Christmas stockings

Ah…Christmas break. Whether you celebrate the holiday or not, the fact that it falls on a Tuesday this year means most of us will have a yummy four-day weekend (if not longer), and, dare I speculate, a much-needed break. Planning on spending the entire time off lying in bed is pretty much the best idea ever (you’re welcome), but it’s not necessarily realistic or good for your posture (I apologize). SO! What do with all that free time? How about a few of these suggestions?

1. Preserving: If you overbought fruits or veggies for your holiday meals, or have some lingering harvest from your own garden, why not spend a day making up a few batches of jams, pickles, pasta sauces or spicy hot sauces? Canning and preserving is a terrific way to prevent food waste, and homemade items make great gift ideas, too.

2. Kitchen Staples: You can also try making other commonly used items like ketchup and mustard, barbecue sauce, homemade granola, or spice blends, which all also make fabulous gifts. Bake cookies and freeze them, or big, hearty batches of soup that can be defrosted and eaten all winter long.

3. Garden: Spend some time with your garden. If it’s not snow-covered, pull up weeds and turn the soil, starting preparation for the spring planting. You could also plant that indoor herb garden you’ve always wanted. Or, try your hand at making a terrarium, either for yourself or as that last-minute gift idea! It’s a great project for kids, too.

4. Reorganize: Give yourself the gift of decluttering! Spending a few uninterrupted hours deep inside the closet can be transformative. Find great outfits you’ve forgotten about that will be perfect for a holiday party, and who knows, perhaps you’ll even find gently or never used items that could make an ideal gift. Reorganizing closets, drawers, garages, and attics can bring a real sense of achievement and a bit of cozy nostalgia, both perfect for the season. It also helps you clean out and prepare for all the wonderful things that lay ahead in the New Year.

5. Get Crafty: Did you pull out yards of fabric or skeins of yarn from the closet reorganize project? Turn it into some DIY decorations, gift-wrap or gifts themselves. Maybe there are cushions that could be re-covered, or how about making your very own headboard

6. Make a Vision Board: While different schools of thought exist on whether or not vision boards “work,” they are incredibly fun to make and a great way to transition between the years. Using magazine and newspaper scraps, you simply cut out words and images that speak to you, and paste them to a piece of cardboard or poster board. Hang it in your office, kitchen, bathroom or bedroom so the empowering imagery can inspire you throughout the year. This is a very fun project to do with a partner or child. How do your boards compare? 

7. Volunteer: Extra time off can easily slip away in front of the television. A more fulfilling use of time might be to do some volunteer work. Perhaps a homeless shelter can use a hand, or maybe an animal shelter. Look for organizations that plant trees and gardens or collect food from farmers markets to redistribute to those in need. Or, perhaps you just help an elderly relative or neighbor by shoveling snow or doing errands for them.

8. Relax: Ok, back to the bed. Most of us are so wired to be productive from the moment we wake until we pass out, that it can actually be really difficult to truly relax. But it’s crucial to our health—physically and spiritually. Sleep in. Read a book. Go have a spa day—or make one at home. Lay in bed and watch movies. Turn your cell phone off. Take a nap. Got a partner? Spend the day in bed, but you know, in many different positions.

Got better ideas? Let us know in the comments!

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

Image: Bunches and Bits