Every year around the holidays I attempt the impossible. I want to gift my children generously but not overindulge. I want to get them exactly what I know they want but somehow incorporate a lesson in appreciating what we have. Even though my two aspirations are completely opposite, I still struggle with this at every gift-giving holiday.
We celebrate Chanukah in my house and it’s a huge challenge with eight straight nights of celebrating to weave-in a message like, “We have to think of other kids who may not get any presents at all.” My two boys are five-and-a-half and four and at this age, it’s easier for them to deal in concrete images rather than hypothetical children they’ve never seen or met. In the past, I’ve tried not giving a gift the last night of Chanukah. I tell them we’ve made a donation instead to help other children who may not have gotten any presents this year, but I don’t think they really understand the message behind this gesture.
Like most parents I know, my husband and I want to share in their excitement when they open their presents. It’s easy to remember a piece of your own childhood joy at getting gifts when you see it reflected back in your own children. As important as it is to me to raise happy children, it’s equally important to me not to overdo it. I know it’s normal, but it pains me to see me my children immediately forget about the toy they received the night before in favor of the newest offering. I worry that I’m teaching them to appreciate fleeting things more than the bigger picture of being part of a loving, healthy family with a roof over our heads and plenty to eat.
At the same time, I’m also the mom who, when her child mentions a toy he loved playing with at someone’s house, will rush out to get that same item. Part of me wants my children to just be happy, even if that means through extra sweets and toys because there really isn’t much else that can top those two things for them. But there’s a huge guilt factor if I let them binge too much on junk or one-time toys.
This year my husband and I tried a different approach to help keep everyone’s spirits in the right place. Instead of gifts to open every night, we aimed to give them experiences as well. Since Chanukah overlapped with Thanksgiving, we had several big extended family celebrations where the kids got to stay up late and play games with the grown-ups. On another night we took them to a waterfront restaurant not too far from us on the southeast coast of Florida where you could toss bait to giant tarpon fish who literally jumped out of the water for the food. For little boys this is almost as exciting as a live samurai battle and was absolutely a highlight of the holiday. My hope is that when my kids look back on any celebratory occasion, they’ll remember good times and being surrounded by people who love them and not if they got the latest and greatest gadget.
I’m hoping this is a jumping-off point for more celebrating and less flash-in-the-pan gift giving. I’m not saying we’ll whittle it down to no gifts and just hanging out time in the future, but it was easier than I expected to not over-gift. As long as the kids felt that it was a special, out-of-the-ordinary evening, they were happy and content with that.
I’m looking forward to seeing what we come up with for the next big gift-giving occasion when my older son turns six in a few months.
This holiday season how do you plan to reconcile your aspirations with your gifting inclinations? Is it possible in your family to give less and get more?
The word pumpkin makes us think of two things: jack-o’-lanterns and pumpkin pie. Did you know that these gourds are a powerhouse of nutrients? Pumpkins are packed with a ton of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. I just love when something delicious (and versatile in cooking) is also so nutritious!
Pumpkins get their bright orange color from beta-carotene, a provitamin that is converted into vitamin A in the body. This nutrient is essential for eye health and has been linked to preventing coronary heart disease. It also has immune-boosting power. One of my favorite things about pumpkin is that you can get so many of its benefits in the organic canned version — one cup of canned pumpkin has 7 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein (even more than the fresh stuff) with only 80 calories and 1 gram of fat! Amazing, right?
So, what about those pumpkin seeds? One ounce is packed with protein, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. Studies suggest pumpkin seeds provide a number of health benefits — such as blocking the enlargement of the prostate gland, lowering the risk of bladder stones, and helping to prevent depression. Plus, they contain high levels of phytosterols, which research suggests can reduce cholesterol and even help prevent some types of cancers. Pumpkins truly are a superfood — the flesh and seeds have amazing health benefits, so eat up!
Pumpkin doesn’t have to be limited to the holidays, so you can enjoy the health benefits all year long. There are plenty of ways to add pumpkin into any meal — whether you use the seeds or the flesh, canned, cooked, or raw. You can make a soup or a muffin — the options are endless. Check out our blog post: Beyond Pumpkin Pie- Three Delicious and Healthy Pumpkin Pie Recipes for a few ideas to get your juices flowing. And try this recipe below for a quick and easy breakfast or dessert. It’s healthy and delicious!
Superfood Recipe: Pumpkin Pie Parfait
1/4 cup plain pumpkin puree (fresh or canned)
1/2 large frozen banana
1 ½ cups almond milk (or hemp, soy, rice or any other type of milk)
1 tablespoon Chia seeds
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Crumbled graham crackers, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, peanut butter (or any other nut butter), walnut pieces, sliced almonds, etc.
