CFAES Give Today
OSU Extension

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

December 13, 2023 - 9:00am --

Breathe.  Just pause and take three deep breaths.  This is the time of year when we tend to add more to busy schedules and run ragged trying to get it all done.  So, I write this reflection as a reminder to myself as much as to share with you.  What kind of holiday season do we want?  What are the things that are really important to us and our families?

Start by talking to family members and see what they look forward to.  Look at the calendar and see if we can actually schedule time to do the things we enjoy like watching Christmas movies, putting up the tree, baking cookies, wrapping presents or just relaxing with family and friends.  Sometimes, we continue to do things that no one enjoys, and we can adapt them or even let them go when we talk through them. 

For extended family, can we change the gathering to make it easier for everyone?  Most often, it’s the people that make the events, so maybe let the buying presents for everyone go or draw names to make the task easier.  Or maybe everyone brings a funny gift to share?  If you asked family members what they received last year, can they answer?  Generally, they remember the events, the people and the things they participate in, not the gift itself. 

The family traditions that we practice don’t have to be expensive or elaborate, it’s the time we spend mindfully together.  No phones, or distractions but time talking, laughing, and working together.  Traditions help us build commitment to each other and share our unconditional love. 

Making some of your gifts can be a fun family tradition if you enjoy being in the kitchen or enjoy crafting.  When children participate in helping to make the gifts, they feel important and needed along with seeing the joy in giving not just receiving.  The kitchen is a great way to use math, reading and science skills too.  Pick your recipes and make sure you allow time for set up, preparation and clean up. 

When you are ready to package them, remember the following:

  • Include the recipe with your gift so that the receiver can make sure it doesn’t contain any ingredients that would cause an allergic reaction.  Along with that, make sure the rest of the directions are available if it’s a cookie or soup mix for them to prepare.
  • Include the date you package it so the recipient can make sure to use it in a timely manner.
  • Package the food in a food safe container, glass, tin or item that can be used afterwards.  It’s best not to use plastic items that are single use like lunchmeat containers or margarine tubs.  These are not designed to be more than a one-time use.
  • Think about natural companions to go along with the food gift.  A cookie sheet and spatula may go along with a jar of cookie mix, crackers with the soup mix or a mug with the hot chocolate mix. 

Here’s a link to several gifts from the home that you might check out on our county website:

            A final reminder is to take care of ourselves.  Getting enough sleep, eating right and not stressing out will make the season more enjoyable for everyone.  Remember, we are not responsible for everyone else’s happiness or expectations.  It is important to talk about those, but happiness comes from within, it is our choice and what better time of year to have an attitude of gratitude?

Melinda Hill is an OSU Extension Family and Consumer Sciences Educator and may be reached at 330-264-8722 or
This article was previously published in The Daily Record.