Tis the season! Here’s Your At Home Guide To Creating Holiday Flare And Memories At Home This Christmas
There was this song that used to come on, seemingly at the same time each year where I said, “Oh yea, it’s Christmas time.” Nope, it wasn’t Jingle Bells. Although I would love to go back to a time when things were simple. Even though things have changed from age 10 to 40, I still have the same holiday spirit when the end of the year approaches. I was thinking to myself that there might be a song that reminds you of when Christmas is coming also, right?
For me, it was “What do the Lonely Do, at Christmas Time.” Now before you laugh, here’s something to really laugh about… I was only in High School then. What in the Deck The Halls, could I have possibly known about that song? Nothing! That’s the point. Christmas is that time of the year where everyone gets excited about something. We look forward to spending time with family and friends when the season approaches.
We are reminded that it’s right around the corner when we hear songs, see traditional movies and notice that department and retail stores are displaying ornaments as such. We create memories around those moments, as they begin to build when the time draws near. We all have a song, for whatever reason we attach it to Christmas. We have a ritual, a tradition, a something that gets us in the spirit of Christmas. If you don’t, I am here to tell you how to do it in a fun and exciting way!
Break Out The Onesie: Yes, it’s revenge of the Onesies. You can never get tired of an adult Onesie. I have seen Holiday themed Onesies such as: Reindeers, Elves, Frosty the Snowman, Mrs. Clause and Santa, as well as decorative in holiday colors: Red and White, Red and Green, or even an extra-large Christmas gift or Christmas Tree. These make great for holiday photos around the Christmas Tree or Fireplace. If you’re looking for something less costume like and more fashionable, there are also fleece onesies that simply have a printed assortment of holiday symbols. Do something fun, as a family and get matching onesies, or couple onesies.
Throw on Some Holiday Music: Have a dance off or play musical chairs using Christmas music. This is a no cost, all fun game that everyone can participate in, from Grandma to Grandpa, the kids and teenagers if you make it fun and include prizes for the winner. It’s also a way to enjoy the music in a new setting rather than just hearing it on the radio all day long and becoming eternally tired of ever hearing another Christmas jingle. Look at it as recycling or revamping your holiday in breathing the life back into the music by giving it a new assignment. Don’t forget the Christmas Caroling and trimming the tree! Nothing goes better with decorating the home and tree, while listening to, “This Christmas” Karaoke Anyone??
Crank Up the Oven: Cookies, Cupcakes, Scones, Cakes, Pies, Cobbler…. Just bake something. Food is the universal language of love and comfort. It fills the house with an aroma that brings everyone to the kitchen around the kitchen table or nestled together watching movies in the living room or around the fireplace roasting marsh-mellows. Don’t have a fireplace? No worries. Create a DIY Firepit in the backyard. It doesn’t have to be super large. Something small and quaint with just enough fire for the marsh-mellows accomplishes the point of just bring everyone together for that time.
Holiday Drinks: I would never leave a good drink out of a celebration. This too, is something that the kids can get involved in, apart from the adults. So, while the adults are settling in with a Jack Frost Cocktail, virgin-style or with a little alcohol. I have found some amazing recipes for a plethora of holiday/fall/winter drinks to serve at your gathering at the house between family and friend. There are also many recipes for creative ideas in composing a punch for the kids and non-alcohol drinkers. Get super creative and family and friends form a team, in which they create a recipe from scratch and share for first, second and third place prize for the best Holiday Signature Cocktail.
Ugly Christmas Sweater Party: Ugly Sweater Parties and Contest are still winning. Who doesn’t own an ugly sweater that they would love to recycle and find its highest and best use, where a prize could be attached to that awful sweater your mom, dad, sister or significant other bought you many years ago. It’s probably in the box in the attic or in the garage next to the stuff you keep saying that you need to throw out, giveaway or sell to a consignment store. Which brings me to my next point: If you do not have an ugly sweater, check out the consignments stores in your area. I am positive that you will find one there. Even department stores have begun to sell them brand new, and with a mess of material that will help you bring home the ultimate prize.
