My Most Memorable Mother’s Day

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Mother’s Day took a sweet turn for me a few years ago. Here’s how-

I grew up in a country where Mother’s Day was never a big deal. So, I began celebrating the holiday only a few years ago.  Celebrating may not even be the right word. All I did was to call my mom and wish her, and on a few occasions, I sent her flowers and a greeting card.

My mom, of course, would shrug it away as if it was the silliest thing to celebrate a day in her honor.

As for me, I wasn’t completely sold on the idea and always felt uncomfortable with the way in which we were commercializing our feelings for our loved ones, but, I played along and saw no harm in wishing Mom a Happy Mother’s Day once a year.

But everything changed in the summer of 2006.

I became a Mom.

Mother’s Day since then has never been the same.  Every year on Mother’s Day, my little girl wishes me in her own sweet way and I can’t express how much I value and cherish her little ‘gifts’ and cards.  We’ve celebrated three Mother’s Days since my daughter was born.  Although I remember all of them well and have fond memories of my baby wishing me, Mother’s Day 2009 was probably the most memorable.

We celebrated it on Myrtle Beach in South Carolina. Perfect weather, a beautiful ocean, the most gorgeous sunrise and miles of soft sand and sparkling sea shells made last year’s Mother’s Day weekend wonderful in every way. It was my daughter’s first trip to the beach. We spent the day building sand castles, collecting sea shells, telling sea monster stories, strolling along the beach and just having a marvelous time.

Technically speaking, there was no ‘Mother’s Day gift’.  But I couldn’t have asked for a better gift.

Watching my daughter enjoy herself without a care in the world, exploring sand and sea in her cute bathing suit gave me more joy than any designer gift could have.  I had a great time myself, with no thoughts of work or chores or bills ruining my experience.

It was a beautiful, memorable Mother’s Day, and it didn’t cost us a fortune or weeks of elaborate planning.

That Mother’s Day made me realize that holidays and special occasions are opportunities for us to create memories together. You don’t have to spend your savings or plan meticulously to have a good time and show your loved ones how much you care.  A gift is great, but it doesn’t have to break your budget or be the focus of your celebration.

Spending less money on ‘things’ and more time with each other may be the secret to having memorable moments throughout our lives.  Speaking from personal experience, I strongly recommend you try it. Instead of splurging on gifts, plan an outing or a day with your Mom. It could be as simple as a picnic in her backyard or a trip to her favorite spot in the city.  What makes it special and memorable is the fact that you spend time with her doing what she enjoys and just have a good time together.

So, Moms, here’s wishing you a very Happy Mother’s Day – may you be surrounded by love and joy and may the fond memories of your special day last forever.

P.S:  Don’t tell anyone…but this year, I’ll be flying home with my daughter to celebrate Mother’s Day with my Mom and Grandma. Four generations, three Moms, three Daughters. That should be some Mother’s Day celebration!

Why Mother’s Day is So Popular in America…

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by Rupa

and My Dilemma Surrounding Mother’s Day!

Although it seems like a universal holiday now, did you know that Mother’s Day has always been a predominantly western tradition? This holiday celebrated with gusto in countries like America, Canada and Australia was little known to people in Asian countries like India, where I come from. Here, the concept of Mother’s Day started gaining popularity only over the last decade or two. Growing up, I don’t remember celebrating Mother’s Day, or for that matter Father’s Day or any of these modern holidays my cousins, nieces and nephews in India celebrate today.

You probably know the history behind Mother’s Day and how Anna Jarvis is credited with starting the tradition in honor of her mother, Mrs. Reese Jarvis.  Many in America adopted the holiday in 1908, but it was in 1914, that the Presidential proclamation declared the 2nd Sunday in May as Mother’s Day to honor all mothers.

When I think about why the holiday is considered so important in America, and why it took decades for its appeal to reach other countries, a couple of probable reasons pop up in my head.

