Holidays with the Family – Tips for Survival

It’s that time of year when family members travel from far and wide to gather, exchange gifts, eat and enjoy each other’s company. The holidays can be a wonderful time filled with traditions, famous family recipes and catching up with each other’s lives. However, there can also be concerns about how everyone will get along.

Here are some do’s and don’ts to help your family have a better chance for peaceful, enjoyable holidays together.

First, a few “Don’ts”

  • Don’t talk politics or bring up other “hot topics.” Often the urge is to help family members “really understand” your position or understand why their position is irrational and wrong. Too often, this ends with slamming doors and someone crying in the bathroom or car.

  • Don’t be sarcastic, critical or give subtle jabs. These can cause emotions to escalate quickly, and can cause hurt feelings or resentment.

  • Don’t try to fix each other’s problems. Also, don’t discuss the problems of other family members who aren’t there. The holidays are not the time to suggest someone get out of a relationship, sell a house, be a better parent or start exercising.

  • Don’t take things personally. Some family members are more “prickly” than others, so choose not to get defensive. If someone does start fishing for a reaction, don’t take the bait.

Here are some “Do’s”

  • When having meals together, take charge of seating. Set the table for success by separating conflicting personalities. Put the conspirators near you so you can put out fires and guide the conversation.

  • Remind yourself why you are doing it. You love your family (right?), and ultimately, people are more important than problems or being right.

  • Ask others about their lives. Show interest in what they are doing, and don’t talk about yourself excessively.

  • Get kids involved, but then turn them loose. Give kids age-appropriate tasks so they are involved. But they probably won’t enjoy being trapped for long periods of time and will likely get restless and whiny. It’s okay if they run off after helping or trying most of the foods at dinner. Don’t turn it into a battle.

  • Slow down a bit and take time to be kind. This can prevent hurt and promote more hope and happiness. Express appreciation often. And remember – the holidays won’t last forever, so throw kindness around like confetti!

For more family facts and happy hacks, follow Dr. Dave on Instagram @DrDaveSchramm.

By: David Schramm, Utah State University Extension family life specialist,david.schramm@usu.edu




How to Care for Poinsettias




Ten Tips for Healthy Holiday Eating

‘Tis the season to be jolly, which usually includes eating and sometimes over-eating. A high-calorie meal here or there doesn’t seem like a huge deal, but stop to think about how many meals like this happen during the holidays. There are family parties, work parties, neighborhood parties, church parties, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Christmas week, all the way to Near Year’s Day.

In addition to extra meals and calories is the fact that activity levels generally taper off during the holidays. The combination of overeating and decreased exercise has the potential to provide weight gain that is often not lost, and year after year, a few more pounds continue to be added to the tally.

It is possible to get through the holidays, however, without gaining weight and being mad at yourself in January. Consider these 10 tips for healthy holiday eating.

  1) Eat what you love and leave what you like. You don’t have to eat everything that is put in front of you. Make careful choices and stick with the foods you enjoy most. Don’t select foods that aren’t your favorite just because they are there.  

  2) Go to gatherings to gather, not to eat. Focus on enjoying those you are with, not the food. 

  3) Fill your plate with 80 percent healthy foods, and save the other 20 percent for dessert or treats.

  4) Skip the punch and eat the cake. You’ll likely enjoy eating your calories more than drinking them.

  5) Don’t save up for later. It doesn’t make sense to starve all day because you have a party in the evening. You will likely end up consuming more because you are so hungry. Eat light, but don’t skip meals.

  6) And specifically, don’t skip breakfast. It is the most important meal since it fuels your body as you start the day.

  7) Pack the snacks. Keep healthy snack choices available when you’re on the run so you don’t overeat at mealtime.

  8) Follow the three-bite rule. People seem to most enjoy the first and last bites of what they eat, so put a bite in    between and call it good after three.

  9) Don’t skimp on sleep. Being tired and cranky isn’t good for anyone during the holidays.

 10) Drink water. Staying hydrated during the hustle and bustle will help you feel your best and will also help you not feel so hungry when you get to the table.

By: Candi Merritt, Utah State University Extension Create Better Health Ambassador, Candi.merritt@usu.edu




Don’t Let Over Indulgence Be the Norm This Holiday

In general, there is a trend toward excess in our lives. We live in a world where both kids and adults have come to regard overload as normal, and anything less is boring. This time of year more than ever, the concepts of excess, over indulgence and over scheduling seem to be prominent.

