Happy Holidays AND Merry Christmas!


The past year has been pretty crazy for many of us. Therefore, it seemed good idea for the DIY Healthy Lifestyles Journal to publish a guide for keeping the peace among groups of politically- or socially-divided people getting together for the holidays.

This guide will help hosts prevent arguments and create fun and enjoyable festivities, whether in their own homes, at family/friends homes, workplace parties or community gatherings.

The Holiday Season is upon us, and before anyone complains about my using “Holidays” instead of “Christmas”, let me say that it really shouldn’t be a major issue, although some Facebook users have tried to make it one.   

Holidays–some holy, some cultural–are celebrated all over the world in December. The majority of them, and Christmas is one of them, embrace peace, love, and goodwill toward all as their tenants.

It is a time of gathering to celebrate events of religious, ethnic, or cultural events with church services and/or gatherings of family and friends with much food, drink, good cheer, and gift giving.

There may be occasions where family, friends, and guests may share different beliefs or customs so it’s seems odd that anyone would expect them to adhere to someone else’s.  

We’re really not so very culturally different from one another. Therefore, it’s puzzling (at least to me) why there must be this attitude demanding that Christmas be recognized and called so by everyone, regardless of their faith, ethnicity or cultural beliefs.

And then there’s the idea that the greeting of  ‘Happy Holidays’ somehow dishonors Christmas. It truly does not and here’s why:

It has to do with the word “holiday” itself. Judging from the “Christmas vs. Holidays” debate, it appears that not many people realize that the word “holiday” comes from “holy day”. Christmas is a holy day, isn’t it? So why the offense over “Happy Holy-days” or “Holidays”?

Doesn’t it seem just a little ironic that those demanding everyone say “Merry Christmas” are at the same time not practicing the sentiments of peace and goodwill  connected to their own holy day?

To those who belligerently shout “It’s Merry Christmas NOT Happy Holidays!!!….” stop and think about how it sounds as though you don’t believe your own faith’s tenants.  Just sayin’.   

 So, on that theme, we’re ironically now coming upon our days of celebrating peace and goodwill in an atmosphere of ever-increasing hostility, primarily stirred up by world political events.

It’s very sad that it’s come to this. Now we need to think about how we’re going to celebrate Christmas, holidays or holy days with others in our own friends, family, neighbors and co-worker circles who come from opposing sides.

Over this past year, I have seen for myself and heard about what are supposed to be happy family gatherings–wedding receptions, anniversary parties, birthday parties. baby showers–completely fall apart with people stomping out and leaving in a huff because someone brought up politics or world events.

My advice for everyone this holiday season is: A) Just don’t bring it up, and B) forgo forcing your beliefs on others, just for this couple of weeks at least.

Just agree to disagree and pass the eggnog, the wine or the Tom n’ Jerrys and have fun!

But that might be too much to ask. So, I decided to sit down and think of a few ways to keep the peace amongst diverse groups.

My ideas are outlined below.

STEP 1: Party Games 

  • Sit down games are best, but not board games requiring a table unless you have fewer than 8 people present.
  • Standing games can be hard on some and if there are adult beverages being consumed, there may be wobbling and things could get broken, but if everyone is capable then standing games, like charades or passing objects from person to person in challenging ways can be a hoot.
  • Games usually get everyone laughing and focused on their task for the game and gets their mind off of world news or personal issues.
  • People who are having fun together are less likely to bring up hot topics or downer subjects
  • Download the FREE Holiday Party Game Ideas booklet here   

STEP 2: The Old $1 “Cuss Jar”

  • Remember these? They were usually found at home (often at Grandma’s house) or at your place of work.  
  • The rule was that for every cuss word uttered, the cusser had to put $1 in the jar. It might have been a quarter when you last saw one but we now have to adjust for inflation.  

STEP 3-A: Turn the Cuss Jar into a $1 “Hot Button” Jar.

  • You’ll need a container to hold $1 bills–possibly several of them if adult beverages are served
  • You can use this Jar for any occasion and decorate it for the occasion with paint, feathers, beads, sequins and glitter in the appropriate holiday colors.
  • Or not. If you just aren’t the artsy-craftsy type, you can skip this step.
  • But at the very least write “$1 Hot Button Jar” on it with a felt-tip marker so no one confuses it for an empty coffee can and tosses it in the recycle bin with all the money inside.
  • NOTE: This is likely to happen after guests have run out of cash and the process is abandoned or after several rounds of beverages have dulled memory of what was going on.

STEP 3-B: How This is Supposed to Work 

  • Anyone who starts talking about a ‘hot’ topic pays $1 to the jar
  • For each infraction after that, payment doubles to $2, then $4 and so on. People will likely start feeling the pinch and find safer topics to move on to.
  • You may set your own prices and increments accordingly, but keep this in mind:
  • The Cash is donated to support a charity or program that helps those who have been threatened or harmed by the related topic.
  • In the case of politics, the cash is donated to the general state political party fund the hot button pusher is bashing. Meaning, the Democrat-basher pays to the Democratic Party fund and vice versa.
    • That would probably shut me up–how about you?
  • Keeping the cash for yourself is not recommended; that would constitute a con game which guests would tend to not view lightly
  • ANOTHER OPTION: If you have elderly, ill, or struggling family members or friends in need, donate the cash to them or to a local charity that personally helps them.
    • Anyone else who argues with that idea pitches in double the amount in the Jar.
    • If giving directly to a person or persons present, you may wish to do this privately so as not to embarrass the recipient and/or invite protest from anyone disagreeing with this option.