Children move out of their parents’ house in America. Not the case in many Asian or Middle-eastern countries. Children continued living with their parents even after becoming adults, unless there was a pressing need to move out, such as educational or career opportunities in a different city. Sons continued to live with their parents post-marriage, while daughters moved into their husbands’/ in-laws’ place. Parental ties remained strong regardless. Daughters returned to their parent’s place during pregnancy and/or child birth and stayed for a few months afterwards.  Sons dutifully cared for their parents until the very end. Joint families were common and so, one probably never saw the need to set aside a day to spend time with his mother or to bring her flowers. Parents and children were an integral part of each other’s lives.  Each pitched in towards bringing in income or carrying out household chores.  My guess: They probably depended on each other and saw each other a lot more than in the West. So, the idea of celebrating a special holiday for a certain member of the family may simply never have occurred. Whereas in the west, where it’s very common for kids to move out of their parents home during their teenage years to lead independent lives – the need to allocate a day to celebrate and honor one’s parents is understandable.

In countries like Indiatraditionally, parents were honored, revered, implicitly obeyed and routinely consulted. Not just on a special holiday or during a particular season, but all the time. Respecting one’s parents was considered a sacred duty and serving them, a privilege. So, though there may have been no ‘Mother’s Day’, children never set out on an important mission without seeking their parents’ blessings – be it a test at school, a performance or one’s wedding.  Bringing flowers and greeting cards may not have been in vogue, but children cared for aging, disabled or sick parents without a second thought. It was just assumed that children would look after their parents just as their parents had cared for them. So, you see, in a way, everyday was Mother’s or Father’s day.

Expressing feelings with material gifts is a relatively modern, western concept. You don’t have to think long and hard to figure out that marketers and retailers benefit the most from these holidays. Sure, your flowers, gifts and dinner treats may thrill mom, but she probably would be just as happy if you simply paid her a visit or spent a few hours with her without splurging on gifts.  In many cultures and countries, exchange of gifts within a family was unheard of until very recently. The idea that material gifts express one’s feelings didn’t exist. Consumers in America and other western, capitalist countries on the other hand, aren’t new to this. Spending money on ‘things’ and exchanging gifts on special occasions has been part of the culture here for several decades.

My Mother’s Day Dilemma

So, you see, I have mixed feelings about celebrating Mother’s Day. My mother is my best friend, teacher, guide and confidante. We talk every day. We read each other’s minds on many occasions.  We have no secrets. She is my strength, inspiration and reality check.  On one hand, I see the rationale behind celebrating a holiday in her honor.  On the other hand, I don’t see how I could just pick one random day of the year to treat her in a special way, to give her my attention and a gift and to make her feel appreciated. This is the dilemma I face every year as Mother’s Day approaches. I send her flowers and a mothers day cards or ecards in keeping with holiday tradition. But, the second Sunday of May is not necessarily the only day when I feel like honoring her.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that it’s the everyday moments – the jokes and secrets we share, the problems she helps me with, the advice we give each other, the little tiffs – those are the things that cement our mother-daughter bond. Not the bouquet of roses I send her once a year.

What do Mother’s Day traditions mean to you?

Upcoming Spring Holidays Easter and Holi

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Upcoming Spring Holidays Easter and Holi

Wow! Can you believe that March is almost upon us?! As hard as it is to accept that we’re already approaching the third month in 2010, I won’t deny that this is the time of the year I look forward to the most. Who doesn’t? What’s not to love about spring(allergies aside!)? Flowers in full bloom. Nature at her glorious best. Milder temperatures. Longer days.  The anticipation of summer. Everything about spring reflects celebrating a fresh start. It’s not surprising that spring time puts people in a better mood, as many studies suggest! I could have told you that myself! Just seeing more sunlight, spending time outdoors, getting more fresh air, seeing lush greenery works wonders for your state of mind, mood and overall health.

And to top it all, you have the year’s first holidays coming up to lift your spirits further. No matter where you are and what your faith, the arrival of spring is marked by festivities of one form or another.

Take Easter. This colorful holiday celebrated in memory of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, has its origins in the festival of fertility – Eastre. It has evolved into one of the most widely celebrated Christian holidays and is marked by children dressed in their best clothes going on Easter egg hunts and coming away with baskets full of goodies, families coming together to pray, spend time together and welcome new beginnings.

