Health & Beauty Holidays

Skip the Holi-daze

How to spend added time making memories

(Family Features) Making time to reconnect with loved ones is a wish topping many lists this holiday season, so set aside the chaos and commit to doing more this year. More of what you truly enjoy, that is.

These time-saving holiday hacks from the Chinet® brand can help curb your time commitments so you can focus on personal connections and celebrating good cheer with loved ones instead.

Spread out prep time. If you’re busy putting the final touches on a meal as guests begin to arrive, you’ll miss out on the excitement as the party begins. Rely on tricks to spread your meal preparation out over the days before your event, such as making sides and casseroles ahead of time and freezing them so all you have to do on the big day is pop them in the oven. Mashed potatoes are a notorious last-minute time suck, so make them early in the day and keep them warm in a slow cooker. Just add a bit of cream and stir periodically to keep them soft and fluffy.

Simplify cleanup. After enjoying a meal surrounded by loved ones, there’s no reason to halt the conversation while you slip away to bring order back to the kitchen. Cover dishes and put perishables away then return to your guests for the quality time you deserve. If you use disposable tableware, there’s even less to worry about later. For example, Chinet Classic White products make cleanup easy so you can spend more time with friends, family and guests. The plates and bowls are strong enough to serve the heaviest, messiest meals with style then you can simply toss them when you’re done.

Shop local for shortcuts. Local businesses are feeling the crunch of 2020 in a big way, but you can give them a boost while doing yourself a time-saving favor. Pick up a pie or specialty dessert from a local bakery. Inquire about family-size sides from the family restaurants in your community. Also remember to check with school-age children you know, as many seasonal fundraisers offer pre-made holiday desserts and other treats you can share with guests with minimal effort.

Get out of the house. If you’ve spent too much time this year looking at your own surroundings, getting away from it all may lift your spirits while saving the hours you’d pour into getting your home ready for entertaining. Community groups with their own facilities often have space available to rent, and these spaces are typically large enough to maintain social distancing requirements and are subject to rigorous cleaning protocols. Alternately, if you’re keeping the guest list small, renting a vacation home offers the opportunity to turn the seasonal celebration into a short road trip for added memories and joy. With some simple decorations, you can create a fun atmosphere for your holiday event and skip the headaches of hosting at home.

Go short and sweet. If the idea of a full-fledged dinner event is stretching you too thin, look for festive ways to scale back. For example, a dessert-only party lets you gather with loved ones and keep the focus on the company rather than the food. Plan themed stations with different styles of desserts and consider asking family members to help stock each station with their own favorite treats. Add a touch of style by placing a stack of Chinet Cut Crystal dessert plates at each station so guests can sample all their favorites while they mingle. The collection also includes cups and stemless wine glasses ideal for a beverage table or single servings of desserts like mousse or parfaits.

Find more ways to manage your time this holiday season at

Celebrate Like It’s 2020

After a whirlwind of a year, this holiday season promises to be a little different than those of years past. Instead of lamenting what won’t be the same, treat this year as an opportunity to deck the halls in a whole new way.

Invite technology to the party. With group gatherings and travel restrictions likely to continue in many parts of the country through the holiday season, there’s a good chance you may not be able to gather with everyone you’d like. However, the pandemic has shown how simple it can be to use technology to stay connected. Go ahead and schedule a virtual party or make time to jump on a video chat during your celebration to include those who can’t be there in person. To help add a touch of normalcy to the festivities, consider packaging and sending small boxes of party essentials in advance to each person who’ll join the virtual party.

Make giving a group effort. Helping those in need is a tradition many people honor around the holidays, but this year your giving is likely to be especially impactful. When you join efforts with family or friends, your contributions can go even further, and it’s a way to bond over your shared experience. Consider volunteering as a group at a food pantry, adopting a family or two together or finding another local cause that could use some extra help and count your blessings while you enjoy the extra time together.

Simplify gift-giving. As families grow, the gift lists get longer. However, especially in a year like this, not many wallets have expanded to keep up with the pace. Forgo the time and money required to buy for everyone in the family and start a new tradition by drawing names and instead of buying smaller items for a lot of people, put a little more toward a single item your recipient truly wants or needs.

