For some, the holidays are filled with potlucks, cookie swaps, and big family dinners, but at the same time other families struggle to simply put food on the table. Living in a state of food insecurity where one doesn’t have consistent access to enough affordable, nutritious food would be distressing any time of year, but I imagine it’s especially difficult during what is supposed to be a joyful season.
Each year millions of hungry people turn to food banks for meals and pantry staples, and this Christmas you could lend a helping hand by donating to your local food bank. Whether you decide to pick up a few extra items at the grocery store or host a food drive at the office, your donation would assist those who need it most.
What Food Should You Donate?
If you would like to donate food, it would be best to call your local food bank to find out what their specific needs are, as that can vary from region to region and month to month. Food banks prefer to receive nonperishable, nutrient-dense foods, especially those that are low in salt and sugar. If you plan to scour your pantry for items to donate, make sure to check the expiration dates because food banks will not accept items that are past their expiration. Do not give glass containers [they are harder to transport and store], and canned goods with pop-tops are best since some of the people receiving the food will not have access to a can opener.
Below you will find a list of some items that are many times in need. I’ve also created a printable list that you can take on your shopping trip to make things extra easy for you
Dry whole wheat pasta
Whole grain cereal
Whole grain crackers
Vegetables & Fruits:
Canned vegetables [low sodium]
Pasta sauce [low sodium]
Canned fruits [no sugar added]
Dried fruits [no sugar added]
Shelf-stable 100% vegetable juice
Shelf-stable 100% fruit juice
Dried beans, lentils or peas
Canned beans [low sodium]
Canned soups, stews, or chili [low sodium]
Peanut butter or other nut butters
Disaster supplies [MREs, emergency kits, etc.]
Donate Holiday Food Items
Besides the more essential donation ideas listed above, since we are in the Christmas season, you could also donate holiday food items so that even those who are food insecure can enjoy a festive meal. Remember, these items should still be nonperishable and low in salt and sugar.
Food banks will also always appreciate monetary donations. The volunteers at the bank will best know that their needs are at any given time, so that takes the guesswork out of deciding what to purchase at the grocery store. Plus, many food banks have food industry partners that are quite generous, so every dollar they receive has 5 times the buying power. That means every $1 you donate equals $5 worth of food.
Find a Food Bank Near You
There are food banks all across the United States and Canada—in both large metro areas such as Ottawa and NYC, as well as in more rural areas like Western Michigan.
Whether it’s 30°C or 0°C, I absolutely love eating ice cream. When Raymond and I travel, we have such a great time sampling local frozen treats, such as patbingsu in South Korea or Ghirardelli ice cream in San Francisco. When the seasons change, some ice cream purveyors release special edition flavours just for the holidays. Two of my favourite things—Christmas and ice cream—brought together? Yes, please!
For my fellow ice cream enthusiasts, I have compiled a list of some shops and restaurants that are featuring festive flavours this holiday season. While some of these icy indulgences might seem pricy compared to your typical supermarket offerings, trust me, they’re worth it, as nothing quite beats artisanal ice cream.
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On any number of occasions, I have had ice cream from Jeni’s, and I can vouch that it is indeed splendid! Jeni’s Splendid Holiday Collection features complex, unique flavours, such as The Matterhorn [wildflower honey ice cream with white chocolate flakes and smoky almonds] and Spiced Sweet Cream: Holiday Notes [cardamom, Peru balsam, fenugreek, and vanilla]. The whole collection includes:
If you live in—or will be visiting—Columbus, Cleveland, Nashville, Chicago, Atlanta, Charleston, Los Angeles, or St. Louis, you can also visit a Jeni’s scoop shop to pick up a pint or try a trio on a handmade waffle cone. Find your nearest scoop shop here.
With 4 scrumptious vegetarian burgers on the menu, Gourmet Burger Kitchen is my favourite spot to grab a burger when I’m in the UK. What’s more, they have really tasty milkshakes, including a gingerbread cookie dough and clotted cream ice-cream milkshake [£4.75]. Find a GBK location near you and enjoy this seasonal shake.
