Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Holiday Parenting Tips: Get the most out of Thanksgiving Weekend!

Coming up is a moment of opportunity that so many of us throw away each year. Each Thanksgiving many of us are extra-thankful for a four-day weekend. You may need Friday through Sunday to understandably recover from the effects of a 5000 calorie meal. Growing up, my family would often take a post-Thanksgiving meal walk to burn off the extra calories. It may not have burned off much, but it was nice to get out in the autumn air and see the neighborhood. Since you may have the family in town and some extra time on your hands, consider this post-Thanksgiving checklist. You can do them as a family, burn off those calories and at the same time get a jump on cleanup and setup for Christmas.

1) Put away your pumpkins: If Pearl Chase were around today, instead of pushing for sandstone and Spanish tile roofing she would be yelling at us for not bringing in our pumpkins. I would say that the day after Thanksgiving is about when they should be heading for disposal. Walking my children around the neighborhood I have found it disturbing to count the number of Halloween pumpkins still left on the porch come February.

2) Pull down your boxes: If you’re like me, you have boxed away Christmas trinkets and decorations. While you still have your family over to eat, encourage them to assist in getting the boxes down. You don’t need to decorate and get rid of Thanksgiving too soon, just get them to a place that will be accessible when you are ready for them.

3) Get your lights up: Now that you have your boxes down, it’s a good time to string the lights up on your house. If you leave the lights on your house year-round, see item #1 above. Putting up lights can be done in record time with assistance in untangling. This year, before putting up your lights, consider replacing them with LEDs. Home Depot appears to be the only operation in Santa Barbara this year to offer a trade coupon program for up to 5 sets of lights.

4) Get out Christmas movies: I have long been a fan on Christmas specials and movies taking place around Christmas. It feels silly pulling out copies of these movies in mid-July when you stumble across them, though. Still, if you wait too long, it’s Christmas Eve night and you’re stuck choosing between It’s A Wonderful Life and Love Actually. Getting these movies out early lets you enjoy them in a more timely manner.

5) Stock up on seasonal items: Trader Joes has Peppermint Joe Joes only once a year. Peanut Brittle is everywhere when you’ve been eating it all month, but never when you need it. Most of these things can be frozen for a later treat.

6) Add batteries to your shopping list: Now is the time to add batteries to your shopping list. Get them early to power up the Christmas decorations and also for the toys that you didn’t anticipate needing batteries for. Being proactive is much better than making the decision to poach your fire alarm batteries on Christmas morning to avoid a disappointed look from the kids.

7) Change your fire alarm batteries: If you followed item #6, then you’re well prepared for item #7. During the holidays we’re plugging things in that have never been used before or things that have bent plugs. American families are attaching electric lights to a plant and then encouraging the least-coordinated in our family (our children) to add water. Or it may be worse! We may not be watering at all and welcoming the dry kindling needles to catch fire on hot wires surrounding the tree. The holidays are ripe for disaster and $5 worth of batteries can help save lives.

You may not be able to follow all seven tips, but doing any of them will help you get a jump on Christmas and give you more time to enjoy some positive time with the family.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Tech Tip: Set up out of office message in outlook

Tech Tip:

Now that it’s Winter time, many people will be heading out for vacation. When doing so, don’t forget to set your out-of-office reply on your computer!

To enable the Out of Office Assistant:

In Outlook Web Access: Click on Options in the upper-right corner and then “Automatic Replies.” Be sure to adjust the message for both internal and external email recipients.

In Outlook 2003 or 2007: Click tools – Out Of Office Assistant.

In Outlook 2010: File – Automatic Replies