On the other end of the spectrum lies the Hindu festival of Holi that is not very different in spirit. This Indian spring festival is marked by a reenactment of Ras Leela – the divine dance and song celebrations of Lord Krishna and his beloved Gopikas in the gardens of Brindavan.  In India, Holi is an occasion for children and adults alike to engage in fun and pranks such as splashing colored water or spraying paint over each other. There are a number of legends associated with Holi, but, in all of them, the underlying theme – the onset of spring in all its glory – is unmistakable.

No matter which part of the world you live in and what your beliefs, we hope that you will take some time to celebrate new beginnings and to rejoice in the blessings you are surrounded by this spring.

And to help you get into the spirit of Spring festivities, we have created dozens of free Holi Ecards and free Easter Ecards for you to share with your friends and family.

Don’t forget, Easter falls on April 4th and March 1st is Holi!

Related Posts:

What do July 4th and August 15th have in common?
http://blog.gotfreecards.com/free-ecards/what-does-july-4th-and-august-15th-have-in-common/

Culture brings the world closer
http://blog.gotfreecards.com/ecards/culture-brings-the-world-closer/

categoriaabout holidays, holi commentoNo Comments dataFebruary 21st, 2010
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Turn Valentine’s Day into Valentine’s Week!

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The good thing about Valentine’s Day and other such occasions is that is gives us an opportunity to think about and do something nice for the people we love once a year. The not-so-good thing about it is that we often take that as an excuse for not being as nice on other days of the year! ( How many times have you done or said something terrible during an argument and thought,” I’ll make up for it on Valentine’s Day or our anniversary”?)
So this year, I was wondering, instead of saving up all your love and expressions of love( read gifts!) for Valentine’s Day – why not spread it out a little? Instead of Valentine’s Day, why not celebrate a Valentine’s Week? There are two benefits of celebrating this way – 1) It takes your spouse or that special person in your life completely by surprise when you start showing your love and appreciation a few days earlier than expected! 2) It extends the celebrations for both of you and when it comes to romance – who doesn’t like an extended stay?!
If you’re game for this route or are at least willing to give it a shot, here are a few of my suggestions for celebrating a beautiful Valentine’s Week -
1. Spread your budget- Instead of splurging on one huge, expensive gift, buy a few smaller, but nice gifts that your Valentine would really appreciate. Leave these around as surprises for him or her to find throughout the week – in her coat pocket, under his pillow, at the car’s dashboard, in her laptop case, in his grooming kit…
2. Tease a little – Why reveal your Valentine’s Day plans when you can send her on a treasure hunt instead? Create clues about where you’ll be going and place the clues strategically so your Valentine finds them in sequence and tries to guess your plans. Each clue that he or she cracks successfully is accompanied by a little present leading to the real Valentine’s Day gift on the final day.
3. Be nice – Isn’t it funny how simple, thoughtful gestures like making breakfast and giving a massage are relegated to special occasions such as Valentine’s Day or Mother’s day? This time, take the time to indulge in nice gestures throughout the week and beyond. Show your Valentine how much you care even when it’s not Valentine’s Day.
4. Spend time together – If you both lead busy lifestyles, work full time, have kids or simply have too much on your plate all the time, you probably don’t spend as much time together as you’d like. This year, make a change. Plan your work and chores in such a way that throughout Valentine’s week, you get off work on time, meet each other and spend time in the evenings doing something you love – be it a walk, watching movies, playing a sport, cooking together or just hanging out. Taking time to do the things you both enjoy is very essential to nurturing a healthy relationship.
5. Send free Valentine’s Day ecards. One for each day of the week leading up to Valentine’s Day. There are so many wonderful ecards to choose from, it just doesn’t make sense to send just one. So, on each day of the week, pick a Valentine’s Ecard you like and send it to the one you love. This way, you’ll have a chance to express all sides of your personality – from witty to funny to sentimental or serious – there are so many ways to say Happy Valentine’s Day. So, why say it just once?
How do you plan to spend your Valentine’s Week? Tell us!

