This holiday advice column is brought to you by Monica Jackson, the heroine in my debut romance novel, Under Her Spell. It is the second column in the series. Her first column is Deck the Halls with Stress Balls: How to Bring Inner Peace and Joy to Your Holidays.
Stressed is desserts spelled backwards. Appropriate, since baking stresses me out, and when I’m stressed, I eat massive amounts of chocolate, and gaining weight is stressful. My cousin Hope makes Martha Stewart look like a total slacker, so I figured she’d be playing domestic elf this year—baking, cooking, and decorating our townhouse. But her no-good cheating hubby is giving her a large divorce settlement for Christmas, so she’s celebrating by popping a champagne cork on a two-week cruise. I can’t skip the holidays. I love the holidays, and this is one of the busiest times for my romantic event planning company.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my stressful job, it’s that you need to look like you’ve got it together even when you don’t. I suffered panic attacks a few months back when Reed, a divorce lawyer, moved in next to my business. It wasn’t pretty. However, Reed turned out to be good for my stress. A lot of people experience a high level of stress around the holidays because they are perfectionists and insist on doing everything themselves. So here are my top time management ideas and how I’m going to enjoy a perfectly imperfect holiday.
1) The Island of Misfit Cookies. Last year, I bought gingerbread cookie dough for a holiday party, and then I realized I didn’t own cookie cutters or a rolling pin. No time to run to the store, I rolled out the dough with a glass and found a gingerbread cookie cutter online and printed it out. Half of the cookies ended up with frowning faces, and I even decapitated a few. So this year, I asked Hope to make my cookies before she starts sailing the high seas. Hope owns a cake decorating business and her cookies are a work of art. I can’t pass off perfect cookies as my own, so she made me some skinny Santa cookies with fuchsia colored suits, one-eyed gingerbread men, and reindeer without antlers. Hope’s misfit cookies business is taking off. However, she has to be discreet or her secret will be out and she’ll lose her clients.
2) Recruit Elves. I’ve started over twenty businesses. When I was ten years old, I dressed up as an elf and went around the neighborhood offering my gift wrapping services. I was an awful wrapper and once mistakenly wrapped a centerpiece and salt ‘n pepper shakers that were sitting on a client’s table. I didn’t last more than one season. My wrapping skills haven’t improved and everyone knows this. So I’m hiring a nine-year-old neighbor girl to wrap my presents. I’m also having her wrap the pictures on my walls, which will make festive decorations.
3) Dual-Purpose Cards. Last year, my cousin Ellie posted her annual Christmas brag letter on Facebook and asked everyone to share it with friends and family who weren’t on Facebook. Rather than being put out that she wanted us to distribute her letter, we were happy that Ellie wasn’t so perfect after all. This gave me the idea to do e-cards this year. I emailed photo cards of my assistant and me dressed as somewhat sexy elves and her cute little Shih Tzu dressed as Santa, standing in front of my business. I posted this photo on Facebook with our business address and a caption reading We can help you be a little naughty, or nice, this season with your significant other. Not sure if it was the cute little dog or our sexy elf outfits, but the promo just went viral on Facebook. You may have already seen it.
4) Voila—A Holiday Feast. I’ve been watching Hope cook for the past few months, and if there is one thing I’ve learned—the only thing—is that cooking is all about presentation. Hope and her soon-to-be ex owned a restaurant, so she knows the secret of haute cuisine is small portions, stacking and garnishes. I’m going to buy deli turkey with the fixings and reheat the turkey on Christmas Day in a slow cooker so the aroma fills the air. Then all I have to do is place a few spoonfuls of mashed potatoes on a plate, top it with a dollop of stuffing, slap a slice of turkey over it then drizzle with gravy. Garnish the plate with a few cranberries.
5) Indoor-Outdoor Decorations. We recently had a major snowstorm in Milwaukee. Go figure. School was cancelled. When I came home from work, some kids who live in an apartment building without a yard were building a snowman in the dirty snow plowed up on a curb. I offered them my yard. I asked them to decorate the snowmen with red and green attire and to build them in front of my windows, so they could be enjoyed inside or outside. Of course this only works if you have snow.
6) Deck the Halls with Stress Balls: How to Bring Inner Peace and Joy to Your Holidays. This is the title of my first advice column published on November 14th at Urban Girl Reader. It offers suggestions on how to reduce holiday stress. I hope my two columns, along with some deep yoga breaths, help you survive the holiday season!
Which of Monica’s suggestions do you like the best? What do you do to simplify your holidays?
Giveaway! I will be giving away two e-copies of Under Her Spell and a $20 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift certificate. To be eligible to win one of these prizes, please answer both of the above questions. Include your e-mail address with your comment and check back here on December 3rd when the winners will be announced in the comment section.
Thank you so much to Nancy and The Chick Lit Bee for helping me celebrate the release of Under Her Spell!
When a series of failed relationships and business ventures have Monica Jackson doubting her self-worth, she turns to spell casting to attract positive energy and the opportunities needed to achieve her goals. But can Monica’s belief in spells restore her belief in herself? Monica creates a spell to find her soul mate, and one to ensure the success of her new romantic event planning company, Enhance Your Romance. Monica is confident she has found her niche until divorce lawyer Reed Walker opens a practice next door to her office. The anti-marriage slogan plastered on his office window, and his down-on-love clients, quickly prove detrimental to Monica’s business. When his arrival appears to trigger a string of bad luck, Monica fears one of her spells sent negative energy into the universe and it has returned to her threefold. Although Reed is beyond sexy, and she admires his self-confidence, she’ll do whatever it takes to get the universe back on her side, and Reed out of her life. No way is she losing another business. Reed finds himself attracted to Monica’s beauty and her optimism. His job and his parents’ divorce have made him a pessimist, especially when it comes to love. However, he soon finds that Monica’s pro-love attitude is rubbing off on him, causing him to lose his edge. If Reed doesn’t distance himself from Monica, he’ll likely destroy his reputation as a pit bull divorce lawyer. Can Monica and Reed look past what they might be losing to realize the love they have found? Under Her Spell is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and eBooks.
About the Author
Eliza Daly’s first attempt at creative writing was in fourth grade. She and her friends were huge Charlie’s Angels fans and she would sit in her bedroom at night writing scripts for them to act out at recess the following day. She was Kelly Garrett. Fast forward to the present, she’s still writing stories about beautiful women who always get their men. The journey from fourth grade script writer to published author wasn’t an easy one, but it was always an adventure and the final destination was well worth it. When Eliza isn’t traveling for her job as an event planner, or tracing her ancestry roots through Ireland, she’s at home in Milwaukee working on her next novel, bouncing ideas off her husband Mark, and her cats Quigley and Frankie. You can find Eliza on the Web at her Website, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.