The Zeitgeist Blog

Zeitgeist's Tips to Ease the Holidays!

Christmas, holidays, get ready for holidays, holiday tips, holidays parties, food, holiday preparation, zeitgeist gifts, unique gifts, modern lifestyle, healthy

Hi guys, Julia here! As the winter holidays are some of the most anticipated times of year, I have been looking for many ways to prepare, but keep on my effective schedule. However, with the snow falling, children bursting with Santa excitement, family in town, and tons of holiday gatherings with delicious food, it can be difficult to stay sane.
 
Don't fuss. Take it easy, use all the help you can get and still stick with your routine. With all of this activity going on, are you ready? Use some of my favorite tips to avoid stress and be prepared this season.

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Stay stress-free this holiday with all the help you can get

Each year, my family trades off hosting our annual Christmas Eve party to ease the stress of having loads of people over. Use this awesome holiday-themed app called Santa’s Bag that gives you a countdown, helps you track your budget and stay organized with gift giving. Gather up your children as elves and have them help you with organizing
and planning meals, decorations and gifts!

Try to make some holiday favorites healthy

Every family has those food traditions over the holidays. Whether it be baking cookies or that Christmas roast, there is always room for improvement. Try to make your cookies on the healthier side: use coconut or almond milk instead of dairy milk. Try to find other alternatives for your flour and sugar, so they’re less processed and more healthy. Experiment with plant-based recipes and try to make a new tradition your family will love! Get inspired with these new options from Eating Well. With the holidays being heavy on sugar and carbs, do your best to make this time of year a healthier holidays. Check out better cookie recipes here and others using almond milk.

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Discover stocking stuffers that won’t break the bank

Here at Zeitgeist Gifts, we know that getting quirky gifts for those who have everything can be difficult. What about some funky wine stoppers, unique candles, paper watches or cookie cutters? Discover something special in our Gifts Under $10. Order a bunch of different items and create your own gift basket for friend who just moved or workmate who loves cooking!

Plan a white elephant exchange to avoid stress on gift ideas

There are many forms of a white elephant gift exchange that are practiced in the United States. A good friend of mine told me how they celebrated here in the US:
Once we all turned 18, we were allowed to join the gift exchange with our aunts and uncles, and it is an ongoing tradition that we practice every year. We each bring a gender neutral gift that is worth around $50. When we get together on the night of Christmas Eve, we all choose a number 1 through however many people brought a gift. We put all of the gifts in the middle of the room and number 1 chooses a gift. Number 2 can either steal the gift from number 1 or choose a gift from the pile. If number 2 chooses to steal, number 1 will have to go back into the pile and choose again. It’s best if you get the last number, because then you can see all of the gifts and choose the best one! The white elephant is an amazing way to bring everyone together and at least have one gift when leaving your party!

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Secret Santa

Secret Santa is another common tradition in the US, and is a fun and secretive way to give someone a special gift. You basically write all participant's names on a piece of paper and everyone goes around picking a name. Once you’ve chosen your person, you have a few weeks to think of the perfect gift and leave it on their desk (if at work), or bring it to your holiday party. View some of our gifts for under $20 that you could use in either a white elephant or secret santa exchange, depending on your budget.

Advent, Advent!

Buy or create your very own Advent Calendar to countdown the days until Christmas!
Advent is a big tradition in Germany and it still reminds me of my childhood. Some advent calendars have little goodies and toys for children, or chocolate for you! Advent calendars can be for any type of person and any family! Find the right one for you and celebrate this holiday with some of your favorite things! At Zeitgeist, we have an stylish advents calendar, perfect for a modern home. Best part is that you can reuse it each year and continue the tradition. This will definitely get your child excited for the countdown!

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The holidays can be a bit stressful for many, but once it’s all over, you’re already counting down the days until next year! Create new traditions, make your own gifts, and help make this year’s Christmas one you and your family will never forget!
Cheers, Julia

