Both Memorial Day and Veterans Day pay tribute to the military community. However, these patriotic holidays are often confused with one another. To better honor each day’s true meaning, here’s what you should know.
Memorial Day is observed to honor soldiers who died in military service, protecting and serving their country. Its origins date back to after the Civil War. In 1866, residents of Waterloo, New York, started decorating graves of soldiers with spring flowers. In fact, Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day.
Veterans Day pays tribute to Americans who served or currently serve their country. The holiday is held every year on November 11, marking the anniversary of the end of World War I. Initially called Armistice Day, the federal government changed the name of the event to Veterans Day in 1954.
Ways to celebrate Memorial Day
Many Americans celebrate the beginning of summer on Memorial Day with parties and barbecues. However, to honor the day’s true meaning, you could:
• Hang a flag outside your house
• Attend a Memorial Day parade
• Observe a moment of silence at 3 p.m.
• Visit a military gravesite
• Watch the National Memorial Day Concert
Memorial Day is always observed on the last Monday in May. This year the holiday takes place on May 30.
Did you know?
Memorial Day has its own flag etiquette. At sunrise, flags should be raised quickly to full-staff, then slowly lowered to half-staff. This is to honor soldiers who fell in the line of duty. At noon, the flag should be raised to full staff. This is to salute all who once served.
10 gift ideas for your Christmas exchange
Organizing a gift exchange is a great way to kick off the holidays. However, it can be difficult to buy the perfect gift when you don’t know who will receive it. This is especially true if your group has folks of various ages. Here are a few things that will please most people.
1. An insulated water bottle or coffee mug
2. A locally made spirit, beer, or wine
3. A unisex beanie or scarf in a neutral color
4. Nut-free chocolates
5. A recently released board game
6. A warm, cozy blanket
7. A nice set of wine glasses
8. A set of reusable straws that includes a cleaning brush
9. A sturdy apron with several pockets
10. A wrist or cell phone strap
If necessary, ask the gift exchange participants what they like so you can buy an item related to their common interests.
How to throw a hassle-free holiday brunch
Are you planning to host Christmas brunch this year? If so, here are a few ways to ensure the event goes off without a hitch.
Start prepping the day before
Avoid making everything you need the morning of your brunch by doing some setup the night before. You could wash, cut, and plate fresh fruit and prepare whipped cream and custards ahead of time. If you want to serve an easy dish that can be portioned out the day before, consider putting together small bowls of yogurt and berries with granola.
Opt for fresh-baked goods
Visit your local bakery for bread, croissants, muffins, and bagels to accompany your meal. Purchase a batch made the morning of your event, or ask about frozen, ready-to-bake products. If the business has a tempting specialty, don’t hesitate to add it to your menu.
Offer a variety of beverages
Spice up your brunch by serving mimosas, Bellinis, sparkling cider, or white wine. You can also offer your guests coffee flavored with a variety of liqueurs. For kids, hot chocolate and fresh fruit juice are great choices.
Finally, be sure to decorate your table with festive accessories the day before your event.
Six ways to prioritize buying local during the holidays
The holiday season is an ideal time to support the businesses in your region. Here are six ways to make buying local a part of your Christmas celebrations.
1. Gift giving
If you plan to participate in a holiday gift exchange with your friends or family members, take this opportunity to introduce them to local merchants. For example, regionally made body care products, handcrafted jewelry, and artisanal foods make great gifts.
2. Alcoholic beverages
Alcoholic beverages and the holiday season go hand in hand. This year, serve beers brewed in your region, wines made at a local vineyard, and spirits distilled nearby. To add to the fun and sample an assortment of products, consider organizing a tasting event at your next holiday party.
3. Personal wellness products
Entice your guests to buy local products themselves by placing a handmade bar of soap in the bathroom, lighting locally crafted candles, or providing an all-natural hand cream to relieve dry hands.
