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How To Be Happy For The Holidays Series: Day 3

Design + Decor, Eat, Food + Nutrition, Lifestyle, RelationshipsErin StanczykComment
Erin Stanczyk | Lifestyle Design | | HOW TO STAY HAPPY FOR THE HOLIDAYS SERIES: DAY 3

Happy For The Holidays

Yesterday it was announced on the J.Crew Instagram feed that I was one of the 5 chosen winners of their #shinyponies shoe photo contest! I took a picture of my all-time favorite pair of shiny, metallic, silver oxfords that are my go-to for parties around the holidays! And, of course, they were accompanied in the photo by a pile of fruit! I guess you can say Fancy Footwear and Fruity Foods are my Forte! A snapshot of my favorite holiday party kicks plus my ideal on-the-go healthy snacks was actually the perfect photo to segway into today's Holiday Hang-up, Tempting Sweets + Treats // Overeating + Overindulging // Regret + Remorse

If you haven't already, check out Day 1 and Day 2 to get clued in on my Happy For The Holidays series and read some of my other simple solutions to common Holiday Hang-ups! Here goes Day 3!

Erin Stanczyk | Lifestyle Design | | J.Crew #shinyponies Contest Winner
Holiday Hang-up 3

Everywhere you go, there are tempting sugar cookies frosted with Santa’s face at checkout stands and holiday parties are filled with rich and indulgent dishes and desserts. You can’t turn down a cocktail with an old friend in town and you’ll have to have a few more in order to make it through that family gathering! It can be tricky figuring out how to make an appearance at all of your social events without overindulging in food and drink, which is all too often followed by regret, remorse, and self-loathing. With these Simple Solutions, you won't need to worry about holiday weight gain or joining a gym after the New Year!

Simple Solution 3

Plan Ahead

Something I can give myself a pat on the back for is finding all of the loopholes to successfully navigating any buffet line on any occasion. My first line of advice is to plan ahead. Get filled in on as many details as you can about the event you're attending—time, place, type of food (if any), and it can also be helpful to decide ahead of time how late you're going to stay and to have an exit strategy. If you plan to drink, try limiting yourself to one drink per hour, or just a couple of drinks for the entire night. Planning ahead can take the guesswork out of what could be an otherwise sticky situation and a rough morning after.


If you know what to expect from your own family’s get together, that’s one thing, but when you have no idea what the food and drink situation is going to be like, it’s best to go in mentally prepared. If you've been doing a good job of eating healthy and feeling great, there's no reason to fall off the wagon during the holidays. Go over potential scenarios in your mind, like when someone tries to get you to take a shot but you don't do shots—get tough and get used to standing your ground! When someone passes around the tray of cookies, if you've already decided ahead of time that you aren't going to eat dessert, come up with a polite way of turning them down. Teach yourself to say "no" twice, because others will persist—but if you're confident and firm, people will understand and respect you for being you!


The biggest part of being prepared is showing up with your tank at least half full. Now I don't mean stuff yourself before a dinner party, but the biggest no-no is to skip meals beforehand. Pre-eat! Blend up a fruit smoothie, fix a big bowl of fruit, or chop a veggie salad. These are all perfect ways to get some healthy food in before you show up to an event that may only be providing sweets and sugary drinks! If you show up at a party starving, your willpower will be at a minimum, and you’re going to want to devour anything and everything in sight, which will be followed by a stomachache and disappointment in yourself.


Another thing I like to do is bring a snack that can fit in my purse or one that I can leave in my car. I almost never leave the house without a banana and/or an apple, no matter where I'm going. I also like to carry a whole food energy bar like a Larabar in my purse—they primarily consist of dates blended with other unsweetened dried fruit and nuts, which is perfect to hold you over, and can also make a super healthy and sweet dessert replacement! 


If you’re going to a potluck, don’t show up empty handed—this is the perfect opportunity to shine! I love whipping up one or two of my favorite healthy and delicious plant-based dishes to share, and to enjoy for myself! It's also a great way to ensure that you'll be able to eat something healthy that you enjoy if the other options aren't the greatest.

Erin Stanczyk | Lifestyle Design | | HOW TO STAY HAPPY FOR THE HOLIDAYS SERIES: DAY 3


Sometimes I'll forego unhealthy holiday desserts for my own when I get home, like my dairy-free, refined sugar-free Mint-Chip Banana "Nice" Cream, pictured to the left!

If you do choose to indulge, just have a small slice of pie, or one cookie instead of two. If you followed these steps, you will have already Planned Ahead and Prepared by deciding you were going to enjoy just one dessert, so you won't have to battle with yourself when you're faced with the temptation. Remember to be mindful—eat slowly and use all of your senses to fully enjoy your food. You will get much more out of an indulgence if you savor it rather than mindlessly devouring it. And finally, whatever you do, don’t beat yourself up! When you're done treating yourself, give yourself a pat on the back for sticking to your game plan, and move on with life! 

