It’s hard to believe, but the holiday season has almost arrived! I’m curious to hear what tips, recommendations, or personal experiences you have during the holidays.
I have never traveled during the holidays as pretty much all my close and extended family lives in CT, so when we were young, my family used to have family parties on Christmas day, with probably 40-50 people stopping in throughout the day. There was a lot of prep work in terms of cleaning the house, helping set up tables and chairs with holiday décor throughout the house, and assisting our parents with any cooking we could. It was a lot of work but with a family of 5 it ended up getting done within a matter of hours and before we knew it, family started to arrive and all the hard work paid off!
If you stay local, how do you prepare for guests’ arrival?
If you travel, what are the best ways you’ve found to optimize the undertaking of holiday travel?
What are some traditions you’ve adopted / incorporated over the years? How were you introduced to them?
If you have tips for how you travel using your Rewards points during the holidays, please share your insights! This thread may also be a good place to share: Holiday Travel Tips - We Want Your Input!
I’ve scoured the internet and found this article from the Travel Channel that gives some valuable information to incorporate for the upcoming season, and hopefully if you’re a holiday traveler you’ve already got some of these under your belt! http://www.travelchannel.com/interests/travel-tips/articles/top-10-survival-tips-for-holiday-travel
If you stay at home and prepare for family or friends to stay during the holidays, this page from HGTV is filled with tons of tips and ideas! http://www.hgtv.com/design/packages/hosting-the-holidays
I look forward to hearing your feedback!
In my 52 years, growing up in the South, in a large "Southern" family. Thanksgiving has always been about getting together "thankfully" with family for the holiday. Good eating, fun, football, is had by all.
This year I am breaking that tradition. My wife and I are going to Brazil for a week. Once in a lifetime, I guess its OK to do something a little different..Happy Thanksgiving Insiders
That sounds amazing hydroventures! Have you ever been to Brazil before? I think it's great to break tradition for once in a lifetime opportunities!
My sister will be in Hawaii for Thanksgiving this year, and my brother in Las Vegas, so my family is going to be moving Thanksgiving dinner to the following weekend for when they have returned!
deannad - How did I not know you were going to be in Hawaii for Thanksgiving?? What island?
That sounds great, hydroventures. Ironically, one of my daughter's mother-in-law is Brazilian and this Christmas - Brazil is coming to us! I am really looking forward to meeting this branch of my daughter's husband's extended family.
no thanksgiving holidays in the uk but for Xmas holidays I've a couple of trips planned flying out to istanbul early Dec staying in the Marriott Asia then xmas eve fly out of Edinburgh via New York to Orlando for 3 nights airport Marriott 9 nights in st Petersburg /Clearwater Marriott then back to Orlando for 3 nights in Marriott grand vista hopefully kick back relax and enjoy the sun
Sounds like you've got quite the holiday itinerary doddsy69! I'm very jealous you'll be spending some of your days relaxing in the sun in FL!!
I'd love to go to Istanbul one day, you'll have to take pictures and share on here! Will that be an adventure trip where you'll be exploring the country?
Home for Thanksgiving. Luckily I'm not the one that has to cook dinner this year.
But a Christmas present for myself and my husband - one week at Marriott's Grand Chateau in Las Vegas.
Yes, that's means we will be there for New Years' Eve.
Since midnight will happen 2 hours later than at home...not sure if I'll be able to stay awake that long.
Looking forward to stay at a new resort (at least new in my book)
Ah the joys of not having to cook on a holiday! I'm usually down for baking gingerbread cookies, or making an appetizer, but that's the extent of my contributions to a holiday dinner.
Vegas for New Years sounds delightful! Even if you miss midnight, it'll still be a great time, and nice way to ring in the new year. Best of luck if you're a gambler!
We take off for Florida on 12/23 and will be there through early January. Flights were a challenge as 12/23 is one of the busiest and most expensive days to travel, so we burned up a few UA miles and a voucher I had from UA for one of their goof ups on a flight earlier this year. Flying DL back as we had to piece together an itinerary to make it affordable. My brother and nephew and maybe my parents are driving there to meet us. We are doing an extended family gathering on 12/20 before we take off.
We are hosting Thanksgiving this year. We have a guest bedroom, and we have also booked a couple of rooms at our local SHS for family members coming from out of town. We don't do a ton of food anymore. We like to keep it simple, though we try to make sure that everyone is guaranteed to have something on the table that is a favorite. Since I work and have spent the last two weekends out of state, it definitely won't be a "Pinterest" holiday, but it will be a lot of fun. I bought new dishes (first time in over 20 years) from Sur La Table. I'm excited to use them.