Themed Dirty Santa: So, what’s the difference between a Dirty Santa Holiday party and a Themes Dirty Santa/ You said it! One is themed…. It is when going in to the party, you announce to your family and friends a decided upon theme, such as (Holiday Beauty Essentials, Things that make you Cringe, Food under $5, Bath and Body Works, A Victoria Secret Party, Gadgets and Electronics, Hats and Gloves, Socks and Scarves… etc. You get it? So, pick one or two, depending on how large your party or how many participants and go from there. When your participating guest arrive, they can draw a name from the hat and that’s whom they give their gift to. Or, have your guest pull names from a hat. Whomever name is pulled, gets to choose whichever gift from under the tree they would like. All gifts should obviously be wrapped.
Originally Posted on MomBloggersClub.com
Here’s 5 Reasons Why My Son and I Are In Love With Chick Fil A; They get it right, and therefore perfect is possible
1. I’ve never personally had one unpleasant experience nor complaint about their food, or service. It’s always hot, fresh and the same from one store to the next. They always properly greet you and tell you that it was their pleasure to serve you, which is an added incentive toward making a customer feel appreciated.
2. I’ve never seen a complaint on social media about a bad-experience, nor have I ever heard one in person from anyone. If there has been a complaint, it has clearly been handled and handled immediately, as all complaints should be, and likely with professionalism and apologetic sentiments.
3. I have never walked into the restaurant, in to the middle of a firestorm between customer and employee, over an order being wrong or a dispute about what was ordered and what was received. I have never had to check my order before leaving.
4. I’ve been to at least 20 different cities and the service is consistent. I have never had to drive back through drive through about an order being wrong, as I drove off. The employees are 100 percent on the same page, from state to state.
5. I have never seen a mad, angry or upset employee, or one that may be having a dreadful day, who is now taking it out on the next customer- It’s likely because at Chic Fil A, no one has had to ruin their day after messing up an order over and over. So, they are all happy employees. No one seems frustrated to be at work, doing their job.
Chic Fil A has given me more than enough reasons to, “Eat Mor Chikin” Fast food industries can and should take a page from the book of management, service, professionalism from Chick- because they get it right. Every time.
Instead of resorting to measures such as “a no refund policy” and only offering to “re-make” your order right, I feel like if they were to implement a little more pride in the job, it would increase the possibilities for these other establishments to get it right as well.
Suddenly resorting to a no-refund policy, says that they have lost so much money on messing up orders, that you’ve had to implement measures to secure the money. If you get it right the first time- you wouldn’t lose money. That’s just the bottom line answer. It’s been happening for years and years so there’s no excuse. Even if you don’t get it right the first time, at least get it right the second time.
I am not discounting anyone’s demanding work in the food and beverage industry, because I realize every job has its challenges. I also realize that sometimes, you have bad days. However, when at work, you need to put your game face on and do your best. When you do your best, it shows. When a customer sees that you are doing your best, they are also less apt to explode on you for getting it wrong. When you do not do your best, it reflects in service; beginning with taking the order, repeating the order, conveying or communicating the order, filling the order and delivering it to the customer.
How many times have you gone through someone’s drive thru, where not only do they get the order entirely wrong on the first time, but you go into the store or back through drive thru, only for them to mess it up again! And they have the audacity to be mad at you. This is equally frustrating to a customer. Customers are likely going thru a “fast food drive thru” for a “fast food service”, because they are limited on time themselves. They too have jobs, where they only have a 15-minute break, or 30 minutes to an hour lunch; after-which they must return to work. They do not have time to waste on getting a burger with cheese, only to find out that they must go back in, because the burger with cheese has mayo, mustard, onions etc. on it, when they never asked for that.
