Our Top 4 Tips to Beat Holiday Stress

Merry Christmas! Hopefully, those two words still bring you a childlike sense of wonder and joy. Remember when the holidays were fun? School was out, you were anticipating what Santa might bring (and in my case, contemplating if you’d been truly good or bad), the sledding hill was packed and all the holiday burden was on the adults. It was truly the best time of the year.
Once you’re older, however, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. We have an increased sense of responsibility, especially if there are relatives visiting or we’re hosting a dinner. This often leads to not-so-healthy stress management habits like overeating and overdrinking as we jump from one holiday party to the next. Doing this season after season can lead to the holiday blues, where we begin to feel anxious, angry and even depressed during Christmastime. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Below are some tips to help get you through this and future holiday seasons. Follow these, and you’ll soon look like those happy-go-lucky people in Christmas commercials.
Do Less, Enjoy More–
See if you can turn down a couple of events. We’re not advocating sitting home alone all December, but when you have your office Christmas party, your friend’s ugly sweater party, recitals for the kids and are still having crazy Uncle Johnny over for Christmas dinner all in the same week it’s a bit much. Don’t be afraid to turn down something you’re not interested in or that’s not important. The main idea here is not to go overboard to please everybody.
Shopping –
You don’t need to seek perfection here. In fact, the best practice is to simply ask people what they want before you buy anything (especially other adults). This way, you’re not giving anything they don’t want and you don’t have to waste time scouring the far corners of the earth for something. Also, budget early, shop early and stick to it (we’ve got some budget gift ideas here). Set a date to have all shopping done, say December 10th, and you won’t have to worry anymore.
Try Something New –
Have you ever wanted a warm Christmas vacation? Tried cooking something other than ham or turkey or going out to eat? Invented your own family tradition? The more we can get away from the monotony of the season the better. A trip to California or making a meal from another culture (check out some recipes here) might be just the break you need. This is especially true if you’ve done the same thing year after year and are really stressed or dreading the holiday season.
Cope –
So you’re definitely stuck at home this year, you have relatives storming in and everyone expects you to be an excellent host. No matter the situation, we can always find simple ways to relieve stress. Taking a little chunk out of the day for ourselves is important anytime, let alone around Christmas. Volunteering and exercising (even if it’s just a 30-minute walk in some much-needed sunshine) can offer big benefits in a short amount of time. If you’re religious, finding the spiritual significance of the holidays and going to your place of worship can help feelings of isolation and loneliness. As difficult as these things may seem when you’re stressed, they will quickly brighten your overall mood and allow you to actually enjoy the season as it’s meant to be enjoyed.
If you can abstain from perfectionism, budget and shop early, stave off monotony and find ways to exercise and get some sunshine, you can bring back the Christmas joy you had as a child. Feel free to add any comments or experiences you might have with holiday stress, and Merry Christmas!

 

Gifts for Everyone On Your List, On a Budget!

We all want to give the people we love something sincere and meaningful for the holidays. To many, that means waiting in long lines, scouring the internet for the latest and greatest craze and inevitably spending way more dough than you meant to. No fear! We’re here to help you get through the most stressful season of the year on a budget.

 

While we’re often inundated with the idea that the more we spend on a gift the more we love someone, that really isn’t the case. Studies show that experiences bring people more happiness than do possessions. While we could certainly spend a lot on an experience for someone (i.e., booking them a trip), we can also give them something even more valuable (i.e., our time and/or expertise). This also allows us to connect with someone on a deeper level, rather than simply saying “I got you the new iPhone! See how much I spent on you?!”

 

While we all love getting tangible things (and there’s certainly nothing wrong with gifting those), after the initial joy we experience in receiving them they begin to fade into the background. Things become antiquated and fall apart. We start to take them for granted. Experiences, even if they’re bad, can create a great story that gets better with time. Here are a few ideas:

 

Subscriptions, Memberships, Tickets – What do they like? If they’re into the outdoors, maybe you could get them a state park entrance permit. Movies? Netflix can be relatively cheap. Is there a concert coming up? You get the idea. Golf courses, museums, gardens, zoos. There are all kinds of choices here that allow someone to have an experience, and many places run membership specials this time of year (if you’re looking to get something affordable for the whole family, check out MOR memberships at https://midwestoutdoorresorts.com/member-benefits.html. These are great for vacationers, campers, hikers and travelers in general!). Call us today at 800 231 0425 for more info!

