With continued stay-at-home orders we need to learn other ways to enjoy our lives. With the kids getting a winter break and the holidays fast approaching how about planning a vacation at home – a “Staycation”!
A staycation can be rewarding plus less stressful and more affordable. Most importantly, commit to unplugging. If you act like you’re not on vacation by answering work calls and emails or being as in-touch with neighbors and friends as you usually are, it won’t feel like much of a staycation at all. Make sure everyone knows that you’re taking a little trip by putting your staycation on your calendar, telling friends and coworkers you need some time away, and resisting the urge to respond to every message. That task accomplished, let the staycationing begin.
Studies show that simply looking at beautiful travel photos releases oxytocin in the brain, helping you feel calm, focused and energized. It’s a mini vacation for your brain. So, choose some places that celebrate the Holidays and download photos and the information about the location to share with your family. Here are some suggestions…..
1) Nestled in Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains is a Bavarian village in Helen, Georgia. You can visit their market, winery or take a ride in a horse-drawn hayride and enjoy the history of the town. https://www.helenga.org/
2) In the Santa Ynez Mountains outside of Santa Barbara, this tiny Danish village celebrates Christmas with ample cheer during its annual “Julefest” in Solvang, California https://www.solvangusa.com/things-to-do/solvang-julefest/
3) This New England town in Woodstock, Vermont, has many charming historic homes that are elaborately decorated every year. The annual “Wassail Weekend” has a variety of events. https://www.woodstockvt.com/events/wassail-2020
4) Leavenworth, Washington, is a small Bavarian style town tucked away in the Cascade Mountains. Along with the thousands of lights, carolers, hand-bell ringers and marching bands they have an annual Christkindlemarkt for handmade gifts and steaming cups of spiced wine or hot cocoa. https://christkindlmarktleavenworth.com/
5) Over 6.5 million lights sparkle in Branson, Missouri every festive season. This town does Christmas proud with 100 Christmas trees, Rudolph’s parade, a petting zoo and more! https://bransonchristmas.info/branson-christmas-activities-attractions/
These are just a few places to explore. See more at this website! https://www.oprahmag.com/life/g28616974/best-christmas-towns-villages/ You can make a slide show and play on your computer or a large monitor.
When planning your staycation locations, research the food available at each place. Bring home some of the taste of the areas for your family to try. With all the restaurants able to deliver now, have your meals brought to you and spend the time you would be cooking, playing games or watching holiday movies with your family. Make your own Mulled Apple Cider in a slower cooker. You can leave it on all day and indulge whenever you want. The recipe is simple. Pour 2 quarts of apple cider into your slow cooker. Add ½ cup brown sugar, stir. Place 2 cinnamon sticks, 1 tsp whole cloves and 1 tsp whole allspice in a double thickness of cheesecloth; bring up corners of cloth and tie with a string to form a bag. Drop the bag into the cider. Slice one orange and place in cooker. Turn on low setting.
A fun idea is to create a cookie-decorating party! Purchase or make undecorated sugar cookies. Lay out bowls of decorating sugars and toppings along with icing. Decorate your party area with balloon garlands and streamers. You can purchase balloon garland kits here https://www.etsy.com/listing/788159019/custom-balloon-garland-kit-pick-your Gather the family around the table and get creative! Do some nibbling while you are at it. Stream your favorite Holiday music while you work.
At the end of the day gather everyone around the fire, cuddle up in warm blankets and read Christmas/Holiday stories. Search the internet for online stories along with books you may have purchased. Few months present the multicultural “teachable moments” that December does! The following multicultural events and celebrations are among those that will happen this year:
Saint Nicholas Day (Christian), Fiesta of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Mexican), St. Lucia Day (Swedish), Hanukkah (Jewish), Christmas Day (Christian), Three Kings Day/Epiphany (Christian), Boxing Day (Australian, Canadian, English, Irish), Kwanzaa (African American), Omisoka (Japanese), Yule (Pagan), Saturnalia (Pagan)
Get the family to research these celebrations and share what they learned. Whatever you plan be blessed and safe! Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a very Happy New Year!