13 Mindful Tips To Help Enjoy The Holiday Season with Ease | Chicago North Shore Moms

Curated by guest editor Emily Schiller, The Style Du Jour


‘Tis the season of merrymaking! The true significance of the holidays can often become overshadowed by lengthy to-do lists and unachievable Pinterest vision boards, but we’ve rounded up more than a dozen tips and tricks from your fellow North Shore area moms to help ground us in the simple joys of this festive time of year. From hosting and decorating to thoughtful gifting, these mamas share their real-life advice to help make the most of your time with family and friends during Thanksgiving and beyond.



Emily Schiller

The Style Du Jour



When hosting out of town family or friends, I think the little things help make your guests feel welcome and show you’ve been eagerly awaiting their arrival. From stocking the kitchen with their favorite cereal or coffee creamer to setting out fresh towels or a new toothbrush for the one family member who never remembers their own, your thoughtfulness will help ease any weary traveler into the holiday spirit. The finishing touches are welcome signs or cards made by the kids!”

– Emily Schiller The Style Du Jour



Amy Kaske Berger




I love hosting friends and family during the holidays. I’ve learned from some of my favorite hostess friends that the party prep shouldn’t be overly complicated if you’re doing it yourself! One of my favorite drinks to serve is a festive cocktail that looks elegant and sophisticated, but is a breeze to make. It’s simply sparkling wine or cava, a sprig of rosemary, a blackberry, and a splash of St. Germain elderflower liqueur. Tastes fancy and you don’t have to be a mixologist to make it!”

– Amy Kaske Berger @amykaskeberger



Katie Adams

Live Half Full


Photo Credit: Bella Baby


Over the years I have learned that traditions need to be flexible depending on the season your family is in. Last year for Thanksgiving I was on a work deadline and ordered all of the sides from Whole Foods. This year we have a newborn and are going to a local restaurant to keep things easy! Don’t be afraid to reassess your family’s needs and set boundaries. The holidays should be enjoyable and there’s no need to do things just because they have always been done that way.”

– Katie Adams Live Half Full



Megan Medica

Never Without Navy



Dedicate one day or evening per week to gift wrap during the holiday season to keep up with it all. To make it feel less like a chore, I turn gift wrapping into a fun, weekly event I look forward to. I pop in a holiday movie, pour myself a glass of bubbly, and wrap up the week’s gifts!”

– Megan Medica Never Without Navy



Johanna Grange

Johanna Grange Blog


Photo Credit: Soda Fountain Photography


I truly love dressing my table for each and every holiday but I tend to steer clear of the expected color palettes. For Thanksgiving + Holiday, I love the subtle glam of mixing metallics together. Every year I add a new gold, rose gold or silver accent to my table be it a runner, a napkin holder, a charger, a candle or a guest gift which brings me to my next tip: always add a simple touch to each place setting. My favorite trick is to head to a Michael’s, Hobby Lobby or Home Goods and buy a special ornament for each setting which serves as an “adult goodie bag” of sorts or a keepsake to take home. Forget the chocolate and gift them something to remind them of the great memories you shared with your loved ones.”

– Johanna Grange Johanna Grange



Dana Ivy

I Adore What I Love



On my blog, I’m sharing the most amazing Pumpkin Pie Chia Pudding Parfait! I am addicted to eating it for breakfast but plan to make a giant one for Thanksgiving dessert at my parents house. It’s healthy {the chia seed benefits are aplenty}, filling {in the best way}, and above all, the yummiest! Plus, this recipe is as easy as could be to whip up! If you love pudding and pumpkin pie, you will love this. I can’t wait for you to try it!”

– Dana Ivy I Adore What I Love



Katy Rexing

Grace in the Crumbs



If I’ve learned anything over the past decade of holiday entertaining, it’s that less is more.  I used to spend so much time stressing over my holiday menus and centerpieces when in reality I never needed to.  Our family and friends are coming over to see us, not our latest Pinterest find.  So my advice; take a look at everything you’re planning for this holiday season, and scratch one thing off your list.  One less recipe on the menu, one less dessert you’re going to bake, one less appetizer to serve.  Give yourself the gift of Grace this holiday season to ENJOY this time with your friends and family – and not be stuck in the kitchen doing dishes.  Less is always more when it comes to entertaining, especially over the holidays.”

