Our wish for you as the daylight becomes shorter is to find moments to just be – with a good book, a feel-good film, enjoying the company of friends. Light a candle, take a few minutes to enjoy the changing light.

We have some personal favorite activities – some people might call them traditions – that help remind us of this season of hope and joy. So this year we’ve compiled them into a short list to share with you.  We have beloved movies, favorite books, and local activities. We’ll add to it weekly, and if you have something you love send us an email, and we’ll share it, too. The point isn’t to think we can do it all, we just love to take the time to enjoy these waning days of the year. Maybe it’s a bit of refresh and renewal as the new year approaches.
So here it goes!

Enjoy your favorite holiday movie

Lynn’s favorite is the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol” with Alistair Sim.  At her house, the Christmas season is kicked-off on Thanksgiving evening by watching this movie. For Lynn it captures the true meaning of holiday spirit.

Amy has three favorites that she never misses: the original Home Alone (“I made my family disappear!”), the original Miracle on 34th Street (because she still believes in Santa Claus) and the charming Love Actually (watching Hugh Grant dance to “Jump For My Love” never fails to put her in a festive mood).

Make Cinnamon Ornaments (This can be a fun family activity) 

These little ornaments couldn’t be simpler, and they will make your entire house smell glorious. Simply mix 1 cup applesauce, 1 to 1 1/4 cups ground cinnamon (available in large quantities at stores like Smart and Final) and 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon ground cloves (optional). Mix it all together until you have a slightly sticky dough and roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness on a surface sprinkled with cinnamon. Cut out with cookie cutters and punch a small hole in each for hanging. Bake the shapes on a parchment-lined cookie sheet at 200 degrees for about two hours, or until the ornaments are completely dried out. They are perfect as a potpourri in a decorative dish or hung on your tree as an ornament (but not appropriate for eating).

Do Something Nice – It Creates Joy

Giving is really a game-changer for the giver as well as the receiver of the gift. With so many needs in every community, there’s always an opportunity to lend a hand. One person we know asks friends and neighbors for new or gently used blankets that she takes to a homeless shelter. Another one organizes a gift drive for the children of working poor parents. Still others visit the home bound with their pets.

If you’re not sure where to start visit HandsOn Greater Phoenix, a local non-profit group that helps connect volunteers to where they are most needed. Winston Churchill put it well when he said “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” 

Enjoy a Cup of Hot Cocoa

Nothing says “cozy” like a cup of homemade cocoa. Here is our favorite recipe: Mix 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a saucepan. Add 1/3 cup of water, bring to a boil for 1 minute. Mix in 4 cups of milk and heat to desired temperature. Remove from the heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Enjoy with someone special!

Read This Book

Seriously, it won’t take a bunch of time and you’ll feel so good by the end of the story. John Grisham’s Skipping Christmas is a charming tale of the attempt to avoid the chaos of the holidays that may leave you in tears of laughter and sentimental joy. (This has been a staple of Amy’s tradition for at least 15 years. Her advice: Do not bother with the the movie. The book is a treasure.)

Enjoy the Sights and Sounds of the Community

We are so fortunate to have an abundance of events to help celebrate the holidays. From dance to song, the symphony to theater, and spectacular light shows, the Phoenix area has a lot to offer. The good people over at KBAQ have compiled a calendar of events. Click here to check it out.

We wish you cheer and peace in the days ahead!