10 steps to avoiding holiday burnout
The holidays are stressful to just about everybody — and despite what it sounds like, that’s not a generalization. A Harris Interactive “holiday stress index” survey found that 90 percent of Americans feel anxiety this time of year. The funny thing is, the holidays don’t have to be stressful, and you can begin approaching the season with more excitement and less dread right now. Let us count the ways...
1. ESTABLISH GUIDELINES
Many of us add obligations — parties, gift exchanges, “signature” baked goods — to our holiday routines without realizing we’re overloading our plates. List all your holiday activities, everything from the kids’ nativity play to the neighborhood cookie party, and then cross off anything that doesn’t give you and your family true joy. Do the same with your Christmas card list, crossing off those you only hear from in December (or less). Then it again for the people you buy gifts for, and the dishes and baked goods you typically make. Drop everything you do out of obligation or because it’s “tradition.”
2. DON'T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP
If the kids ask for five types of Christmas cookies, there’s no reason they shouldn’t help you bake them. Enlist the assistance of family, friends and co-workers to lighten your load wherever you can.
3. WATCH THE HOLIDAY SNACKING
When we’re stressed, we reach for comfort food, and there’s nothing more comforting than a plate of Christmas cookies or a loaf of your neighbor’s awesome pumpkin bread. But all those extra calories can translate into a New Year’s Eve outfit that might not fit. Plus, the sugar rush and crash that follows a holiday binge can wreak havoc on your mood and metabolism. So keep the snacks (relatively) healthy and indulge in holiday treats sparingly.
4. DRINK AND BE MERRY, BUT NOT LIKE A CRAZY PERSON
Mulled wine, seasonal microbrews, champagne toasts — many view the holidays as a time to imbibe with loved ones and co-workers. And while celebrating is fine, overindulging in alcohol can quickly add to your stress — think of the extra calories, hangovers, sapped energy and halted productivity. So stay hydrated (with water) and save the toasts for truly special occasions.
5. FIND TIME TO EXERCISE, SOMEHOW
If you don’t think you have time to exercise during the busy holiday season, think outside the box. Instead of driving around to look at the lights, find a twinkling neighborhood and get out and walk. When you head to the stores, park as far away as you can from the entrance. Exercise is an awesome form of stress relief, so when you’re feeling overwhelmed, dust off that membership card and hit the gym.
6. MAKE A BUDGET AND STICK TO IT
Overspending is a huge, huge source of holiday stress, so make a budget as early as you can, before the emotions of the season overtake your better judgment. Be sure to include easily overlooked expenses, such as baking supplies and shipping costs. And once you set the holiday budget, stick to it. Own it. Don’t apologize for it. Treat it like it’s your best friend in December, and it will repay that kindness in January.
7. LOCATE YOUR JOY
The holidays can hold magic for all of us, but sometimes while we’re making our family’s holiday dreams come true we set aside our own. Don’t. Take the long way home and look at Christmas lights. Go caroling. (No, really!) Make a cup of cocoa and sit and look at the Christmas tree after the kids are in bed. Catch afavorite holiday special on TV. Do something every day, or at least every week, that brings back happy memories and helps define the holidays for you.
8. FIND TIME FOR A LONG WINTER'S NAP
Put down the half-written holiday cards and turn off the light! You need shut-eye more than you need to wrap one more gift, so do your mind, body and soul a favor and get a reasonable amount of rest each night.
9. GIVE BACK
If you find yourself suffering from woe-is-me-itis, stop thinking about your problems and focus on others. Sign up to ring the Salvation Army bell. Take a needy child’s name from an angel tree and find a great gift. Visit an assisted-living facility in town and ask to be introduced to someone who doesn’t have family nearby and might like a friend. You will be amazed how much better you feel after taking a break from your worries. (Need advice on where to volunteer your time? A list of local charities begins on page 86.)
10. BE SMARTER THAN YOUR STRESSORS
Remember those 90 percent of Americans who get stressed out during the holidays? Well, 77 percent said that holiday family gatherings were the cause of their increased anxiety. If you know your mother-in-law is going to make her annual comment about your baking abilities, and you know that comment is going to send your blood pressure through the roof, then head it off at the pass. Know your triggers and come up with a game plan for how to avoid (or at least defuse) them.