It is important to consider the messages this behavior sends to our children. When is enough, enough? For them, and for us?

Ask yourself these questions:

· Are we spending a disproportionate amount of family income on any one category – i.e., clothing, entertainment, child enrichment (lessons, sports, etc.)?          

· Are we spending a disproportionate amount of time and energy in any one or two activities? Sports, screen time, cell phones, social media? In his book, “The Intentional Family,” William Doherty warns that many families are over scheduled outside the family and under scheduled inside the family. 

· As a parent, are you keeping your children from learning age-appropriate developmental tasks by doing things for them or taking care of things they should be learning to do themselves? Examples include: picking up their own toys, doing their own laundry, paying for some things with their own money, learning to cook, etc.)    

A few signs of over indulgence include: trouble learning to delay gratification; trouble giving up being the center of attention; trouble being competent in everyday life skills, including self-care and relationship skills; trouble taking personal responsibility – feeling like it’s always someone else’s fault; and trouble knowing what is normal.

A stark contrast to over indulgence is a term called “creative deprivation.” Parents are coming to understand that kids can have too much of a good thing, so they place limitations on it.

An example from an article in “The Tightwad Gazette” outlines this concept. On a recent trip to the mall, children ordered junior ice cream cones and consumed them in complete silence, savoring every bite. Many parents, seeing their children appreciate junior cones, would start buying them cones on every trip to the mall. Then, seeing their kids’ enthusiasm waning, would assume they must “wow” them with banana splits. When those no longer produced the desired effect, they would move up to the jumbo deluxe sundaes, and on and on, until the kids become impossible to please.

When there is diminished appreciation, it is a sign that children have had too much of something. Instead of moving up to banana splits, we need to, instead, decrease the frequency of the junior cone. We have habituated a certain level of expectation without appreciation. Another example of this is how frequently many of us go out to eat. It is no longer a treat, but often becomes the norm.

Consider these four rules of creative deprivation this holiday season:

1.  Limit things your kids don’t need, but do not limit the things they do need, such as good nutrition and parental attention.   

2.  Provide them with creative alternatives to substitute for passive entertainment and “no brainer” play. Limit screen time, including cell phones, TV/video time and gaming. This will decrease the stimulation overload in their lives. Set boundaries, and provide rules and limits in all aspects of your child’s life.

3.  Maybe it is time for all of us – parents and children – to take a step back and evaluate. Are we needing increasingly more expensive gadgets, clothing, vacations, foods or other stimulating events to keep us happy?

4.  Creative deprivation may be just the ticket. Not only will it save money, but the simplification will also reduce stress levels, increase quality of life and set a good example for our children.

By: Teresa Hunsaker, Utah State University Extension family and consumer sciences educator, 801-399-8200, Teresa.hunsaker@usu.edu




Avoid Holiday Hoaxes by Being a Savvy Online Shopper

          While holiday shoppers are searching for the best online deals, scammers and identity thieves are searching for their next victims, specifically online shoppers, who are in a hurry and fail to protect their personal information. You can prevent much headache and heartache by becoming a savvy online shopper. Consider these tips:

          1. Deals that are too good to be true – While shopping online, you may run across advertisements for products being sold at huge discounts. Some may be legitimate deals, as stores often use a “lost leader” to attract a customer in the hope that once on their site, they will buy additional items. However, make certain you are shopping from a site that has the https:// security designation in the link and/or the closed padlock in the search bar.

          Even if you discover you are being scammed as you browse a site, it may be too late and the thieves may have already downloaded a virus onto your computer or stored your personal information such as an email address that they can use to scam you in the future.

          2.  Package delivery theft – While this may seem like an urban problem, the potential of obtaining something expensive off someone’s front porch that can be re-sold is not isolated to big cities. According to a security.org study released in November, Utah was ranked number 10 in the nation for larceny thefts across the county, with 2,092 thefts per 100,000 people. The study also reported nearly 40 percent of all consumers have been victims of package theft.

If you do not have a security camera or a neighbor who pays attention to the “comings and goings” on your street or block, you could be a target. One tip for prevention is to track your packages online so you know approximately what time they will be delivered and you can plan to be home. Another is to see if your employer will allow personal packages to be delivered to your workplace.

          3. Charitable giving hoaxes – This is a particularly grievous scamming technique as people tend to be more generous and want to participate in a good cause over the holidays. Beware of phone offers from unfamiliar organizations. Ask for printed information or a website where you can check their credentials more thoroughly. Don’t be taken in by tactics that pressure you to act NOW because it is a “limited time offer.” Many times, a scammer will simply hang up if you begin questioning him or her.