– Katy Rexing Grace in the Crumbs



Cheryl Leahy

All Dressed Up with Nothing to Drink



The secret to a perfect hostess gift? Give something that will show you put thought into it! If you want to give a special bottle of wine, write a personalized note on the bottle with a metallic paint pen and pair it with a treat that complements the varietal. Personalized or monogrammed items show the recipient that you thought specifically of them. An exotic food item that fits their palate feels personal, and gives them something they might not normally discover or buy for themselves. Anything tastefully humorous is always a win, especially if it serves a function. Point of Etiquette: Hostess gifts aren’t generally opened AT the party, and thank you notes for them aren’t a requirement since their purpose is to thank the hostess. Cheers!”

Cheryl Leahy All Dressed Up with Nothing to Drink



Jennifer Saranow

Schultz Hint Mama



Gift-wrapping is one of those hidden costs of the holidays, with Americans spending billions of dollars annually on wrapping paper and gift bags. The good news is that there are ways to wrap gifts for less. My favorite hint: If you’re going to buy wrapping paper and gift bags for the holidays, buy festive styles that you can use all year round. Think no holiday-specific designs but rather more basic gold, red, green, white and blue designs.”

– Jennifer Saranow Schultz Hint Mama



Lisa Pighetti

Studio L Design



“Whether you are hosting or bringing something to a holiday gathering, you can’t go wrong with a charcuterie board. It’s super easy to pull together and you can make it as simple or as robust as you’d like. Let your creativity run wild!”

– Lisa Pighetti Studio L Design



Christina Anker 

Two Anchors Blog



Winter holiday survival is all about abandoning perfectionism and celebrating coziness. Essentially, it’s embracing the Danish concept of “hygge.” Typically, as a planner with highly orchestrated children’s schedules, I try to go against the instinct with impromptu invitations to neighbors to come over for libations even though our toy-strewn house is a mess. And I embrace cuddling my kids under my great Aunt’s worn old afghan no matter how ornery they are from missed naps in holiday travel. Or I focus on meeting at the local dive bar instead of getting glitter-glammed for a party, laugh at the lopsided decorations my toddler put on the tree, or even take ridiculously bundled walks outside in the frigid cold just to breathe and feel alive. For as the Danes would say, “all you really need is shelter, sustenance, kith, and kin.”  And that remembrance of the no matter how jumbled or messy it may seem at first is actually perfection aplenty.”

– Christina Anker Two Anchors Blog



Keki Cannon

Home With Keki



No need to pay hundreds on a white or flocked tree. Grab your old artificial tree or a cheap faux tree and give it a facelift with white spray paint at the tips. Add pinecones that you can collect on your Thanksgiving walk and top off with ribbon. NOTHING else. This was one of my kid’s favorite trees and it was simple and cheap.”

– Keki Cannon Home With Keki



Ellie Ander




When it comes to hosting a large group at our home, I absolutely love it! But, I’m not a Pinterest expert; in fact I don’t decorate for any occasion at all. And guess what… no one cares! My hack for hosting is that my focus is solely on staying organized with these four tips:

  1. Meal prep: I have three young kiddos, so I can’t make all holiday dishes by myself. I pre-assign apps, desserts, dishes at least 2 weeks in advance of the gathering. For the dishes that I do make, I cook same-day but in advance, and leave an oven or warming drawer open for my guests’ dishes. Everything is cooked by the time the party starts so we don’t have any hungry bellies!
  2. Making the guests feel at home: I rearrange the living room furniture and add seating (albeit folding chairs) to accommodate a larger group. I want everyone to be able to relax and be joyful!
  3. Making sure the night runs smoothly: I know exactly what dishes our guests are brining, so I prepare the food serving space well in advance and work out a flow of traffic. I place little notes  on the serving counter where the dish will go along with the proper serving utensils. The drink counter is not near the food counter because that always holds up the line of hungry folks. Napkins are always an afterthought. I place a pile at the beginning and end of the food line.
  4. Allow people to help (cringe, I know, why is it so hard for us moms?): Get the kids involved by giving them a few simple jobs. Say “yes” when guests offer to help you with minor clean up duties like taking dishes into the kitchen. Say “yes” to Aunt Mary when she offers to help you wash and dry dishes!

If you’re hosting I hope these tips make it easier for you to organized and enjoy your own party.”

– Ellie Ander @ChicagoNorthShoreMoms

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