How to brace yourself for guests
BY KAREN CERRATI
When you live in beautiful destination like Hilton Head Island, houseguests are to be expected — it’s amazing the people who get in touch once they discover you reside on an island. That goes double during the holidays, when you can expect northern-based family and friends to jockey for space in your spare room or couch.
But even if you don’t have an officially designated guestroom, there are many ways you can make your visitors feel right at home — and without feeling like you’ve turned into an innkeeper. Here are a few.
Wonderful cotton sheets and plush towels are a given. If your guests will be sharing a bathroom with other members of your household, consider giving them towels in a distinctive color. If you can, personalize: If Grandma and Grandpa make an annual trek south, for instance, consider having some towels monogrammed or embroidered especially for them.
STOCK THE BATHROOM
When it comes to the bathroom, think like a deluxe hotel and fill a small basket with extra toothbrushes, mini-tubes of toothpaste, deodorant and a spare hairdryer (this is the perfect place to stash those sample sizes you get at the cosmetics counter). And don’t forget the Band-Aids, aspirin, extra toilet paper and fresh bars of soap. Hang a fluffy robe in the guest room closet — who packs one of those? —so your guests won’t have to dash across the hall in their PJs.
RESEARCH YOUR GUESTS
Before your guests arrive, find out if they have any special requests. Do you need to find allergen-free pillow and mattress covers? Are your guests allergic to cats? Has the dog claimed the guestroom as his own? (Speaking of which, if you’ve been stashing the litter box in the guest bathroom, move it to a new location at least a week before your guests arrive to avoid accidents.)
ESTABLISH A ROUTINE
Early risers may appreciate a coffee maker in their room, so they won’t have to wake up the rest of the house. Print out some maps with routes marked for bicyclists, joggers and speed-walkers and leave them on the table. Let late-sleepers know what time you plan to serve breakfast and give them the option of self-service cold cereal, fruit or muffins if they choose to miss the appointed hour.
A LITTLE INFORMATION, PLEASE
Don’t feel you have to spend every waking moment entertaining your guests — they may just want to take a walk on the beach by themselves. To help them out, pick up brochures on local tours, events and activities and have them on the nightstand along with a great beach novel — maybe a Bay Tanner mystery by local author Kathryn R. Wall or anything by Pat Conroy — and, it goes without saying, the latest Monthly. If there’s a TV in the room, furnish instructions on how to use the remote, cable box and DVD player.
GET BONUS POINTS
Take your hospitality a step further and have some pretty island postcards available. If you have kids visiting, give them a journal in which they can record their adventures every day. And if your guestroom doubles as an office or family room, make sure you have a lamp within reach of your fold-out couch and get some lined baskets to serve as dresser drawers on a closet shelf or bookshelf.
Make gift cards work for you
BY KAREN CERRATI
When it comes to finding a present for that “impossible to shop for” person on your list — and we all have at least one — gift cards can be a singularly perfect solution.
But did you know that gift cards can expire? Or that the recipient may be charged a fee if he or she doesn’t use their card within a year? Or that some cards carry a monthly fee? Or that some cards charge separate fees that come out of the value of the card?
Recently, the Federal Reserve instituted new rules designed to afford more protection to gift card holders. These rules apply to cards purchased after Aug. 22, and they cover both store cards — those used at specific retailers — and the gift cards offered by major credit card companies such as MasterCard, VISA, American Express and Discover. (Cards you receive as part of a special promotion, those of the “Spend $100 and get a $20 gift card” variety, might not be covered, but even those must offer clear information about expiration dates and fees.)
An overview of some new rules designed to protect gift card recipients:
Five-year minimum expiration date: The money on your card will be good for at least five years from the purchase date. Should you add additional money later, that money will also be good for at least five years.
Replacement cards: If your card has an expiration date but still carries a balance, ask the card issuer about transferring those unspent funds to a replacement card at no additional cost. In some cases, the card may expire after five years, but the money may not expire for seven. In any event, before you toss that expired card, be sure to ask about a replacement.