Holidays Travel

5 Tips for Your Next Snowmobile Adventure

(Family Features) As travel restrictions and popular trends like staycations have changed the way many people escape from their day-to-day lives, rediscovering classic, outdoor winter activities like snowmobiling can provide a simple way to spend time with loved ones.

In fact, BRP – a global leader in the world of powersports and boating, and manufacturer of the Ski-Doo snowmobile – is forecasting a rise in popularity of the pastime among new riders this year.

Snowmobiling can be an exhilarating way to experience and take in the beauty of winter,” said Pascal Vincent, director of global product management, Ski-Doo. “To ensure a smooth and fun experience, it’s important to be prepared before hitting the trails. By following these tips, riders can take advantage of fun on the snow, get in some healthy escape therapy, recharge their mental batteries and practice social distancing to create memories that will last a lifetime.”

1. Check if you need a license. Licensing requirements vary by individual state, but all necessary information is available through your state snowmobile association, state natural resource office or highway department. For example, many states recommend against drivers under the age of 16 and require passengers to be at least 6 years old.

2. Understand your snowmobile before you hit the snow. Spend some time learning the controls and functions of your snowmobile so you can hit the trail with confidence. The experts at Ski-Doo recommend checking your operator’s guide, knowing your fuel level and understanding best operational practices before heading out. Some areas also require a safety class. Your state snowmobile organizations may offer safety training classes that teach riders about the parts of a snowmobile, riding skills, how to handle emergencies on the trail, laws and regulations, and hazards to avoid, among other topics.

3. Wear the right gear. The right riding gear is as much about comfort as it is about safety. Essentials include high pants or bibs (pants that extend up your chest and back), jackets, gloves, boots, goggles and helmets. Even if not required in all locales, a Department of Transportation-approved helmet can provide warmth and protection as well as fog-free vision. Learning to layer is also essential for maximum comfort. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer, add a mid-layer that provides insulation but breathes then an outer shell to protect from the elements. Most snowmobile dealers offer a full line of clothing specifically designed and manufactured to keep you warm and help withstand winter weather. For additional safety, always keep the tether cord connected to you.

4. Plan out your route and share the trail with others. Respect everyone on the snow and adopt a fun and safe riding style. Learn traditional hand signals for turning, slowing and stopping, and stay to the right when approaching hills and turns. Be mindful of signs and reminders to slow down. Planning your route in advance can help you stay out of restricted areas. Consider downloading an app like BRP GO!, which uses connected technology to provide navigation for unusual and faraway routes. The app also allows you to safely track fellow riders and download content directly to your phone if service may be limited.

5. Pay attention to the weather and protect the environment. It’s important to check the forecast and trail conditions before heading out. The wind chill or other conditions like snow blindness or whiteouts can make riding less enjoyable. Also avoid riding on rivers or other ice-covered surfaces that may be unstable. Leave your playground and surroundings cleaner than you found them. Don’t throw trash in the snow and respect the animals in the area that call it home. Protecting nature and the outdoors can help keep winter sports and recreational activities viable for decades to come.

For more tips and snowmobile safety advice, visit


Smart Holiday Gift Ideas

(Family Features) Many of the season’s most popular gift ideas can generally be classified as “tech.” From smartphones and gaming systems to digital photo frames and smart home devices, tech junkies and technophobes alike can delight in the options available to help enhance daily routines and make tasks easier.

Whether you’re looking to introduce your intended recipient to the smart home concept with a foundational device like a smart thermostat or want to take home automation to the next level, there are upgrades that can work in every area of the home. From the kitchen to the garage and the bedroom to the patio, homeowners can control everything from televisions, appliances and lights to the temperature in a specific room and home security cameras with their voices or smartphones.

