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My Holiday Guide to Living & Giving

November 26, 2012|36Comments|


Festive Friends,

While the holidays are a fabulous time to be grateful and merry, they also stir up a lot of emotions, memories and even fears. What a shock. From about mid-November to early January we often engage in a flurry of parties, extra demands and financial stretching.

If you’re like me, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment. You might find yourself sleeping less, drinking more, abandoning your self-care practices and beating yourself up for slacking off. This increased stress and change in routine can often lead to depression and exhaustion. Hey, it happens.

No need to white knuckle it or freak out over your lack of control. Rather than burying your head in a box of tinsel or a flask of vodka, let’s chew on a few tips that will help you stay sane and healthy while celebrating with family, friends and colleagues.

The best gift you can give yourself and others is your ability to stay present.

It’s a cinch to get lost inside the wrapping, cooking, traveling and shopping, but I challenge me/you to check in with ourselves. You and I are really resourceful. I know we can find ways to sneak in self-care and peace of mind. And if we do, guess what will happen? We’ll feel truly festive and joyful, and we won’t need a vacation from the vacation!

So, how do you keep it together this holiday season?

  • Be yourself. My mom knows how to set a stunning table. I swear, she’s gifted. Me? Not so much. For years, my holiday table gave me stress. I’m the self-appointed foodie after all. Aren’t I supposed to be fabulous at all things kitchen and entertaining? Um, no. I’m an awesome Kris and that’s enough. I don’t have the best china or cloth napkins. I have a few nice dishes and a lot of hand-me-downs that I eclectically jazz up by pairing odd couples together. You don’t have to be Martha Stewart or Julia Childs. You just have to be you. Glorious, wonderful, awesome YOU. Do your best with what you have. Folks want your company more than your decorating skills. YOU are the celebration.
  • Plan ahead and delegate. Listen up, Supergirl: Rip off that annoying cape! It catches on things and trips you up. Make shopping lists well in advance. My idea of a holiday nightmare is waiting ‘til the last minute to decide what to cook. Some dishes take more time than others, some may need to marinate overnight. Remember, the kitchen is fun and healing, meditative and wise — especially when you create space and time for mindful pot stirring. If you need help, speak up, powerhouse! You’ve got saucy vocal cords, USE THEM. Ask everyone to pitch in, and sprinkle the to-dos throughout the weeks leading up to your big holiday celebrations. Heck, you can even ask your friends and family to each bring a dish, so you don’t have to cook the entire meal. That way, you can soak in the greatness/great-full-ness of the day, experiencing the moments in real time, rather than later, while looking through your iPhone photos.
  • Put your heart into it. If you really want to feel the holiday spirit, put your love cap on and infuse thoughtfulness into the food on your table and the gifts given to your loved ones. You don’t need to spend a lot or cook a fancy, Food Network worthy dish. When you infuse your efforts with love and compassion, you raise the energy and vibration of the meal or the offering. Folks will feel the love. Even if they can’t articulate it, they will feel it. Amen.
  • Practice gratitude and kindness to yourself and others. I’m not ashamed to admit that I need extra hugs, thank-yous, smiles and understanding during the coming wintry months. If I need it, so do you and those around you. A little extra kindness will go a long way. It’s like soul currency. Take a moment to scribble with me. What are three things you are grateful for this year? Write them. Read them. Pause. Feel them. Sound good? Don’t skip this exercise, Skippy! It will help your immune system and your mood. Now for the next bit. Identify three ways you can be kinder to yourself and to others this holiday season (and into the new year). I’ll go first:

Self-kindness: 1) Look in the mirror and say “I love you, Kris” more often and with feeling. I learned this exercise from Louise Hay. Wise gal. Whenever I do this work, my face and body totally relax. It’s like giving myself a hug from the inside out. 2) Speak from my gut more, instead of saying “yes” just because I think I “should.” 3) Take more baths. Add 2 cups epsom salt, ½ cup raw apple cider, ¼ cup baking soda and a few dashes of lavender to warm water. Soak. Ahhh …

Kindness towards others: 1) Sponsor an animal this holiday season and/or go veg! Saving a life is the ultimate kindness. See more deets below. 2) Snail mail rocks. Send loving cards to family and friends for no reason. 3) Spend time instead of money. At the end of our days all we have are memories. Time well spent with family and friends means more than knick knacks and trinkets. A cup of tea or a movie together will do. It doesn’t have to be lavish or stressful. Make the time meaningful.