A Christmas Party Staple: The Secret Santa Tradition

Zeitgeist Gifts, Secret Santa, Gifts under $20, Gifts under $10, Small Gifts

It's the most wonderful time of the year, they say, but it's also true that the weeks leading up to December 25th are some of the busiest days of the year. Untangling strings of knotted lights, remembering to water the tree, zipping through cyberspace on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, not to mention the endless hours of Christmas cookie baking, party hopping, gift buying, and present wrapping that fill our schedules. It's a frenzy we love. It's tradition we cherish. Despite the craze, it's hard not to smile at the end of It's a Wonderful Life, or not to find yourself singing along to Jingle Bell Rock when it comes on the radio. Many of us still recall fondly the sleepless Christmas Eve night we experienced as children, our stomachs churning with excitement, willing the clock to turn faster so we could spring from our beds and see what Santa brought for us. Although maintaining traditions is important, in true Zeitgeist-Lifestyle fashion, we don't shy away from an opportunity to simplify some of them in order to better suit our modern lifestyle. And let's face it-- Christmas is busy! Christmas is expensive! One of the best ways to "cut corners" while still maintaining the spirit of the season is with the popular Secret Santa tradition made standard in offices and Christmas parties around the globe. Surprisingly, this "modern" gift-giving tradition has a history all its own. 

Whether it's your office Christmas party around the tinseled water cooler, or an activity at your daughter's 6th grade Holiday Party, the Secret Santa tradition has flourished due to its inexpensiveness and ease. In situations where buying a gift for everyone in the group would be absurd, the Secret Santa tradition simply requires that each participant purchase one inexpensive gift for an undisclosed recipient.  

There are two common versions of the tradition. First we have the Secret Santa gift exchange—also called Kris Kringle in other parts of the world. In this scenario participants’ names are written on paper slips in a hat. Each person draws a name from the hat and the name they receive is who they must buy one gift for, but they must keep who they’re buying for a secret. Once the gifts are passed out (usually at a Christmas party a couple weeks after the names are drawn) and opened, the recipient must try and guess who their Secret Santa was.  

Another version of Secret Santa is the White Elephant gift exchange. In this scenario, participants buy something silly and useless that the gift-receiver doesn’t actually want (or they even might wrap up something they find lying around their house). They bring their "gift" to the party where all the gifts are piled together. One-by-one each participant chooses a box to unwrap and everyone watches eagerly to laugh at the ridiculous item they receive. It's commonly believed that the name "White Elephant" comes from an evil gift-giver, King of Siam, who in an act of revenge, would gift rare albino elephants to people who rubbed him the wrong way. These were known as fatal gifts because they were so costly to care for and would put the recipient into financial ruin. The story is traced back to the 1850's, but there's no record of any King ever existing so the history is murky. Regardless, the White Elephant gift exchange is still commonly practiced each holiday season.

Despite the White Elephant gift's evil history, the original Secret Santa has a much more philanthropic history fitting of the spirit of the season. Larry Dean Stewart, an American do-gooder who lived from 1938 until 2007, is known as the very first Secret Santa. He spent much of his life giving away his fortune to people in need. Legend has it that Larry was once at a diner eating dinner. He didn't have any money at the time, and was desperate for a meal, so when the check came and he had no way to pay for the food, he pretended that he forgot his wallet. The diner owner caught on to his trick, and rather than throw Larry out, he handed Larry a $20 bill and said, "Looks like you dropped this." Larry never forgot the man's kindness and went on to pay it forward to others in need even when he didn't have any money himself. Eventually, he landed a lucrative job in cable TV and made millions but never stopped his habit of regularly giving $100 away to people in need. In 26 years, he reportedly gave away $1.6 million and in true Secret Santa fashion, he did so anonymously. The gift exchange concept we know today is based off of Larry's philanthropic gestures of kindness.

Feel like following in Larry's footsteps? Even if you don't have millions to give away, you can still organize your very own Secret Santa party. There are a few tips to keep in mind. Use apps life Elfmo's Secret Santa generator to assign recipients to your Santas who aren't all in the same place at the same time. This ensures secrecy so not even the host knows who has who. Also, be sure to set a price limit so the gifts are relatively of the same value. If you're afraid that some of the party attendees don't know each other as well and might not know what to get for the person they're assigned, consider adding a theme to the gifts. You could all buy each other edible gifts, for example, or specific Christmas-themed gifts. Don't stress about buying the perfect gift, the purpose of the exchange is not to turn your hair prematurely gray, but to offer a simple party game for your Christmas gathering that’s in line with the spirit of the holidays.  

Stuck on what to buy for your Secret Santa present exchange? Check out these ideas suitable for anyone on your list at any price! Cookie cutters for your neighbor? Snore stopper for your coworker who is a frequent napper? Bike bags for your adventurous cubicle-mate? There’s something for everyone!

Gifts $10 to $20: http://bit.ly/1l6uOhV
Gifts under $10: http://bit.ly/1jxNdm0

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