Consider these smart devices that can work in harmony to help make day-to-day life simpler, and find more ideas for building a comfortable, secure home at

Intelligent Home Monitoring

If you want to give the gift of a safe and secure home this holiday season, consider an option like ecobee Haven including the SmartCamera with voice control and the SmartSensors for doors and windows. Instead of adding more devices and tasks to ever-expanding to-do lists, the plug-and-play home monitoring platform works with your smartphone to deliver peace of mind and eliminate the need for keypads, programming and single-use gadgets. In one app, you can

automatically arm and disarm your home, distinguish welcome guests from intruders and use

your activity feed to see when family members arrive or depart.

Automated Home Comfort

Help keep your home comfortable this winter even while you’re on the go with a gift like the ecobee SmartThermostat with voice control. Because every home heats and cools differently, the thermostat works with your local weather, schedule, occupancy and desired comfort settings to deliver a personalized energy model that automates home comfort, reduces energy consumption and saves you money. In fact, it’s Energy Star-certified and can help save up to 23% annually on heating and cooling costs, giving you the power to do your part to reduce your environmental footprint without compromising your lifestyle.

Photo courtesy of Twenty20 –


Creative, Colorful Christmas Ideas for Kids

Creative, Colorful Christmas Ideas for Kids

(Family Features) Picking out the perfect presents for kids this holiday doesn’t limit your search to simply including gifts with screens or the hottest tech gadgets.

Although the amount of options in store and on virtual shelves for kids can be somewhat overwhelming, gifts fostering imaginative play and creativity never go out of style. Even if it seems your children already have pretty much everything, getting back to the basics with crafty gifts like paint and art sets, color and wash collectibles, science kits or customizable DIY projects encourage children to express their creativity and explore their inner-artists.

Consider these activities that can spark imagination and allow kids of all ages to create colorful memories this holiday season. Find more at

Custom Craft Creations

Give the kids creative freedom with an option like Crayola’s Maker series, which allows them to create custom paper and markers for arts and crafts time at home or school projects. The Marker Maker comes with 16 makeable markers along with a color mixing guide and customizable labels for each one. The Paper Maker includes an instruction booklet, paper-making pulp to make 20 sheets of 5-by-8-inch paper, a stir and smoothing tool and a pressure plate. Both kits make it fun and easy to craft DIY cards, decor, notes and other projects.

Colorful Pets

Kids can take imaginative, creative play to new places this holiday season with the Scribble Scrubbie Pets Grooming Truck. This life-like environment includes a grooming truck with moving wheels and features a real working spray pump and scrub tub that allow kids to wash and clean the two included pets just like real groomers do. The truck also doubles as an easy-to-pack storage solution for taking the customizable pets on-the-go for later use. After creating a colorful look for their pets using washable markers, kids can simply scrub them clean for a fresh blank canvas to create over and over.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images (child opening present)


Give the Gift of Practicality

Holiday presents loved ones can put to work

(Family Features) Giving the perfect holiday gift to a loved one can add unnecessary stress and pressure, but you don’t have to drive far and wide to find presents your friends and family members will love. Some of the best gifts are practical, everyday options that you know will be put to good use.

Look no further than your local hardware store. With 72% of United States households within 15 minutes of an Ace Hardware, you can find a wide variety of gifts to put smiles on loved ones’ faces whether you shop conveniently online or in person. As a one-stop shop for grills, power tools, home decor and more, knowledgeable associates are ready to help you find the perfect gifts for those on your list whether you’re looking for big ticket items or one-of-a-kind stocking stuffers.

For example, a new pellet grill may be the solution for the home chef who seems to have everything already, providing a simple way to prepare delicious meals any day of the week. Or, if you’re looking to help make outdoor cleanup a cinch, consider an option like a cordless, battery-powered blower to keep the yard, driveway and other spaces neat and tidy.

Find more gift-giving inspiration at

Cook Up a Crave-Worthy Gift

If you’re looking for a unique gift for the grill master in your life, look no further than the Traeger Pro 575 Wood Pellet Grill, a pellet grill that helps make achieving wood-fired flavor easier. The enhanced WiFIRE technology allows you to monitor and adjust your grill anytime, anywhere directly from an app. Getting that perfect flavor is easier with this grill that starts quicker, heats up faster and puts out better smoke quality with its D2 drivetrain.