 

Dinner Party for Two (or more) – There are plenty of options here, but the idea is that you would cook someone their favorite dinner. It doesn’t necessarily have to be elaborate, but it will give you the opportunity to do something heartfelt that won’t break the bank.

 

Personal Coupons – Redeemable at your convenience! Are you an expert in something unique, or do you know they really want to learn something? You could offer guitar or golf lessons, or even favors or chores (no one likes to shovel snow). While this may seem a little hokey, you’re still offering something valuable: your time.

 

Movie Night – Get your popcorn ready! Invite someone over to watch any movies and/or shows they’d like. You may have to sit through something you genuinely despise, but hey, this is your gift. Make snacks and you’ve got a present on a budget.

 

An Investment or Donation – To clarify, we’re not talking about George Costanza’s Human Fund here. This is best geared toward kids or grandkids, and they might not appreciate it initially, but savings bonds, college savings accounts or a few shares of stock can be relatively inexpensive and will allow kids to watch their money grow. You can also give to someone’s favorite charity, especially if they are heavily involved.

 

Anything Personalized – So I’m bending the rules a bit, but if someone lives far away and there’s no way to spend time with them, you could send them something heartfelt like a poem or art. There are a ton of options online for personalized prints, albums, t-shirts, etc (try https://www.socialprintstudio.com/squares/ for example). You could even fill a grab-bag with funny, cheap knick-knacks and send it to them.

 

There are plenty of ways to do something meaningful for someone without spending a lot of cash, especially if you make them experiential rather than material. Chances are, they’ll like them better anyway. Please let us know if you have any ideas or stories you’d like to share in the comments!

A How To Guide For Thanksgiving in Small Spaces

Will you be traveling this holiday season? Are you staying in an RV, cabin or hosting Thanksgiving in any modestly-sized accommodation?  While holiday dinners can be difficult in the most spacious areas, there’s no need to be stressed. Here are some simple tips you can use to throw a fantastic Thanksgiving feast in a small area.

  1. Realize that your friends and family aren’t expecting something out of a lifestyle magazine – While everyone wants to be comfortable, they probably aren’t expecting anything glamorous if they’re eating in a studio apartment or RV. Thanksgiving dinner is generally casual and relaxed, so don’t worry too much about everything being perfect. Keep decorations to a minimum. If you can make people fairly comfortable, they’ll be plenty happy.
  2. No formal seating required – Seating is one of the biggest concerns when hosting a large dinner. Benches and armless chairs are your friends here, if available. They take up far less space and can seat more people. If needed, you can use an ironing board for a serving table or set out floor pillows for extra seating (better to use for after dinner rather than during). You can also try diagonal dining. Setting up your main table diagonally will maximize floor space and give your dinner a non-traditional look.
  3. Let in the light! Naturally light as much of your space as possible to give the space an open feel. Natural light is best, but candlelight also offers a very relaxed atmosphere (if you can, avoid overhead lighting). The more natural light you let in, the better.
  4. Write down cooking times to avoid clutter – One of the trickiest parts of prepping a large meal is the cooking times of different foods. Turkey, of course, can take hours, while certain side dishes may only take a few minutes. If you’re preparing a feast in a small space, it will be extremely helpful if you write down exactly how long everything will take so you can keep pots and pans stashed away until needed. Avoiding clutter is one of your main goals in this scenario.

Your other option is to cook as much as possible before the big day. If you have all of your side dishes ready, making only the main course will be relatively easy. Certain side dishes (cranberry sauce, gravy, potatoes, etc.) will taste just as good if they’re left overnight, but be wary.