          4. Gift cards online – Purchase gift cards directly at the local business, or choose a reputable online gift card through the business website.

          5. The gift of giving local – There are many local charities that need help and support. Do your homework to be sure it is a worthy cause and that cash donations won’t go to support overhead expenses of the organization. Check with your local clergy, school or city office about filling needs for specific children and/or families. In addition, there are Angel Trees or projects to collect coats and warm clothing for school-aged children, you could be a Secret Santa to a family in need or donate cash or food to the local food pantry.

          If you have an organization in mind that you are considering giving a gift, you can check to see if it is registered as a charitable organization with the Internal Revenue Service. See if the group has filed a 990 form to receive this designation at www.guidestar.org. Type in the name of the organization and if they are a local, state or national group.

         This is a wonderful time of year to express love and gratitude and to reach out to help those who are less fortunate. In so doing, just be sure to do your homework and be vigilant in protecting yourself in the way you spend and donate your money.

By Kathy Riggs, Utah State University Extension professor, 435-586-8132, Kathleen.riggs@usu.edu




Holiday Hacks

SUBSTITUTIONS

  • Allspice: 
    1 teaspoon, substitute 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon plus 1/2 teaspoon ground
    cloves
  • Apple Pie Spice: 1 teaspoon, substitute 1/2
    teaspoon cinnamon plus 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg plus 1/8 teaspoon cardamom
  • Pumpkin Pie Spice-Amount: 1 teaspoon; Substitute:
    1/2 teaspoon cinnamon plus 1/4 ground teaspoon ginger plus 1/8 teaspoon ground
    allspice plus 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Egg: 1 whole egg…Substitute:
    • 1/4 cup egg substitute (examples include: Egg
      Beaters, Second Nature, Scramblers); check label for specific directions
    • Reconstituted powdered eggs; follow package
      directions
    • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
    • ½ banana for 1 egg
  • Flour, Cake: 1 cup, substitute 1 cup minus 2
    tablespoons all-purpose flour and replace with cornstarch
  • Flour, Self-Rising: 1 cup, substitute: 1 cup
    minus 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour plus 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2
    teaspoon salt
  • Baking powder: ½ tsp cream of tartar and ¼ tsp
    baking soda for 1 tsp baking powder

Buttermilk:  1 cup milk 1 TBS
lemon juice or vinegar…or just thin down plain yogurt with a little milk to make
1 cup

  • Bake cupcakes without a muffin tin by using
    aluminum liners or placing the cupcakes in Mason jar rings
  • Don’t have brown sugar? You can make your own
    with white sugar and molasses!  1 cup
    sugar and 1 TBS molasses (unsulfured)
  • Rum: any amount, substitute: 1 part rum extract
    plus 3 parts water. For example: for 1/4 cup rum, substitute 1 tablespoon rum
    extract plus 3 tablespoons water.
  • Wine, Red: Any…Substitute: The same amount of
    grape juice or cranberry juice
  • Wine, White: Any…Substitute: The same amount of
    apple juice or white grape juice, or chicken stock
  • Sweetened condensed milk:  1/2 cup boiling water; 1 cup nonfat dry milk;
    2/3 cup sugar; 3 tablespoons melted butter; a few drops of vanilla
    extract.  Place in a blender and blend
    until smooth.  OR: 1 can (12 ounces)
    evaporated milk; 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar; 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. In
    a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the evaporated milk with the sugar.
    Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. 
    Remove from the heat and let stand until cooled. Add vanilla.  Cover and refrigerate, or use immediately in
    a recipe.

CANDY TIPS…temp check/altitude
adjustments, storing, etc.

On the day
that you are making cooked candies, place your candy thermometer in a pan of
boiling water.  Allow it to reach
temperature.   If the temperature of
boiling water that day is 203°F, subtract that amount from sea level
boiling water temperature of 212 degrees F. 
EXAMPLE:  212-203= 9 degrees.  Now, subtract 9 degrees off of your candy
recipe’s temperature, and that is the temp you use for your candy.

Another way
to figure it (if you do not want to go to that bother) is to lower the cooking
temperature given in the recipe by approximately 2 degrees for every 1,000 foot
of elevation.  EXAMPLE:  4500 ft. X 2 = 9 degrees.

Melting chocolate? Use a slow cooker.  Fill with water approx. 2 inches.  Add pint jars or bottles with chocolate
chunks for melting.  Melt on
HIGH…uncovered.  Be very careful not to
get any water inside the jars with the chocolate…it causes seizing of the
chocolate.

