Celebrating Holiday Traditions

In the spirit of the holiday season and families and friends (both new and old) coming together, many of us will be sharing, or maybe starting, holiday traditions. From those we have been celebrating with our families for generations to those we have created on our own with friends, they bring us together and make many special memories. The link between traditions and etiquette may not be apparent, but I have a few important thoughts worth sharing:

  1. Participate in the cheesy stuff! You may think you have grown up too much to do the childish activities, but trust me you have not. The smile it will put on your parents’ or grandparents’ faces is well worth it! Plus, it is your job to teach the next generation!
  2. Include others in your traditions. If you have a significant other or friend spending the holidays with you, be sure they are included in the fun. Teach them about what your family does, how it came to be a tradition, and have them fully participate in the festivities.
  3. If you are not able to spend the holidays with your family, ask the people you will be with if you can share your tradition with them. Whether it is eating a certain dish, singing a certain song, or a certain activity you always do, most hosts will welcome your addition. Just be sure not to take over the occasion and be respectful of the traditions already in place.
  4. Be respectful of making changing to existing traditions. If you have an idea of how to “enhance” a current tradition, be sure to speak with those who started it or those who rank “most senior” in the family/group. Perhaps they go about the tradition a certain way for a reason you do not know or they feel strongly attached to the way it has always been done. It is important to speak to everyone involved before making a decision which will effect the entire family/group.

As I get ready to celebrate my traditional Italian Christmas Eve, I know I am blessed to have family, friends, and loved ones celebrate with me. Cherish these moments and enjoy them!

Merry Christmas, y’all!

Alexandra

Handling Holiday Stress with Grace

As we shop for gifts, welcome house guests, and prepare for parties and holiday meals, the joy of the holiday season has a tendency to also bring quite a lot of stress. While stress levels increase, our positive attitudes and mannerly ways often times decrease. This year, let’s not have that happen! Here are some of my tips to ensure you have a merry and bright holiday season!

  1. The Shopping Experience
    • Be prepared to handle the crowds. Do not push your way through people, simply say “excuse me” as you move.
    • Always thank the sales associate who help you find the gift you want, the right size/color of an item, and sometimes even do your gift wrapping. They appreciate polite customers 🙂
    • Avoid fights with other shoppers over the last item in stock. You will find something else and let’s be honest.. Getting dragged out of the store by mall security is not worth it.
    • Give people their space while looking through clothing racks, items on the shelf, and standing in line.
    • Speaking of standing in line, do not huff and puff because the line is long. Instead, use that time wisely. Get your coupons and method of payment ready so you can be quick at the register.
    • When you check out, do not be on your cell phone. Give the sales associate your full attention and be sure to wish him/her “Happy Holidays.”
  2. Welcoming House Guests
    • Create a welcoming guest room.
      • Make a cute sign/photo frame that has the WiFi password posted.

        Graphic Available for Download on Life of Verde's

        Download Sign at Life of Verde’s

      • Put extra pillows and blankets in the closet.
      • If you use your guest room for extra closet/storage space, clear some space for your guests to hang their clothes or put them in the dresser.
      • Have a luggage rack in the room.
      • Put together a travel toiletry basket (toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, cotton balls, band-aids, etc.) and leave it on the bathroom counter in case your guest forgot anything.
      • Ensure the room smells clean, but avoid using too much fragrance – some people get headaches from overly scented rooms.
    • If you have a visit packed with events, make a festive itinerary and send it to your guests in advance! Perhaps these guests have never joined you before and do not know your traditions, the area, or even what to wear for your events; so, this is a great way to make them feel welcome before they arrive.
    • Plan your menu and/or make reservations far in advance.
    • If there are things you know your guests like (a snack food, certain type of soda, etc.), try to stock up on a few things. For example, I do not drink coffee, but I know most people do so, I make sure I have it prior to guests arriving.
    • It is certainly easier said than done, but try to check as many things off your to-do list as you can before your guests arrive. That way, you can enjoy the time with them. For example, make sure gifts are wrapped and any food preparation you can do early is done.
  3. Hosting the Party/Holiday Meal
    • Set your table and decorate our home ahead of time.
    • Plan out where you will place the food and make sure the serving dishes fit so when food is ready to come out of the kitchen, it goes directly to the table.
    • Do not wait until the last minute to shop for ingredients. It is better to stock-up early and have enough for the season so you do not have to run to the store at the last minute.
    • Prepare as much as you can before the day of the event. If you can make certain dishes and freeze them (without losing any taste quality), go for it. If you can cut up ingredients and store them before making a mix or tossing them into a recipe, get all the prep work out of the way.

I hope these tips help you to have a low-stress holiday and one you can find some time to relax! Remember, as busy as your schedule gets, always be polite and think positively.. You will get through it! Enjoy the time with your family, friends, and loved ones!

Happy Holidays, y’all!

AB

Celebrating Halloween at Work

Often times, offices like to celebrate holidays and if your office is anything like mine, be ready to celebrate BIG! Join in on the festivities with your co-workers, just be sure to do so appropriately. In the spirit of Halloween, I am sharing my tips for how to celebrate Halloween at work!