Make Gift-Giving a Breeze

For the person in your life who loves taking care of the yard and other outdoor spaces, give the gift that keeps on giving by making cleanup a breeze with the EGO Power+ 530 CFM Blower, a step up in power and convenience for the line of cordless blowers. Inspired by advanced aeronautics technology and equipped with turbine fan engineering, this compact and lightweight blower can run for 75 minutes on a single charge.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images (man receiving gift)

Holidays Travel

5 Tips for Winter Travelers

(Family Features) Because of the pandemic, fewer Americans are taking to the skies, but a significant number likely plan to hit the roads to visit friends and family during the winter months. Whether a few towns over or a couple states away, many drivers will travel interstates, which are major logistics corridors often dominated by commercial trucks.

According to the United States Census Bureau, there are approximately 3.5 million people working as truck drivers in the U.S. From keeping grocery store shelves stocked to delivering those next-day packages, professional truck drivers impact lives with the freight they move and serve an important role in keeping the economy running.

Professional truck drivers are also experts when it comes to planning travel. From mapping out a route to maintaining their vehicles and even practicing a healthy diet, many truck drivers are road trip experts.

Caron Comas is a professional truck driver for Variant, a subsidiary of U.S. Xpress, one of the nation’s largest trucking companies. Highly trained, she’s driven trucks for 17 years and her expert insight can aid the average automobile driver planning to hit the roads this winter.

“It’s important that the average driver give trucks plenty of space on the road,” Comas said. “People can forget we’re generally handling 75 feet of tractor and trailer, which can weigh 80,000 pounds. We can’t stop on a dime like automobiles, so increase distance when merging in front of trucks and avoid slamming on your brakes.”

Comas suggests following these tips on the road and before you travel:

  • Don’t follow trucks too closely. If you can’t see a tractor trailer’s mirrors, the driver can’t see you.
  • Schedule vehicle maintenance before your trip. Have your oil changed and ask the experts to check your tire pressure and other important fluids to help assure you’re driving safely and efficiently.
  • Carefully plan your route. If driving through big cities, consider fluctuations in rush hour traffic. For more remote locations where there may not be regular food or gas, plan for when you’ll need to stop along the route.
  • Stay hydrated and nourished. Before setting out, eat a healthy meal and drink plenty of water. For the drive, pack healthy, non-perishable snacks like granola, fruit or nuts along with bottled water. For longer trips with kids, consider a small cooler for sandwiches, string cheese or yogurt.
  • Be overly prepared. Keep a few blankets, a flashlight, a first-aid kit and an extra pair of shoes in your car. If you experience car trouble, make sure you can stay warm until help arrives.

Keep in mind the global pandemic. Check each state’s quarantine requirements that you’ll be traveling to or through, wear a mask when in public and follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines when traveling.

For more travel tips, visit

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Health & Beauty Holidays

Boost Your Spirits Through the Holidays and Beyond

(Family Features) Stress and anxiety are all too familiar to many Americans, this year especially, and the added pressure of the holiday season may provide a new set of challenges. Practicing self-care and nurturing your mental health can help you navigate these potentially isolating times, especially if you’re tackling this season single.

With so many other demands in life, taking care of yourself, including your emotional and mental well-being, may not always be at the top of your list. However, putting more emphasis on yourself and your needs can be achieved in small, measurable ways and may not only help boost your spirits but can affect your approach to dating, too.

“We believe happy and healthy relationships start with happy and healthy individuals,” said Stefan Harvalias, head of global marketing for Plenty of Fish, one of the largest global online dating companies.

Harvalias points out there are a number of ways you can alleviate stress and anxiety. While there’s no one magic formula that fits all, many people find coping easier with activities like these.

Listen to music. Numerous studies have demonstrated the benefits of music in managing mental health. Slow, mellow music can help the mind shift into a lower gear and has even been shown to influence the body’s physical state such as reducing blood pressure, pulse and heart rates. For someone with anxiety, music can be a welcome distraction from the troublesome thoughts occupying the mind. For others, music is simply a way to escape from reality and focus on something enjoyable.

