

Stand beside her, and guide her

Through the night with a light from above.

From the mountains, to the prairies,

To the oceans, white with foam

God bless America

My home sweet home.

God Bless America,

Land that I love

Stand beside her,

And guide her,

Through the night

With the light from above,

From the mountains,

To the prairies,

To the ocean,

White with foam,

God bless America,

My home sweet home.

God bless America,

My home sweet home.

(Irving Berlin)

Celebration Song

Wave the flag,

Wave the flag,

Wave the flag, oh, wave it high.

Wave the flag and celebrate

Our nation’s Independence Day.

Beat the drum,

Beat the drum,

Beat the drum, bong, bong, bong, bong.

Beat the drum and celebrate

Our nation’s Independence Day.

March in time,

March in time,

March in time, oh, watch your step.

March in time and celebrate

Our nation’s Independence Day.

Sing a song,

Sing a song,

Sing a song both loud and strong.

Sing a song and celebrate

Our nation’s Independence Day.

Watch the fireworks,

Watch the fireworks,

Watch the fireworks light the sky.

Watch the fireworks and celebrate

Our nation’s Independence Day.

The Star-Spangled Banner

O say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light,

What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?

Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,

O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming!

And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,

Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there:

O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,

Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,

What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,

As it fitfully blows, now conceals, now discloses?

Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,

In full glory reflected now shines on the stream:

‘Tis the star-spangled banner! O long may it wave

O’er the land of the free and home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore

That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion

A home and a country should leave us no more?

Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution,

No refuge could save the hireling and slave

From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:

And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand

Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation!

Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven-rescued land

Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.

Then conquer we must, for our cause it is just,

And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”

And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

(Francis Scott Key)

Holidays Vivian | 18 Jun 2011

Creating Tradition – Start Your Own Christmas Traditions For Unique, Everlasting Memories

Some Christmas traditions will never fade: hanging the stockings on the mantle, caroling, gift exchanging and romantic mistletoe-harbored kisses, to list a few. Nothing is wrong with sustaining these time-honored customs, but why not create your own special memories by starting an original holiday tradition your family will cherish year after year?

Thinking outside the box can bring everyone closer and give your family a more distinct identity.

Any Christmas tradition can be made original with a little creativity and a lot of personality. Trimming the tree and gift giving are two of the most common Christmas traditions with opportunities for enhancement. With just a few personal tweaks, these two customs will be more exciting and cure the humdrum Christmas humbug.?/p>

Trimming the Tree

Decorating the Christmas tree can be a fun family activity, especially when there is something new to look forward to each year. Infusing “newness” into your holiday decorating breaks the cycle of hanging the same ornaments year after year, with no real significance other than to dress your home.?/p>

Get crafty and have each member of the family hand make a new ornament each year. You may change themes annually, switch supplies or just have a free-for-all to test your family members’ creative capabilities. If your family is up for a challenge, make it a fun competition and vote for the winning ornament or choose unconventional materials that stretch inventive thinking. As little ones grow older, retrospect on past ornaments is humorous and triggers happy memories. ?/p>

Gift Giving ?/p>

Exchanging presents has become a focal point of Christmas gatherings. It began with small, often homemade gifts, then consumerism exploded, making must-have items like Tickle Me Elmo a standard, and now, gift cards run the gift-giving market. Everyone loves a gift card, and those Tickle-Me-Elmo items are at the top of every Christmas wish list. You don’t have to stop the wish list to put a twist on your gift giving. Incorporating a small extra tradition in the gift exchange adds a fun flare and breaks the predictability of wish-list items and bland gift cards.牋

For years, the “Secret Santa” concept of drawing names for gift designations has been a solution that saves budgets and adds mystery behind the wrapping paper and bows. But even this idea has become generic. However, adding an extra statute into the terms of your Secret Santa production puts a personal spin on the covert operation. Stick to a theme to find the wildest of everyday items; Instead of an open gift exchange, make it a sock exchange and be amused by the funky socks your party can conjure. Put challenging criteria on the gift, such as requiring it to be made from an obscure material, like rubber or metal, or come from an arbitrary store, like the hardware store or dime shop. New rules such as these will make your Christmas gift exchange less like taking inventory and bring you back to the sentiment of the holiday. ?/p>

Family is at the core of Christmas’ meaning, and making unique tweaks to age-old traditions imprints memories that will never be forgotten. Traditions all have to start somewhere, so why not with you? Trimming the Christmas tree and exchanging gifts are just two of the many traditions that lend opportunities for your personal touch. The key is to let your imagination reign. If you are in a Christmas rut, stop being a humbug and put your original flavor on Christmas.

Holidays Vivian | 17 Jun 2011

History of Saint Patrick’s Day Holiday: Who Was He and Why Wear Green at a Theme Party?

As legend has it, Saint Patrick of the holiday Saint Patrick抯 Day was of Wales, born in AD 385. He took on work as an Ireland bishop ironically after spending the first sixteen years of his life as a pagan. It took being captured and sold as a slave by Irish marauders to cause him to create a relationship with God.

He lived as a slave for six years before he escaped to Gaul. Here, he dedicated twelve years of his life to the monastery of Saint Germain, the Auxerre bishop, that he had escaped to and he firmly believed at the close of his studies that he was meant to convert pagan believers in the direction of God. The young lad of The Saint Patrick抯 Day tale soon would travel back to Ireland to convert others to Christianity.

Saint Patrick carried on in this manner, establishing monasteries, schools and churches in Ireland for thirty years before retiring to a place named County Down, where he died in 461 AD. There is a vast amount of folklore that has never been substantiated. Some believed he raised people of the dead while other stories claim he eradicated all of the snakes of Ireland with one sermon. Even with such a religious background, Saint Patrick抯 Day has come to be a secular holiday.