From humble beginnings in Madison Square Park to now a global empire, Shake Shack has introduced a trio of holiday shakes that are available through 1 January. Choose between Chocolate Peppermint, Christmas Cookie, or Pumpkin Pie [$5.79]. On sale at all U.S. locations except stadiums and JFK airport, find your nearest Shack here.
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The mission of Atlanta-based King of Pops is “to introduce the community to frozen happiness on a stick,” and they do just that with their artisan popsicles, which are quite tasty. This year you can grab their pack of exclusive holiday flavours: Gingerbread, White Chocolate Peppermint, Eggnog, and Apple Cider. This pop pack is available online for $15 or at their locations around the Southern U.S.
If you live near Atlanta, you can also stop by King of Pops Bar & Good Grub at Ponce City Market. Here you can get pop dipped in chocolate or a poptail, which is exactly what is sounds like—a cocktail with a pop in it. Yum!
Selling gelato that is 100% natural, GROM has locations all over Italy, and on my trips there, I have been known to visit GROM more than once, as gelato is most definitely a requirement during any holiday to Italy. This Christmas season, they are serving several festive flavours, such as Panettone, Marrons Glacés [candied chestnuts], and Caramello al Sale [caramel with Himalayan pink salt]. If you’re in Italy or will be visiting Italy this December, check out Il Natale di GROM for their fun advent calendar, and find a location to enjoy some gelato yourself.
What is your favourite ice cream treat during the holiday? Is there another creamery I should know about? Let me know in the comments!
With its adorable take on classic characters, Relentlessly Cheerful Art is definitely the right name for this Etsy shop! James Hance’s Wookiee the Chew Christmas Bundle would make a unique gift for the Star Wars fan in your life. Included in this pack are 4 super cute, wooden Wookiee the Chew ornaments, a hand drawn print, and a fully dramatized audio book CD of “Wookiee The Chew. The House At Chew Corner.”
Whether you say “Gleðileg Jól” to the Yule Lads while eating möndlugrautur [Christmas rice pudding] or “Fröhliche Weihnachten” to Christkind while snacking on vanillekipferl [cresent-shaped almond cookies], the holiday season is full of delicious food and fun times with family and friends. To learn more about how folks celebrate Christmas the world over, check out the infographic below!
Click on the image for a closer look! Infographic via Lemonly
Whether most of your holiday decorations are music-related [like at the Opryland Resort] or you simply love charming illustrations, this wooden fox & guitar ornament would make a sweet addition to your Christmas tree. This handmade ornament features an original illustration stamped onto a wood slice with archival sepia ink. For more cute critters to trim your tree, check out the hipster deer and woodsy bear.
Over the past few years, Raymond and I have travelled the globe some. Together we’ve visited Chicago, Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, Brussels, NYC, Japan, among other places. Raymond is a great travel companion, and we always have a blast together—taking in the sights and sampling local vegetarian food.
Last weekend Raymond and I had a little free time, so we decided to pop down to Nashville, Tennessee to check out the elaborate Christmas decorations at the Opryland Resort. It was a certainly a sight to behold, as there are more than 2 million twinkling lights across the entire resort!
Raymond and I could’ve stared at these gorgeous trees for hours.
Every single tree was covered in lights.
Outside the main entrance to the Opryland Resort where there were carriage rides and a firepit.
Oh, there he is! By the HUGE poinsettia tree!
The Opryland Resort is one of the largest hotels in the world, and it features several atriums that house impressive Christmas decorations and thousands of plants. There is even a quarter-mile-long indoor river in the Delta Atrium! Walkways and bridges lead you all around the atriums, and seeing such large-scale holiday displays will leave you feeling jolly. Raymond and I certainly enjoyed wandering along the paths—he drinking some hot cocoa and me sipping a hot toddy.
Raymond was particularly amused by the banjo-strummin’ snowman.
The ceiling was quite literally dripping with lights. Our photos don’t do it justice!