Talk with friends and family. Although COVID-19 may be creating physical distance, there’s one way it can bring people together: by acknowledging your shared stress to one another. While the impacts of the pandemic vary greatly, everyone has been navigating uncertainty and change that comes with such a widespread event. A weekly check-in call or video chat with friends and family members can help you feel less alone with your feelings and experiences. Topics like mental health and mindfulness have risen to the surface of everyday discussions, removing a lot of the stigma they once had.

Seek out tools to help you unwind. If you’ve never given much thought to managing your mental health, you may not know where to begin practicing better self-care, and that’s OK. That’s where you can benefit from resources like those available through Plenty of Fish. Knowing the toll the pandemic is taking on singles, the dating app partnered with Shine, a leading self-care app, to create two free dating-related meditations developed to help singles better manage anxiety and improve mental health and wellness.

Navigating dating, work and your personal life can feel like an intense juggling act. To help find balance and feel less pressure, consider listening to the “Balance Dating While Busy” guided meditation and reflect on your energy and priorities so you can make space for dating in your life.

Although dating may look and feel different right now, it’s still doable. Shift your mindset and reflect on ways to adapt with an option like the “Navigate Dating During COVID” guided meditation.

Recognize the role of physical wellness. The mind and body are intrinsically connected, and how you take care of your body can have an impact on your mental state. This includes eating well to ensure you’re getting proper nutrition, which can positively impact your mood. Additionally, exercise releases feel-good hormones, so a quick walk around the block or a 10-minute exercise video can benefit you both physically and mentally.

Give yourself permission to disconnect. When life feels uncertain, being closely tied to an information source like your smartphone can give you a sense of security, but it can also add to your everyday stress. If you’re working from home, you may find you never fully shift out of work mode. However, it’s easy to become addicted to refreshing your newsfeed, allowing your devices to cut into time you could spend more productively. Limit your screen time to force yourself to focus on the present and activities that bring you pleasure while allowing your brain to rest, like spending time with loved ones or enjoying a good book or movie.

Find more resources to support your mental health and dating experiences this holiday season at

Keep COVID from Crushing Your Dating Game

As if single life and dating didn’t bring enough uncertainty on their own, a global health crisis has only heightened the anxiety many singles feel. Dating pressures and anxiety tied to COVID-19 were the subjects of a study by Plenty of Fish, which showed just how challenging dating has been for singles this year.

According to the survey of singles:

  • 60% have experienced feelings of anxiety before going on a date
  • 29% have canceled a date due to anxiety
  • 44% are anxious about their date not wearing a mask

When it comes to the benefits of self-care, a majority of surveyed singles reported:

  • 66% practice self-care regularly
  • 87% said self-care activities reduce stress
  • 78% said they feel less stressed after a self-care routine
  • 50% meditate
  • Alone time, exercise and pampering were listed as the top self-care activities

“Prioritizing your mental health matters more than ever,” Harvalias said. “Self-care and wellness mean something different to everyone – all that matters is that you find an outlet to disconnect and do what makes you happy.”

Photos courtesy of Getty Images


Pair and Pour Some Festive Holiday Cheer This Season

(Family Features) While holiday traditions and celebrations will likely look different this year, the season is still special. Set the scene for a celebratory occasion by mixing festive cocktails or creating the perfect spread to complement your wines, beers, cheeses and even chocolates.  

You can help make your spread delicious and affordable by relying on high-quality ingredients like those at ALDI. If you need inspiration, sommelier and lifestyle expert Sarah Tracey can help guide your palate with these festive ALDI-exclusive pairings and seasonal cocktail ideas:

Light and Refreshing – With aromas of Meyer lemon and flavors of fresh green apple and white peach, the crisp Landshut Riesling has a touch of delicate sweetness while still being juicy and refreshing. For a savory-and-sweet combination, try pairing it with the Emporium Selection Plain Goat Cheese Log and Winternacht Milk Chocolate Domino Cubes.

