The Best Christmas Activities

Its almost the time to start bringing out your Christmas decorations. Christmas is one of, if not the best holidays of the year. There are several fun activities you can do in order to get in the Christmas spirit! Here are my top five favorite things to do around Christmas time.

1. Decorating Everything

Christmas is all about the decorations. From the tree, to stockings, to the lights, there are so many different ways you can decorate your house. If your all about saving some extra money for gifts, there are several really cool DIY Christmas decorations anyone can make. My favorite, and one of the most versatile decorations is a wreath. You can choose whatever you want to make your wreath out of; ornaments, leaves, and wrapping paper. There are very simple to make, and take little amount of time. Check out a more decorations here! You can find inexpensive decorations or materials needed to decorate at places like Walmart, Target, or Hobby Lobby. They all offer everyone’s basic Christmas essentials, such as lights, ornaments, and stockings. Visit Walmart’s website in order to see what they have in stock for this year!

2. Making Christmas Cookies

One thing my family and I always did during Christmas time is make Christmas cookies. Making cookies is a great way to spend family time and bond together over the holidays, while also getting to enjoy the product afterwards. Although this can be a messy project, it is very inexpensive and easy to make. You can make different colors of frosting and add whatever your desired toppings are. You can easily find Christmas cookie cutters at the local store. Here are some great cookie ideas!

3. Putting Up the Christmas Tree

Another great activity to create family bonding time is finding, and putting up the Christmas tree. One of my favorite traditions is picking out the perfect tree and decorating it. The best part about decorating and picking out your tree, is you get to choose all of the decorations. You can create all of your own ornaments, or find many different options at the store. Here are some quick tips on how to decorate the perfect Christmas tree. First, lift and separate the branches to fluff it up. Then, light it up. Add whatever lights you want all over the tree. Then, add the garland. Start your garland at the top and place it as far out toward the end of the branch as feels secure. Now you are ready to accessorize the tree! Arguably the most fun element of the tree, ornaments are special because they are collected over time and tell stories. Now top it off! This is the finishing touch to your tree. The most common toppers for a tree are an angel or a star.

4. Watching Christmas Movies

There are many iconic Christmas movies to watch around the holidays. Although, some are better than others. Here are my Christmas movie must sees!

  • Home Alone
  • Elf
  • The Grinch
  • The Polar Express
  • A Christmas Story
  • Santa Clause
  • Home Alone 2

5. Making Hot Chocolate

Hot chocolate is the perfect drink for the holidays. Its a great drink for after a day out in the snow, or to cuddle up and watch movies with. Hot Chocolate is a seasonal drink, therefore, you can’t miss out on it during Christmas time. I personally think it is the best with marshmallows on top, but here are some other great recipes to try this year!

Best Places to Eat at in Des Moines

Who doesn’t love to eat? The answer to that question would be no one! Des Moines offers a wide variety of food options, which is one of the reasons I love living here. Although, some are better than others. Regardless of price, here are the top five places to eat at in Des Moines.

1. Malo

Malo is an high-end Mexican restaurant located in Downtown Des Moines at 900 Mulberry St, Des Moines, IA 50309. From tacos, fajitas and enchiladas to burgers, salads and more, Malo offers every dish you could think of. It also is a great environment with a relaxed, yet energetic atmosphere. The service is also outstanding. It is a little on the pricey side, but it is definitely worth it! They have the best tacos in Iowa! View the menu here

2. Bubba

Bubba is right around the corner of Malo, at 200 10th St, Des Moines, IA 50309. Bubba is known for their upscale environment, as the inside of the restaurant is gorgeous! They focus on high-end Southern comfort food, with a wide variety of options that no matter how picky of an eater you are, you will like! Bubba is also on the pricey side, however, it is the perfect designation for a family outing, date night, you name it! They also have a brunch menu that offers the best chicken and waffles in Iowa. Check out their menu here!

3. Exile Brewing Co.

If your a fan of bar food, this is the place for you! Exile has a variety of different bar foods, specializing in their burgers and house made fries. The Exile fries are one of a kind, and something you can’t miss out on when you go. Exile is known for their beer, as they have their own speciality beer, as well as a variety of different beers on tap. Exile is located on 1514 Walnut St, Des Moines, IA 50309. Exile is the perfect place to go watch the big game, hang out with your friends, and enjoy excellent food!

4. Americana

Americana is another upscale restaurant celebrates classic American pop culture with a modern urban flair. Our menu has something for everyone from classic steak house to signature share plates and comfort dishes. One of the things Americana is most known for is their brunch. Although it may be a little pricey, it is all worth it. The brunch offers bottomless mimosas and bloody mary’s, and a buffet of over 40 different foods. It also includes custom grilled cheese station, loaded mashed potato bar, build-your-own breakfast taco, salad bar, fresh fruit, and a sweets & dessert station. It is something you have to try if you are in the Des Moines area!

5. Big Acai Bowl

If you are looking for a healthier option, Big Acai Bowls is a great place for a refreshing and healthy meal. If your a student you also get a free topping! They offer a variety of bowls, smoothies, toasts, and coffees using plant-based organic ingredients. The owner is from California, where it originated, and brought it to the Des Moines area. My favorite thing on the menu are the bowls. They come with strawberries and house-made granola. You can then add a variety of different toppings on it. These bowls are very unique and a must-have in Des Moines. Check out all the different toppings other options here

5 Steps to a Happier Life

Many people have a negative outlook on life, finding themselves unhappy. Life is short. Don’t waste it being unhappy and follow these five easy steps for a happier life!

Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.” — Marcus Aurelius

1. Stop caring what people think

Don’t allow yourself to be manipulated emotionally. Surround yourself with people that appreciate you. Exclude toxic people from your life. I’ve found far too many people bend over backwards for others at their own expense. It’s time you start doing things for you. And if people are offended, who cares? One day when you look back on your life, you want to say you’re glad you lived your life for you.

Tips on how to stop caring what other people think:

  • Focus on what makes you happy and brings you joy (people, hobby, activity, etc.)
  • Stop being a people pleaser, you can’t please everyone!
  • Be unapologetic
  • Stay true to yourself

2. Do something out of your comfort zone

Do things out of your comfort zone. I know, this isn’t fun and can be extremely hard to start. However, doing new things will further your experiences in life and allow new possibilities. Start with the small things and built upon that.

Ways to start small:

  • Talk to a stranger. You will be surprised how many people are willing to talk to you! Who knows, maybe they will become an important person in your life.
  • Turn off your phone for the day. Better yet, no electronics for a day!
  • Try a new food. Change it up! Go to a place you have never been before, order something you haven’t had.

3. Be more self aware

Before you know what makes you happy, you need to know yourself. In this always-connected age, we rarely have time to just sit and think. We’re rushed from the moment we wake up until the moment we hit the pillow. Emails, texts, phone calls, social media. Even while falling asleep, your mind is racing, thinking about the next day.

Ways to help become more self aware:

  • Stop, pause, and reflect. What do you really want, think, feel, etc.
  • Find a quiet spot to self reflect
  • Meditate. Let your mind rest. There are several apps you can download to help your mediation. One app is called Calm, give it a try! Check out more about the Calm app here

4. Continue to Learn

Learning affects our wellbeing in lots of positive ways. It exposes us to new ideas and helps us stay curious and engaged. It also gives us a sense of accomplishment and helps boost our self-confidence and resilience. There are many ways to learn new things throughout our lives, not just through formal qualifications.

Different ways to continue to learn:

  • Share or learn a new skill (a sport, a recipe, a technique, etc.)
  • Join a new club or organization
  • READ! Here is a list of the most popular books in 2019.
  • Listen to people. People have a lot of stories with their interactions in the world, learn from their experiences, mistakes, failures, and successes.

5. Connect with People

Our relationships with other people are the most important thing for our happiness. People need interactions with others to maintain a healthy, happy life. People with strong relationships are happier, healthier and live longer. Close relationships with your loved ones, usually friends and family, provide love, meaning, and support to increase our feelings of belonging and self-worth. Our larger social relationships and interactions bring a sense of knowledge and affiliation in the world. Therefore, it is vital we take action to strengthen our relationships and make new connections.

If you are struggling to have a healthy relationship, talk to a professional on ways to improve your relationship. Each relationship is different, therefore, each person has different things they need to do in order to build a healthy relationship.

If you are feeling down or need to talk to someone, here is an excellent resource for you!

Travel

One of my favorite things to do is to travel. I love seeing different cities, people, and places. Thanks to softball, I have been able to travel all across the U.S. One of my favorite places I’ve been for softball is Oregon. We went to Oregon in 2018 for the NCAA Regional Softball Tournament. Despite their amazing facilities and gorgeous campus, Oregon was a beautiful state. Every where we went there were trees all around us. Oregon was a place I have never been before, and was really cool to go out West to play. I would definitely like to go back again to explore the state more!

Another place softball took me to is Huntington Beach, California. For my travel team, every year we would travel out to Huntington Beach for Nationals. This was one of my favorite trips I have taken. We had the opportunity to play the best competition, stay with my teammates in a house, and go to the beach every day. Our house was walking distance to the beach, which was one of the best aspects of the trip. Each day we would play a game, maybe two, and then have the rest of the day to explore California. Usually we went to the beach, walked around the pier, and explored the shops nearby. I loved trying new food in California. One of the things I am passionate about is healthy eating, and California has an abundance of healthy food shops and stores that were really fun to try. I loved the beach life, and hope to live somewhere in California in my future.

Believe it or not, I have traveled other places not for softball. Some of my favorite places my family and I have gone on vacation to is Hilton Head, South Carolina, Bermuda, Florida, Hawaii, and Los Angeles. Throughout the places we have gone, I love the warmth and the beach. I also love trying new foods, and treating myself to dessert every night. Seeing all the different cultures and people in different places is really fascinating to me, and one reason why I like to travel. One of my other favorite things about traveling is how it allows you to see, be apart, and know more about the world and the places in it. There’s so much the world has to offer, and I want to explore as much of it as I can. I hope to travel more abroad throughout my life, and continue to see and do new things! Some of my dream destinations are Bora Bora, Greece, London, Paris, and St. Lucia.

I hope to travel more abroad throughout my life, and continue to see and do new things! Some of my dream destinations are Bora Bora, Greece, London, Paris, and St. Lucia. Hopefully I have the opportunity to travel abroad sooner rather than later! There are many different programs either for schools or organizations that offer travel abroad opportunities. If you are also interested in traveling abroad, click here for more information!