FREEZING COOKIE DOUGH

For drop
cookies like oatmeal and choc. chip, scoop dough onto a freezer paper lined
cookie sheet and freeze individually first. 
Then place in heavy duty plastic bag…trying to get as much air out a
possible. Double wrap in a good quality plastic wrap, then in aluminum
foil.  Label.  When ready to bake, let dough thaw in fridge
a few hours.  Bake as directed.  Freeze sugar cookie dough in large balls of
dough…

Keep cookies softer by storing with slice of bread

SHIPPING COOKIES

  • First, pick the right cookies for shipping.  Moist bar cookies like brownies, left right
    in a disposable pan is a good way to go. 
    Or a drop cookie or slice roll cookie. 
    Shortbreads and tea cookies, biscotti’s, ship well.
  • Cookies that do not ship well are really moist
    cookies like an applesauce cookie…they will sweat and also stick to liners,
    etc. 
  • Second, wrap cookies well, and insulate well
    with either crumpled wax paper or plastic wrap. 
    Also, insulate box of cookies in another box with air popped popcorn
  • Store cookies with a slice of bread to keep them
    fresh and softer.

FREEZING YEAST DOUGH

Yeast dough
is best frozen after it is kneaded and before the first rise. To freeze dough,
divide it into the desired amounts and flatten into disks that are about 1 inch
thick. Place flattened dough on baking sheets and freeze for 1 hour. When dough
is frozen, remove from the freezer and wrap tightly with either plastic wrap or
aluminum foil. Then place in resealable plastic bags and return to the freezer.
Dough can be kept frozen for up to 4 weeks. For even thawing, place in the
refrigerator overnight. When ready to use, place dough on your kitchen counter;
cover it lightly and let it come to room temperature (first rise). Punch the
dough down. Proceed as usual with shaping and the second rising.

FREEZING DOUGHS AFTER SHAPING

Place shaped dough on a cookie sheet and put in the
freezer for one hour to harden. Remove from freezer and wrap in plastic wrap or
foil. Place in a self-sealing plastic bag and return it to the freezer. Dough
can be kept frozen up to 4 weeks. To thaw, unwrap the dough and place it on a
lightly greased cookie sheet or pan. Lightly oil the top of the shaped dough
and cover tightly with a piece of plastic wrap or foil. Thaw overnight in the
refrigerator. Remove from refrigerator, partially unwrap, and bring to room
temperature. Let the dough rise until it passes the “ripe test“. Bake according
to the recipe directions.

TREE HINTS

For every 1
foot of tree height you need: 100 lights (min); 9 ft garland; 20 ornaments

Use pre-lit pine garland wrapped in around the center of the tree to make the tree look fuller.

Stringing lights down the center of the tree helps with the glow and
visual effect.

Use a pool
noodle and funnel to water a live tree without having to get down on the ground
and try to reach under the boughs and pour at the same time. 

Wrap smaller
fake trees in plastic wrap for easy storage.

Add a little
pizzazz to your Christmas lights with ping pong balls!

Use a dust buster or hair blow dryer to freshen up the tree.

LIGHTS

Single
strand…hand and band.

Long
strands, like for outside, consider using a hose roller.  Or, hangers… Store lights wrapped neatly on a
hanger.  Can also use a piece of
cardboard to wrap lights on.

Nets…layout
on lightweight plastic and fold up neat.

Pool noodle
cut to about 12 inches with slit in each end to hold the ends of the lights
strand.

ORNAMENTS

Use a coffee
filter to wrap around ornaments before packing. Glue party cups to cardboard
and place ornaments inside cups. Layers nicely inside a tote.

GIFT WRAP PAPER

Store rolls
inside a dress bag or under bed storage bag, OR, in a 5 gallon bucket.

Tissue paper
in a magazine box or magnetic folder holder for side of file cabinets

WREATHS

Store in small
kids dress bags, round laundry basket, or big durable plastic bags.

MISC. TIPS

Place a can
beneath your candle in a hurricane vase — you’ll use less filler, and your
candle will sit perfectly straight.

Freeze
whipped cream in dollops or spread on freezer paper lined cookie sheet and cut
out with cookie cutters for fun shapes on hot cocoa.

Tie strips
of ribbons or fabric strips (in any color scheme) onto a string of lights for an
easy garland.