Rich and Decadent – Indulge your senses with the aromas of butterscotch, warm baking spices and the velvety dark fruit notes of the Quarter Cut Bourbon Barrel Red Blend. This decadent red blend offers a smooth finish, similar to mulled wine without the extra work. The rich flavor pairs well with a smoked cheese like Emporium Selection Smoked Gouda as well as the Moser Roth Dark Chocolate Collection Caramel Sea Salt.

Savory with Brew – If a craft beer is more your style, consider a rich and creamy dark ale like a stout. Its robust flavors of roasted coffee beans and bittersweet cocoa combine for a sweet yet savory, earthy finish. Serve it with rich flavors like Emporium Selection Premium English Truffle Cheddar and add a touch of chocolatey sweetness with Specially Selected Cocoa Dusted Truffles.

Signature Libations – Up the ante on your holiday celebration with a special yet simple cocktail you can mix at home with confidence. The secret to making the Mistletoe Mule is the 3-2-1 method: just pour wine for three counts, ginger beer for two counts and pomegranate juice for one count.

Find more holiday recipes at

Mistletoe Mule

Servings: 2


4 1/2    ounces Tourner Brut Sparkling

3          ounces Summit Ginger Beer

1.5       ounces Specially Selected Premium 100% Pomegranate Juice

lime juice

fresh cranberries, for garnish (optional)

Rim two glasses with sugar.

In separate mixer or glass, combine wine, ginger beer and pomegranate juice using 3-2-1 method.

To serve, pour over ice in prepared glasses then top with fresh lime juice. Garnish each glass with cranberries, if desired.

Photos courtesy of Getty Images


Make the Most of Holiday Gatherings This Year

The holiday season may look different this year, but family, friends, gratitude and good food never go out of style. This year, you can make the most of your intimate holiday gatherings with new traditions, cooking shortcuts and creative ways to keep friends and family close, no matter how far apart you are.

For more information and ideas to spice up your holiday meal this season, visit

Health & Beauty Holidays

Self-Care Strategies to Help Stay Healthy This Holiday Season

(Family Features) With the COVID-19 pandemic added to the typical cold and flu season, many Americans are wondering what they can do to protect themselves and others this holiday season and how to respond if they get sick.

“As we enter this cold and flu season, it’s so important to practice self-care,” said Dr. Ian Smith, a physician, best-selling author and host of “The Doctors.” “Key preventative measures like washing your hands often and covering your nose and mouth with a tissue or the inside of your elbow when you cough or sneeze can be extremely effective in preventing the spread of germs. With COVID-19 also in the picture, there are a lot of questions on everyone’s mind around how to stay healthy and correctly identify and treat symptoms of the cold and flu or COVID-19.”

Flu vs. COVID-19

If you get sick this season, your first question will likely be whether it’s the flu or COVID-19. Both the flu and COVID-19 are contagious respiratory illnesses caused by viruses. The flu is caused by the influenza virus and COVID-19 is caused by a coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. Some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19, like fever and cough, are similar, making it difficult to tell the difference based on symptoms alone. Testing may be required for a proper diagnosis. If you have questions or concerns about your symptoms or about COVID-19, consult your health care professional.

Cold and Flu Treatment

For the common cold or flu, there are a variety of products available that contain several active ingredients commonly used to treat symptoms of respiratory viral infections. For example, Mucinex DM contains dextromethorphan, which helps to control cough and guaifenesin to help thin and loosen mucus and lasts 12 hours when used as directed. You can identify the right formula to provide relief based on symptoms you are experiencing by using the online tool at, where you can also find more information regarding self-care remedies.

Holiday Gatherings

If you’re hosting or attending a gathering this holiday season, check local and state health sites for restrictions on gathering and guidance beforehand. Take appropriate measures to protect yourself and others, and remind fellow guests to take similar precautions. Don’t attend or host an event if you’re sick or have had close contact with someone who is sick. If feasible, keep the event outdoors or ensure the space is well ventilated with open windows. Limit the number of attendees so safe social distancing can be maintained between people not from the same household, and wear masks when less than 6 feet apart or indoors. Frequent hand washing and limiting food preparers or servers can also help reduce the spread of germs.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images