  1. Use space-saving accessories – If you have cake stands or tiered plate holders, use them! Stackable trays and serve-ware can keep surfaces free of clutter. Try to go vertical rather than horizontal as much as possible.

Keep it simple, relaxed and don’t stress! – Put on some soft music (quiet enough so the guests can talk) and remember that this is a casual time, and spending time with friends and family is the most important part. Have fun arranging your space! If you follow some of these tips and take a little time for preparation, your Thanksgiving will go off splendidly. Enjoy!

DON’T GET CAUGHT WITH YOUR TOES IN THE SNOW, WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT WINTERIZING YOUR RV NOW.

 

Well, we’ve unfortunately hit that time of year. Camping season is coming to a close, and when the temperature starts regularly dropping below 32°F (0°C), it’s time to winterize. Basically, winterizing entails protecting your RV from freezing temperatures so it’s prepared when the snow melts, the frost thaws and spring flowers start poking out. (Yes, I’m currently listening to The Beatles’ classic “Here Comes the Sun”).Your main goal when winterizing your RV is taking care of the water system. Here is a step-by-step guide so your rig is thoroughly prepared to hibernate through Jack Frost.

 

Before getting started, make sure you read through your owner’s manual carefully to take any additional recommended steps.

  • Drain all water tanks completely –Take your RV to a waste station and drain all tanks.
  • Drain the water from the hot water heater (DO NOT DO WHILE WATER IS HOT OR UNDER PRESSURE)Small lime deposits may come out. This is normal.
  • Drain the pipes –Turn on all faucets (hot and cold), flush the toilet, and turn on the outside shower.You can also use an air compressor to blow out all the pipes (set to no more than 30psi).
  • Open all low-point drain lines –There will be a hot and cold water line.
  • Once all lines are drained, recap, close and turn off all drains and faucets.
  • Bypass the water heater –This isn’t a must, but will save you gallons of antifreeze. If you don’t have a bypass kit, you can get one installed relatively cheaply.
  • Pump antifreeze through your water lines (RV antifreeze is PINK) –Most newer RVs have a valve attached to the water pump that will allow the pump to draw antifreeze directly from the bottle. Turn on water pump, and starting with the closest faucet, open the hot and cold valves one at a time until you see pink antifreeze, then close. Keep replacing the bottle as needed, don’t let it run dry.
  • Open each faucet until each has antifreeze coming out –Also, keep flushing your toilet until you see antifreeze. Make sure you run antifreeze to the outside shower as well.
  • Turn off the water pump –Open a faucet to release pressure, then close.
  • Pour antifreeze down each drain and into the toilet.
  • Make sure if you have an electric heating element on your water heater, it is turned OFF.
  • Make sure all valves and faucets are CLOSED.
  • If you have other appliances (ice maker, dishwasher, etc.) consult the owner’s manual to winterize

 

Tires –

You may want to raise your rig on jacks, but at least make sure you’re parked on concrete or pavement so tires do not sink into the ground.

Batteries –

Remove batteries of any type and store in a warm, dry location.

Propane Tanks –

Fill all propane tanks, and store in a sheltered location.

Not inside the RV.

Electrical System –

Turn off the RV’s main circuit breaker. Block the exhaust pipe with steel wool or aluminum to keep out pests.

Food and Drinks –

Remove all food and drinks as some things can burst and become messy (and attract unwanted visitors like rodents and insects in the spring).

Interior –

Clean stove, make sure to thaw freezer completely and dry. Leave all refrigerator doors open.

Exterior –

Close all roof vents, make sure windows and doors are fully sealed. Cover any holes with screening, and cover vents with cardboard to make sure rodents and

insects can’t get in.

Moisture Control –

Get a container of moisture absorbent and place it on a flat surface inside the RV. This will prevent corrosion and mold.

Weather Protection –

This is a given, but try to protect your RV from the elements as best you can by parking in a shelter or getting an RV cover. Obviously, this sounds like a lot of work, but it will be well worth it when you’re ready to make your next excursion to one of our fine resorts in the spring.

As always, be sure to check your owner’s manual for any additional steps, and happy exploring!