25 Easy Ways to Have The Best Christmas Ever

I found this entire article written by AUSTIN SAILSBURY for Relevant Magazine and had to share it! Hope you all have a very merry Christmas this year. :) 

Rejoice, it’s finally Christmastime! And that means parties and Santa and a possibly fatal dose of “family time.” Around the world there are shoppers out shopping and caramel corn that needs popping and stockings being hung by chimneys with care.

And while its true that nostalgic traditions are a huge part of what makes Christmas that most magical time of the year, why not make this the year you start some new traditions of your own? Here are 25 ideas to help you get started on making this season the brightest (and most creative) one yet.

  1. First things first, buy Vince Guaraldi’s jazz classic album A Charlie Brown Christmas and put it on repeat. Never before has a cartoon soundtrack been so classy and so perfect for so many different occasions.
  2. Brew up some joy by making a festive “aroma pot” (orange, cinnamon, apple cider, cloves) early one Saturday morning and let it simmer on the stove all day long. Then sit back and let the Ghost of Christmas Delicious fill your entire home with seasonal smells.
  3. Surprise a neighbor, colleague or stranger with a freshly baked treat. But no fruitcakes, please.
  4. Go ahead and actually read Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol this year. Go beyond the Muppets (God bless them) and get to know this oft retold (but too often watered down) story of salvation. And if you’re really brave, try Dickens’ other seasonal classic, The Cricket on the Hearth.
  5. Incorporate more candlelight into your home and soak up the chilled-out winter ambiance. Candles somehow make everything prettier.
  6. Find a way to smell some good old-fashioned woodsmoke—a campout, bonfire, fireplace or even a metal trashcan full of Home Depot scraps. Just make it happen, whatever it takes.
  7. Put on some cozy house slippers and commit to a new winter-friendly (in other words, indoor) hobby: knitting, wood carving, finger painting … you’ll figure it out.
  8. Spend a day volunteering at a homeless shelter and rediscover what it really means to be thankful and generous.
  9. Tie a little 99 cent Christmas bell to your keychain or front door handle and let the jingling begin (as a bonus, you’ll be winning big time with all the angels hoping for promotion this year).
  10. Try making homemade hot cocoa mix (and homemade ‘mallows): then add hot milk, sip, share and repeat.
  11. Create a flash mob of generosity. Make some Salvation Army bell ringer’s day by coordinating a group to fill that little red bucket with rapid-fire ascending donations: “here’s a quarter, Merry Christmas!” “Here’s a dollar, Merry Christmas!” “Here’s a check for two hundred dollars, donated from our college Ultimate team, Happy New Year!” Then dare that kindly bell ringer not to be filled with goodwill toward men.
  12. Take a long walk out in the cold just to get that good rosy cheeked feeling. Then see number 10.
  13. Plan a “Christmas Remix-Mas” themed talent show / game night with friends or family: featuring charades and the restaging of beloved Christmas movie scenes (“Griswold!”)
  14. Savor Peppermint-flavored everything. Especially those beautifully fleeting light-green packaged M&Ms.
  15. Learn to play and then fall in love with the riotous Danish Christmas game “Pakkeleg” (think ‘white elephant’ at 100 mph).
  16. Go Christmas caroling. In the right setting, and with the right ensemble (and just a dash of Christmas courage) your chorus of festive voices can change someone’s world.
  17. Make sure to get outside and play in the first snow of the season: no matter what time of day or night. Don’t forget to catch a snowflake or two on your tongue and ”taste the happy.”
  18. Find someplace you can take a carriage ride, then just do it. It’s not cheesy—it’s Christmas.
  19. Try your hand at “Guerilla Decorating.” Identify something bland, ugly or Scrooge-ish in your office, city or neighborhood and give it theBuddy the Elf treatment: a little TLC, a smattering of glitter and a strand of twinkling white lights can save any old humbug!
  20. Watch a few non-traditional “Christmas movies” that focus on the beauty of redemption. Obviously start with The Royal Tenenbaums.
  21. Attend a Christmas concert at a local school, church or community center. But only if they promise to play the handbells (call ahead and ask about this. Trust me, there is nothing worse than sitting through two hours of amateur choral music and then getting no handbells. The only prescription is more handbells!).
  22. Read The Night Before Christmas aloud to a child (but be prepared for him or her to ask you “the big question” about Father Christmas.)
  23. Four words: freshly roasted candied almonds.
  24. Resurrect Santa for Mom and Dad. Surprise your parents by doing for them what they did for you all those incredible years: make Christmas morning magical. Get up early, spread out gifts, light the fire, brew some coffee and hang those stockings by the chimney with care! This is a guaranteed memory-maker.
  25. Lastly (and this is bordering on heretical), try buying no presents this year. I guarantee you that the people you love the most will treasure quality time, homemade gifts and the memories made much more than anything you can get from Amazon Prime. Plus, this way, you can avoid that whole “The Drone Who Stole Christmas” scenario, and replace seasonal materialism with something a little closer to the True Meaning of Christmas.