If you’re whipping up a homemade meal for your holiday guests, plan your menu around seasonal and local products. If you’d rather take a break from cooking, hire a caterer who uses regional goods. Don’t forget to purchase dessert from a nearby pastry shop or bakery.
Create head-turning holiday ensembles by shopping at local clothing stores. Shirts, dresses, pants, and accessories come in many stylish and comfortable options.
Spruce up your holiday decor with unique, locally crafted items. Wreaths, vases, sculptures, and other handmade treasures are sure to infuse your home or office with the Christmas spirit.
This holiday season, be sure to boost your community’s economy by supporting your local businesses.
How to decorate the outside of your home for Christmas
If you want to decorate the outside of your home for the holiday season but aren’t sure where to begin, here are some ways to get started.
Decorate your trees
Whether you have lush evergreens or bare deciduous trees in your yard, you can dress them up for the Christmas season with ornaments or outdoor string lights.
Put up a Christmas wreath
Make a wreath or buy one from a local artisan. Hang it on your front door or lean it against a nearby wall to create a welcoming entranceway.
Embellish your stairway
If you have sufficient space, place one or more ornate flowerpots, lanterns, nutcrackers, or other decorative elements at the top or bottom of your stairway. Wrap your railing in a garland for a festive flair.
Fill vacant spaces
You can set up decorative structures if you have a large front yard. Inflatable figures and lighted characters will help bring holiday cheer to your home.
For more inspiration and to find great decorations, visit your local retailers.
Four considerations for an online Christmas party
If you can’t visit your loved ones during the holiday season, consider getting together with them online. A virtual celebration is an alternative option that simply requires a bit of preparation. Here’s what you’ll need to think about.
When picking a date and time for your online event, consider everyone’s availability. Don’t forget to factor in time zone differences, if applicable.
There are several online applications you can use to host your virtual get-together. Select the most appropriate one based on how many people will be attending as well as their computer skills and available internet access. Some platforms also allow guests to join by telephone.
Plan a few activities to make the event more fun. For example, arrange for everyone to eat a similar meal or drink the same cocktail. You can also play games that work well remotely, like trivia challenges and bingo.
Set up your computer in an appropriate location, and if you need a table or room to move around, prepare accordingly. Then, add some festive decorations to your background. Consider wearing a headset for superior sound quality.
If you’re giving gifts to your loved ones, mail them ahead of time so they can unwrap them online during the celebration.
De-Grinching Christmas by fighting inflation
Maybe the Grinch isn’t real, but as inflation continues unabated, it could feel like your Christmas has been stolen.
Happily, there are still ways to save some money.
First, it’s smart to put your holiday gift list together earlier rather than later. This way, you’ll have more time to watch for great deals and won’t make last-minute purchases in a panic. You can also use tools like CamelCamelCamel.com that will track price drops and alert you if items on your list go on sale. You can also use services like Rakuten that provide rewards and cash back when you make purchases.
And who to buy gifts for? With inflation at historic levels, you can’t really blame folks for buying gifts only for immediate family members. The fact is, pretty much everyone is being forced to tighten their belts right now. Inevitably, there are people you feel obligated to purchase for. Try buying small boxes of candy. Or bake holiday cookies or cakes to give away. A half-dozen cookies in a bright wrapper can be very welcome and festive.
Rather than super-sizing your Christmas meal this year, make only what you can eat at one meal (and maybe enough for sandwiches the next day). It’s estimated that roughly 40 percent of food ends up in the trash — and that’s like burning cash. Rather than picking up a 20-pound turkey for a six-person Christmas party, downsize to 13 pounds. Instead of pouring eggnog into a punch bowl, make a small pitcher for the fridge. There will be less waste.
Also, folks typically want brand-new products, but you can often save a ton of cash buying refurbished goods. It’s not uncommon to find refurbished gadgets on eBay and elsewhere that are selling at a steep discount and come with a warranty. And if you’re buying any gifts for yourself, consider waiting until the New Year, as many retailers will hold generous after-holiday sales to clear out stock and holiday returns.