Fee disclosure: Some gift cards may charge the recipient a monthly maintenance fee that can go into effect as quickly as a year after purchase. In that scenario, a $25 gift card lingering in your wallet could quickly dwindle to nothing before you know it. And buyer beware: You can be charged hefty shipping and handling fees, which can vary depending on whether you purchased the card in person, online or over the phone. You could easily add an additional $10 in shipping and handling per gift card.
New limit on fees: Under the new rules, many gift card fees are now limited. Generally, fees can be charged if you haven’t used the card for at least a year — and you are only charged one fee per month.
HOW TO JAZZ UP YOUR PRESENTATION
Gift cards make great presents, but there’s something uninspiring about opening a plain envelope while everyone else is tearing into lavishly wrapped boxes. Try these ideas for something new and novel:
- Bookstore Gift Cards: Does your recipient love collecting cookbooks? Present your card on a lucite cookbook holder. Night owls or frequent travelers will be delighted to find a gift card attached to a portable book light.
- Tickets: Disguise a book of movie tickets in an assortment of concession stand candy boxes. Include a pair of opera glasses with tickets to a concert or the theater. And how about a tiny toy plane dangling from the branch of your Christmas tree for a winter getaway surprise?
- Clothing: Tuck a gift card into the pocket of a basic T-shirt, into the hand of a glove or the toe of a pair of socks.
- Lessons: A series of classes can make a great gift. Package the certificate in a sleeve of golf or tennis balls, tucked into a yoga mat or wrapped around a rolling pin.
Wines for the season
Looking for the perfect bottle for your holiday gathering or hard-to-buy-for oenophile on your list?
Four local experts shops offer these suggestions:
ROLLERS WINE & SPIRITS
Chateau Redortier, Beaumes de Venise
This Beaumes de Venise rouge is mainly Grenache with a notably high proportion of Syrah. For not seeing any wood, it has a black fruit character that intoxicates with its nose alone. On the palate it unfolds with layers of spice and cherry fruit; it’s delicious young, but currently at its prime.
Elyse C’est si Bon (It’s So Good)
One of my favorite wines for the holiday season. It’s a blend of Rhone varietals, mostly Grenache, Mourvedre and Syrah, sourced from the Naggiar Vineyard in the Sierra foothills. It has a wonderful aroma of raspberries, tangerine peel, white pepper and leather. On the palate there are flavors of plums and raspberries, a slight minerality, a creamy feel and a long finish.
Torii Mor pinot noir
This light, higher-end pinot noir comes from the Willamette Valley in Oregon and boasts a light, velvety flavor. Like all pinots it tends to pair well with anything; put a little chill on it and serve it with turkey at your big holiday dinner.
WINE TIMES 4
Segura Cava brut
A light sparkling wine that’s suitable for anything this holiday season; it has a gentle sparkle that carries a sense of honeyed apple and red apple-skins.
2010 Charitable Register
The Lowcountry is home to a great number of charitable organizations that need volunteers and donations, both during the holiday season and all year long. Following is a list of some of those organizations. For a complete list of all nonprofit organizations in Beaufort County, visit http://nccs.urban.org.