Mistakes are something that happens. We understand! I can’t say that when going through the drive thru at other establishments, that they are in the back saying that they deliberately want to screw up your meal, or day, or make you drive back through, or that they want to get a customer so extremely upset about the order, that they will come into the store and curse someone out. What I am saying is, if employees slowed down a little, take their time to listen and communicate an order, as well as see it through to the end…versus rushing to get to the next person in line; they may increase their chances of getting it right on the first attempt. Listening is key. Quality is key. Snap out of the robotic way of making an order and take heed to what the customer is asking for- Because just because a burger comes with all the fixings, doesn’t mean your customer want it with all the fixings.
Here is real-life example of what constantly happens:
Me: (speaking slowly, and clearly, to communicate an order) Hello… I would like a #1…. No onion…. no tomato… no mayo…. with fries and a Sprite. (make that a large, please)
Drive-Thru Attendant: Ok. You want cheese?
Drive-Thru Attendant: You want fries or tots?
Drive-Thru Attendant: What you want to drink?
(*But I have already said all of this. However, I am not mad that they have their way of taking the order and perhaps asking questions that I have already given answers to, helps them get the order right- I have no qualms about that) But this is what happens:
Drive-Thru Attendant: Drive around for your total
Once I get to the window, I pay and take my order. I have already pulled off before opening the bag, due to my concern about the growing line and the fact that after she handed me the bag, she slammed the window without asking if I needed any condiments or anything else…as she proceeds with taking other orders. She never once acknowledged me sitting there, trying to ask for a straw, or salt or to tell her that she gave me a Coke instead of a Sprite.
She finally opened the window. She’s angry that I am still sitting there, but I am only still sitting there, because she closed the window so fast, without me being able to bring it to her attention.
This is what I have when I finally leave:
Large Sprite, which is water down from the lack of soda fountain syrup.
A #1 with cheese, mayo, onion, and tomato.
The only thing they got right was the fries- except they are hard, cold, and stale.
Here’s what you need to know:
People will wait on good service, hot food and an order that they know will be right, based their previous experiences. So, you don’t have to rush through, in attempt to fill as many orders within the hour, as you possibly can. That’s ideal of course, that you want to increase your numbers and orders per hour. However, what are you really accomplishing, when for every order you make, you have another order that you now, must remake? When you do that, you get it wrong, and you end up with even longer lines, and some upset and impatient customers.
I see lines at Chick fil A, that wrap around the store. I have never seen anyone drive off. They wait. Whereas at other establishments, they are constantly driving off. My guess is, they say it’s not worth waiting for.
Originally Posted here, on CAFEMOM
Have you ever heard the sound of a broken record playing? And if so, do you remember how you couldn’t get into the room quick enough to take the needle off the record? That is how I feel at dinner time these days, when it comes to feeding my 6-year old son. He’s a growing child, who needs to eat and as much as I care about his nutrition, it’s a challenge some nights to win. To my surprise, he is the one who is the cause of this broken record getting air time at the house. I thought he would be as tired as I am, about re-runs and threepeat meals.
It has nothing to do with that fact that I grew up eating chicken on what seems like was every night of the week, even though it wasn’t every night. Ok… who am I fooling? Yes, Yes. It has everything to do with that. I became tired of chicken as a child, and so, I can’t understand this phenomenon at my dinner table. Why would a child want the same thing, night after night, when he has choices? I guess when you like what you like, you just like it. Of course, this is not what keeps me awake at night, but should I be concerned? It’s not that he doesn’t like anything else, because I have witnessed him indulge in everything from BBQ to Pasta. But he doesn’t seem to want it anymore. He doesn’t seem to want a variety. Which is why………………….
I am even more tired of the following 3 Things That My Son Loves To Eat. Those things are: Rice, Macaroni and Cheese, and Mashed Potatoes. All of which find their way to my dinner table at least 4 nights per week, during extended periods. There’s only so many ways I can cook and prepare rice, even with there being variations of rice, such as: Long-Grained, Brown-Rice, White Rice, Spanish Rice, Dirty Rice, and Jasmine Rice. I am all cooked out of rice! I like rice, I just don’t want to eat so much of it during one week time.