The good thing about Valentine’s Day and other such occasions is that is gives us an opportunity to think about and do something nice for the people we love once a year. The not-so-good thing about it is that we often take that as an excuse for not being as nice on other days of the year! ( How many times have you done or said something terrible during an argument and thought,” I’ll make up for it on Valentine’s Day or our anniversary”?)

So this year, I was wondering, instead of saving up all your love and expressions of love( read gifts!) for Valentine’s Day – why not spread it out a little? Instead of Valentine’s Day, why not celebrate a Valentine’s Week? There are two benefits of celebrating this way – 1) It takes your spouse or that special person in your life completely by surprise when you start showing your love and appreciation a few days earlier than expected! 2) It extends the celebrations for both of you and when it comes to romance – who doesn’t like an extended stay?!

If you’re game for this route or are at least willing to give it a shot, here are a few of my suggestions for celebrating a beautiful Valentine’s Week -

1. Spread your budget- Instead of splurging on one huge, expensive gift, buy a few smaller, but nice gifts that your Valentine would really appreciate. Leave these around as surprises for him or her to find throughout the week – in her coat pocket, under his pillow, at the car’s dashboard, in her laptop case, in his grooming kit…

2. Tease a little – Why reveal your Valentine’s Day plans when you can send her on a treasure hunt instead? Create clues about where you’ll be going and place the clues strategically so your Valentine finds them in sequence and tries to guess your plans. Each clue that he or she cracks successfully is accompanied by a little present leading to the real Valentine’s Day gift on the final day.

3. Be nice – Isn’t it funny how simple, thoughtful gestures like making breakfast and giving a massage are relegated to special occasions such as Valentine’s Day or Mother’s day? This time, take the time to indulge in nice gestures throughout the week and beyond. Show your Valentine how much you care even when it’s not Valentine’s Day.

4. Spend time together – If you both lead busy lifestyles, work full time, have kids or simply have too much on your plate all the time, you probably don’t spend as much time together as you’d like. This year, make a change. Plan your work and chores in such a way that throughout Valentine’s week, you get off work on time, meet each other and spend time in the evenings doing something you love – be it a walk, watching movies, playing a sport, cooking together or just hanging out. Taking time to do the things you both enjoy is very essential to nurturing a healthy relationship.

5. Send free Valentine’s Day ecards. One for each day of the week leading up to Valentine’s Day. There are so many wonderful ecards to choose from, it just doesn’t make sense to send just one. So, on each day of the week, pick a Valentine’s Ecard you like and send it to the one you love. This way, you’ll have a chance to express all sides of your personality – from witty to funny to sentimental or serious – there are so many ways to say Happy Valentine’s Day. So, why say it just once?

How do you plan to spend your Valentine’s Week? Tell us!

Chinese New Year – The Year of the Tiger

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Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year

