Christmas Shopping During a Pandemic

Christmas shopping in a pandemic

The Added Stress to pre-Christmas Preparations

Christmas shopping has taken on a new focus this year.  Normally the shops are packed leading up to the big day but this year the pandemic has added a level of anxiety to this already stressful period.  Now we have social distancing to consider, with limits to the number of shoppers allowed in at one time.  Christmas shopping during a pandemic is even more stressful than it normally is.

Many people aim to avoid the shops for fear of getting sick, especially if they are in a high risk category.  Online shopping is a growing sector of the market as shoppers strive to avoid the crowds.  It is best to purchase as early as possible because delivery may be delayed due to demand this year.

Christmas gifts under a decorated Christmas tree.  Online shopping is the answer to Christmas Shopping during a pandemic.
Christmas gifts under a decorated Christmas tree

Christmas Shopping During a Pandemic Is Stressful  

Personally I find Christmas shopping to be very stressful at the best of times.  The noise level gets on my nerves, with annoying sound tracks (never the nice versions of favourite Christmas carols) competing with screaming kids.  The pressure to buy the perfect gift is very high.  I had a full blown panic attack in the toy aisle one year.

Over the years my Christmas list has become shorter and shorter as the kids grow up and the adults agree to not buy presents for each other.  I try to do my Christmas shopping very early in the year to avoid the rush.  Most of my presents are purchased through online shopping this year.  Online shopping is my answer to avoiding the crowds and lower my stress levels. This post aims to introduce a few unique online sources of gifts.

Avoiding the Crowds with Online Shopping

I’m an affiliate for the following companies which means I will earn a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through my link.  Please see my full disclosure.

There are always a few people that are hard to buy for.  They’re the ones who are picky, or they have everything.  We’ve resorted to buying gift vouchers in the past but I definitely prefer to buy something meaningful.  

Christmas Shopping in a Pandemic - Online shopping is the answer to avoiding Christmas stress.  Photo of a woman using a laptop while resting.
Christmas Shopping in a Pandemic – Online shopping is the answer to avoiding Christmas stress.

Gifts Australia

If you are scratching your head trying to find a unique present, take a look at the Gifts Australia website.  They have some wonderful gifts on their site.  You can search for presents according to who will be the recipient, the price range and the occasion.  They offer free delivery over $99 within Australia, free gift wrapping and a gift card.  I love their hampers as they are full of quality goods and beautifully presented.

The Well Store

If someone on your list is health conscious, or vegan, or loves environmentally friendly products, have a look at The Well Store.  Their range is extensive so you are sure to find a unique gift.  Many people are making these lifestyle choices so buying them a thoughtful gift will be much appreciated. All of the products sold by The Well Store are non-toxic, natural, organic and cruelty free. The Well Store offers free delivery within Australia for purchases over $30, and Internationally for purchases over $50.

HideAWAY Bath and Body

Beautiful skin care, body and bath products can be purchased for someone special at HideAWAY.  This is a local company who handcraft their skin care range from locally sourced natural ingredients.  With names like Black Sugar, Frangipani Dream and Fantasea, their unique fragrances are very enticing.  A lovely gift from their range would be perfect for someone who appreciates prioritising time for self care. HideAWAY offers free shipping for purchases over $120.

Amazon

If you live further afield, you may prefer to do your online shopping from Amazon.  Amazon’s website showcases gift ideas for all price ranges and gift categories. I’m waiting impatiently for the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales to complete my Christmas shopping for the year.  Black Friday is November 27 while Cyber Monday is 30 November.  These sales are eagerly anticipated as the discounts are huge.  

More Ideas to Help With Your Christmas Shopping

I have written two previous articles which you may like to read:  Gifts that Inspire a Healthy Lifestyle and Gift Guide for the Older Gentleman in Your Life.  I also have a free eBook “Survival Guide for the Holiday Season”.  It helps you reduce your stress and keep on track with your healthy lifestyle during this busy season. Christmas shopping during a pandemic doesn’t need to leave you stressed and run down.

How about you – do you love Christmas shopping or does it stress you out?  Are you someone who buys everything early, or do you leave it til the last minute?  I’d love to read your thoughts on this.

