Tag Archives: Christmas

Presents that should be at the top of your Christmas list

Yeah, yeah, yeah for Christmas we should all be asking for peace on Earth, but let’s pretend for one second that it’s not taboo to admit that you want material things under the tree come December 25th. As a college student, everyone is always asking me the dreaded question, “What do you want for Christmas?” The truth is, it’s hard to think of wish list items sometimes so if you’re grandmother is pressing you for answers, here are some ideas for your Christmas list.

Get your Christmas list ready. Graphic from People
Get your Christmas list ready. Graphic from People

1) Spring break money

There’s no better gift than an ever lasting memory right? If your plan is to take off for somewhere tropical come March, consider asking for “spring break money”. Grandparents like to give it because they know what it’s going to, plus it will take the pressure off when it comes to saving every cent for break.

2) Christmas lights (fairy lights)

A new trend in apartment décor, Christmas lights will liven up any room and set a peaceful atmosphere. Plus as the Christmas season wanes on they get cheaper.

3) Ikea gift card

You’re in college now. If you don’t get excited over cheap furniture, cool lighting, and lingonberry juice then what kind of adult are you? Ikea is like Disney World for 20 somethings. Decorate your apartment, eat some Swedish meatballs, and carry home a box of delicious lingonberry concentrate all on a family member’s dime this holiday season.

4) Costco Membership

Once again, this is a gift that would seem horribly boring ten years ago, but nowadays Costco is the promise land. You need 200 Pizza Bagel Bites. You’re a busy person. Plus if you’re hungry, tasting stations equal free lunch.

5) A Slushie Maker

Slushie makers will be there for yo as you pull those dreadful all-nighters studying for finals. They also are great at parties. The most versatile thing you could ever own.

6) Vintage Popcorn Popper

Yeah you could use microwavable bags, but popcorn kernels are cheaper and the whole process is better for you. Plus you can play with a million flavors. There are whole recipe books on how to make new and delicious kinds of popcorn. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Still ask for world peace though. We do need that.

Easy crafts and treats to brighten your holiday season

Whether you’re looking for inexpensive yet adorable gifts to give this holiday season, or just want to spruce up your dwellings for Christmas, Pinterest is an invaluable resource. Here are some easy crafts and treats that I’ve found to brighten up your holiday season:

1) Hot Chocolate Ornaments

  

What you’ll need:

-Clear, plastic, fillable ornaments (they have ones that are safe for food- look for those)

-Instant hot chocolate mixes (any flavor but the website especially recommends the peppermint chocolate, white chocolate, and dark chocolate mixes from Swiss Miss)

-add ins (sprinkles, peppermint bits, chocolate chips, etc.)

-Jet puffed marshmallow bits (will look like teeny, tiny marshmallows)

Directions:

-Clean out ornament.

-Craft a funnel (you can use a plastic kitchen funnel or just printer paper or wax paper)

-Pour in hot chocolate mix first.

-Next funnel in your add ins in layers (i.e. sprinkles first, then chocolate chips, then peppermint bits)

-Lastly add the marshmallows to fill up the ornament.

These cute crafts make excellent stocking stuffers or just small gifts for friends, co-workers, or neighbors. Bonus: Dip candy canes in chocolate and give with the ornaments as delicious hot chocolate stirs.

2) Festive Mason Jars

Mason jars have become popular at weddings, parties, and now they can become part of your holiday décor.

While there are several different ways to decorate a mason jar for Christmas, here is how to make the Snowman.

What you’ll need:

-A clear mason jar

-A bag of “Frosty Snow” (can be found at most craft stores)

-Large red pom poms

-Red and white pipe cleaners

-Black buttons

-Orange air dry clay

-Glue

Directions:

-Glue button eyes onto jar

-Mold clay into a carrot nose and glue where the nose should be

-Next cover snowman in a thick layer of glue (get around eyes and nose but don’t get glue on them)

-Cover snowman in a thick layer of “Frosty Snow” (this is done best by rolling the snowman over “Frosty Snow” on a plate and then sprinkling “Frosty Snow” by hand to cover any holes)

-Let jar dry

-While jar dries, start making the earmuffs.