American Cancer Society
Nationwide, community-based voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem. Funds research, individual care and support and education to promote awareness of the disease. 59 Pope Avenue, Hilton Head. 842-5188; www.cancer.org/involved
American Heart Association
Supports research, education and community programs on cardiovascular disease; 681-2355; www.americanheart.org
American Red Cross
Services include blood donation program, safety training classes and helping victims of fires and other local disasters. 757-7437; www.lowcountryredcross.org
Beaufort County Open Land Trust:
Protects land permanently by working with private citizens and communities. Accepts donations of properties and helps landowners establish legal restrictions that limit harmful use and development. 521-2175; www.openlandtrust.com
Bluffton Self Help
Helps individuals in the greater Bluffton area who are in critical need of short-term, documented financial assistance; provides them with the most fundamental needs, such as food and clothing, while urging them to become more self-reliant. 757-8000; www.blufftonselfhelp.org
Born to Read
Volunteers visit new parents in the birthing centers at Beaufort Memorial Hospital and Hilton Head Hospital and bring the parents a gift bag containing a board book, a bib, a shirt and other items and advise the parents of the importance of daily reading and talking with their babies starting at birth. 379-3350; www.borntoread.org
Boys & Girls Clubs of the Lowcountry
Nurtures young people’s self-esteem by instilling in them a sense of belonging, usefulness, influence and competence. Programming in five core program areas: Character and Leadership Development, Education and Career Development, Health and Life Skills, The Arts and Sports, Fitness and Recreation. Hilton Head Island, 689-5565; Bluffton, 757-2845; www.bgchhi.com
Established by Hargray to provide support to local 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations. Participants in the program are Hargray Communications customers who voluntarily round up their monthly bill. 341-COIN; www.caringcoins.org
Child Abuse Prevention Association (CAPA)
Provides prevention and intervention programs targeted at breaking the cycle of child abuse and neglect. 524-4350; capabeaufort.org
Provides high quality, high-impact educational child care; Hilton Head, 681-2739; Bluffton, 757-5549; www.thechildrenscentersc.org
Citizens Opposed to Domestic Violence (CODA)
Provides free and confidential information and help to victims of domestic violence. Services include 24-hour crisis counseling, emergency shelter, victim advocacy, legal assistance, case management, information and referral, support groups, and children’s services. 770-1070; www.codalowcountry.org
Community Caring for Children
Provides mobile health care van for children in the public elementary and middle schools, preschool facilities and children of migrant workers. Strives to assure that all eligible children have their molars sealed, receive fluoride treatments and are screened for active dental disease by X-rays and examinations. P.O. Box 23423, Hilton Head, SC 29925
Deep Well Project
The Deep Well project streamlines a broad range of vital social services for the working poor, disabled and infirm within the greater Hilton Head area. 785-2849; www.deepwellproject.org
Friends of the Beaufort County Library
The organization supports all Beaufort County libraries in order to keep them consistently active and updated. 470-6504; www.beaufortcountylibrary.org/htdocs-sirsi/allfriends.htm
Friends of the Rivers
Protects the quality of local water resources by providing water quality education and information to residents of the Lowcountry as it relates to a community’s cultural, social, economic or scientific concerns. 227-0004; www.friendsoftherivers.com
Hilton Head Regional Habitat for Humanity
Habitat works in partnership with people in need to build and renovate decent, affordable housing. The houses are sold to those in need at no profit with no interest charged. 21 Brendan Lane, Bluffton. 757-5864; habitathhi.org
Lowcountry Habitat for Humanity
Habitat works in partnership with people in need to build and renovate decent, affordable housing. The houses are sold to those in need at no profit and with no interest charged. 522-3500; www.lowcountryhabitat.org
Heritage Library Foundation
The Foundation is devoted to the study and preservation of national and ancestral history. A not-for-profit organization staffed entirely by volunteers, it operates a history and genealogical library and administers two historic sites from the Colonial and Civil War eras. 843-686-6560 ; www.heritagelib.org.