Make a ‘Kids
Kit’…all through the year buy little project kits at craft stores or dollar
stores that can be used during the holidays to keep kids busy…particularly fun
at Grandma’s house. Could also contain books, movies, games.

If you have
similar foods at Christmas meals as you do at Thanksgiving, make a bigger batch
and freeze…mashed potatoes, stuffing, pie dough, etc.

Hot gravy
keeps in a thermos for easily an hour.

Use
painter’s tape and hot glue to hang cards and decorations without damaging the
wall.

Store tomatoes
out on counter…not fridge.

Cucumbers…cool
place, but not the fridge…they don’t like temps under 50°F

Lemons,
tangerines, oranges, limes…store in an airtight bag in fridge

Strawberries…wash
in hot, hot water, 125°F or rinse in 3:1 ratio water/vinegar…dry well, store in
fridge with slightly damp paper towel over them.

Grapes and
blueberries…3:1 vinegar rinse, then in fridge once dry.

Use mini
Command Hooks on top of your doorframes or mirrors to hang banners.

Tie ribbon
to your cabinets to display your holiday cards somewhere you’ll actually see
them.

Separating
egg yolks from whites with a water bottle.

Make hash
browns in the waffle iron…crispy and quick.

To keep
potatoes from budding, place an apple in the bag with the potatoes.

Keep all
your chocolate chips from sinking to the bottom by coating them in flour first.

Use a
heating pad to make frozen dough rise faster.

Mix together
a cup of butter with a cup of flour and spread in an ice cube tray and freeze.
Store the cubes in a container in your freezer and use a cube with a cup of
milk heated slowly over low heat stirring till thickened for an instant white
sauce.

Store a
tongue depressor in your sugar and flour canisters for a quick means of
levelling off your dry measures.

Wrap celery
in aluminum foil when putting in the refrigerator and it will keep for weeks.

Use frozen
butter and grate into dry ingredients…let thaw a few minutes…will blend/cut
into biscuit dough or pie dough so much easier.

Soften brown
sugar tips—apple slices, lettuce in bag.

Bake
stuffing in muffin tins to maximize crispy surface area and make easy single
servings.

When it
comes to keeping clothing static down during the dry cold winter months mix up
3 TBS fabric softener, a ½ cup water, and ¼ cup white vinegar.  Place in a spray bottle.  Spray on the underside of garment lightly to
help with static cling.

Use caramel
as glue in making gingerbread houses.

Put ice
cream in a Ziplock bag…keeps it soft and doesn’t grow whiskers as fast.

Cook bacon
in the oven…less mess—line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil (Make sure the
foil extends up the sides of the pan so it captures all the bacon grease and
clean-up is easier.), place a cake cooking rack on that, then lay out slices of
bacon.  Place in a cold oven and turn it
to 400°F.  Lay a layer of foil over the bacon; this will
keep grease from popping all over the oven. Remove the foil for the last few
minutes of cooking for “final crisping.”  Takes 15-20 minutes depending on the
thickness of the bacon and how crisp/brown you like it. Carefully remove pan
from the oven and quickly remove bacon onto a paper towel lined plate.

Use your
slow cooker for hot cocoa in large quantities.

Make your
own Christmas potpourri with ingredients such as whole cloves, cinnamon sticks,
apple peels, and orange rinds in a pan of water.  Simmer gently.

For a cheap
and classy alternative to expensive tabletop trees, make a cone out of card
stock and glue on some bead garland.

Use a cooler
to keep your food warm. Line with a blanket.

Inventory
and label all your pots and pans a few days prior to cooking to make sure you
have what you need.

Spray your
baking dishes with vegetable spray over an open dishwasher door to catch the
overspray, and make it easy to clean up.

Make this
cake-release mix and your cakes will never stick to the pan again: ½ cup
shortening; ½ cup veg. oil; ½ cup flour.

Thaw turkey
in unopened packaging in a pan in the refrigerator on the bottom shelf. Allow
approximately 4 hours per pound to thaw. Leave turkey in unopened packaging.
OR…Cover completely with cold water…in the sink, change water every 30 minutes
to keep turkey surface cold. Allow 30 minutes per pound to thaw.

When cutting
apples, pour Sprite over them to prevent browning.

Keeping
salad fresh…place one or two coffee filters inside a bag and blow (co2) into
bag—tie off.

Use a can of
coconut milk and a box cake…no eggs or oil needed and still makes a nice moist
cake.

Use command
hooks to make hanging decorations a snap…great on the back side of a door,
using a ribbon to hang a wreath…doesn’t ruin the door frame.