A special thanks to Ashlyn Sailsbury for help with this list.

Love and Thanksgiving

Though Thanksgiving is a day of being thankful for what we have, we need to do more than just that. Yes, I am incredibly thankful to have such a beautiful family, amazing friends and a God who is always merciful and loving. But during this Thanksgiving and holiday season instead of just sitting around the table chowing down on a feast of food, pray and love on those who are struggling to get by.

 The single moms and dads, orphans, the hurting, the sick, the jobless, the broken who feel unworthy for love or comfort.

Why? Because we are called to love everyone as ourselves, according to John 13:34. So, instead of just eating or opening gifts, reciprocate the love God has for us by pouring into the lives of those who are struggling. We can do more for the Kingdom of God by uplifting a brother or sister in Christ during this time, which can be extra difficult for those suffering. I can guarantee you that you will be filled with the Holy Spirit – not just your turkey this Thanksgiving.

This song by B. Reith really put this Thanksgiving and the holiday season in perspective for me. I hope it can for you too!

Be Blessed :)

Lyrics:

To the broken people tryin to make ends meet but can barely stand on their feet,
Say “I’ll get by”! (2x)
To the kids who aint got no shoes on their feet, trying to figure out what to eat,
Say “I’ll get by”! (2x)

Verse 1:
This aint for Becky, this aint for soccer moms,
this is for kids of Somalia who aint got no moms
this is for teens listening to lil wayne
cuz CCM aint got the courage to make music for them
This is for the outcast, the underprivileged,
who cant seem to catch a break and stay diligent,
make the most out of the bad that life’s given them,
choose to survive despite what dad did to them
stay vigilant, tho they know that this unjust world doesn’t pay fair dividends,
child workers getting paid under bare minimum,
while the chairman/CEO makes a million
And this is for the jobless-homeless,
who keep hoping cuz they know this world isn’t home,it’s
just a place we all passin’ through, if you’re in jail, yeah this song’s for you

To the single moms holding down a family of five
While puttin’ in 95
Say “I’ll get by”! (2x)
To the kids tryin’ to raise themselves on their own
Cause mom and dad are never home
Say “I’ll get by”! (2x)

Verse 2:
This is for those who can’t sell their homes
Flipped upside down
worth half of its loan
401k is gone
Economy’s in a tank
So we look to credit cards and banks
And feed off of the lie
They says if we could just buy
Our way out of this mess
Then somehow maybe we could get by
Advertisers keep it larger than our appetite
Starving after what can’t satisfy
But let me make a suggestion
Better yet a profession
We put to much stock in our earthly possessions
Our problem is way bigger than a recession
As a whole, we have lost our souls to our obsessions
But it’s not too late to get back
To the reason we’re alive
I promise you, I found IT
It’s the reason I survive
That’s why I stand tall, I can breath, touch the sky
I believe that I will get by

To the soldiers on the front lines risking their lives
trying to think about how survive,
Say “I’ll get by”! (2x)
To the sons tryin’ to hold it down to weather the storm
cause daddy is away at war,
Say “I’ll get by”! (2x)

Bridge:
How long, do we keep on falling trying to get by on our own?
How long till we lift our eyes to the one who can lead us home?