  1. Be Tasteful and Dress Appropriately
    • If you are allowed to dress up for work, be sure your outfit fits the regular dress code/policies for your organization.
      • Avoid outfits that are extremely short. For ladies, wear something that covers your legs the way a pencil skirt or work dress does.
      • Do not show your cleavage by wearing a low-cut costume top or bustier.
      • Try to stay away from outfits that have rips, holes, etc. in them. You still want to look clean-cut at work.
      • Avoid on shirts/costumes with inappropriate phrases or images.
    • Ensure you can still do your job in your costumes. (i.e. wearing so many accessories you can’t reach your keyboard = a non-productive work day and a frustrated boss)
    • Be culturally sensitive. For example, dressing up as a priest or nun may offend people of the Catholic faith.
    • Be sensitive to current events. For example, I used to work in a hospital and when Ebola was a very newsworthy topic of great concern to many people, dressing up in a Hazmat suit and walking into the hospital would have been guaranteed to unsettle people.
  2. Be Cautious with Decorative Make-Up
    • Avoid using bloody/gory make-up and designs that may scare clients, guests, patients, children, etc.
    • Add a little sparkle or some false eye lashes to your eye make-up, but be sure to keep it professional.
  3. Don’t Want to Wear a Costume?
    • Unless it is a costume party and you are “highly encouraged” (a.k.a. practically told) to participate by your boss, it is OK to not wear a costume. Instead, dress festive!
      • Wear black and orange.
      • Add a headband, hairpiece, or a fun clip for a little bit of flare.
      • Wear decorative accessories such as a Halloween tie, Fall themed socks, pumpkin earrings, or a skull and crossbones bracelet.
      • Decorate your desk!
  4. Contribute to the Party!
    • If your office is having a party, offer to bring something to contribute.
    • If you are not a good cook or baker, it is perfectly fine to buy something at the store. Tip: Put it on a nice plate/serving dish prior to getting to work so you do not show up with a bunch of store containers 😉
    • If the office does not need food, bring in festive party napkins, plates, or cups!
    • Help decorate the office!

I hope these tips contribute to your Halloween festivities and help make it a positive experience for the whole office!

Happy Halloween, y’all!

AB

Happy Birthday, America! 🇺🇸

It is no secret I am a big fan of birthdays and celebrating them! To say the 4th of July is one of my favorite days of the year is an understatement! As someone who grew up in a military family and spent several years working with the military, I show off my American spirit whenever I get the chance. 🇺🇸 So let’s just say, I am more than ready for this birthday party!

As we celebrate our freedom and our country, be sure to sparkle in all the right ways! One standout way to do this is to honor and respect the flag 🇺🇸 Here are my tips on how to do so:

  • Fly the flag all day! Be sure to keep a light on Old Glory when the sun goes down.
    • NOTE: If you are hanging the flag rather than flying it, ensure you display it correctly. Here’s how:

  • Attending a parade, event, or sporting event? When Old Glory passes you, place your hand over your heart and remove any headgear (unless being worn for medical or religious reasons).
  • While it may add to the festiveness of your party, I suggest not using place-mats, table cloths, plates, or napkins that have the American flag on them as a decorative piece. Even though it is not technically a real flag, eating off the flag and the act of wiping your mouth or using the flag to clean your hands is disrespectful.
    • NOTE: A design of stars and stripes is great, I am referring to the actual American flag printed on a serving piece and napkins.
  • A little known fact is that Old Glory “should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery.” Rather than wearing the flag, a design of stars and stripes is more appropriate.
    • NOTE: I realize patriotic apparel is trendy in pop culture and will likely continue to be so I encourage you to be thoughtful in your outfit choices. If you do choose to wear apparel displaying the flag, ensure it is displayed in full not draped across you, tattered, or distressed in any way.
  • For even more in-depth (and fast-paced) information on flag protocol, watch this video and refer to this valuable flag protocol information.

Last, but certainly not least, remember and thank the service members who have fought for and are currently serving to protect our freedoms.

Happy Independence Day, y’all! 🇺🇸

AB

Editorial Note: This is a revised version of a previous post. For more tips on celebrating Independence Day, see another original post!

Mother’s Day: Simple Ways to Say “Thanks Mom!”

Next weekend we celebrate one of the most important holidays, Mother’s Day. I think it is safe to say, we all owe a lot to our moms (and to those women who acted like and watched over us like a mom). On Mother’s Day, be sure that special woman knows how much she is appreciated! Here are some ideas for simple ways to say thank you!