Christmas will be spent 250 miles from home in the Inland Empire this year (where one set of parents live), which means we will have to drive (through LA, groan). I have no tips for this. It's always a holiday road trip that requires nerves of steel. As best as I can figure, if we drive through LA at night in the middle of the week, it's not so bad. When we drive home, we try not to do it on the most obvious travel day after the holiday. My mom does a 12 foot Christmas tree that looks like something out of a Macy's catalog. There will be a lot of family that I don't get to see very often, and we look forward to it.
As far as traditions, many that we had when the kids were younger have fallen by the wayside as they grew up and spread wings, such as the youngest child in the house putting baby Jesus to bed (in the Nativity manger), singing happy birthday to Jesus, watching or reading the story of the first Christmas, and taking turns from year to year placing the star on the top of the tree. Other faded traditions are/were, each kid getting an orange in their stocking, milk and cookies and a letter to Santa left on the hearth, church service on Christmas Eve and a family stroll down Christmas Tree Lane, along with kitchen service over the Thanksgiving holiday at the local shelter. One tradition that remains is that we always make enchiladas on Christmas Eve. The oranges in the stockings have been replaced with Starbucks gift cards and Clinique free-with-purchase cosmetics (the girls still love these). Now it's the grand kids that always get to open a gift on Christmas Eve which contains either jammies, slippers or a robe. This year, my daughter and her husband have adopted the 4 gift philosophy for their children: something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read. Oh, I almost forgot, I always make home made Christmas Cards. It's something that I start on around August.
In addition to putting up family at our local Springhill Suites, ironically, when we spend Christmas in the Inland Empire, we also stay at the Springhill Suites in Corona and when spending Christmas in Carlsbad-by-the-Sea, we stay at the Springhill Suites in Oceanside. The Oceanside Springhill Suites is not like any other Springhill Suites anywhere. It's truly a "California Classic." In the summer months, rates are >$300/night, however at Christmas, they hover around $100. The employees at this hotel do a gingerbread house contest (by divisions, ie. front desk, housekeeping, maintenance, etc.) and the guests get to vote on the best one.
Christmas Eve swim in rooftop pool
Christmas morning view
Definitely not your traditional Christmas
Oh my gosh I LOVE the idea of a 4 gift philosophy, that is genius and I've never heard it!! I'm to the point now where my siblings & I are all older (no one with kids yet though), and going with secret santa gifts. It's pretty great, you pick a name and someone picks yours, and we all have the same set budget. We list a couple of things that we want so you don't know exactly what you're getting, but it's things that you want or will use.
Coming from CT, I can't imagine having palm trees to look at on Christmas morning, such gorgeous views!
I bet the drive through L.A is not enjoyable, but once you arrive it's worth it for family, and for that tree!
Sounds like you are very dedicated with starting hand made cards in August.
Love the recap and the pictures, thanks so much for sharing!
For the last 2 years we have gone to the Marriott Canyon Villas, next to the JW Marriott Desert Ridge, and we have done the Thanksgiving buffet at the JW. Pricey, but just once a year. This year we are going to the JW Marriott Star Pass (Tucson) and having their buffet. Great buffet, but I miss not having leftovers. Then we do a turkey at Christmas, which we typically do at home.
Although I hear you on the leftovers part, a buffet for a holiday meal is always a great choice!
We have the food laid out buffet style at my house on Thanksgiving, (always a turkey and at least 5 sides) and I usually end up with 2 plates of food, 1 plate of dessert, and then hours of laying on my side on the couch to aide the digestion, but it's worth it.
Enjoy the JW Marriott Star Pass!
Thanksgiving 2013- Aruba Surf Club. We cooked a traditional Thanksgiving dinner in our villa and had friends over who were staying at the Hyatt hotel just down the road. What great fun at our home away from home. And buffet style worked out great at we had 9 people total. so more room for seating.
Both. Thanksgiving will be in Thailand with my wife's family. Meaningless to them, of course, but that's where will be. Work requirement.
Christmas at home. Kids want to see me? They know my address.
I hate travelling on holidays. A few years ago I went to SLC for Christmas because my father hadn't been well and I was afraid it would be his last Christmas (he got 1 more before he passed). But the crowds at the airport, long lines for rental car, crowded and noisy hotels, no thanks. I'll stay home and put a picture of a fire on my TV (since we are no longer allowed to have a fire in our fireplace in California) and order Christmas pizza delivered.
You'd be burning it from San Quentin if you lived in San Francisco.
I always thought that a pot belly stove was a fairly enviro-friendly way to heat your home. Plus they're cool.
