Celebrating The Holidays

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Shopping, extra work, cleaning and decorating the house, all the parties and dinners…. The Holidays are Fun, but exhausting.    How do we take this time to truly celebrate what matters? A time with family and friends, a time to disconnect from the hustle and bustle and to assess whether our life is on track.

Here are some tips and traditions that I live by:

Simplify– It’s not about how many presents, or how many parties or how much “stuff” you have—The Holidays are about enjoying the moments and to do so you must keep things simple.  Instead of a 7-course meal you cook all by yourself, invite friends and family early to cook alongside with you. Or have them bring their specialty dish. Or cater a portion of the meal (Buy Local!) Contact Luis Diaz Colorado, owner of Palmtree Catering.

Experiences-  Get into the spirit by enjoying the local experiences of our cities, including #MyBmore, such as Miracle on 34th Street (Baltimore), Pandora Ice Rink at the Inner Harbor, Symphony of Lights (Columbia), Gaithersburg Winter Lights Festival, Centro de Ayuda’s Posada Navidena (Annapolis).  What are your favorite experiences?

The Spirit of Giving–  for my family, we try to live by the The-Four-Gift rule.  Read, Want, Wear and Need. This way we shift away from the mentality of consumerism, hoarding stuff just to have stuff, especially with kids that will simply forget about the numerous toys within a few short days.   I love this rule because it makes shopping simple while also managing your budget, so you don’t accumulate ridiculous debt.

And remember that giving isn’t just about the material things- what does your neighbor or the church need? Volunteering makes me feel wonderful.  Get the kids, family and friends together and volunteer at Bags of Love, and prepare food/supply boxes to ship to Puerto Rico; visit St Vincent’s and feed those in need; donate blood; and check in on your elderly neighbors.  Help your fellow man. Not just during December but as often as you can.

Buy Local while you are shopping, let’s support our local businesses. As much as I love a good bargain, I see the triple benefit of buying local. Bringing our dollars back to the local entrepreneurs, who retain the dollars and profits to employ local workers and lastly, the taxes collected fuel our local infrastructure.

So please shop locally because our economy flourishes when you spend here at home.  And yes, on occasion, you may pay a bit more for the gifts and purchases, but I can assure you will uncover unique and wondrous treasures!  Check out these fabulous LOCAL businesses:

aMuse Toys, Baltimore, Maryland

aMuse Toys is an Independent Toy Store based in the Baltimore area, family owned and operated.  Established by Colombian-native Claudia Knowles in 2006, aMuse brings innovative and engaging toys, from all over the world.  Every time I go in there, I come away with a toy (let’s be honest, more than ONE toy!!) that creates the joy of “play” for my children and friends.

SPAGnVOLA Chocolatier, Gaithersburg, Maryland

SPAGnVOLA was just selected among the top 10 chocolatiers in the world by National Geographic magazine.  Right here in Maryland!!!  The chocolatier, Crisoire Reid hails from the Dominican Republic, where along with her husband, Eric Reid they own a cocoa farm that yields the cocoa bean used in Maryland for their glorious bonbons, truffles and bars.

And if this wasn’t awesome enough, you can do a behind-the-scenes tour of The Truffle Factory and experience this exquisite treat first hand!

Juan of a Kind Foods, Baltimore, Maryland 

Juan of a Kind (Get it? Juan and One of Kind.) uses traditional and very exotic ingredients to create very savory and fresh sauces and marinades. This family-owned venture started super-local, at farmers’ markets across Baltimore and have now expanded to local stores and restaurants.  The products stem from Peruvian-born Juan Barbaran’s family recipe and can now be purchased on their online-store (very much locally produced in Maryland!)

All the above, feature Latino entrepreneurs, further emphasizing the contribution of the Hispanic entrepreneur within our region, some these retailers are part of the larger pool of 54,000 Hispanic businesses across Maryland.

Take the time to live fully, remembering that during the holidays we can get caught up in the busyness of life- but there’s so much more to enjoy!

Felices Fiestas Amigos!

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