STEP 4: Choose one or more ‘hot button’ topics based on what could come up come up. Some suggestions:

  • Politics
  • Sexual harassment
  • Child harassment
  • Racism/Ethnic harassment
  • Gender Harassment
  • Bullying
  • Firepower control (not just ‘gun control’)
  • Substance abuse (pro or con)
  • Behavioral Health care
  • Any other topic that annoys, embarrasses, harasses or makes a majority of guests unhappy and uncomfortable – Hosts or guests decide the topics

STEP 5: For Arguments That May Get Out of Hand:

  • First, get everyone to SHUT UP!
  • Clap your hands, use a bell, a whistle, a gavel, beat a spoon on a kettle, use an air horn–whatever it takes to get their attention and firmly tell them to JUST STOP.
  • Bring the Jar around and double the fine (if guests still have cash left)
  • If you’re still using the Hot Button Jar, you can implement this game after the Jar has gone around four or five times without satisfying results
  • If everyone has already donated all their cash, then play this new game:

    • You can also use it without the Hot Button Jar if people are being downers about something outside of the list above.
    • The rule is that the topic is still  offensive and could spark anger and sniping but it’s not as volatile as the above topics.   
    • Examples:
        • “What in God’s name made Susan buy that horrendously ugly sofa?”
        • “How could you have let Lucie pierce her face like that? She used to be so pretty”
        • ”What possessed you to buy that make of vehicle? Don’t you know they’re junk?”
        • “You really support that team? My gawd–they can’t buy their way to a championship!”   
        • “So, I hear Joey got caught at that high school drinking party. Can’t you control your own kids?”
    • You get the idea. You know what you’re likely to hear so prepare a list of your own as a guide
    • Use your noise-maker (explained above) to stop the complaining or ranting
      • Set a time and tell everyone:
      • “No one speaks for the next minute.” Then say:
      • “For the first :30 seconds, everyone think about how this isn’t the time for complaining or disagreements and how this should be a joyful celebration of peace on earth and goodwill toward all.” Or words to that effect.
      • Then, after the first :30 seconds is up, say: “Now for the next :30 seconds think about the past year and good things that happened to you or about something you like, or something fun we could all do or talk about, then tell us about it.”
      • Go around the room and give each person up to one minute to share their good warm-fuzzy thoughts.
      • Hopefully, some will have feel-good or funny stories to share that will uplift everyone and squelch the downer atmosphere.
      • If no one comes up with anything, then the host(s) tell a happy story–make one up if you have to, or tell a good joke. Anything to lighten the mood.
      • Someone should catch on to your scheme and come up with another story or joke and keep the ball rolling, or you can pre-arrange this with your spouse, kids, or a co-host to help out.


If you haven’t already, download your FREE Guide to Holiday Party Games here   

The Guide contains this article for you to keep and refer to, plus a list of game and prize ideas for you to use in planning your holiday gatherings. 



Good News from the Food Industry

grocerystoremomentoftruthA couple of years ago, I posted a video link to the ABC News documentary, How to Get Fat Without Really Trying.  In that video, the late Peter Jennings interviews the president of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA).

His responses so blithely dismissed the needs of the consumer in favor of the needs of the GMA, which are increased sales without regard to food safety or the negative effects of marketing junk food to kids.

The GMA is one of the largest and most powerful lobbying groups that wields great influence on food policy in Washington, D. C.  Most often, not to the benefit of the consumer.

I was totally disgusted by the GMA president in the video. That documentary, along with a few others, was one of the biggest influences for me to quit eating popular brand-name processed food.

If you haven’t seen How to Get Fat… you can access it here.   It’s several years old but the message is timeless–especially in light of the news I read today.

My favorite food policy guru, Marion Nestle, via her blog, Food Politics, tells us that many national food manufactures are feeling the pinch of the public demand for better food. I say its about time.

They’re caught between the consumer and the GMA, which opposes anything that would make food safer and more nutritious. In their mind, that translates to “less profitable.”

Professor Nestle tells us that several national food manufacturers have now left the GMA over disagreements on many issues. Some of those companies’ products had been old favorites of mine that I gave up buying after watching the ABC documentary.

I’m happy to hear of their defection from the GMA but it remains to be seen if they change the nutritional profiles of their products.

Here’s Professor Nestle’s report:

I’ve written many times about the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), an organization so locked into the interests of its food-company donors that you can count on it to vehemently oppose every consumer-friendly measure that gets proposed. A couple of weeks ago, Politico’s Helena Bottemiller Evich and Catherine Boudreau wrote what they discovered about the unraveling […]

via Defections from the Grocery Manufacturers Association: Rats leaving a sinking ship? — Food Politics by Marion Nestle