But when you live in an area where Raul Castro once commented about the government "They're worse than my nutty brother" you learn to deal with it.
Yes I love our stove it came from my mother-in-laws grandmothers cabin in Upper Michigan. That was how they heated their cabin during the winters. My mother-in-law just turned 96 so I really don't know how old It is. But I do know that it is the best kinda heat for winters. It gives out a steady heat then the house furnace turning off and on. We even have to open the windows during the winiter because it gets the house so warm! We also get the wood free from where we can find it So it's a win win for us.
WIsh you were able to enjoy a fire every once in awhile. Especially on a chilly winter night.
Nope, no joke. Bay Area in California has what are called "Spare The Air Days" where you are not allowed to burn anything in your fire place or outside fire pit. They are days when it's cold, for example. Right when you want to use it. Or in the Summer when you want to do a night time barbecue around the fire pit. You can burn charcoal in your barbecue, but it's frowned on. Typically in the Winter about 1/3 of all days are declared "Spare The Air".
If you'll be in Thailand for Thanksgiving, make sure you have some sticky rice with mango for me!!
I spent New Years in Thailand last year on Patong beach and it was so gorgeous to see the sky filled with thousands of lanterns for hours. Can't say the beach & water were as gorgeous the next day, but the clean up effort was commendable!
I have to agree with you about staying at home to avoid traffic, lines, stress, etc. It cracks me up thinking about the "yule log" on your TV all day And Christmas pizza?! Pizza is good with me 365 days a year, although I'm not sure if California pizza compares to CT pizza
I work on thanksgiving, one of the downsides of working for a large nonprofit, though for a good cause. (My org provides a full thanksgiving meal and entertainment to the elderly and those who can't afford to feed themselves for the holiday) so no travel on me for thanksgiving. I may be taking another disney trip in late december, but that will be after chanukah and before christmas
Providing meals and entertainment to the elderly on Thanksgiving sounds like a great cause and as good of a reason I can think of to miss Thanksgiving at home! Do you mind me asking, what non profit you work for? You could message me the name if you don't want to post publicly, that just sounds so nice and I'd be interested in possibly volunteering for something like that if they have a local branch near me.
Which Disney are you considering in December? California or Florida?
Since you showed interest I figured I'd share a few photos of thanksgiving on our campus.
We feed upwards of 600 people every year, giving them a thanksgiving meal for lunch, as well as a full meal to take home and eat for dinner. Most are elderly, and live alone, and we'll also provide transportation (if they are unable to drive themselves, or have no one to drive them) from their home.
This year we fed approximately 650 people, with over 300 people volunteering for the event, as well as the event staff (like myself).
This is before we started:
And this is with the event in full swing:
Now we don't have thanksgiving here in the UK, so it's all a bit of a mystery.
And and for us "holidays" are the 2-week break you take during the summer.
Even so, I know that what you're doing for the "holidays" is the way to do it jerryl
Enjoy, all my American friends... Oh, go on, it's the season and all that, you too misterchk
Let me see now, as for this year we will be hosting my In-Laws for Thanksgiving Day and then Friday Son and his Wife will be over for a less than traditional day after Thanksgiving dinner because they are going to be with his Mother and her family.
For Christmas and New Years we have stopped traveling in the last few years over this period of time so this year we will host Christmas Day at our home with In-Laws and my Son and Wife. Very quiet day while we Celebrate the Reason for the Season. Not a clue what we will have to munch on, but you can bet it will be something from the grill.
As for traditions, the only real tradition we have is Wednesday night before Thanksgiving we spend it at In-Laws house with appetizers and Bailey's over ice. We will start putting together a Green Bean Casserole to take home with us for Thanksgiving and head back to our house fairly early.
Traveling tips, book the very first flight out on your day of travel as you have much less chance of it being delayed by weather in another locale. Arrive at the airport at least two hours early and pray that you have Pre-Check, then head for the airline Club or another spot to put your feet up while you wait for the flight to board. Travel light as well and if you are not checking luggage find a way to get on the plane early so you have overhead space or just bite the bullet and check luggage, it might end up getting more frequent flyer miles than you as it may end up some place other than your destination!!
Since I'm not a fan of driving much further than the 25 miles to the airport will be absolutely no help in this area.
Happy Holidays Insiders
Going nowhere for the holidays. I hate the crowds. Besides, both Thanksgiving and Christmas have always been pretty low-key in my family. No big gatherings. Just staying home eating good food.