Heroes on Horseback
Fosters safe, professional and ethical equine-assisted activities for individuals with physical, mental or emotional disabilities. 757-5607; www.heroesonhorseback.org
Hilton Head Audubon Society
Promotes awareness and appreciation of nature to preserve and protect wildlife and natural ecosystems and to encourage responsible environmental stewardship. www.hiltonheadaudubon.org; email Clem at email@example.com
Hilton Head Heroes
Provides weeklong vacations to Hilton Head Island for children suffering from life-threatening illnesses and their families. 671-4939; hhheroes.com
Hilton Head Hospital Auxiliary
Sponsors the hospital gift shop, Red Cross Bloodmobile and the “Trolley,” a campus transport golf cart. Assists patients who are without sufficient resources to meet certain health needs; provides scholarships to local residents who wish to pursue nursing careers. 689-8246; www.hiltonheadregional.com
Hilton Head Humane
Provide care and shelter for stray, abandoned and abused dogs and cats; places animals in stable and loving homes; promotes and provides spaying and neutering; educates community on proper care and treatment of animals. 681-8686; www.hhhumane.org
Hope Haven of the Lowcountry: Children’s Advocacy and Rape Crisis Center
Provides child and adult forensic interviews, crisis counseling, victim advocacy, family support, law enforcement partnership and educational programs. 524-2256; www.hopehavenlc.org
Hospice Care of the Lowcountry
Offers care, comfort and dignity unconditionally to individuals at the end of life and support for families; 706-2296; www.hospicecarelc.org
Island Recreation Center
Provides wide variety of programs for children, families and seniors. 681-7273; www.islandreccenter.org
Junior Jazz Foundation
Philanthropic outreach effort of The Jazz Corner, formed to educate and enable young musicians in the community by supplying instruments, scholarships, classes and seminars. The Village at Wexford C-1, Hilton Head. 681-9100; www.thejuniorjazzfoundation.com
Lifelong Learning of Hilton Head Island
Learning institute for working and retired adults. 842-8250; www.lifelonglearninghhi.org
Literacy Volunteers of the Lowcountry
Equips adults with reading, writing, math and speaking skills. Bluffton, 815- 6616; Hilton Head, 681-6655; www.lowcountryliteracy.org
Low Country Legal Clinic, Inc.
Engages community volunteers and retired attorneys in providing free advice, education and legal representation to low-income families. 815-1570; www.lowcountrylegalaid.org
Meals on Wheels
Delivers meals to qualified clients in southern Beaufort County. 689-8334; www.mowblufftonhhi.com
Helps families who face the challenges of living with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease; offers a social day program for those with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. 842-6688; www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers; www.memory-matters.org
National Alliance on Mental Illness, Beaufort County
Self-help, support and advocacy organization for people with mental illness, and their families and friends. 681-2200; www.NAMIBeaufortCounty.com
Native Island Business and Community Affairs
Sponsors Hilton Head Island Gullah Celebration, which was designed to create economic development opportunities for minority business owners, to develop the cultural tourism market and to increase tourism in February on Hilton Head Island. 689-9314; www.gullahcelebration.com
Provides our men and women in the armed forces with the opportunity to reconnect with their spouses and children on their return from Iraq or Afghanistan. Local property owners donate their homes and villas on Hilton Head Island for this purpose. www.operationrestandrelax.org
Palmetto Animal League
Promotes humane treatment of animals, rescue and education programs, helps provide spay/neuter services. 645-1725; www.palmettoanimalleague.org
Promotes and preserves the history and culture of the Sea Islands; acts as local, national and international resource center, and catalyst for the development of programs for self-sufficiency. 838-2432; www.penncenter.com
Pregnancy Center and Clinic of the Low Country
Enables women to make responsible choices regarding reproductive health issues. 689-2222; www.pregnancycenterhhi.org
Programs for Exceptional People (PEP)
Serves individuals affected by intellectual and developmental disabilities. Provides skills training in the areas of employment, utilization of resources and independent living. 681-8413; www.pephhi.org
Collects surplus foods that would otherwise have been wasted from restaurants, resorts, caterers, supermarkets and others. Volunteers then deliver this food to agencies serving the disadvantaged in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. 689-3689; www.secondhelpingshhi.org
Snac Spay Neuter
Low-cost spay/neuter clinic. 645-2500; www.snac1.com
Toys for Tots
U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program collects new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distributes those toys as Christmas gifts to needy children in the community. 912-315-4760; www.toysfortots.org
Treat the Troops
Home-baked cookies and other items, including a note of thanks, are sent to members of the armed forces. Started by Jeanette Cram, the “Cookie Lady.” www.treatthetroops.org
Supports a variety of social services, including information and referral for emergency or non-emergency needs such as counseling, food and shelter, suicide prevention, emergency shelter for children and battered women, and other human service needs. 837-2000; www.uwlowcountry.org
Volunteers in Medicine
Retired medical professionals provide quality health care services in free clinics that focus on serving the needs of the working uninsured. 689.6612; www.vimclinic.org
Junior League of Savannah-South Carolina Lowcountry Projects
An organization of women committed to promoting volunteering, developing the potential of women, and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. 912-790-1002; www.jrleaguesav.org
Members work to develop future generations of leaders. They help revitalize neighborhoods, organize youth sports programs, tutor, build playgrounds and perform other projects to help children and their local communities. Kiwanis Club of Hilton Head - Palmetto: http://palmettokiwanisclub.org; Kiwanis Club of Hilton Head Island: www.hiltonheadkiwanis.com; 686-8130.