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Festive Chocolate Chia Pudding Recipe

This is a special occasion chocolate chia pudding recipe that will fit in with your health goals and is easy to make. Chia is a grain that is healthy and nutritious. They are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, fiber, iron and calcium. The recipe includes cacao powder, the unsweetened form of chocolate which is very nutritious. Without all the nasties like sugar and fat that are added to it to make milk chocolate, it has many health benefits. It can improve your memory, reduce heart disease, increase immunity and is an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. You can find chia seeds and cacao powder in the health food section at the supermarket. I use almond milk for this recipe but you can substitute it for cows milk, soy milk or whichever milk you prefer.

Chocolate Chia Pudding Recipe

vegetarian, vegan skill level: easy

Prep. time 15 mins. Resting time 4 hours Calories: 191kcal

Ingredients (per person)

  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 tbsp cacao powder
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Mix the chia seeds and milk together in a bowl
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well
  3. Let the chia seed mixture sit for 15 minutes until it thickens. Stir again.
  4. Pour into decorative glasses, e.g. parfait glasses
  5. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving
  6. Top with your favourite berries, cherries or fruit.

NUTRITION INFORMATION

  • Calories 191kcal
  • Carbohydrates 16g
  • Protein 8g
  • Fat 11g
  • Saturated fat 3g
  • Cholesterol 12mg
  • Sodium 56mg
  • Potassium 259mg
  • Fiber 8g
  • Sugar 6g
  • Vitamin A 4%
  • Calcium 28.9%
  • Iron 10.3%

IDEAS FOR TOPPINGS:

  • Cherries
  • Berries
  • Mango
  • Pineapple
  • Peaches
  • Nectarines
  • Apricots
  • Kiwifruit
  • Passionfruit
  • Purees or sauces made from fruit and/or berries
  • Nut butters
  • Dried fruit
  • Cacao nibs or a sprinkling of cacao powder
  • Spices
  • Shredded coconut
  • Candied ginger
  • Muesli or granola
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Creme Fraiche or whipped cream
  • chocolate nibs, sauce or flakes
This is a special occasion chocolate chia pudding recipe that will fit in with your health goals and is easy to make.  Serve in attractive glasses or bowls and decorate with fruit and nuts
Healthy Chocolate Chia Puddings
This is a special occasion chocolate chia pudding recipe that will fit in with your health goals and is easy to make. Serve in attractive glasses or bowls and decorate with fruit and nuts

Images: Left – Christina Henry; Right Bottom – David Disponett, Pexels; Right Top – Pixabay, Pexels

For special occasions you can make the chocolate chia pudding in a martini glass, parfait glass or glass bowl. Decorate with fresh cherries, nuts, strawberries and mint leaves. Dessert doesn’t have to be unhealthy – you can still have a treat while maintaining your healthy diet.

Chocolate Chia Pudding Recipe

Festive Chocolate Chia Pudding Recipe

midlifestylist
This is a special occasion chia pudding that will fit in with your health goals and is easy to make. Chia is a grain that is healthy and nutritious. They are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, fiber, iron and calcium. The recipe includes cacao powder, the unsweetened form of chocolate which is very nutritious. Without all the nasties like sugar and fat that are added to it to make milk chocolate, it has many health benefits. It can improve your memory, reduce heart disease, increase immunity and is an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. You can find chia seeds and cacao powder in the health food section at the supermarket. I use almond milk for this recipe but you can substitute it for cows milk, soy milk or whichever milk you prefer. Vegetarian, Vegan. Skill level: easy
Prep Time 15 mins
Resting time in refridgerator 4 hrs
Total Time 4 hrs 15 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine Vegan, Vegetarian
Servings 1
Calories 191 kcal

Equipment

  • Bowl
  • Serving Dish

Ingredients
  

INGREDIENTS [PER PERSON]

  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 tbsp cacao powder
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions
 

  • Mix the chia seeds and milk together in a bowl
  • Add the remaining ingredients and stir well
  • Let the chia seed mixture sit for 15 minutes until it thickens. Stir again.
  • Pour into decorative glasses, e.g. parfait glasses
  • Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving
  • Top with your favourite berries, cherries or fruit.

