Holiday traditions

Valentine Memories

Feb 12, 2016

It’s hard to ignore Valentine promotions. Big box stores dedicate aisles to red and pink candies, stuffed animals, balloons, tableware, and other items most of us don’t need. Flower shops depend on profits generated by lovers sending bouquets to their sweethearts. Card stores tempt us to send our partners expensive cards declaring true love. It’s the February assault on our winter-dulled senses, and we’re all gullible—me included. I love getting posies from my husband.

Despite my adult vulnerability to this over-promoted holiday, kids really know how to celebrate it best. They spend considerable time using construction paper, crayons, and glue to craft personal mailboxes for their friends to fill with corny cards signed in childish scrawl, which are then folded, and tucked into thin envelopes that would never make it through the U.S. mail.

Tips to Avoid a Holiday Meltdown

Dec 21, 2015
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If your holiday gatherings regularly feature mashed potatoes being flung across the room because someone mentioned Hilary Clinton or Donald Trump, member station KUT is here to help. The folks down in Austin have compiled a list of helpful listener ideas to keep your holiday dinner from descending into a no-holds-barred cage match.

One listener said her family keeps a duck quacker by the table. Whenever someone brings up politics, they blow the quacker, and the topic is dead.

K.G.Photos / Flickr Creative Commons

The wonks over at the economics blog have devised a strategy for you to win your white elephant gift exchange using game theory. White elephant, also known as Yankee Swap, is a holiday gift-giving game where participants have the opportunity to steal a gift or to open a new one.

As you might already have figured out, the best way to win is to go last. But alas, order is chosen at random.

Tips for Surviving Holiday Travel

Dec 18, 2015
Matt Campbell / EPA

45 million customers are predicted to fly this holiday season. The average American will spend more than seven hours getting somewhere. If you’re traveling, USA TODAY has some helpful hints to make your trip as stress-free as possible.

First, pack early and pack light. Knowing you’re ready to go will ease your mind. And packing light will save you the frustration of trying to find space for your bulky luggage.

White Treasure

Dec 11, 2015

Holidays remind many of us of either family or cultural customs that connect us to generations long past. By following old family recipes, we can savor treats our ancestors have served for decades or maybe even hundreds of years. For instance, my husband’s Swiss ancestors have been making and giving linzer tarts at Christmas time long before they migrated from Switzerland to the United States. After analyzing my own great-grandma’s stash of old recipes, the English side of my family has baked date cookies and breads as well as Christmas puddings for eons.

Holiday Recommendations for Young Readers

Dec 1, 2015
CKAROLI / Flickr Creative Commons

The San Jose Mercury News published a great list last week of recommended holiday books for young readers. Leo, A Ghost Story by Mac Barnett is a gentle spooky tale and a beguiling story of acceptance. In If You're a Robot and You Know It by David A. Carter, preschoolers will have great fun clapping hands and stomping feet along with the robot.

Tips for a Stress-Free Holiday

Nov 24, 2015
William Brawley / Creative Commons

Woman’s Day magazine has published a helpful list of “29 Tips Towards A Stress-Free Holiday.” Among some of our favorites: Throw away your shopping list and focus instead on creating special moments with friends and family. Treat loved ones to a holiday show, for example, or breakfast at a fancy hotel. Another idea: Bring out books to easily add a seasonal touch. Display an illustrated volume of A Christmas Carol on the fireplace mantle.

Imagine a time traveling pilgrim joined your family’s Thanksgiving celebration this year. After you got over the surprise of finding in individual wearing a tall hat, short pants, stockings, funny looking shoes, and possibly carrying an antique weapon in your dining room, you’d have to wonder about the differences between 1622 and 2014. Questions might include what this visitor thought about modern homes, holiday foods, and current pastimes to celebrate a national holiday that ties contemporary Americans to one of the first English settlements in the new world.

Akash Ghai / NPR

For years, NPR’s Marc Silver has been trying to keep the memory of his mother-in-law alive by cooking up her old recipes on holidays. But this was no easy task, as many of Jan Dale’s recipes seemed to have died with her in 2005. That is, until Marc found her spiral-bound cookbook. The book was filled with notes and marginalia in Jan’s perfect 1950s handwriting.

Survey says... High Plains fizzles on Fourth

Jul 2, 2014

If you’re looking for a great place to celebrate the 4th of July, the High Plains is not the place to do it.  WalletHub did a nationwide ranking of 100 places to celebrate based on how well they balance cost and fun.  Fourteen metrics were used including the number of food establishments, fireworks laws, attractions, and weather.

Thanksgiving Maps Show Celebration Differences

Nov 27, 2013

Not every one celebrates Thanksgiving the same.  Recently, eBay’s Deals Blog released a series of maps showing the differences across the United States.