-Cut one red and one white pipe cleaner in half and twist them together. Once twisted mold into a “U” shape.

-Glue pom poms, one on each side of the lid of the jar.

-Last glue the pipe cleaner into place (one end of the pipe cleaner behind one pom pom and one behind the other)

These cute jars make excellent gifts or just a cute DIY decoration. Click on the link in the title for more patterns for your jar. Bonus: put a flameless LED candle inside your jar to make it glow.

3) Ornament Wreath

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 What you’ll need:-cheap spherical Christmas ornaments (any color or design you want will work)-Styrofoam wreath ring (available at Walmart and most craft stores)

-strong glue

Directions:

-Simply glue the ornaments on the wreath (make sure they are properly layered as in the pictures above for the best effect)

Get to crafting!

Why ABC Family’s “25 Days of Christmas” is a scam

Nothing beats the Christmas season. Baking cookies, drinking hot chocolate, listening to Christmas music, watching Christmas movies- it’s almost impossible to be in a bad mood. But ABC Family’s supposed “25 Days of Christmas” can sometimes put me in one.

Every year ABC Family advertises that they will be playing Christmas movies for the entirety of the twenty-five days leading up to Christmas. This is a great concept. Who doesn’t want to huddle around in the living room watching classic movies? Unfortunately, it’s too good to be true. Don’t believe me? Simply watch a commercial for the monstrosity. ABC Family advertises the Harry Potter movies, Pixar movies, made for TV movies about dancing…all of this is included in that supposed “25 Days of Christmas”. It’s almost as if they think that advertising “The Incredibles” with some snowflakes in the corner of the television screen and some vague sleigh bells in the background will make it a Christmas movie.

25 days of christmas
“Harry Potter and Disney are delightful, but it’s hard to get into the holiday spirit with some holiday movies when holiday movies are not being played despite being advertised.”

Now on one hand I get it, they probably feel like if they solely show Christmas movies then they’ll isolate their viewers who don’t celebrate the holiday. But they advertise the event as the “25 Days of CHRISTMAS” so they’re isolating the minority of viewers that don’t celebrate it by calling it the “25 Days of Christmas”. Honestly, other channels such as Hallmark and Lifetime show nothing but Christmas movies during the holidays and if anyone should be worried about losing viewers, it’s those channels since they only have about twenty to begin with.

There’s nothing wrong with this non-Christmas movies. After all, both Harry Potter and Disney are delightful. But it’s hard to get into the holiday spirit with some holiday movies when holiday movies are not being played despite being advertised.

Then when ABC Family does get around to playing some actual Christmas movies, they play the same handful of movies each night. More Christmas movies exist then Jim Carrey’s version of “How The Grinch Stole Christmas”.

All of that being said, ABC Family’s “25 Days of Christmas” is a time honored family tradition in many households and it’d be sad if they stopped doing it. But for God’s sake, if you’re going to play Christmas movies for a month then PLEASE just play Christmas movies for a month.

What to get your girlfriend for Christmas

Do you have trouble picking out the perfect present for your girlfriend? Does it make you nervous? Scared? Confused? Me too. Girls can be very hard to shop for, especially when they already have tons of clothes, jewelry, and things in general.

My girlfriend is very picking about presents and things she buys and she hates it when people buy her things that she doesn’t need. Does that sound familiar? It makes it so much harder to get her something good for Christmas. Here are some tips to get her the perfect Christmas present.

Just listen to your girlfriend! Photo from twoology
Just listen to your girlfriend! Photo from twoology

     

1. Listen

Believe it or not, if you listen to your girlfriend, she’ll most likely give you hints to what she wants, whether purposefully or not. You might be having a simple conversation when she brings up this thing she saw earlier today and she thought it was cute or pretty or just that she really liked it. She might drop more subtle, unconscious hints such as saying she really needs a new alarm clock or a new watch but doesn’t have the time to get one. Those are the subtle hints that you need to pick up on. Listening can really help when trying to figure out what to get her.

