Free or Almost Free Things to do During the Holidays That Won’t Stress You Out

I don’t know about you but I am so over, stressing myself out because of Christmas. Worrying about the perfect gifts, the perfect meal, the perfect venue just guarantees your holiday is gonna be stressed.

To this day, I remember childhood Christmases where my mother was so intent on creating the perfect everything that she was utterly miserable by the time the day arrived. It still makes me sad that because she tried so hard to make Christmas wonderful for everyone else that she missed the joy herself.

Christmas is the time for family, fun, and reflection.

I offer the following ideas as some easy but fun and peace inducing activities to indulge in this holiday season.

Collect pine cones. They are everywhere. Even here in Southern California we have lots of pine trees. They come in all sizes, smell wonderful, are great fire starters for the fireplace, and make great elements in decorating and craft projects. Plus the walking in the cool air and doing something as simple as collecting pine cones will give your mind and body time to breathe and relax.

Tour the neighborhood for light displays. When the weather turns cold we tend to shelter inside and we tend to eat heavier foods too. Why not bundle up after dinner with the kids, a friend, or your special someone and do a little walking tour of the neighborhood lights. In my neighborhood, we have quite a few people who go all out and something about sparkling lights or entire Santa Workshops shining in the night makes the air feel magical. Plus you burn a few of those Christmas cookies off while you’re at it.

Baking parties/cookie swaps. I love the idea of baking parties and if you have a big kitchen or a friend has, that’s definitely something that can be fun do with some friends. Especially if you have a nice bottle of wine or mulled cider. But you can also work out a cooperative with friends and family. Instead of making all the many treats and dishes you make every year, get with some friends or family members and work out swaps. You make the sugar cookies, your sister makes the pumpkin loaves, your mom the jello mold and so on. It’s actually easier to make a lot of one thing that a little of a lot of things. And when it comes time to swap it’s fun.

Sign up for Book Bub or Instafreebie and get some free books to read by the fire. The colder weather also makes people slow down and want to curl up with a good book. Book Bub and Instafreebie (as well as other sites) are free to sign up for and you can choose from free and discounted books (from traditional best sellers to brand new indie authors) to download. All you need after that is some warm fuzzy socks and a mug of hot chocolate.

Christmas movie cooperative/marathon. Personally, I have a huge collection of Christmas movies and there is at least a few days during the holiday season that I want to just watch sweet Christmas movies. Work out a little lending library among friends and family to share your Christmas movies. Or just cook up some popcorn and hot chocolate and host a Christmas movie marathon. You can even make it a potluck.

Take winter photos. We’ve all seen them – those beautiful winter wonderland photos that all seem to possess some magic in them. Why not create some of your own? Grab your phone or your camera and just take a walk. Find something that strikes your eye and take few snaps at different angles. You get some fresh air, burn a few calories and come home with some possibly beautiful photos that you can use in holiday cards or as prints. Free online photo editing sites like Canva, iPiccy, and Pxlr can help you further enhance and design with your photos.

Share a little bit of yourself. I know I know, we’re all so busy with everything during the holidays but don’t forget your elderly neighbors or family members who can’t get out much. Offer to shovel their sidewalk. Make an extra batch of cookies or increase that soup recipe and bring it to a shut in or local shelter. Or offer to read at the community center or local library. Giving of yourself really costs so little and can mean so much to another person.

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Good News! The official marshmallow roasting rules are here!

roasting marshmallows

So the Forest Department has put out a detailed list of rules and instructions on roasting marshmallows. Thank God, because since we’ve only been roasting marshmallows over camp fires since there were marshmallows and camp fires, I’m sure we need a bit of a brush up.

So for your Labor Day weekend enjoyment, I’m going to channel my inner gubbermint worker and read between the lines for you and tell you what they really mean:

1. First of all, you’re too fat and marshmallows are empty calories, so don’t roast the dang marshmallows in the first place. Instead roast fruit, soy nuts, or tofurky (refer to First Lady’s acceptable campfire eating list on our website.).

2. If you must roast marshmallows because of some dagnabbit  Christian-Judeo tradition that you claim is in the Bible, at least use the sugar-free, soy version that tastes like toilet paper and comes in a US approved recyclable package.

3. Be sure to remove the marshmallows from the package before roasting. Campfires are not like microwaves and you cannot put a packaged product into the fire without potentially causing harm.

4. Be sure to use a government approved stick. Many of our trees are endangered and we must not sacrifice them so you can have a roasting stick to make a completely unhealthy snack that we advise against in the first place. Check the endangered stick list on our website or download our convenient acceptable stick app that will glow green when you find the right kind of stick. Better yet, bring your own roasting implement so you don’t unnecessarily use up our limited natural resources you selfish marshmallow roasting bigot.

5. Do not put the marshmallow on the end of your finger and stick it in the fire. Direct contact with fire will hurt like the dickens and Obamacare does not cover self inflicted burn wounds.

6. Be sure to bring enough marshmallows that will feed more than your camping party. After all, not everybody has the luxury of marshmallows and since you do, you must offer your fair share of free marshmallows to the homeless and the poor should they happen upon your campsite. Because that’s the right thing to do you selfish, over-consuming snack gobbler.

7. Be sure to register as a marshmallow roaster with the Forestry Department and have your registration ready if a forest ranger should happen by and demand to see it. If you are found roasting marshmallows without the proper registration you may be fined up to $200,000 and be required to do a minimum of 200 hours of community service.

8. Remember marshmallow roasting may cause forest fires, spew smoke into our already clogged air so you should reconsider roasting your dang marshmallows and roast what we think is better for you and have on our approved list of snacks you selfish junk food bigot.

9. In fact, instead of going camping, we prefer you reduce your carbon footprint by staying home, preparing a meal of tasty raw fruits and vegetables and watching the PBS special on reducing your carbon footprint. You’ll save gas, calories and possible fines and jail time too.

10. From all of us at the National Forestry Department, we wish you a safe, low calorie, non-carcinogenic, politically correct Labor Day Weekend.

Okay, just in case somebody out there doesn’t realize this is satire, I’m going to say, this is satire. However, no gubbermint workers were harmed in the writing and posting of this article.

Happy Labor Day Weekend folks. And save a s’more for me.

Writer Chick
Copyright 2014