Just remember the Six P's and you'll be golden:

Plan ahead, Prepare, Pre-eat, Pack, Provide, and Pleasure

Holiday Hang-ups Around Our Home

*Each day I'll also be sharing some "holiday hang-ups" around our home—because if there's one thing we love to do, it's decorate for Christmas.

The Mantle

The fireplace mantle is a focal point that sets the tone and can really bring a home to life throughout the seasons—especially at Christmas time! I'm a sucker for hand-lettering, especially when it involves a chalkboard, so when I stumbled upon this cool pine wood slice at Michaels, I decided to turn it into a chalkboard! It's a fun way to change up the mood in a room every couple of months with a new phrase or design! I also took the mirror frame, which used to be a deep red color and used antiquing medium to give it a washed out, neutral tone. Every year I buy some live garland from Trader Joe's to really bring the holiday decor to life! To finish it off, I mixed in some silver and gold Christmas flourishes and strung some wire twinkling lights throughout!

Erin Stanczyk | Lifestyle Design | | HOW TO STAY HAPPY FOR THE HOLIDAYS SERIES: DAY 3
Erin Stanczyk | Lifestyle Design | | HOW TO STAY HAPPY FOR THE HOLIDAYS SERIES: DAY 3
Erin Stanczyk | Lifestyle Design | | HOW TO STAY HAPPY FOR THE HOLIDAYS SERIES: DAY 3
Erin Stanczyk | Lifestyle Design | | HOW TO STAY HAPPY FOR THE HOLIDAYS SERIES: DAY 3

Enjoy Food, Festivities, + Family

Now that you know the Six P's to navigating any holiday gathering, don't get hung-up on the food! Food brings people together to enjoy each other's company. Laugh and engage in meaningful conversation and be fully present and mindful of your surroundings. Look at all of the beautiful holiday decorations, dance to the cheerful music, make your rounds and try to strike up a conversation with someone new, and breathe in all of the Christmas spirit!

Stay tuned for the next installation of my 7 Holiday Hang-ups + 7 Simple Solutions. In No. 4, I'll discuss a biggie: Family (Dys)functions // The In-Laws // Tension + Drama.


Designed For Your Lifestyle,


Erin Stanczyk | Lifestyle Design |

How To Be Happy For The Holidays Series: Day 2

Relationships, Mind + Soul, Lifestyle, Design + DecorErin StanczykComment
Erin Stanczyk | Lifestyle Design | | HOW TO BE HAPPY FOR THE HOLIDAYS SERIES: DAY 2

Happy For The Holidays

Welcome to Day 2 of my Happy for the Holidays blog post series! If you haven't already, check out Day 1 to get the full scoop on 7 Holiday Hang-ups and 7 Simple Solutions! For Day 1, I addressed Cold, Gray Weather + Short Days + Lack of Sunlight.  

The weather here in Lincoln has been pretty mild as of late, with only a couple light dustings of snow, and it's looking like we're going to get up into the 60's this week! I will admit it's been pretty nice not having to bundle up in quite so many layers, but honestly, I can't wait for snow. Please don't hurt me! Yesterday the hubs and I took some of the advice from Day 1's blog post on combatting the wintertime blues, by taking Beau for a family jog on the bike path. It felt so good to just breathe in the fresh air and feel the warmth of the sun beaming down on my face!

*Disclaimer: No, we don't go for jogs dressed like this, but I just had to share one of my favorite pictures from last year's holiday photo shoot! We love our dog—he makes it so easy to get outside and play around, no matter what the weather's like!

Erin Stanczyk | Lifestyle Design | | HOW TO STAY HAPPY FOR THE HOLIDAYS SERIES: DAY 2
Holiday Hang-up No2

Another common pitfall around the holidays is the feeling of loneliness, whether you’re single, stuck at work, or geographically separated from loved ones. Especially if you’re single, it can feel like love is all around you—just watch "The Holiday" or "It’s a Wonderful Life" by yourself, and you’ll surely feel like you’re the only person left on the face of the earth! Being home alone with festivities going on all around you can make it feel like you’re missing out. But at the same time, going to holiday parties, shows, and events can sound like a drag, because you know you’ll be the third wheel if you go with your paired-off friends, and the thought of showing up solo is simply gut-wrenching.

Simple Solution 2
Erin Stanczyk | Lifestyle Design | | HOW TO BE HAPPY FOR THE HOLIDAYS SERIES: DAY 2

Fly Solo

Although I’m happily married, I’ve definitely been through my lonely and single days around Christmas time in the past! Lonely and single don't have to go hand-in-hand, though! Being "home alone" can be scary—just ask Kev! My advice to you is to be bold and brave—get dressed up, ditch the empty house, spread your wings, and fly solo! If you get an invite to a holiday party, show up; you’re bound to run into someone you know, maybe bump into an old friend you haven't seen in a while, and there is always the chance that you'll meet that special someone you’ve been waiting for! You won’t know if you don’t go!