  • Let go. Try your best to do some or all of things I’ve mentioned above and then just give in to the moment. Is your holiday dinner a disaster? Whip up a salad or order Chinese take-out and have a picnic in your living room. Is your sister-in-law driving you up the wall? Forgive her, release the negative self-talk and find something to focus on that brings you joy–an impromptu game of Twister or Taboo always does the trick for me. How about a sweet cup of non-dairy nog, a cozy blanket and twinkling lights? Surrender to the moment. It really does feel good.
holiday collage

And how do you keep it together amongst the shopping mall mayhem and ease the growing worry over what to buy for whom?

Remember, it’s the thought that counts. And as I said earlier, YOU are the gift. If I had time to spend with you, I’d be happy as a clam, thanking Santa daily. But if you’re looking to spend some moolah on your peeps, read on. Many great products come across my desk throughout the year. Here’s a list of a few treasured gifts I’ve given to loved ones at the holidays, plus one I saved up for and gifted myself to improve my health (hellooo sauna!). Whether you have a lot or a little to spend, check out these clever, health and happiness-filled ideas.

1. Annmarie Gianni’s Skincare I searched for years to find personal care products that would make my skin clear, youthful and dewey without sacrificing my health with toxic chemicals. Drinking green juice and eating a nutrient-dense, plant-empowered diet does wonders; in fact, it’s a must. Without a healthy diet you’re wasting your money (to be frank). But beyond proper nutrition, we could all use some extra help and pampering. I’ve truly tried everything. Then, I learned about Annmarie’s 100% organic beauty support system. Beauty care products that align with my diet and lifestyle philosophy AND feel/smell/work like a dream? Hooray! If unicorns used face lotion, they’d slather their ethereal mugs in Annmarie’s powerful potions :-)

2. Cuppow Mason Jar Sipper Like many people, I love a good mason jar. I use them for my kitchen staples (rice, beans, legumes), my twice-a-day green juice habit (the lids are perfect for sealing up my second dose of liquid sunshine), and my husband uses them for storing everything from nails to nickels. So you can imagine my absolute delight when I discovered Cuppow! I’m not very graceful on the go. Green juice sloshes everywhere. Ask my car! Now, I don’t have to sacrifice my blouse while sipping my elixir. I just pop one of these sweet sipper tops onto my cup, and voila! Health on the go-go. This nifty gadget makes a great stocking stuffer.

3. Lori Portka’s Gratitude Packs (Use promo code: GRATEFUL for 20% off!) Tis’ the season for thanks. And is there anything more touching, romantic and grounding than receiving a handwritten note in the mail? That’s why Lori’s Gratitude Packs are such a phenomenal gift–they’re an experience that will shift your life. I’ve been in awe of Lori’s paintings ever since her 100 Thank Yous gratitude project. Now we can all benefit from her inspiring art with her gorgeous gratitude postcards. Each time I pop one in the mail, I smile. And then, days later, when that special someone receives their note, they feel my postal hug. It can be a love note to your partner, a thank you to your mother-in-law or just a simple “you matter to me” message to the friend you haven’t seen in years. Whatever it is, no matter how small, these cards will light up your life and theirs.

4. Sunlighten Sauna This is a big ticket item, but I thought I’d throw it in the mix in case Santa is feeling extra generous. My sauna is my chamber of chillaxing. Infrared heat (aka radiant heat) increases your body’s core temperature, which means more toxins are excreted via your sweat. I’ve found my sauna sessions to be especially helpful for improving circulation, boosting immunity during cold/flu season, reducing stress, caring for my skin, easing sore muscles and back pain, and decreasing cellulite (woot! woot!). It’s an investment that I’ve never regretted.

5. Farm Sanctuary The more time I spend in my delicious plant-passionate kitchen (it’s been about ten years now), the more I completely forget what the heck was so great about eating animals. If you know someone who is dedicated to animal rights or just loves our furry and feathered pals, sponsoring an animal at a farm sanctuary is the purrrfect gift. And better yet, if you know someone who loves animals like dogs and cats but hasn’t quite made the connection that other animals have emotions and feeling too, sponsoring a farm animal might create a life-changing ah-ha moment. I heart Farm Sanctuary. They are one of many non-profit farms that give animals a peaceful, loving place to live out their days. Learn more about gift sponsorships here.

6. Tools for your Crazy Sexy Kitchen Spending a year working on a cookbook certainly made me familiar with my kitchen tools. When you have the right tools, cooking is joyful breeze because it’s so much easier! Any of these handy tools will bring a big smile to aspiring cooks and foodies alike.

  • Vitamix blender
  • Juicer (Breville, Omega, Hurom)
  • Chef’s knife
  • Cast iron skillet
  • Big soup pot (I love Le Creuset but you can easily find cheaper options)
  • Microplane zester (this tool changed my life!)