2. Pay Attention

Pay attention to what she likes to do. If she likes yoga, get her a new yoga mat. If she likes sports or music, get her tickets to a sporting event or a concert. Concert tickets are always a good idea. Nobody hates concerts. Does she like to hike or ride bikes? Does she like to draw or write? Then take her to a nice hiking trail, ride bikes up to a beautiful views, buy her a sketch pad or a journal. Most of the gifts or presents your girlfriend wants will be said within a month or two before Christmas. All you have to do is know your girlfriend, pay attention.

A girlfriend is a girlfriend. Photo from stephgrantphotography
A girlfriend is a girlfriend.
Photo from stephgrantphotography

 

These are the two tips for getting your girlfriend the perfect present. It really isn’t that hard. All you have to do is have a conversation with her and actually listen. A concept that is new to many but isn’t new to your girls. Be respectful and get her the gift she deserves.

Christmas music: can you really overplay it?

As soon as November first rolls around, you start to hear it. It starts off  playing in drug stores and maybe the occasional Walmart, but as Thanksgiving gets closer, it becomes nearly impossible to so much as turn on a car radio without having the cheery Christmas hits fill your vehicle.

The verdict is split. Some people wish Christmas music would be kept safely in the confines of the week leading up to the big holiday, while others want to get their “Jingle Bell Rock” on the moment the leaves start to turn color. Those annoyed by the Christmas hits usually have the same complaint- it’s not that they dislike the music but it’s simply overplayed. They get annoyed by Christmas music the same way you groan every time you can’t escape Adele’s “Hello”, no matter how many times you change the radio station.

While I myself turn on the “all Christmas, all the time” radio station the second it starts up each year, I understand why those who find themselves cringing every time they walk into a department store in the November- December time period feel the way they do.

After all, Christmas music is essentially the same handful of songs on repeat just performed in different ways by different artists. Seriously, if you have one Christmas album, you have them all. Sure there are some original songs that are always enjoyable, but most of the time you can bet on hearing “Winter Wonderland” or “Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer” several times in one sitting.

For those of you who still can’t understand the plight of these tortured souls, imagine hearing today’s hits, “Sorry” by Justin Bieber, “Same Old Love” by Selena Gomez, or “Hello” by Adele played on an infinite, cheery loop, each recording played by a different artist who tries to change vocal inflections here or there but really never strays from the original track. Pretty gruesome sounding, right?

If you, like me, love Christmas so much that even Alvin and the Chipmunks’ versions of the classic songs don’t bother you, then great, but if you know people who are annoyed by the holiday music, maybe change up your playlist just a tad when you invite them over.

Top 5 best Christmas movies

As we enter December, we enter the Christmas season. While baking cookies and eating too much fudge is great, the best way to get into the holiday spirit is by watching those classic Christmas movies.

We look forward to them every year, but there are so many, who knows what to watch. Here’s a list of the top 5 best Christmas movies (in my humble opinion) that you need to watch this holiday season.

1) The Santa Clause

santa clause
“A magical story of a regular dad who finds himself turning into the big man himself, Santa Claus.”

Starring the wonderful Tim Allen, “The Santa Clause” is the magical story of a regular dad who finds himself turning into the big man himself, Santa Claus, all due to a Christmas Eve misunderstanding. Although the movie was released in the 90s, it’s still a must-watch today.

2) Elf

Will Ferrell stars in this witty fan favorite about a human baby who is adopted by one of Santa’s elves. Buddy grows up his whole life believing himself to be an elf despite the fact that he towers over his “fellow” elves and can’t make a toy to save his life. Upon discovering that he is indeed a human being, Buddy sets off to New York City to find his biological father and bring Christmas spirit back to the jaded city.

3) Eloise At Christmastime

The Eloise movies revolve around a wild yet lovable six year old girl who lives at the Plaza Hotel in New York City under the supervision of her loving Nanny (Julie Andrews). “Eloise At Christmastime” is the sequel to the original movie “Eloise At The Plaza” (based on the best selling children’s book). In this installment, Eloise grows suspicious when the Plaza’s owner’s daughter returns to New York with her sketchy fiancé for a Christmas Eve wedding. The movie is funny and charming and surprisingly receives little notoriety around Christmas despite being one of the best Christmas movies I’ve ever seen. Despite being marketed towards children, “Eloise At Christmastime” is entertaining for the whole family.