Now BETWEEN the holidays, that's a different story. Off to DC the weekend after Thanksgiving and Florida the weekend after that. While everyone is busy planning for Christmas and taking the last week of the year off work, I'm using the last of my "use or lose" vacation in early December when few others are traveling. I may have to work the last week of the year, but I can get a lot done with the office half empty.
So that's my advice. Forget traveling for the holidays. Go between the holidays. It's far less stressful, not to mention cheaper. Besides, if you're visiting family, they'll be happy to see you, no matter when you go.
I loved my "use or lose" leave that had to be scheduled and was normally taken counting backwards from the last day of the leave year until it was all used up. Even better was the money I got paid upon retirement for unused annual leave and sick leave that counted toward my annuity!!!
Keep those "use or lose" days in your back pocket bejacob as long as you are able.
My wife and I are traveling to Atlanta to spend Thanksgiving with our daughter who is a student at GaTech. Thanksgiving dinner at Old Vinings Inn. Then going to the Ga/GaTech football game that weekend to experience "clean, old fashioned hate" first hand. Staying at the JW in Buckhead while there, which is always enjoyable due to their wonderful staff. Christmas will just be family time at home with no travel, except for maybe a day trip to Santa Fe.
The prevailing attitude in m family is that traveling on holidays s not worth the aggravation.
We traditionally host a New Year's Eve Party for the same ten to twelve families that have been together since first grade! (our kid's first grade). The first get together about 15 years ago evolved by the desire to avoid the effort to find baby sitters as well as their cost on that most expensive "baby sitting rates night". We even had special rules - like "better be out of our house by 12:05 or bring sleeping bags".
Now our kids are inn college and we are lucky if they drop by to say hello but the tradition lives on.
My real joy is the holiday dinners enjoyed at SOMEBODY ELSE'S HOME!!!!! (when no work is required of me)
Actually will be spending both Thanksgiving and Christmas Holidays at Marriott Properties, deannad. Will be spending a week on the Ocean in Myrtle Beach at the Marriott Vacation Club, OceanWatch Villas. Spending Christmas with NC Grandkids at the Marriott at Research Triangle Park, Raleigh/Durham, NC.
We all meet up by my sisters house with a dish to pass in hand at Thanksgiving. My sister and her husband cooks the turkey and we all enjoy talking about good times we have had growing up and what our plans are for growing old. We are
just greatfull for time we have spent together in the past and look forward to time together in the future.
I love the four gift philosophy too- this is the first time I'm hearing about it as well! What a great idea.
This year, my husband and I will be staying in Hawaii and having Friendsgiving for the third year in a row. I wish we could be back in Oregon with family, but it's difficult to travel back for both Thanksgiving and Christmas.
My contribution to Friendsgiving this year will be Stuffing Waffles for the second year in a row. They are amazing!
melissaerb, I just had to google Stuffing Waffles....I had never heard of them. I am so excited - it looks like a really creative twist on a Thanksgiving staple. I made an extra pan of my famous dressing for our family Thanksgiving Dinner today. I am going to use it & make "Dressing Waffles" for Saturday brunch for the crew before we launch into a College Football marathon - led by the Iron Bowl - University of Alabama vs Auburn.
Thanks for sharing!
Thanksgiving was home in our new house. My quandary right now is that I have a certificate for three nights in a Cat. 5 hotel to use by 1/8/2016. Anyone know if I can redeem for my points back or any suggestions over the Christmas holiday's where I should go? I live in Ohio but may be willing to fly somewhere.
Give Customer Service a shout they might be able to help in your refunding of the points if you cannot use all the certs,
If you want to fly to a warmer climate you could give Residence Inn Fort Myers at I-75 and Gulf Coast Town Center: Fort Myers Extended Stay Hotels a try as they seem to have plenty of Reward nights available in December. The hotel is about 16 months old, 2 miles from the Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW), very close to shopping and variety of good restaurants in and near Welcome to Gulf Coast Town Center. Though the hotel is not on a beach, but less than 30 minutes to Ft. Myers Beach, Sanibel and Captiva Islands and 45 minute drive to Marco Island.
San Antonio is beautiful this time of year with the Riverwalk all decorated for the holidays. The Alamo Hotel | Residence Inn San Antonio also has plenty of reward nights currently available, so just a couple of off the top of the head ideas.
Let us know what you decide to do, that's half the fun on Insiders with the other half curious what misterchk might come up with next!!!
Keep them off balance I say!!!!
My relatives from El Paso are in Laguna Beach for the week after Thanksgiving - last night I camped*** out the the RI in Dana Point/San Juan Capistrano (just South of Laguna Beach)
*** misterchk's definition of camping - NO ROOM SERVICE AFTER MIDNIGHT