7. Scent of a Scandal I love candles. Every morning I turn on the Christmas lights above my desk and light a candle. It’s my ritual. These 100% soy wax candles smell outstanding and are also 100% naughty. Each one has a cheeky title that makes me chuckle. They’re perfect for the person on your list who has a great sense of humor and values small treasures in life. Plus, company founder Ari Solomon is a fellow plant-lover. I feel really good when I support compassionate folks running compassionate businesses. Don’t you?

8. Do it yourself! Are you a crafty chap or gal? Do you love baking or making kale chips? How about homemade ornaments or tea cozies? My team and I had a blast perusing Pinterest for some unique DIY holiday ideas. It’s not too late to roll up your sleeves and create. Your inner kid will love you and so will your friends and family.

9. Buy Handmade. If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind gift for your one-of-a-kind sweetie, Etsy offers everything from cozy hand-knitted scarves to customized jewelry and lovely letterpress art. It’s a treasure trove of talented crafts-people and artists. Feast your eyes on their work!

I hope these stress-reducing ideas and holiday gifts help fan your creative fires. In the comments below I’d love to read your wisdom!

What are you doing to stay cool and calm during the chaos?

AND …

Do you have any prezzie tips/ideas to share with your fellow Crazy Sexies? I bet we could get an epic list going.

Thanks everyone! Blessings to you all.

Peace & spiritual cocoa,

Kris Carr



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36 responses to My Holiday Guide to Living & Giving
  1. As always, such loving and caring insights and creative inspirations!! Thanks Kris xox

  2. Wow, I loved all these ideas. Thank you, again, Kris.

  3. Excellent post Kris! I could really relate to what you wrote because I often feel like I have to make everything “perfect” on the holidays. Because of this, I always feel let down each year. This year, I am working on just practicing acceptance – for who I am and those around me. So far it is working great! I love your holiday gift suggestions. To add to your holiday wishlist – I really would like a essential oil diffuser and some pure essential oils to go with it. I also think high quality workout clothes are a great gift, such as Lululemon or Athleta. Happy holidays to you!

  4. I bought 2 copies of your cookbook for gifts. Thanks so much for creating it! Have a wonderful holiday season.

  5. I can think of the perfect holiday gift… Crazy Sexy Kitchen! I have a feeling I will be wrapping a few of these up for family and friends. I made Chile Rellenos last night. Yum! Check it out…

  6. All your ideas make sense to me. i am glad to hear about the mason jar lid thingies because we all use them a lot and make messes a lot. i have also started using the sweet little tea pot my husband gave me (from the thrift store) and it also gives me much pleasure in these chilly nights. I fill it with yummy tea and a little almond milk and feel oh so well taken care of.

  7. Thanks for the lovely reminders, Kris! I decided to make a list of things I wanted to focus on during the holidays last night…the process of organizing my thoughts before I went to bed totally helped me feel at ease and get a good night’s rest. There is just SO much to think about and do, that sometimes we forget about what the holidays really mean…staying present, appreciative, and grateful and spreading the love is where it’s at :)

  8. Like so many, our family is experiencing financial stress. Instead of complaining about what we couldn’t do or have, all of us got together for a vegan extravaganza Thanksgiving meal. It was delightful, and we were thankful. Thanks for emphasizing the positive side of life, because we will experience what we are looking for!

  9. I’m so happy to get this advice. Seriously, I needed this boost. You really know us, Kris; thanks for being so inspiring.

    This year, I’m giving everyone little bottles of homemade cleaning products. I’m gonna make ‘em in bulk and pour into small jars and bottles that I’ve saved for the last couple months
    -a surface cleaner made from vinegar, lavendar thyme and sage (if I remember correctly, i have my ingredients and directions saved in a folder in my email, from subscriptions and ideas throughout the year)
    -toothpaste
    -bodywash/shampoo/bubble bath
    -dish soap
    -laundry detergent
    … all made w/ dr. bronner’s soap and a few different additional ingredients for each type of “soap” … I’m using the peppermint flavor, love it as a toothpaste and hair/body wash, leaves me tingly all over!

  10. Great post Kris! Thank you for sharing these tips, as well as holiday gifts. So often we forget that we need to take care of ourselves this time of year – if we don’t take care of ourselves, we won’t be able to embrace the joy of the season! One tip I’d add – last week I took off the day before Thanksgiving to cook/clean/prep for the following day, as I was hosting. When Thanksgiving came, I was calm, cool, and collected and the day went perfectly! I wasn’t stressed at all, and I thoroughly enjoyed spending the day with my family. If people can, take off a day to prep for their holiday gathering, or perhaps to do some shopping. There is only so many hours in the day – sometimes you need a day off from work to collect yourself! Happy Holidays!

