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Issue #18  // Holiday Essentialism: Make a List & Check It Twice 📝

via Savage Chickens

From Melia:

At the start of the holiday season for the past few years, I’ve felt a growing sense of anxiety about how much I want to get done in the coming month. In addition to my own list are all of the kid-related activities: the school luncheons, the pageants, and the spirit weeks with a different dress-up theme each day (which I think are designed to drive parents mad).

This year as Thanksgiving approached, I reminded myself that a) there will be some stress during the holidays, and b) I can minimize it by planning ahead and zeroing in on the basics.

I started by reading over the advice Past Melia has given in years past: Remind myself that it’s okay to buy the cookies for the school party, and ask, “What’s NOT wrong?”

Then I updated my “Christmas Cheer” Google spreadsheet, a.k.a. my holiday To-Do list. It helps ease my mind to list out everything I want to do, see if I can eliminate or simplify anything, and sequence in a way that makes sense. For example, I moved “Update mailing list” before the creating and printing of the Christmas cards, as I usually forget to contact friends for their new addresses until the eleventh hour.

Your list will be different than mine, because different things will be important to you. It may be a beloved tradition for you to buy cute holiday outfits for the kids’ Santa pics; it may boost your happiness to wrap each gift gorgeously. For me, it’s decorating the Christmas tree with my family and singing carols. Whatever you jot down, use a “makin’ a list, and checkin’ it twice” approach. Ask yourself, “Is this essential?” and “Does this spark joy?”

If the answer is no – if you’re doing it because you think you should, or just because you’ve done it in the past – nix it. Trust me, your holidays will be happier for it!

🎙 Latest Episode: #26 - Practicing Gratitude + More on Self-Compassion

Gratitude helps us feel more positive emotions, improve our health, deal with setbacks, and strengthen relationships. Learn how small gratitude practices can make a big difference in your life. We also follow-up on our previous episode with more on self-compassion as an antidote to perfectionism.

👉 Steal This Tip: Express gratitude to others.

Write one letter of gratitude (or send a text or email) to someone in your life each week. Research suggests suggests that gratitude writing can improve mental health, including for those who struggle with mental health concerns like depression and anxiety.


Episode #4: Staying Sane During the Holidays🎙

The holiday season felt magical when we were kids, but it's become more stressful as we've gotten older and our To-Do lists longer. With a special holiday edition of Steal This Tip, we share what's helping us focus on the meaningful and not the frenzied part of the holidays.

Listen to the episode.

😄 Things We Text Each Other

via @thestrategist

We’ve mentioned in several episodes that we both rely on product review sites, like the New York Times’ Wirecutter or New York Magazine’s The Strategist, for recommendations. They help us from falling into a never-ending search for “the perfect [fill in the blank].” So why not for this very important decision? 🤷‍♀️😄

😍 Stuff We Love Right Now

On the Interwebs  🖥

From Melia:

From Gill:

  • Give Me All of the Books
    I love a good “best books” roundup, and NPR’s interactive year-end reading guide takes it up a notch. You can browse book recommendations from the last seven years: “Mix and match the filters below and the years above to explore more than 2,000 recommendations from NPR staff and trusted critics.” 💝📚

On Our Screens & In Our Ears  📺  🎧

From Melia: 

From Gill: 

  • Sugar & Booze
    Melia and I loved watching Saturday Night Live in the ‘90s, and Ana Gasteyer was one of our favorite cast members. I knew she could sing (let’s not forget her Celine impression!), but I didn’t know she released a debut album in 2014. And she just released a Christmas album called sugar & booze! The title track is delightful, and the album also includes a duet with Maya Rudolph.

On Our Plates & In Our Glasses   🍽 🍹

From Melia: 

  • Pecan Pie 
    I made my first pecan pie over Thanksgiving (I’m a real Southerner now!). When I’m cooking or baking something new, I take to Google, which usually points me to for the kind of simple, well-reviewed recipe I need. This one was super easy, though I made the mistake of letting the boiled liquid cool and reheating it, which crystallized the sugar. 😭 I started over, and the pie turned out great. Top with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

From Gill: 

  • Boulevardier (or this variation, Teton Tanya)
    The Negroni is a classic cocktail I’ve become fond of in recent years. It’s easy to make – equal parts gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari – and very fun to riff on with different spirits. I might even like the Boulevardier better; it subs bourbon or rye whiskey in for the gin, and it’s a boozy and bitter delight.

If you like the Semi-Together podcast, why not share the pod with a friend who would enjoy it? You can also become a patron here.  

Until next time! 


Melia & Gill 😘😘

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