When I was growing up, my Nana and Papa had the most wonderful Holiday parties in their finished basement. My Nana was Sicilian, so we had a large, loving, loud family. Everyone was there; my great Grammy, all the cousins, family friends, etc.
Memories of being a little girl in my Nana’s basement during the Holiday season invoke smells of manicotti and sausage. Delicious smells filled that beautifully decorated basement as we kids anxiously waited for that special “early visit” from Santa. After dinner and before opening presents with the family, Santa came to our grandparent’s house on Christmas Eve because Nana was a “personal friend” of his.
My great Grammy was the official cook until she sadly developed Alzheimer’s and had to have 24-hour home health care. She did the cooking as long as she could, and then my mama took over her grandmother’s role after she went into a full-time care facility.
But these beautiful memories have inspired me to create that same scenario for my family by hosting the Holidays in my basement.
But before you make any decisions on hosting your Holiday celebrations in your basement, let’s put together a list of what to do before the holiday season approaches:
- Clean and organize: Start by giving your basement a deep clean to ensure you don’t have any dust or dirt left from the summer/fall months. This way, your basement will be ready for you to transform for the holidays.
- Inspect and repair: Check your basement for any water damage or potential problems that could be a risk. Fixing any moisture, mold, or structural issues will help ensure your family’s safety during the holidays.
- Lighting: Lamps and holiday lights that sparkle
- Accessorize: Base them on what Holiday is current
How to enjoy holidays at home
Fortunately, one of my best friends is a talented, creative home interior design professional who often helps with ideas for my home. For example, when she assisted me in decorating for the holidays, she recommended I give my basement a makeover by adding holiday-themed ornaments and decorations if that is where I wanted to host festivities. She said it was essential to appeal to all five senses: sight, smell, touch, taste, and sound.
To create a harmonious and inviting atmosphere, I combined different elements for each of the five senses. For sight, I hung up garlands and colorful lights all around the space. For smell, I set up a pot of simmering mulled cider on the stove and cinnamon-scented pine cones. For touch, I added a few comfy throw pillows and blankets to make it cozy. For taste, I put out festive cookies and hot chocolate for my guests. Finally, for sound, Christmas music established a cozying sonic landscape.
In no time, my basement was transformed into a magical Christmas wonderland, and everyone had a great time! With the help of my friend, I created a special holiday experience for my family that we will remember for years to come. My Nana would have been proud!
How to be useful during the Holiday season
For me, this year, Holidays will be very different than in the past. Many people have either passed away or moved away, and just recently, I went through a divorce. My kids are teenagers and will be with their father half the time and out with their friends the rest. So, I need to figure out how to keep myself busy helping others avoid the self-pity trap that my Christmas won’t be the same. Here’s a quick list to consider:
Donate or volunteer at a food bank.
The holidays are a time when many people think about giving back to those less fortunate. One way to do this is by donating to a food bank. Food banks provide meals for families who cannot afford to buy their own food. You can donate money or food items such as canned goods, pasta, rice, or cereal.
Volunteer at a soup kitchen.
Another way to help those in need during the holidays is by volunteering at a soup kitchen. Soup kitchens provide hot meals for the homeless and other people who cannot afford to buy their own food. You can volunteer to cook, serve, or clean up after the meal.
Visit the elderly and sick
Many people spend the holidays with their family and friends, but some do not have family or friends nearby. If you know someone who is alone during the holidays, make an effort to visit them. You can also visit a nursing home or an assisted living place and spend time with the residents there. Many of them will be happy to have someone to talk to.
One year in Cub Scouts with my boys, we went to the local senior living residence and brought Christmas plants to each room. I’ll never forget what a woman said to us. She said,” Thank you for remembering us.” I left her room in tears. Tears of gratitude that we volunteered and were not alone; we had each other that Holiday season.
During the holiday season, there is often an increased demand for blood donations. This is because many people are injured in car accidents or other accidents during the holidays. If you are healthy and eligible to give blood, consider doing so during this time of need.
Help out at a local animal shelter.
Animal shelters always need volunteers, especially during the holiday season when they tend to be short-staffed. You can help out by cleaning cages, feeding animals, or walking dogs.
Things to do before the holiday season
In conclusion, in deciding whether or not to host for the holidays, where in your home to do the hosting, and what to do beforehand, remember the five senses and decorate accordingly. Also, a great way to get through hard times during the holidays is by helping others to make their holiday season special. Helping others will often make you feel better too. So, this holiday season, give back and spread the joy.
~ Peace to you during this Holiday season