  11. We’re biased, of course, but this is a great list (the gifts and the tips). We are honored to be one of your selections and are looking forward to keeping the holidays calm this year. Thanks so much, Kris!

  12. I used to strive for perfection until I finally realized that going to dinner with a stressed out hostess was anything but enjoyable. Now I go for everything being ‘nice’ and me being calm. Much better.
    Great tips!

  13. Great guide! I’m definatley sharing!

  14. Thank you! I’ll have to checkout your sippy cup lids and add them to my xmas wish list! LOL- I have juice stains including carrot which is like a neon stain all over my car! Who would have thought such a thing exists!

  15. Love your writing style!! Always makes me chuckle:) thanks for the super nifty tips.

  16. THANK YOU Kris for the inspiration… Gotta say, I wasn’t feeling very festive. But you have changed all that for me today. I feel I can relax into the season a little more and not feel the pressure for everything to be ‘PERFECT’
    .AND loving the gift ideas too.

    Jxox

  17. I have been trying to get as many gifts from places that donate proceeds to charity, or provide food. My favorite is the Hunger Site, and I’ve found tons of fair-trade jewelry, clothing and gifts for friends and family over the past few years. Punjammies are also a good option, helping women who were sold into sex slavery recover their lives making super comfy PJs! I feel less awkward about spending money when I know that I am getting a good gift for a good person and supporting a good cause.

  18. Another big ticket gift could be a dehydrator, and another lot of gifts could be the different nuts (curried cashew, salt and pepper almonds and fiery pistachios from the Book!! :-} thank you Kris and every one xo

  19. Start 2013 off with an empty jar and fill it with notes about good things that happen.
    On New Years Eve, empty it and see what awesome stuff happened that year.

    I can’t take credit for this idea but man it’s a great one! :-)

  20. I really love your blog. Some great ideas for all, but also for us gentleman who would love to do something more for the ones we love, and don’t know where to begin. Thanks so much for your work.

  21. Make edible acorns, place in a pretty, mini muffin cup, and wrap with a tag which speaks to the meaning of an acorn: “An acorn is an emblem of luck, prosperity, youthfulness and power, the Acorn is a good luck symbol indeed! It also represents spiritual growth”

    Cut an organic date in half, remove pit
    Fill with raw nut butter
    Dip bottom in ground/chopped raw almonds
    Dip top in melted vegan, dark chocolate
    Sprinkle with cinnamon

  22. Give yourself a tasty gift today! Make Cashew Hummus from Crazy Sexy Kitchen. It is so good you will want to eat the whole bowl, lick the spoon and lick the sides of the bowl clean! Check of my Vegan Julie/Julia Project using Crazy Sexy Kitchen for all the juicy details…

  23. Dear Kriss Karr. I admire you deeply,you are such
    an inspiration for me.and for many people your greatest,
    advices help me so much to keep on the right track.Thank you
    so much and good bless you. I am from MEXICO.

  24. just got my Cuppows in the mail, thanks to you. And, put your Crazy Sexy Kitchen Cookbook on my wish list!

  25. In order to get into the holiday spirit we celebrate the advent in my home. The advent begins on the Sunday closest to December 1st and lasts all the way until Christmas. We have an advent calendar which has a little window to open for everyday. We also set up a nativity scene with a path made of stars that Mary and Joseph follow towards the manger, and every star that they advance we then stick into the sky background therefore when they arrive the sky is filled with stars. And this year instead of going shopping we went out to nature last weekend and made an advent wreath with the beautiful gifts from the forest. I find that these ways of working up to Christmas make the holidays last longer and therefore take away the stress from trying to have all the Christmas fun over just a few days. In our house the celebration has already begun! It’s great for kids as well as it creates a build up to a celebration and takes away some of the emphasis put on material gifts.
    Thanks for everything Kris, you’re helping me make some great changes in my life.

  26. Kris, LOVE all of these suggestions (and have added a few to my own list) and Molly’s homemade soaps too!

    Two things I’m giving to my loved ones this year: homemade body scrub for the shower and my husband and I are making jars of our pasta sauce and homemade ravioli. I have to say, of all the gifts we’re giving, I’m most excited about these two made with love!

    Much love to you!

  27. Hey Kris-great collection here. I’m very curious about the skincare line. But tell me this, do you wear spf on your face? I’m wondering if spf can be applied under or over the moisturizing oil?

  28. I liked this post Kris! Everyone is into making everything “perfect” on the holidays. But the truth is, you can celebrate Holiday Seasons with simple preparations and yet it is always effective! It is simply because you have your family and loved ones with you. Your holiday gift suggestions are amazing. Enjoy holiday Season!