Out with the Old, In with the New

On February 14th, millions of people will celebrate love and family ties across the world. And many of the celebrations may have nothing to do with Valentine’s Day.
This year, February 14th is also the day when the Chinese will ring in their new year. Traditionally, in China and for Chinese families across the globe, the new year is the most important occasion of the year, more important than their birthdays or any other day of the year. New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are occasions when the entire family gets together to celebrate, much like Thanksgiving or Christmas in the Western world. The exact date of the new year changes every year as it is based on the lunar calendar. The Chinese celebrate New Year on the first day of the first moon in the lunar calendar. This date usually falls between Jan 21st and Feb 19th. This year, it coincides with Valentine’s Day.
Traditionally, celebrations in China begin a few days in advance. Homes are swept, dusted and cleaned. Auspicious verses or Spring Couplets scrolled in black on red paper are hung on walls. Flowers are used to decorate homes. A grand feast is prepared for the Kitchen God who leaves a few days before the start of the New Year to report to heaven on his observations of the family’s behavior. New Year’s meals are prepared a day ahead and all sharp items are put away on New Year’s day as they are believed to hinder or ‘cut’ the coming in of good luck. Members of the family gather for a New Year’s eve feast. Even those not present are remembered. Children offer their respects to elders by bowing to them. The elders give them cash gifts in red envelopes which are considered auspicious. On New Year’s Day, people visit family and friends, exchanging wishes and gifts, dressed in their finest new clothes.
In China, the new year festivities last for a fortnight. There are fireworks, parades and lion dances on streets. The seventh day of the Chinese New Year is considered “Everybody’s Birthday”. This is the day when everyone adds a year to their age, since individual birthdays are not really considered very important in traditional China. The festivities come to an end on the 15th day with the Lantern Festival that involves dragon dances performed by men and people carrying lanterns into the street and joining the parade.
While, this may be how the Chinese New Year is celebrated in parts of China, it’s obvious that not too many of us today can afford a 15-day long break from work or to have a New Year’s party lasting two weeks. So, in America and other places with a considerable Chinese population, a shorter, simpler version of the celebrations can be witnessed. If you have the chance to visit Chinatown in San Francisco or a similar area in any other city, you might still get to see most of the above celebrations. It might just be packaged more appropriately to fit our busy work lifestyles, taking into account practical considerations.
One thing is for sure. It will be a celebration like none other. After all, it’s not everyday that you get to watch colorful lion dances and dragon parades and participate in celebrations that reflect a centuries-old culture.
And no matter where you are and how you celebrate, don’t forget to send your friends and family free Chinese Near Year ecards. They may not be part of Chinese tradition, but they are sure to be loved!
Source:http://www.c-c-c.org/chineseculture/festival/newyear/newyear.html

On February 14th, millions of people will celebrate love and family ties across the world. And many of the celebrations may have nothing to do with Valentine’s Day.

This year, February 14th is also the day when the Chinese will ring in their new year. Traditionally, in China and for Chinese families across the globe, the new year is the most important occasion of the year, more important than their birthdays or any other day of the year. New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are occasions when the entire family gets together to celebrate, much like Thanksgiving or Christmas in the Western world. The exact date of the new year changes every year as it is based on the lunar calendar. The Chinese celebrate New Year on the first day of the first moon in the lunar calendar. This date usually falls between Jan 21st and Feb 19th. This year, it coincides with Valentine’s Day.

Traditionally, celebrations in China begin a few days in advance. Homes are swept, dusted and cleaned. Auspicious verses or Spring Couplets scrolled in black on red paper are hung on walls. Flowers are used to decorate homes. A grand feast is prepared for the Kitchen God who leaves a few days before the start of the New Year to report to heaven on his observations of the family’s behavior. New Year’s meals are prepared a day ahead and all sharp items are put away on New Year’s day as they are believed to hinder or ‘cut’ the coming in of good luck. Members of the family gather for a New Year’s eve feast. Even those not present are remembered. Children offer their respects to elders by bowing to them. The elders give them cash gifts in red envelopes which are considered auspicious. On New Year’s Day, people visit family and friends, exchanging wishes and gifts, dressed in their finest new clothes.

In China, the new year festivities last for a fortnight. There are fireworks, parades and lion dances on streets. The seventh day of the Chinese New Year is considered “Everybody’s Birthday”. This is the day when everyone adds a year to their age, since individual birthdays are not really considered very important in traditional China. The festivities come to an end on the 15th day with the Lantern Festival that involves dragon dances performed by men and people carrying lanterns into the street and joining the parade.

While, this may be how the Chinese New Year is celebrated in parts of China, it’s obvious that not too many of us today can afford a 15-day long break from work or to have a New Year’s party lasting two weeks. So, in America and other places with a considerable Chinese population, a shorter, simpler version of the celebrations can be witnessed. If you have the chance to visit Chinatown in San Francisco or a similar area in any other city, you might still get to see most of the above celebrations. It might just be packaged more appropriately to fit our busy work lifestyles, taking into account practical considerations.

One thing is for sure. It will be a celebration like none other. After all, it’s not everyday that you get to watch colorful lion dances and dragon parades and participate in celebrations that reflect a centuries-old culture.

And no matter where you are and how you celebrate, don’t forget to send your friends and family free Chinese Near Year ecards. They may not be part of Chinese tradition, but they are sure to be loved!