Internal Work

Maybe what you really need to do, though, is to quit waiting around and/or searching for the love of your life. Being single is the time when you can truly hone in on who you are through self-reflection and self-care! Doing the "internal work" can help you to become confident in yourself, making it more likely that you will attract the most compatible partner in the future. Try spending some quiet time first thing in the morning with a pen and paper organizing your thoughts, and listing what you're grateful for. Try prayer and meditation. When we stop asking, wondering, and worrying and slow down enough to listen, we can find the answers we're looking for within ourselves, rather than relying on outside sources.

                Invest in a journal and write down your thoughts. It's a great way to organize your mind and learn about yourself!

                Invest in a journal and write down your thoughts. It's a great way to organize your mind and learn about yourself!

Non-Romantic Goals

Focusing on nonromantic goals can make you feel more self-sufficient and less alone. There are tons of ways to feel fulfilled outside of love. Bringing happiness to others through volunteering can in turn make you happier, and also help to put things into perspective. Join a gym and meet some new people or start nailing down plans for your new business venture!

Treat Yourself

Seriously consider booking a solo flight somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit—a Christmas present from you, to you! Take yourself on a shopping spree! Even something as simple as going to your favorite sit-down restaurant alone for lunch or dinner can feel so freeing—I've done it a handful of times, and it's so empowering! Treating yourself isn't being selfish, it's been self-full, and ultimately, no one can truly love you until you learn to love yourself, so love yourself up!

               Be an elf and Decorate, Decorate, Decorate! 

               Be an elf and Decorate, Decorate, Decorate! 

Make It Up

If you're stuck working during the holidays, simply re-schedule. Make it up to your loved ones by celebrating the holidays at a later (or earlier) date. You could even get as crazy as Christmas in July, and do a tropical family vacay! While you're working, remember to put a smile on and focus on how you can be of service, because you never want to be the person to ruin somebody else's best day ever!


If you live far from home and maybe can’t even make it home for the holidays, schedule frequent catch-up dates with those you care about! In the age of computers and smartphones, there’s no reason why we can’t see the ones we love, face-to-face, everyday! Do these three things, and you'll be golden: 1) send a card back home—seriously, nothing beats a handwritten letter, 2) FaceTime with Mom and Dad, and 3) don’t forget to give Gma and Gpa a call!


No matter if you’re far from home, or simply home alone, i beg you, PLEASE, deck the halls! Put up a tree, string up the lights, crank the Christmas tunes, and be full of joy! Kevin didn't sit around in an empty house—he decked the halls!

Holiday Hang-ups Around Our Home

*Each day I'll also be sharing some "holiday hang-ups" around our home—because if there's one thing we love to do, it's decorate for Christmas!

I didn't grow up with a fresh-cut Christmas tree, but it's a tradition that my lumberjack husband brought to our marriage, and I don't know why I hadn't done it sooner! We usually get a white pine, with super long, soft needles, but this year we decided to go with the more traditional and classic Balsam Fir for our main tree. An added bonus is that it's one of the most fragrant pines, and it really smells incredible! After looking at this photo, we both agreed that we need to add even more ornaments—so I'll probably be posting another picture in a few days! 

Ornaments can get expensive, especially glass ones, so I like to collect just a few nice, new ones every year—it's amazing how quickly they add up! Another fun idea that the hubs came up with was to cut a big piece of burlap for the tree skirt! On the wall is yet another DIY project that I did last year. I took a couple of old corbels (the shelf) that were stained a really dark, cherry color, painted them grey, and then used a white antiquing medium to give them a "Restoration Hardware" look. It became the perfect place to set an old wine bottle candle holder and a pair of white doves that Dusty's great-grandma gave us for Christmas!

Erin Stanczyk | Lifestyle Design | | HOW TO BE HAPPY FOR THE HOLIDAYS SERIES: DAY 2

You're Not Alone

Even when you feel alone, you're not alone—others feel the same! When I'm going through a struggle, I like to talk it out with someone I can trust, and most of the time they can find a way to relate. Knowing that I'm not alone in whatever I'm going through always helps to alleviate feelings of isolation! Remember, if you want something, just ask! Sometimes you've got to initiate in order to get what you need from others!

Stay tuned for Day 3, because it's the sweet spot for me, and I've got tons of great tips, tricks, and advice for navigating: Tempting Sweets + Treats // Overeating + Overindulging // Regret + Remorse.

Designed For Your Lifestyle,


Erin Stanczyk | Lifestyle Design |