The ever-famous icon held in the three-leafed-shamrock comes from an Irish legend where Saint Patrick used this object to describe Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as separate but connected entities. Believers gained a custom of wearing a shamrock on Saint Patrick抯 day of feast.

America formally adopted this legend in 1737 when its people publicly celebrated the holiday in Boston. Today this ceremony includes the color of green to represent the shamrock, parades of celebration and the merry times of socializing with beer.

Holidays Vivian | 16 Jun 2011

Tips For an Angry-Free Holiday Season – How to Avoid Consumer Traps and Problems

It’s that time of year again. Consumers everywhere are feeling the pressure to find the perfect gifts for family, friends and coworkers. Of course, each of us inevitably has that dreadful holiday experience where a gift doesn’t arrive on time, you bought the wrong item and have to return it, you were charged too much, or the product doesn’t work. Here are a few tips to follow in order to ensure this holiday season is filled with fun instead of a shopping nightmare.

Always Ask for a Gift Receipt:

Even if you are buying something for yourself, ask for a gift receipt. This protects you in two ways – you now have two receipts for a purchase and retailers may give you more time to return an item when using the gift receipt.

Do Your Product Research:

When buying a high-ticket item such as a flat-screen tv, don’t be fooled by the ads touting big savings. Be prepared by researching the products you want on sites such as When you walk into a store, you should have the model number ready. Otherwise, the sales staff may pressure you into buying an item that is overstocked.

Always Get the Online Price First:

Don’t go into a store without looking online to get a better idea of prices if you know what you’re looking for. Companies such as PC Richard & Sons and Sixth Avenue Electronics often offer better prices on their web sites than they do in the stores. They will match the online price but you need to know that information beforehand.

Find Ratings of Online Companies:

There always seems to be a better price available by companies on the Web. Before ordering a product online, make sure you check consumer ratings of the company. These are available on price comparison sites such as or If there are a number of negative reviews about a company that has the best price, you’re just asking for a bad experience if you continue with the order. It’s better to pay a couple of dollars more for a company that has favorable reviews than to save money and deal with the frustration of poor customer service.

Find the Coupon Code:

Don’t make a purchase online without searching for a coupon code first. Most companies offer them and can be found on sites like and

Don’t Make Returns on Dec. 26:

Everyone is running back to the store on December 26th to make their returns, so you’ll end up waiting in line for a long time. You’ll also be dealing with customer service reps who are fed up with angry customers and are less likely to help you. It’s better to wait about a week. Even better, go on New Year’s Day when fewer people are going out.

Pay with a Credit Card:

Cash used to be king but it doesn’t offer the protection that you get when making purchases with credit cards. Most card companies allow you to dispute charges and work to resolve issues with retailers. It’s another level of protection for you as a consumer.

These are just a couple of helpful hints so that you can enjoy the holiday season. Of course, if you can’t resolve an issue with a retailer, the experts at are here to help.

Holidays Vivian | 15 Jun 2011

The Girly Girl’s Guide to Father’s Day

If you have trouble coming up with the perfect Father抯 Day gift, you抮e not alone. Choosing a thoughtful gift for Dad can be fairly easy, but choosing a thoughtful gift that he抣l like is another story.

Mushy yet manly

When we抮e buying gifts for Mom, sentimentality is often the guiding force. A delicate ceramic figurine that symbolizes your bond of friendship and trust will mean a lot to her. Try giving Dad the same gift you gave Mom and you抣l get a confused look and a collectible item that sits in its box on a shelf in the garage. That抯 not to say that Dads don抰 appreciate sentimental gestures, you just have to know how to do it right.

Usually, men and emotions don抰 mix. They抳e got their own ways of telling the people around them that they care. A slap on the back, a cold beer, an awkward joke ?those are Dad抯 ways of saying, 揧ou抮e important to me.?So how do you get your communication styles to mesh?

A personal gift is worth a thousand embroidered words

To some women, a fish gutting knife is not a gift that says, 揟hanks for being a supportive and caring father.?But to guys who love the great outdoors, this Father抯 Day gift is a statement that you really understand your dad.

To show Dad how much you care, you have to show that you get who he is. If he抯 into sports, tickets to a game, a jersey from his favorite team or a cushion for stadium bleachers are all wonderful gifts. If he抯 into techie gadgets, anything iPod, a laptop accessory or a digital camera memory card will leave him smiling.

The point is to think about the things Dad loves doing best and find gifts that relate. Does he barbecue dinner every night in the summer? Does a fine cigar make his weekend? Does he read The Economist cover to cover every week? Giving Dad a gift that reflects his hobbies and interests shows him that you love the guy he is and think he抯 altogether fabulous.

Say it right

The art of the Father抯 Day card is a subtle and difficult one to master. The same rules apply as above. If you and your dad don抰 exchange 揑 Love Yous?on a regular basis, an overly sentimental card may leave him uncomfortable and unsure how to respond.

We suggest finding a blank card with a nice design and writing in a few heartfelt words. Thank him for something specific like helping you learn to drive or supplying funds for extracurricular activities in college (shopping should be a sport). You don抰 have to go overboard on the mushy thoughts. A few phrases of appreciation for his support and hard work show him that you know how much effort he抯 put in to providing for his family.

No two dads are the same. If your dad has a sentimental streak and has kept every one of his #1 Father trophies, you抮e on the right track with your gift giving strategy. If he抯 not particularly open about his feelings, focus on the things you do know about him. Showing Dad that you love him for who he is can be the best gift he gets.