Source:http://www.c-c-c.org/chineseculture/festival/newyear/newyear.html

categoriaabout holidays commentoNo Comments dataJanuary 26th, 2010
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Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions

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Here is the top 10 New Year’s Resolutions. Do let us know yours.

1. Lose Weight

2. Get Fit

3. Manage Debt

4. Save Money

5. Get a Better Job

6. Get Better Education

7. Drink less Alcohol

8. Quit Smoking Now

9. Reduce Stress

10. Take a Trip

Source USA.gov

Eitors Note: Here is a funny exercise ecard you could send out from our collection

New Year Ecards

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Why New Year’s Ecards Trump All Others

After the last Christmas present has been opened and the house is quiet again, the countdown to the biggest celebration of the year begins.

New Year’s – The Mother of All Celebrations

If you think that the best of the holiday season is over with Christmas behind you, consider this - many countries in Asia, it’s not Christmas, but New Year’s that is celebrated with gusto. Even though the new year begins at different times of the year for different cultures( Chinese New Year, Hindu new year etc), almost every part of the world holds some form of New Year’s Eve celebrations on Dec 31st. New year’s eve is the occasion that boasts some of the biggest parties of the year in every part of the world.

It’s a New Year …Wherever you live

Take Times Square, for example. Every year tens of thousands of people throng to Manhattan and Times Square to witness the traditional crystal ball drop at midnight. The celebrations at the London Eye on the South Bank in London attract equally large crowds. While Christmas is more about shopping, spending time with family, exchanging gifts, singing carols and attending Mass, New Year’s is an entirely different experience.

Even people who almost never send cards, don’t skip New Year Cards

A key element differentiating New Year’s from other holidays, is the number of greeting cards and ecards people exchange on this occasion. Since, New Year’s is celebrated by people across countries, cultures and religions, it’s natural that this New Year cards are among the most popular category of greeting cards and ecards. Regardless of location, and the influence of political and economic conditions, businesses and individuals exchange New Year’s greeting cards. You send them to your clients and customers. To friends, family and colleagues. To teachers, students and almost anyone you know.

New year’s ecards and greeting cards serve important functions -

In business, sending new year wishes is a great way to build confidence, trust, goodwill, brand image and to stay in your business partners’ and clients’ memories.

Among family members and friends, new year’s cards help forge or strengthen bonds, build bridges and even offer a fresh start to a strained relationship.

Sending free new year’s ecards is one of the easiest ways to stay in touch with people you care about or who are important to you in your professional or personal life. For many people whose resolutions may include getting back in touch with long lost friends and associates, sending a free new year’s ecard is a great starter.

Whatever your reasons – whether you send them every year or have never sent out a new year card before, be it to your best friend or your boss, and no matter where you plan to ring in 2010 – don’t forget that this isn’t just any new year. It’s a new decade! And no matter what else you do, do not miss sending out free new year ecards.

Christmas around the world

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If you stared out of your window and saw that it was a bright sunny afternoon and a perfect day for hitting the beach in your shorts – would you believe it was Christmas?

If you live in the United States, probably not. But in Australia and other places in the Southern Hemisphere, Christmas actually falls in summer when temperatures approach 100 F! So, Christmas in these places, is celebrated outdoors with picnics, beach parties and candlelight carol singing under the stars.

Find that strange?

Then, take this quiz to see how much you know about Christmas traditions and facts about the holiday and how it is celebrated in other countries.