I remember when my son ate everything as an infant and toddler. It made my life and decisions on dinner so much easier, to be able to pick whatever I wanted, and to know that he would eat. I cannot explain how my son grew out of eating, rather than to have grown into eating more and more of it. Is this normal? I remember when people used to tell me how lucky I am that my child would eat anything that I put in his face, and that most children his age were so difficult when it came to finding something that they like to eat. I miss those days. I miss them because now, it’s more work involved and lots of food that goes to the trash. Well, unless it’s rice, mashed potatoes or macaroni and cheese. rolls eyes because I do not want another grain of rice, nor another mac n cheese noodle and I could care less if I see another potato. Not to mention the amount of starch!
However, I did find some pretty awesome recipes online that made me second guess my decision to go on a rice, mashed potato and Mac n Cheese strike. See them below. Perhaps if you are in this dilemma as a mom, you can benefit in making something that you’ve never made before, with the food that your little one insist on having. Since rice is on the top of his list, I found a few recipes that were worth sharing- that I will try before giving it the final boot…..It’s coming though.
BAJA Black Beans, Corn and Rice: Serving size 6 Cook Time: 45 Minutes
Ingredients: 6 cups cooked brown rice 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained 1 (15 ounce) can corn, drained 4 fresh tomatoes, diced 1⁄2 cup red onion, chopped 1⁄2 cup cilantro, chopped 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice 1 tablespoon olive oil 1⁄2 teaspoon salt 1⁄4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper 2 dashes hot sauce
Directions: Cook brown rice. In a medium bowl, combine black beans, corn, tomatoes, onion, cilantro, jalapeno, lime juice, oil, salt, pepper and hot sauce. To serve, Place a scoop of hot rice in a bowl or on a plate, top with a generous scoop of the black bean mixture. Stir together before eating.
Easy Fried Rice Ready in 30 Minutes, Serves 5
Ingredients: 3 cups cold leftover cooked rice 1⁄2-1 cup oleo (or butter) 1 medium onion (chopped) 2 stalks celery (chopped, or just use 3 cloves of garlic and) 2 carrots (diced) 1 cup frozen peas (or a small-medium part of ginger) 3 eggs (beaten, or 6) 1⁄4-1⁄2 cup soy sauce (to taste, and chicken msg) Pepper
Directions: Melt oleo in large non-stick skillet. Add onion, celery, and carrots. Saute until onions are transparent and carrots are crisp tender, about 5 minutes. Add peas and cook one minute more until peas are thawed. Push veggies to one side of skillet. Scramble eggs in empty side of skillet after the oleo spreads from veggies. Mix eggs into veggies and season with pepper. then put in small amount of rice and then. Add soy sauce. Then slowly mix in rice by the spoonful until all rice is added and all ingredients are well blended. Fry until steamy hot stirring often.
Jamacain Rice and Peas cook time 2 hours serves 8
Ingredients: 8 ounces small dried red beans or 8 ounces red kidney beans 1 quart water 16 ounces chicken broth or 16 ounces chicken stock or 16 ounces water 1⁄2 cup coconut cream 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves 1⁄2 teaspoon ground allspice 2 scallions, finely chopped 1⁄2 cup white onion, chopped 2 minced garlic cloves 1 teaspoon black pepper 1 1⁄2 teaspoons kosher salt 1 scotch bonnet pepper (left whole) 1 teaspoon brown sugar 2 1⁄4 cups uncooked long grain rice
Directions: Rinse and sort beans and place in a stockpot. Cover with several inches of water and soak overnight,-or- bring to a boil, boil gently for 3 minutes, then remove from heat, cover, and allow to sit undisturbed for 1 hour. Drain and rinse beans. Bring to a boil with chicken stock, water, and coconut cream. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 1 1/2-2 hours or until beans are tender and creamy. Add the thyme, allspice, scallion, onion, garlic, scotch bonnet, brown sugar, uncooked rice, salt and pepper. Check the level of liquid over the rice and make sure there is at least one inch of liquid (if not, you may add water or broth to cover). Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until rice is tender. Serve hot as a side dish, with Jamaican hot sauce as a condiment, if desired. For Vegetarian use water not the chicken broth or stock.