4) Miracle on 34th Street

Both the original movie and the remake are phenomenal when it comes to “Miracle on 34th Street”- a heartwarming movie about what happens when Santa Claus himself befriends a young, cynical girl. This movie will make everyone a believer again despite when you stopped writing letters to Santa.

5) The Polar Express

This Tom Hanks classic brings to life the amazingly written and illustrated children’s book, “The Polar Express”. The movie is so well done and true to the original illustrations that you feel as if you’re truly inside the book. The story revolves around a boy who has stopped believing in Santa. One Christmas Eve, he is awoken by the sound of a train plowing down his street. Upon running outside and meeting the conductor, he discovers that the train is a magic train that takes children to the North Pole every Christmas Eve to meet Santa. As the boy sets off on the train ride he meets new friends and rediscovers the Christmas spirit.

So make a cup of hot chocolate, rent some movies, and start getting in the Christmas spirit.

WWCHNT: Starbucks Holiday Cup Fiasco of 2015

2015 has been dubbed, “the year everyone was offended by everything.” As the year comes to a close, some groups are going out with a bang and continuing that title with their narrative of “the War on Christmas.”

Starbucks loves fall and the holidays. During the fall, everyone trips over themselves to get their paws on a Pumpkin Spice Latte. During the winter, everyone loses their mind over the delicious peppermint mocha. Every year, Starbucks gets in the holiday spirit by decorating their famous white cups with their logo in red. In the past, the red has been accompanied by traditional symbols of Christmas such as a cute penguin ice skating, snowflakes and Christmas trees. This year, however, Starbucks opted for a cozy, minimalist style of just plain red.

And so started what I will call the Starbucks Holiday Cup Fiasco of 2015.

Although my Facebook demographic consists of mostly left-wingers, there was a notable outrage over the lack of Christmas cheer appearing on Starbucks cups on November 1st. As usual, radical Christians are citing this as part of their made-up War on Christmas.

starbucks
“We can’t have nice things because of the idea of a War on Christmas.”

“We can’t have nice things because of the idea of a War on Christmas.”

We can’t have nice things because of the idea of a War on Christmas. As soon as Halloween was over, everyone began freaking out about Christmas. Sure, Christmas isn’t too far away and I fully encourage getting shopping done a bit early. However, we still have Thanksgiving to be excited over. Thanksgiving has become a source of controversy the past few years as Black Friday has, in the words of Jon Stewart, “eaten Christmas.”

Black Friday, in the past, has started the morning after Thanksgiving. In recent years, it’s started as early as Thanksgiving morning.

Nice things are also hard to come by because people, specifically radical Christians, take any respect for other religions as disrespect for their own. Starbucks hasn’t even made any public announcement stating that they have traded their usual holiday cups for warm red ones in order to be “politically correct.” Besides the obvious Christmas symbols being absent, red itself is still a Christmas color. However, radical Christians are always on the lookout for signs that the world doesn’t love Jesus and that there’s a war on not only Christmas but Christianity.

I find it ironic that many times, these Christians who are getting up-in-arms over a paper coffee cup, are the same people who laugh in the face of other groups when they have blatantly been discriminated against. Some of these same Christians who think Starbucks has an anti-Christian agenda are the same people who support a historically racist symbol.

Overall the idea of a War on Christmas is what’s really ruining the idea of Christmas for me. Because people take a silly holiday so seriously, it’s made me take it less seriously. If we could all just get along, stop reading into everything and taking it as a personal attack then maybe–just maybe–we could have nice things.

 

November means Christmastime

We’re in the beginning weeks of November; the aftermath of Halloween still hangs around in carved pumpkins and bowls filled with candy corn. After the spooky Halloween feelings fade into warm Thanksgiving feelings about halfway through the month, everyone starts to think about Christmas more. Especially as the weather shifts from crisp cool air to freezing gusts of wind nipping at noses and the leaves turn from red and droopy to brown and crunchy as they fall from the tree limbs, people start to get that holiday feeling inside them.