  1. If you were eating rice pudding with a hidden magic almond in it and were leaving out a bowl of pudding for an elf called Nisse so he wouldn’t play too many practical jokes on Christmas, where would you be living?
  2. If your kids are impatient to open their presents, tell them about the country where children actually wait until Janurary 6th to open them. It’s the same country, where the evil witch Befana is said to leave coal instead of presents for the naughty kids and where people gather at noon on Christmas to hear the Pope offer his prayers and blessings.
  3. Christmas in this country is marked by the arrival of the Christ child Christkindli, a veiled angle who brings gifts. As she enters each house and begins handing out gifts, tree candles are lit. The holiday season in this beautiful country is incomplete without the sternsingers or star singers, who dress up as the three kings and parade down streets singing Christmas carols.
  4. Christmas celebrations start early in this country, on Dec 1st or even earlier. On Dec 5th, children leave a boot or shoe outside their homes and the following day, which is St. Nicolaus day, they find in it either presents or a rod depending on how nice or naughty they had been. An advent wreath is laid out flat on a table and a candle is lit each Sunday in December. Three candles are lit in this way and the fourth and last candle is lit on Christmas eve, thus helping kids keep track of the days remaining until the holiday.
  5. Where would you be if you were mummering? What’s that you ask? Well, it’s a custom in this country where people put on masks and act out Christmas plays. Their celebrations begin with attending the midnight mass. The Christmas feast, besides including at least two roasted meats, a variety of vegetables and roasted potatoes, is wrapped up with Christmas pudding, mince pies and a Christmas cake that is prepared a couple of months ahead! The day after Christmas is celebrated as Boxing Day, referring to the custom of opening church alms boxes and distributing the contents to the needy.
Santa

Santa

How did you do on your Christmas Quiz? Are there any special Christmas customs or traditions your family follows? Tell us!

Answers :  1. Denmark, 2.Italy 3. Switzerland 4. Germany 5. England

How to have a stress free Thanksgiving (or any holiday for that matter!)

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With Thanksgiving about a week away, how are your preparations coming along? If you’re one of those meticulous planners, you probably have everything under control already. But, if like many of us, you still haven’t started, here’s a list that will help you plan a great Thanksgiving.

  1. Guests. Make a gust list. How many people are you expecting for the meal? How many children and adults? Call them ahead to find out who is definitely coming and if they’re bringing additional guests. Ask if they have any specific diet restrictions or preferences. (Remember, vegetarianism and veganism are in! You don’t want to end up spending hours fussing over a meal only to discover many of your guests won’t eat meat.)
  2. Menu. How many and what dishes are you planning to make?  How many side dishes? Will you be preparing all of them or is it possible to get someone else to pitch in? Some guests may be glad to bring a side dish or dessert. It might actually make them happy and reduce your work load – so everyone wins. When deciding your menu, pick the dishes that you are comfortable with. Don’t worry about outdoing someone else’s Thanksgiving. Stick with what you’re good at. And of course, a few traditional dishes.
  3. Shopping What are the things you need to buy? Check your pantry and cupboards and make a list of items you need to buy. Make a note of the quantity you will need based on your guest list. Write your note clearly and indicate which stores you plan to buy each item from, the quantities and the brand name, if you have a preference. This way, someone else can do the shopping for you, while you get something else done. It’s better to get shopping out of the way a couple of days ahead if you want to avoid the holiday rush in stores and on the road. See if you can get a couple of hours off from work in the morning when stores are least crowded.
  4. Decorations. Home made or store bought? How elaborate? Once you have decided, you can probably enlist the help of teenagers or older kids in your family. It will keep them occupied while freeing you up to prepare the meal and is also a great way to encourage participation from kids. Once you have given them the directions, don’t micromanage. When you aren’t looking over their shoulders, kids tend to do a good job.
  5. Entertainment. Think of ways to keep guests entertained during their stay. Plan for a family board game or movie. Ask your kids to bring out some of their toys, books, puzzles and games so visiting kids will have something to do. Have coloring sheets, crayons, a white board and markers handy to keep young kids engaged. For the grown ups who aren’t into watching sports, plan an activity like a stroll around your neighborhood or a card game. Don’t forget conversation. Be sure to spend some time catching up with each of your guests. Remember to take pictures of and with all your guests.
  6. Cleaning before and after. Enlist the help of all family members for getting the house in order before Thanksgiving. Allocate an area of the house or a certain chore to every member. Kids could clean up their rooms, pick up toys around the house and maybe help with wiping small surfaces like end tables and chairs. Rearrange furniture if you have to, so you can seat everybody and create conversation areas in every room. Move items you won’t be using for a couple of days like bicycles and exercise equipment away from the main entertainment space, to create more room. For after-Thanksgiving clean up, don’t hesitate to accept your guests’ offer of help. It will give you a chance to catch up and make them feel like they contributed.
  7. Miscellaneous. If you have to pick up out of town guests from the airport, see if you can get someone else to do it while you prepare the meal. If not, plan to leave work a little early, so you can get some preparation out of the way before heading out to the airport. Plan and prepare for traffic delays. Keep a watch on your local traffic beat. Keep your refrigerator stocked with extra milk, juices, vegetables and other items so you don’t have to go looking for a gas station or store that is open on Turkey Day.
  8. Send ecards. Don’t forget to send free Thanksgiving ecards to everyone – including the people who won’t be making it to your dinner. Schedule free ecards a few days ahead so you don’t have to worry about it the week of Thanksgiving. You could also print out a few Free Printable Thanksgiving cards for kids to color in.

