Make a Memorable Holiday Feast on the Cheap

Is it your turn to host a #holiday feast? To make things memorable without breaking the bank, streamline your menu, says GoBankingRates. Pick a hearty main course, a couple of side dishes and a dessert. “A full menu may look appealing and easy to accomplish now, [but] remember that you may be busier when it’s time to begin cooking,” the story warns. You can feed family and friends on $5 to $15 per person if you plan ahead and work backward from an established budget. Keep the guest list small to keep costs — and the labor necessary to cook, clean and entertain — at a minimum. #HolidayTips

5 Ways to Shop Sustainably This Holiday Season

You’ve got a dilemma: You want to give gifts that your friends and family will love during the holiday season, but you want to do so without creating undue environmental impact — not such an easy task in today’s global economy.

Mass-market merchandise requires raw materials — petroleum products, rare-earth minerals and so on — that are often toxic to extract. Manufacturing byproducts and product packaging go into landfills and oceans, where they can last thousands of years.

What’s more, even things that break down or recycle easily often travel long distances to get to your front door, using fossil fuels and other non-renewable resources. So even if you buy imported foods for the holiday feast, you add more carbon to the atmosphere.

But there are ways to at least minimize your impact during the #holidays:

1. Support small, local businesses. The closer you are to the product’s source, the less fuel it takes to get to you. Locally grown foodstuffs and handmade items — that one-of-a-kind scarf from the craft fair, for example — have minimal environmental impact and are usually better than anything you can find at a big-box store.

2. Shop sustainable businesses. Businesses that pledge to recycle, use #sustainable materials, plant trees and offset carbon emissions are easier on the environment; just be wary of claims that seem too good to be true. “Fast fashion” brands are some of the worst for creating trash.

3. Give an experience. Tickets to the movies, a local play or concert; a restaurant meal; or gift certificate to a yoga session, spa or salon make great gifts that don’t require a lot of sweatshop labor or create extra greenhouse gases.

4. Shop the thrift. Giving used goods a second chance is a great way to keep lots of clothing and household items out of landfills while saving money. Bonus? Buy from a #thrift shop supplied by #donations to ClothingDonations.org, and you’ll help fund veterans programs.

5. Donate. #Charitable organizations need help on Giving Tuesday and throughout the year. Choose a cause that aligns with your giftee’s goals and #give in their name. It won’t be the same as unwrapping the latest air fryer or smart speaker, but still makes a thoughtful #gift.

#Giving can be its own reward — especially if you shop #sustainably.

Giving Can Be Its Own Reward

Evolutionary theory dictates that gratitude and generosity are linked, Greater Good says, and those who give generously receive in kind and are more likely to survive. So as you begin to shop the #BlackFriday deals online and in person, remember to share some of your good fortune in the spirit of #Thanksgiving. Take some shelf-stable goods or wrapped toys to a holiday drop-off location, #donate a few dollars to your favorite #charity, or schedule a free #donation #pickup of lightly used clothing and household goods to ClothingDonations.org. “Emphasize the giving, and the thanks will follow.”

Being Present Is a Great Way to Give Thanks

Showing #gratitude on #Thanksgiving Day might mean simply being present after two years of pandemic and cancelled plans. Set aside the smartphone and other distractions and get involved in the festivities. Practice mindfulness to keep the holiday stress-free, Chopra.com says, and enjoy the feast without overeating. “If you have a habit of shoveling food into your mouth during meals — whether it’s because you’re in a hurry, chatting with someone during the meal, or letting your mind wander about aimlessly — it may take some effort for you to slow down and notice each bite. But when you do, you will have a much better culinary experience.”

Sharing Gratitude and Goodwill on Thanksgiving

As you prepare your #Thanksgiving feast, etiquette expert Maralee McKee suggests you find ways for you and your guests to offer their gratitude around the table. You may wish to start the meal with an inspirational reading, or offer a (brief) toast before dessert. You can go around the table to get guests’ personal thanks, or create a “gratitude tree” of written comments. To really make the season shine, she says, go beyond simply counting your own blessings and share that goodwill, she says: “Be the person who makes it her job to make sure she’s the bright spot in someone else’s day.” #Thanksgiving