As soon as October ends, Christmas takes over. Graphic by Katie Gibson
As soon as October ends, Christmas takes over. Graphic by Katie Gibson

Thoughts of Christmas are among us and that means lights, decorations, and trees. November brings this cheery time of year back to the front of people’s minds and leaves the smell of pine needles fresh in their memories. It’s time to pick out a Christmas tree, whether that means picking out a real one or putting up a fake one.

Putting up a tree is one of the best feelings; seeing your reflection in the tiny glimmering christmas ornament, reminiscing when you see your old home made ornaments, and stringing tinsel across the branches and needles is a priceless activity.

November is technically the month of Thanksgiving, where people spend time with their loved ones and eat delicious food together. It’s a time where you can be thankful for everything and everyone in your life and it prepares you for the good times that are to come in December while anxiously awaiting Christmas.

November lets everyone have a literal taste of Christmas with all of the stuffing and pumpkin pie from Thanksgiving and lets them wait in excitement for December and Christmas day.

Christmas can never be celebrated too much and the best time to start is in November. This will allow you enough time so you can watch all the movies you love, eat all of the cookies you crave, and spend all of the time you look forward to with your family and friends.

To me, November means Christmastime with my loved ones, you can never get too much of a head start on Christmas!

Memoirs from the front lines of the War on Christmas

Captain’s report: Nov. 30th, 2013. War. War never changes. It’s been five long years since the start of the War on Christmas; Lord Obama says we’ll finish it this year for sure. If it hadn’t been for Fox News catching wind of our plan so early on, we could’ve ended it before anyone knew what hit them. Damn you, Eric Bolling. Damn you to Hell. Obama be praised. Continue reading Memoirs from the front lines of the War on Christmas

Gift ideas for the average college student

Winter is almost officially here, and with it will come the holiday craziness. After spending weeks studying for finals and writing papers, now is the time to show your appreciation for the friends who have been there through it all. More often than not, money is tight and you may feel you can’t afford gifts for everyone this year. For all of you out there who have repeatedly used the framed picture idea, here are some new money savvy ideas. Included in this article are a few good gifts that you may or may not have considered. Continue reading Gift ideas for the average college student

Lent and the gift of willpower

Could you give up something you love for 40 days? The Christian tradition of Lent requires you to do just that once a year between the holidays of Ash Wednesday and Easter or Holy Thursday, depending on the denomination, to represent the suffering Jesus went through before he was put on the cross.

During this time, it is said that he fasted for the 40 days and received numerous temptations from the devil.  The season of Lent is typically observed by Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians and Anglicans. Raised in a Catholic home, I was always forced to participate and there was always a disdain for the season buried in my brain. The message that was always given to me was that temptation was a sin and this is how I should teach myself to resist temptation. I personally thought my parents just hated when I played video games. Continue reading Lent and the gift of willpower

Yes, Virginia? A question of belief

I’ve been babysitting for almost a decade, and over the years I’ve been lucky enough to work with exceptionally bright and fascinating children. I was only 11 when I started working — in retrospect, just a kid myself — and have never really gotten past a distinct  feeling of camaraderie with all of my young charges. I don’t pretend to understand every four-year-old’s whims (or the average preteen’s preoccupations), but I do have a certain sympathy with my kids’ complaints and struggles.

Considering, then, that this is the most wonderful time of the year, it only seems fair to address one of the weightiest and most consuming questions facing modern American childhood — one on which I happen to hold a very particular view. I speak, of course, about the belief in Santa Claus. Continue reading Yes, Virginia? A question of belief

Weekly time wasters – Lights, scares, Star Wars 7

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you your last set of weekly time wasters for the semester. Use them wisely, as you’ll need an excuse to procrastinate on studying for finals and any other important tasks ahead of you! You’re welcome in advance.  Continue reading Weekly time wasters – Lights, scares, Star Wars 7

Bring on the holidays!

I’m sick and tired of hearing people complaining about Christmas. I have worked in retail for the holidays since high school, so I realize that it comes earlier every year. Every year, customers complain that it keeps getting earlier and earlier. Well guess what, if you’re complaining about how Christmas is overshadowing Thanksgiving, gripe to someone who cares. I love Thanksgiving, but please remember that shortly after that lovely dinner, we exterminated the Native Americans and sent those left to reservations.