Above all, relax and enjoy. Simply celebrate every aspect of the holiday, even if a few details happen to go wrong. Don’t sweat the little stuff. Who cares if your house isn’t spotless or if the napkins aren’t arranged like doves or if you’re one side-dish short? What’s important is that you and your loved ones have come together on Thanksgiving to think about all the things you are thankful for. Keep that in mind, and your Thanksgiving checklist won’t feel that overwhelming any more.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

categoriaThanksgiving, about holidays commentoNo Comments dataNovember 20th, 2009
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Halloween Checklist – Strike it off before you set off trick-or-treating

By ecards

Have you ever paid double for a Halloween costume you hate just because you are left with little choice at the last minute? Or opened your door on Halloween night to a bunch of little ghosts and witches, only to discover that the candy jar is empty?

Halloween is a few days away. But now is the time to make your Halloween checklist and start crossing things off, so you are ready for the big night. Do your best to ensure that this Halloween is all fun and no disappointment for your little trick-or-treaters. These tips will help you celebrate a smoother, spookier Halloween this year.

Before Halloween

  • Get the Halloween costume ready in time. Whether you’re buying a new one, recycling an older sibling’s, borrowing from a cousin or making your own, don’t wait until October 31 to get it all ready. If the costume is a used one, make sure it is clean, altered to the right size and has all tears or stains fixed a few days before Halloween. If you’re buying a new one, do it at least a week before, so you don’t end up with the last costume in the store that nobody wants.
  • Put candies on your shopping list. This one’s easy to forget. Even easier to remember. Simply add it to your list when you go to the grocery store or do your warehouse shopping this week.
  • Buy Halloween supplies and accessories. Don’t forget the pumpkins for your front porch and the pumpkin to hold the treats. If you have one saved from last year, get it out and dust it off a few days ahead. Remember to take it along for the trick-or-treating trip!
  • Plan the route you will take. If you plan to go trick or treating in a group, discuss the streets you will cover and the time you will leave home with the other parents.
  • Send free Halloween Ecards to friends and family.

On Halloween

  • Have a hearty meal before starting out. This goes for you and the kids.
  • Pack supplies. Don’t forget snacks, pumpkins to hold candies, umbrellas, coats, flashlights, sanitizing wipes, tissues and water.
  • Carry your cell phone.
  • Ensure your car has enough gas, if you’re going trick-or-treating on wheels.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and clothes. The night could get cooler by the end of your trick-or-treating trip, so make sure everyone wears layered clothing. Carry extra jackets for all the kids, especially if you’re planning to walk around the neighborhood.
  • Set rules. Remind your kids about not talking to strangers, not going inside homes without you, not getting into strangers’ cars, holding hands while crossing streets and not eating any of the candy until you have had a chance to check them.
  • Fill the candy jar at home before leaving. Inform the person who’s staying behind at home where the candy jar is, so the kids who visit in your absence don’t go disappointed.
  • Remember to leave your porch light on.
  • Take your camera along. It won’t be long before your kids outgrow Halloween and you’ll want memories of every trick or treating trip you have ever been on. Besides, pictures of you with the kids in costume would make great Halloween photo ecards or to add to your Halloween ecards for next year!
  • Halloween cards – Print out and take along printable Halloween cards for your friends and neighbors.