Notes

NUTRITION INFORMATION:
Calories 191kcal;
Carbohydrates 16g;
Protein 8g;
Fat 11g;
Saturated fat 3g;
Cholesterol 12mg;
Sodium 56mg;
Potassium 259mg;
Fiber 8g;
Sugar 6g;
Vitamin A 4%;
Calcium 28.9%;
Iron 10.3%
Chocolate Chia Pudding Recipe
Festive Chocolate Chia Pudding Recipe – a healthy indulgent dessert
IDEAS FOR TOPPINGS:
Cherries;
Berries;
Mango;
Pineapple;
Peaches;
Nectarines;
Apricots;
Kiwifruit;
Passionfruit;
Purees or sauces made from fruit and/or berries;
Nut butters;
Dried fruit;
Cacao nibs or a sprinkling of cacao powder;
Spices;
Shredded coconut;
Candied ginger;
Muesli or granola;
Nuts and seeds;
Creme Fraiche or whipped cream;
chocolate nibs, sauce or flakes
Keyword Dessert, Easy, Healthy, Vegan, Vegetarian

If you enjoyed this recipe, you may enjoy these other healthy recipes:

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How to Keep on track with your health goals during holiday season

One of the hardest times to keep on track with our health goals is during the holiday season – Christmas and New Year, up to Australia Day at the end of January and even up to Easter. In the US and Canada, Thanksgiving Day in November is the start of the holiday season. Summer in the Southern Hemisphere is a time of beach, school holidays, barbecues and celebrations, while winter in the Northern Hemisphere is a time for hearty meals, staying indoors in front of the fire and eggnog!

It has to be the most challenging time of the year for people trying to keep to their health goals. This post will discuss some of the ways you can manage temptations during special events. It will also help you to prepare some strategies before the holiday season.

A collage of tempting, unhealthy food that people may face over the holiday season.  Pancakes and icecream, fried  food, alcohol and large servings of Chinese food
So many temptations during holidays and celebrations. A collage of tempting, unhealthy food that people may face over the holiday season. Pancakes and icecream, fried food, alcohol and large servings of Chinese food

How to Manage Temptations at Events

If you are having a celebratory meal or gathering of any kind, inevitably the menu includes food that is high in calories and alcohol, and wouldn’t be normally in your day to day diet. Some suggestions to deal with these situations are:

  • Take your own platter with healthy food to share. This is my number one way of dealing with these situations! Try using my recipes for a savoury and sweet grazing platter – or combine both for a really interesting platter
  • Eat a small portion of the food on offer
  • Drink water in between each alcoholic drink
  • Take your own beverages
  • If you don’t want to drink alcohol but feel pressured to, order a drink that looks like an alcoholic drink e.g. mocktail, lemon lime and bitters or soda water. I’m a fan of Kombucha which is really refreshing and doesn’t include many calories.
  • Drink less high calorie alcoholic drinks like a wine spritzer or vodka and soda water. There are low carbohydrate beers and diet mixers as well
  • Order a salad with the dressing on the side. Salads are often covered in dressing in restaurants and that is where all the calories are
  • Many restaurants list how many calories or kilojoules are in their food. Some of them even publish it online so you can research the venue before you go.
  • Don’t go to an event with an empty stomach
  • Don’t order a 3 course meal. Just a main meal is usually ample. My husband and I share an appetiser or dessert if we really feel like another course
  • Don’t stand near the buffet! Take a small plateful and walk away
  • Space out your meal. Give your body time to feel full. Only eat until you start to feel the signals that you’ve had enough
  • Having said that, if I know that I’m about to blow my calorie allowance for the day, I plan for it in advance and eat lightly for the rest of the day. A small breakfast and a salad for lunch counterbalances a blow-out for tea.
  • Learn to be assertive and say “no thank you” when offered food. This was always a challenge to me but I’m getting better at asserting myself
  • Accept that some situations are going to be out of your control. If you’re eating to plan during the rest of the week a day of overeating is not going to affect you long term.
  • Enjoy that blow-out meal! You deserve it.
  • Don’t neglect your exercise regime during holiday periods. You will feel so much better if you exercise on days that you’re consuming a large number of calories. Even a walk in the morning before an event will help
  • Try to make celebrations around activities rather than just feasting and getting drunk. Do something active like a picnic at the beach or a bush-walk. Even active party games can take the focus off eating and drinking. Have a game of cricket after Christmas lunch!