Be Well, Be NutritionWise!
~ Nicole Meadow, MPN, RD, CSP, CLC
For that special someone on your list, these gift guides for him and her offer some unique ideas. One of the keys to finding a great gift is to buy something that’s both useful and beautifully designed. After lots of online searching and recommendations from Honest staff, we found some really special gift ideas that we hope will make your holiday shopping simple and stress free.
2. This soft hoodie from Northern California activewear company Carve is perfect for outdoor activities or just keeping warm while out running errands.
3. Made from galvanized steel, this whimsically-painted watering can from Wild & Wolf is the perfect gift for anyone on your list who enjoys gardening.
4. Take water, juices, and smoothies on-the-go with this glass water bottle from Lifefactory. The silicone sleeve is free of BPA, BPS, and phthalates, and the wide mouth makes it easy to add ice, citrus slices, or tea bags.
5. Everyone on your list will love Honest’s Body Oil. To give skin a healthy glow and major moisture, apply some of this organic oil onto damp skin after stepping out of the shower.
6. For your best friend, this Friendship Original Karma necklace from Dogeared (a B Corp!) makes a great gift. Delicate and simple, this necklace is perfect for everyday wear.
1. This solid wood amplifier for the iPhone is perfect for the modern design or technology enthusiast in your life.
2. This eco-friendly insulated “man lunch” case from Etsy seller BonTons is made from cotton fabric on the outside and lined with a waterproof fabric that is free of PVC, phthalates, BPA, and formaldehyde.
3. The Patagonia Men’s Nano Puff Jacket is a gift he’ll really get a lot of use out of, especially if he’s the outdoorsy type. Waterproof and windproof, this jacket is made to test the elements.
4. Make ice spheres for whiskey and cocktails with The Original Whiskey Ball. You can buy a pack of 1, 2, or 4.
5. SPIband’s wrist or ankle band is the perfect accessory for holding keys, credit cards, and even wedding rings while out for a jog or hike.
6. This practical yet unique money clip is made from sturdy walnut wood, which is native to the United States.
7. Heat all sorts of grilled creations with this cast iron round griddle pan from Lodge. It also functions as a cookie sheet and serving platter.
8. Perfect for the sports fan in your life, these Authentic Stadium Seat Cufflinks are crafted from actual stadium seats. Chose from one of 10 stadiums including Yankee Stadium, Wrigley Field, and Fenway Park.
What unique gift ideas do you have for the special people in your lives? Tell us in the comments.
This is part of our ongoing series helping consumers better understand chemicals, chemistry, and product formulations. We translate the science, bust the myths, and give you an honest assessment, so you can make informed choices for your family!
Ingredient: Caprylyl Glycol
What it is: Caprylyl glycol is an alcohol derived from caprylic acid — a natural fatty acid found in the milk of some mammals, as well as palm and coconut oils. Ours comes from coconut oil.
What it does: Caprylyl glycol is an effective conditioner and moisturizer that also helps increase the shelf life of a product by increasing the antimicrobial activity of other preservatives.
Why we use it: Not only is this multitasking antimicrobial conditioning agent plant-based and especially effective at doing its job, it’s also Whole Foods Premium Body Care approved. And their standards, developed by a team of scientists over the course of years, are some of the strictest available. If they give it a thumbs-up, we do too.
Why we’re featuring it today: Many sites and sources tout the crimes of glycols and warn consumers to avoid them. They’re irritating. They’re harmful to your skin. They’re found in antifreeze! Clearly, with those types of accusations people often ask us why we’d use caprylyl glycol. But here’s the deal: Glycols are a broad class of chemicals and they are not created equal.
“Glycol” simply means that the chemical structure of the ingredient contains two hydroxyl groups (made up of oxygen and hydrogen). As you can guess from that broad of a definition, this class of chemicals includes tons of compounds: propylene glycol, polyethylene glycol, butylene glycol, diethylene glycol, ethylene glycol (the notorious antifreeze ingredient), and more.
Caprylyl glycol is just one of many glycols and, while some may be nasty and undesirable in body care products, this one is not. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel reviewed all available data just last year and assessed this ingredient as safe as currently used. It also gets the aforementioned seal of approval from the scientists at Whole Foods, which makes this ingredient as good as gold in our book.
Have any other questions about caprylyl glycol? Let us know in the comments and we’ll do our best to respond!