Knights of Columbus
Social and intellectual fellowship is promoted among members and their families through educational, charitable, religious, social welfare, war relief and public relief works. Council 12263-Cardinal Bernardin, Bluffton; Council 10668-Thomas D. Reilley Sr., Hilton Head; Council 7289-Raymond G. Bennett, Hilton Head; www.kofc.org
Conducts vision screenings, equips hospitals and clinics, distributes medicine and raises awareness of eye disease. Clubs on Hilton Head and in Bluffton. www.sclions.org
Provides service to others, promotes high ethical standards, and to advance world understanding, goodwill and peace through its fellowship of business, professional, and community leaders. Local clubs include: Bluffton; Hilton Head; Hilton Head – Sunset; Hilton Head – Van Landingham; Okatie. www.rotary7770.org
Women’s Association of Hilton Head
Promotes natural and cultural beauty of the island, encourages projects which benefit the community, and facilitates communication among the women of the island. 837-5138; www.wahhi.com
Organization of executives and professionals working together to advance the status of women worldwide through service and advocacy. Zonta members volunteer their time, talents and money to local and international service projects as well as scholarship award programs aimed at furthering women’s education, leadership and youth development. Zonta Club of Bluffton: www.zontaclubofbluffton.com; Zonta Club of Hilton Head Island: zontahhi.org
There are hundreds of foundations throughout Southern Beaufort County. Here are just a few:
Celebrity Golf Foundation
16 children’s organizations share in the proceeds from the annual celebrity golf tournament. www.hhcelebritygolf.com; 842-7711
Community Foundation of the Lowcountry
Makes grants to local nonprofits that benefit the area. www.cf-lowcountry.org; 681-9100
Provides emotional and financial support to individuals or families who have experienced a life-altering tragedy such as a serious or terminal illness or death of a parent or spouse, creating tremendous financial hardship. www.curryfoundation.org
David Carmines Foundation
Supports cancer research, cancer patient support and public recreation. www.davidmcarmines.org
Heritage Classic Foundation
Nonprofit organization that became the general sponsor of the Heritage. Proceeds left over from the tournament are donated to local charities. www.heritageclassicfoundation.com
THE ARTS / MUSEUMS
Arts Center of Coastal Carolina
Broadway-style theater, pop, jazz and classical concerts, children’s events and more. 14 Shelter Cove Lane, Hilton Head; 842-2787; artshhi.com
Art League of Hilton Head Island
Promotes and supports the visual arts through education, exhibitions and partnerships. Ste. 207, Pineland Station, Hilton Head; 681-5060; www.hhal.org
Coastal Discovery Museum
Hands-on exploration of the history, wildlife and heritage of coastal Carolina. 100 William Hilton Parkway (Honey Horn Plantation), Hilton Head; 689-6767; www.coastaldiscovery.org
Hilton Head Choral Society
Variety of musical performances at various venues. 341-6468; hiltonheadchoralsociety.org
Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra
Music by the masters, pops programs, youth orchestra and more. Performances at First Presbyterian Church, Hilton Head, and various venues; 842-2055; www.hhso.org
Main Street Youth Theatre
Provides theatrical experience to amateur local young talent. 689-MAIN (6246); www.msyt.org
May River Theatre Company
Musical revues, various theater productions. Corner of Bridge and Pritchard streets (in Bluffton Town Hall), Bluffton; 815-5581; mayrivertheatre.com
The Sandbox — An Interactive Children’s Museum
Hands-on interactive children’s museum filled with unique, entertaining and educational play areas to explore. 18 Pope Ave., Hilton Head; 842-7645; thesandbox.org
South Carolina Repertory Theatre
Broadway-style theater, musical theater and more. 136 Beach City Road, Hilton Head; 342-2057; hiltonheadtheatre.com