“April 24-28, 2017 Every Kid Healthy™ Week is an annual observance created to celebrate school health and wellness achievements and recognized on the calendar of National Health Observances. Observed the last week of April each year, this special week shines a spotlight on the great efforts our school partners are making to improve the health and wellness of their students and the link between nutrition, physical activity, and learning – because healthy kids are better prepared to learn!” EveryKidHeathyWeek
What are you doing this week, in observance of the Fifth Annual Every Kid Healthy Week, to show your commitment toward wellness? It’s not too late to get involved and there are many ways to do so. But here’s one great idea to serve, that will go great on your silver platter!
How about hosting an event! I have found that hosting food testing’s/tastings at my local grocery store, are just one remarkable way to spread the word about eating healthy, by offering customers who patron the local stores, a sample of the foods available in-store; which they can easily transition to, by implementing it into their own nutritious plans and diets. It’s also a way for customers to become educated on delicious alternatives to breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack time for their children.
“Anyone can get involved and be a part of the celebration to help support sound nutrition, regular physical activity, and health-promoting programs in schools. Schools are invited to host an event during Every Kid Healthy Week or any time in April” (www.everykidhealthy.org)
In the past, themes such as: “The Road to Eating Healthy”, has drawn regular and repeat customers as well as crowds patronizing surrounding stores, to partake in a free food tasting event. When they see the signs that lead them to …” The Road to Eating Healthy”, along with dietitians and nutritionist, trainers and fitness instructors on location, to talk about the benefits of healthy eating, the conversion is usually high.
Your set up may consist of starters at the front of the store, which could definitely be fruits such as: Apples, Bananas, Strawberries, Blueberries Mango’s and more. At the same time, offer the benefits of eating such fruit, so that the customer can make mental connections with what they know their body need, such as: Anti-oxidants, Iron, or Potassium etc.
Presentation Is Everything: Make sure your area is visible. You will do no good, to be tucked off in a corner where no one can see or hear you. Make sure you are in an area where there is high-traffic, or at least in the area that is appropriate for the items you are serving. It’s also good to incorporate other items from throughout the store that will work well with the food that you will be suggesting. Make sure your area is clean. NO ONE wants to eat from a dirty space or a display that appears to be picked over and played through. You must maintain this area as customers pass through, constantly refreshing your items and displays. Make sure you have customer friendly associates. There is nothing like having to deal with that associate who appears to have partied all night and did not want to be at work this morning… who could care less, about eating healthy and much less about talking to anyone about being healthy.
Designs attract the attention of children and families. Friendliness attracts Mothers! An in-store cake designer or fruit display agent can assist with this, and they are usually delighted to do so, because to gives them an opportunity to show off their creative and artistic side of being in the kitchen, where they can design an attractive display, using fruit.
I’d say, somewhere in the middle of the store, as the customers follow the signs that connect to the theme…. a vegetable stand has always stood out. It’s like a Farmer’s Market in the middle of a grocery store. Some stores have this build in, where others must be a little more creative in creating this space…but it can be done. Make sure you pair vegetables with dipping sauces that complement the theme and overall objective of heating healthy.
It is also nice to add the blending element in this area. For example: Give suggestions for mixing fruit and vegetables to make healthy smoothies. Offer samples of those smoothies. I don’t know about you, but I would have never in a million years tried a kale, lemon, kiwi, and strawberry smoothie, however, when I did a blind testing and determined it was to die for, I became hooked! Blind testing is self-explanatory. It’s when you allow the customer to take the sample and guess what’s in it. This is excellent to do in-store.
These are just a few ideas on how to make this week a successful one, in helping your community and surrounding area; including schools and businesses to get on the Road to Eating Healthy and Every Kid Healthy Week!