I could go on and on about how our culture has perverted the birth of Christ into a materialistic haven, but we’ve all heard it before. The nature of Christmas is not going to change anytime soon, so embrace it. I love walking through the mall with its beautiful decorations, sipping piping hot coffee or hot chocolate. I love the cheery mugs at Starbucks. I love the cheesy Christmas stockings for my dog.

Radford's fountain decorated for the holidays. Photo by Brian Hollingsworth.

But the best part of the holiday season isn’t material at all. It’s the giddy feeling you get when you realize Christmas is right around the corner. It’s sincerely magical. Your friends and family become the most important thing, even if you forgot for a short time. You’re reminded of what’s important and what’s not.

With a bad economy and difficult times, the holidays should be a time to feel lucky and loved, not stressed out about what you can’t buy. Actually, with wallets being significantly thinner than before, I think it makes the time more special. Instead of wasting money on a lot of gifts, it makes you really consider what you’re buying to make it special.

This time of year is known as the “season of giving.” Even though, admittedly, it has warped into a season of receiving, I hope we can all realize giving makes you feel so much better than receiving. I’ll give you an example.

Photo from Creative Commons.

Last winter I was driving through Fairlawn and passed the Wal-Mart parking lot. I noticed not one, but two people sitting with signs claiming homelessness and hunger. The sad part was that these people were not together and one had a German Shepherd. While I’ve always been told not to give the homeless money, I went home and did the best thing I could think of: I made them peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. This was before I had my dog Hank so I didn’t have any dog food to spare. Instead, I “borrowed” some dog treats from my roommate.

I rushed back to the parking lot and delivered the goods. The looks of graciousness and relief on their faces was good enough for me. The guy working at the car wash actually came over and shook my hand for my good deed! I’m sharing this story not for praise, but to show how vivid the memory still is for me. It’s much more vivid than a memory of any present I received (well, maybe except my autographed Taylor Swift photo).

This season can bring out the very best in people and that’s what I love most. I even love my job more during the holidays. It’s stressful and busy, but I enjoy the chance to brighten someone’s day just because the season has brightened mine! In my opinion, Christmas can come any time of year it wants.

Merry Christmas!

Holy days? Holy crap

What is Christmas really about? Graphic by Marie Stovall.

This article isn’t meant to offend, but rather to educate. Anyone who still thinks Christmas has anything to do with Jesus of Nazareth is a moronic, ignorant boob and that’s putting it lightly. Let me elaborate.

Christmas celebrates the Solstice, the longest night of the year. It started out as a Pagan holiday, and Christians stole it because at the time they wanted to eradicate Paganism and engulfing the Pagan’s holiday made everyone forget that Dec. 25 is an astronomical turning point; the days get longer, the nights shorter.

In America, however, the connotation of Christmas is one of commercialism and back-ass-wardness. Like Jim Gaffigan puts it:

“Honey, why is there a pine tree in our living room?”

“I LIKE IT! We’re gonna decorate it for Jesus …”

“Kinda sounds like the behavior of a drunk person, really.”

My thought is that Christmas is a masquerade. People go to midnight mass and think they’re part of an organization that spreads good spirit, but in reality ‘Christmas joy’ is a euphemism for teaching little kids to expect presents from a godlike figure for not acting like animals.

The Santa Claus thing makes kids believe in false justice; that if you do good and have integrity, then some magical being will reward you with cheap plastic bullshit that you’ll stop enjoying within a month. Why not teach kids that integrity is its own reward? Why not reward children with something worthwhile? Because it’s not what they WANT?

And Christmas has sunk its claws into my religion as well. Hanukkah isn’t important. It’s not an important holiday at all in the Jewish calendar. Jews in the US opted to give presents during winter to fit in with Christians.

Despite all the bullshit that surrounds these gift-giving holidays, there’s a lot about Christmas and Hanukkah that’s redeeming and meaningful. Spending time with your family, eating DELICIOUS food, putting thought into a present that you can’t wait to give to someone you love and helping the less fortunate are all things that should be done more often.

No doubt I hate all the commercialism, shitty music, false justice, false happiness, false a LOT of things that surround December, but giving your time and love to other people is godlike.

And “Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown” is totally awesome and heartwarming.