  1. Make a Statement, Write it Down
    • No texts or emails and not just a phone call. Find a beautiful card, or make one, with a sentiment that expresses your gratitude. If your mom is someone who appreciates the little things, having this card to keep will mean the world to her.
  2. For All She Has Done and Still Does, Give Back
    • Growing up, we all know our moms have given a lot to help us; now it is our turn to give back. Find something your mom does and do it alongside her.
      • If your mom volunteers, take the time to go volunteer with her.
      • Does she always do everything to get dinner ready? Help her out in the kitchen and jump in on the cooking.
      • Is mom always keeping the house tidy? Treat her to some extra help around the house or pay for a house cleaning.
      • Do you have other siblings? Jump in and takeover helping them for the day/weekend.
  3. Give a Meaningful Gift, Small or Large
    • A great keepsake and simple gift to put together is a photo album. Collect photos of you and your mom throughout the years, put them in an album, and write down your favorite memories.
    • Do you have a favorite memory or an “inside joke” with your mom? Find a small trinket that commemorates that!
    • Send your mom to get pampered (whatever that means to her) and let her enjoy the day.
    • Has your mom had her eye on a certain something, but will not spend the money on herself? Splurge for her!
  4. Spend Quality Time with Your Mom!
    • If you can give nothing, give of yourself. Amidst our busy lives, we often forget to plan time with those most important to us. Sometimes, we even take them for granted.
      • No plans this weekend? Hop in the car and drive home to see your mom!
      • Plan a meal your whole family can attend. This is especially meaningful if your family lives in different areas. Pick one weekend to gather everyone in the same place!
      • If you are a daughter, plan a “Girls’ Day!” Go out for lunch and a movie. Plan a trip to the spa. Go do or see something the two of you have been talking about for a while. The ideas are endless!
  5. Most Importantly – Give Your Mom a Hug and Tell Her You Love Her!

To all the moms out there, especially my own, THANK YOU! In celebration of the wonderful women in all our lives, here is one of my favorite sentiments:

Photo Credit: Mothers Who Know

Photo Credit: Mothers Who Know

Cheers y’all!

AB

Happy Birthday America! 🇺🇸

It is no secret I am a big fan of birthdays and celebrating them – my birthday 🎉, Jesus’ birthday 🎄, and of course, America’s birthday! 🇺🇸

To say the 4th of July is one of my favorite days of the year is an understatement! As a regular part of my life, I show off my American spirit and wear a lot red, white, and blue (courtesy of #USOLife). So let’s just say, I am more than ready for this birthday party! I also consider myself pretty lucky seeing how I get to celebrate this special day. Thanks to a fantastic job with USO-Metro, I spend the first half of my day recognizing service members at the Washington Nationals game. Later on, I get to watch fireworks over the Nation’s Capital from the monuments. I do not think it gets more American than that!

As we celebrate our freedom and our country, be sure to sparkle in all the right ways! One big way to do this is to honor and respect the flag in all the right ways 🇺🇸 Here are few tips to do so:

  • Fly the flag all day! Be sure to keep a light on it when the sun goes down.
    • NOTE: If you are hanging the flag rather than flying it, ensure you display it correctly. Here’s how!

  • I know it is cute to use plates or napkins that have the American flag on them as a decorative piece, but here is something to keep in mind: Even though it is not technically a real flag, eating off the flag and the act of wiping your mouth or using the flag to clean your hands is disrespectful. Avoid using American flag plates and napkins if possible.
    • NOTE: A design of stars and stripes is great, I am referring to the actual American flag printed on something.
  • If you are wearing apparel or accessories with the American flag on them, ensure they are tasteful and appropriate. The flag should not be partially displayed (it should always be displayed in it’s entirety), tattered, or “distressed” in any way. You should also never drape yourself in the flag.
  • Watch this interview featuring Gary Biggs of Protocol Partners for additional, valuable flag protocol information.

Remember and thank the service members who have fought for and are currently serving to protect our freedoms.

Have a wonderful 4th of July! God Bless America! 🇺🇸

Sparkle On,

Alexandra

Happy Galentine’s Day!

Single this Valentine’s Day? No need to worry! Valentine’s Day can hold a different meaning for everyone so I challenge you to view it from a lens other than that of being in a relationship (even if you are in one!). For example, I love Valentine’s Day because putting love on public display with all the flowers, colorful decor, and heart/love signs everywhere makes me happy!

So, with that in mind, here are my tips on how you can celebrate a fabulous Valentine’s / Galentine’s Day!

  1. Gather your girlfriends together for a night of good food, rom-coms, and laughter!
    • Send out an invitation (e-vites are great for this!), decorate your space, and find some festive serving pieces! With so many ways to celebrate and have a fun evening pick something that fits your group!
  2. Dress festive! *My personal favorite!*
    • Valentine’s Day is the one day of the year (other than my birthday) when wearing an over-the-top amount of pink is publicly acceptable and let’s be honest, who does not want to channel their inner Elle Woods?!
  3. Send valentines!
    • Family and friends will appreciate a piece of happy mail!
      • Tip: Stop by your local TJMaxx, Marshall’s, or Home Goods for a great deal on festive cards!
    • If you give valentine’s to coworkers, ensure the messages are tasteful and friendly to remain professional while spreading cheer. Also, if you add in a valentine treat, check if anyone has a dietary restriction.

I hope these tips get you in the Valentine spirit! I know there are some who struggle with being single, especially at Valentine’s Day, and we can all admit we have been there at some point. For those of us who need a little extra encouragement this Valentine’s Day, I leave you with the wise words a friend sent to me in her Valentine, “Single is not a status. It is a word that describes a person who is strong enough to live and enjoy life without depending on others.”

Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day and celebrate all the love in your life!

Sparkle on y’all!

AB