Verse 3:
To the billions of people who are mad at God,
cause most churches haven’t done their job and hurt you badly,
yes it’s a tragedy, you’re looking at a casualty,
I’ve judged instead of love, you have every right to be mad at me
But please forgive us as we try to fix this,
but this time not because of selfish ambition,
this time because of Jesus who lives within us,
see, we are not religious we’re just redeemed sinners
and He offers peace in the midst of affliction
and he is deliverance from the deepest addiction,
tho He may be hidden from your plain sight vision,
just look beneath the surface and you cannot miss him
As far as all our problems go I know I cant fix ‘em just by
singing a song, so much has gone wrong,
tho change don’t come easy, together we can be strong,
I was hoping we can all start by singing a along

To the broken people tryin’ to make ends meet
but can barely stand on their feet, Say “I’ll get by”! (2x)
To the kids who ain’t got no shoes on their feet,
trying to figure out what to eat, Say “I’ll get by”! (2x)

Thanksgiving Clothing advice for family photos from DownEast

Fall is one of o DownEast’s favorite seasons for fashion. Their fall line offers the perfect selection of stylish, modest clothing you can wear for any occasion. With Thanksgiving right around the corner, choosing the perfect items to wear for a family photo can be a daunting task, so here are a few tips from the fashion experts:

Coordinating Colors

When you get the family together for a photo, make sure your colors coordinate nicely. However, this doesn’t mean everyone has to be wearing the same solid color. Pick a few classic fall colors as your family’s “theme,” and then let each person run with it! Different hues and prints will look more natural and spontaneous while still creating a cohesive color theme.

Boom Boom Jean in Mustard

If you choose a popular fall color trio like yellow, tan and red, wear our Boom Boom Jean in mustard. It will add the perfect pop of color to your outfit while tying in with other yellows in the group. Pair the jeans with a neutral colored top like our Le Petit Ruffle Cardigan in whisper white.

 Solids and Prints

Another way to add some great contrast to your family photo is to have a mix of prints and solid colors. Look for classic prints like polka dots and stripes so that your family’s attire will look up-to-date even after several years. Try our McIntosh Top with a subtle but very fall-like apple print, or our Dot Print Peplum Top in navy. Either would be perfect for fall when paired with a solid-color cardigan. The more textures you have in your family photo, the better!

 

Dot Print Peplum Top in Navy

 

Flaunt Your Style

Even though family photos are all about coordinating, you can still let your personal taste show. Get creative within your color scheme by adding a statement necklace, like The Poppy Statement Necklace, or by adding other attention-getting accessories like skinny belts and scarves.

 

The Poppy Statement Necklace

Let your next family photo be one to cherish – not just for the group gathering of your loved ones, but also for your fabulous style! The possibilities are endless for stylish, modest clothing at DownEast! Say “cheese!”

Beauty Review #7: LETTERSEARRING Cross Bracelet

Cross Bracelet

LETTERSEARRING Cross Bracelet

Who said that crosses can only be worn around the neck? This gold cross bracelet from LETTERSEARRING is a cute way to switch up this traditional look. Whether you buy one as your salvation bracelet or purchase one for a friend’s birthday gift, this bracelet is a timeless piece that is only priced at $11.80. You can buy it in gold or pink and LETTERSEARRING ships worldwide. Take a look at LETTERSEARRING etsy store to find more cute jewelry at affordable prices!

Shabby Apple — Modest Vintage Inspired Clothing

Shabby Apple

“At Shabby Apple we believe in both femininity and feminism. As feminine women, we create clothing that is artful in design and crafted with a vintage-style flare. Each piece is carefully constructed to both flatter a woman’s figure and maintain her mystery. As feminists, we created a company that is women-owned and operated and that donates to help other women start their own businesses. With our old-fashioned style and modern ideals, we believe the best is yet to come!”

Shabby Apple epitomizes vintage style and unique taste. From retro style dresses to bridesmaids dresses, you can literally find different kinds of dresses and apparel at Shabby Apple that will have people turning their heads. Shabby Apple believes modesty leaves a woman mysterious and that’s the way they like it. Check out Shabby Apple’s Fall 2013 Collection to look sophisticated this autumn!

Lime Ricki — Modest Swimwear

Top-MarkdownsLime Ricki swimwear has a wide selection of women’s modest tankini tops and onepiece swimwear, as well as trunks and mid-thigh swimsuits for men. Whether you choose a classic one-piece or mix it up with a women’s tankini swimsuit, you’ll be sporting the latest styles in high-quality fabrics that flatter your figure. So don’t sacrifice fashion for the sake of a modest swimsuit.

It may be October but shopping for modest swimsuits has never been so easy, thanks to Lime Ricki. Right now they have many sales going on, so you can buy the swimsuit you’ve been looking for all year long!