Raymond bonding with a nutcracker.
Aside from the extensive decorations, there are lots of holiday activities going on all season long at the Opryland Resort, such as ice skating, tubing, gingerbread decorating, and more. Maybe sometime Raymond and I will get to go back and experience more of the festivities, but after a couple hours, we had to head back up to the North Pole. [But don't feel sorry for us; you know we have loads of festive fun up here ]
If you want to experience A Country Christmas at the Opryland Resort yourself, head to Nashville anytime between now and 1 January.
Designed with world travellers in mind, this hidden pocket infinity scarf is perfect for discreetly storing your passport, credit cards, mobile phone, and other small items. Your valuables stay concealed in the scarf’s secret 8-inch zipper pocket, and your neck stays nice and warm. With fun, one-of-a-kind patterns such as Candy Cane [shown below], Do You Suppose She’s a Wildflower, and Tweedle Dee, you’ll want to wear this scarf all winter long—whether or not you’re travelling.
If you love all of the handcrafted goodies on Etsy as much as I do, then surely you will also have fun at one of these indie Christmas craft fairs, which are essentially Etsy in event form. At these markets you will find a wide variety of wares—clothing, jewelry, baked goods, ceramics, cards, and loads more. By shopping at one of these fairs, not only will you be able to find truly unique Christmas presents for your loved ones, you will also be supporting local small businesses, so it’s a win-win.
Below I’ve highlighted a few of these merry markets, but if you have a favourite local indie craft fair in your area, let me know in the comments!
Frustrated with the lack of indie craft fairs in Philly, Rachel from The Crafted Life decide to host her own! During First Friday, head on over to the Holiday Maker Fair and browse the goodies from a curated selection of local crafters—some of whom even make neato Philadelphia-themed items. While shopping you can also enjoy refreshments or pop into the holiday photo booth.
If you’re in the Twin Cities area, be sure to check out the 12th annual Holiday No Coast Craft-o-Rama. This indie, urban, and modern art & craft show will feature woodworking, ceramics, cards, handcrafted dog toys & treats, and more. And as a twist on the traditional tote bag giveaway, each vendor will be giving away a free No Coast tote with the first sale of the day on both days—no matter how big or small the purchase is.
This holiday season you’re invited to a crafty birthday party, as City of Craft turns 10! To celebrate this past decade, they’re hosting a weekend-long party with more than 60 of T-Dot’s best makers, workshops, installations, and giveaways. Whether you go on Friday night for drinks & music or show up bright & early on Saturday morning for one of the limited edition swag bags, you’re sure to have a great time.
Named Best Artisan Market by the Nashville Scene in 2012, Porter Flea Holiday Market is a juried and curated market that focuses on unique, local, and handmade gifts. Here you will find a variety of goods, including children’s toys, enamel pins, home decor, clothing, and holiday cards. You have two options on how to attend: the more intimate, ticketed Preview Market on Friday evening or the free Main Market on Saturday.
Join Firefly Handmade for their first ever outdoor holiday market inside a giant heated tent at the popular Twenty Ninth Street shopping district. This event will feature indie wares from 100 vendors, such as bohemian inspired jewelry, coffee scrubs, paper goods, and craft wines. If that wasn’t enough, there will also be artisan demos, food trucks, live music, AND a vintage VW bus photo booth.
A photo posted by Firefly Handmade Markets (@fireflyhandmade) on
Additional Craft Fairs
While I would love to feature all of the indie Christmas craft markets, I have to get back to my other elfy duties. But, since I really just can’t help myself, after the jump you’ll find info on just a few more craft fairs happening this month.
Maybe it’s because of the sugary deals we highlighted earlier today for Cyber Monday, but I’ve had sweet treats on the brain all day. So when perusing Etsy this afternoon, of course this pair of twee donut earrings caught my eye. Handmade using polymer clay, these kawaii earrings feature festive sprinkles and tiny sprigs of holy. These would add a merry dash of sugar to any outfit!