Party foods
take up a lot of room in your refrigerator, so organize a cooler with
condiments and extra ingredients you’ll need access to while cooking, or use it
to stow random items you won’t need so you can use that valuable refrigerator
real estate for drinks or party food essentials.

Add bread
clip/tags to the end of the tape to make it easy to grab.

Utilize
grocery delivery services to save time/headache.

Using
different wrapping paper for each child’s presents. Even if they can’t read,
they know which gifts are theirs.

Use a mixer
to shred cooked chicken.

Use a paper towel stand for stacking ribbon.

TECH HACKS

Create a
digital inventory of the contents of each of your holiday storage bins.   It’s
the perfect solution for organizing holiday decorations.  All you do is click on the Bin #1 folder and contents
will be listed.  No more going down to
the basement storage room and pull out bins to remember what decorations you
have. You can also label each bin with a number and QR code, and scan that way.
(Sortly)

Charge your
phone on airplane mode.  Helps devices
regain battery strength by eliminating apps or services running in the
background.

Scan or
photograph passport, identification, and itinerary. If you are traveling out of
the country save these images for offline access and email them to your personal
account. It is always important to have an extra copy of travel docs.

Take a
screenshot of directions anytime you travel because once you have saved the
directions, you can turn off your phone’s navigation and location services in
order to conserve the battery.

If you are
an online shopper checkout Ebates before buying anything. Most major stores
have tons of deals that you can cash out on. Ebates gives you all the special
promotions and cash back offers in one spot.

Get paid to watch videos with InboxDollars.

Sources:  Pinterest, Joy of Cooking, Real Simple, Taste of Home

Presented by:  Teresa Hunsaker, USU Extension, Weber County FCS Educator   teresa.hunsaker@usu.edu




Five Reasons to Opt Outside on Black Friday

Although Thanksgiving is typically the kickoff to the holiday shopping season, more and more people are taking a different path. Rather than spending Black Friday in traffic, long lines or in a crowded store, many are choosing to forego the sales and head outdoors instead.  

The movement to #OptOutside, started by REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.) in 2015, invites consumers to spend time outdoors and even provides suggestions on trails and activities in each state. Every Black Friday, REI closes their doors and pays their 13,000+ employees to #OptOutside and make a difference. This year, REI introduced a mission to accompany the movement – the Opt to Act Plan. The mission invites everyone to commit to simple actions to reduce our impact, get active and leave the world better than we found it. 

Some may wonder why they should opt to spend time outdoors when the best deals of the season are going on. Consider the following: 

1.  Many Black Friday deals last longer than just the Friday after Thanksgiving. Check your local ads and stores to see when their sales end. As our society chooses online shopping more and more over department stores, these sales are likely available throughout the months of November and December. To reduce your impact, skip the fastest shipping method, as it is not typically the eco-friendly option. 

2. Remember that 50 percent off is still 50 percent on. Sometimes we can get swept up in the excitement of a sale, whether or not it fits within our budget. Determine your wants and needs before checking out sales to avoid overspending. Spend time discovering new outdoor activities instead of spending time and money in the store. Consider gifting outdoor experiences for friends and family rather than contributing to the accumulation of “things,” which inevitably leads to unnecessary waste. 

3. Spend time with the people you love. Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate an attitude of gratitude. What a perfect way to show it by spending quality time with friends or family in the great outdoors. Whether you choose to go for a walk, play at a local park or enjoy a hike, consider pairing the activity with a DIY cleanup. With a little planning, a cleanup in your community can be an enjoyable and effective way to leave the world better than you found it. 

4.  You just spent Thanksgiving Day eating. Most families cook and graze on food all day. Participating in physical activity the next day will not only make you feel better (endorphins make us happy!) but it can help kickstart good habits before the New Year. Start your New Year’s resolutions early and download the Opt to Act Plan – 52 weeks of simple actions that can  lead to healthier habits and a better world. 

5.  Utah is beautiful! In the hustle and bustle of the holidays, sometimes we forget to admire the natural beauty of our state. Utah has 45 state parks and five national parks to explore. To skip the drive and reduce your impact, look for recreational opportunities on your local county website to see what’s available in your area. 

To share your own images and adventures on social media, snap a photo and use the #OptOutside hashtag. Perhaps getting out and having an adventure will inspire others to do the same. 

By: Emma Parkhurst, Utah State University Extension health and wellness faculty, 435-919-1334, emma.parkhurst@usu.edu