How to Keep On Track With Your Health Goals During Holidays and Special Occasions.  Shows a group of people at a party
How to Keep On Track With Your Health Goals During Holidays and Special Occasions.

I hope these suggestions will help you to keep on track with your health goals during the holiday season. The most important thing is to prepare beforehand. Acknowledge that sometimes eating unhealthy food can’t be avoided. In that case, enjoy the meal and get back on track the next day.

Survival guide for the Holiday Season

This is perhaps the busiest time of the year for most people.  Stress starts to build as we head towards the major events of the year.  This year has already been stressful for most people so the holiday season will leave us even more frazzled.  

Even if you love all the celebrations, the added toll you put on your body with parties will lead to fatigue.  Many people end up stressed and broke at the end of the holiday – they feel like they need a holiday to get over the holidays!

Think of all the upcoming events you and your family will have in the next few weeks and months:

  • School – Exams, Graduation, Formal and then Back to School;
  • Work – Completing projects, End of Year Parties.  Some industries are heading into their busiest time, e.g. retail;
  • Events – Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year.

An offer for you: free e-book

Survival Guide for the Holiday Season

My Survival Guide for the Holiday Season will help you stay healthy during this busy time.  You will get:

  • A guide to healthy eating, self care and exercise;
  • A planner to guide you to set goals for staying healthy;
  • Weekly trackers – checklists to keep you on track.

Sign up now to receive this survival guide completely free. It will help you to keep on track with your health goals during the holiday season. More details at the link.

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If my readers have some other solutions on how to keep on track with your health goals during the holiday season, please share them in the comments. I would love to know how you deal with social events and the “silly” season.

Shared on Denyse Whelan’s Linkup Life This Week.

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Savoury Grazing Platter

A healthy savoury grazing platter

A Healthy Version of a Savoury Grazing Platter

Everybody loves a cheese board! They can turn a buffet into something special, and look amazing. This is how to make a savoury grazing platter that is healthy and appealing to most people.

Most grazing platters are heavy on processed meat, cheese and crackers. While tasty, they are high in calories and saturated fat. By serving healthy alternatives, your guests will leave at the end of the evening feeling pleased that they were eating nutritious food rather than ruining their healthy diet. Instead of serving the usual high fat, high calorie cheese platter, try using these healthier versions:

  • low fat ham or roast beef, thinly sliced
  • chicken breast, grilled and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • carrot, capsicum, celery sticks
  • one or two cheeses – I usually use Brie for the soft cheese and a hard tasty cheese. The one shown in the photo is a vintage cheddar cheese I picked up from the Good Food and Wine show. Because it’s a tasty cheese, a small amount packs the flavour in which means you’ll eat less of it
  • cherry tomatoes
  • low carb crackers like these Tribe Organics rice crackers and baked pea crisps from Harvest Snaps
  • Dips and spreads such as hummous and salsa which are healthier than a lot of other dips such as french onion.
  • olives, sundried tomatoes or pickles

Options for Entertaining Guests

You can increase the size to cater for the number of guests you’ll have. You can also put some sweet flavours in like dried apricots, grapes and honey. Nuts such as cashews and almonds go well too. Alternatively, you can make a separate platter for dessert, like my dessert grazing platter.

A healthy savoury grazing platter includes a range of healthy options, and adds nutrients to your overall diet. Options for your cheese platter include vegetables, low fat cheese, salsa and hummus and leave out processed meat, crackers and high fat cheese. Experiment with different combinations of flavours, adding in food that you enjoy. That way, your guests leave your event feeling satisfied, without that ill feeling that comes from eating greasy food.

A healthy savoury grazing platter - healthy options for your cheese platter include vegetables, low fat cheese, salsa and hummous and leave out processed meat, crackers and high fat cheese
A healthy savoury grazing platter.

Savoury Grazing Platter

Everybody loves a cheese board! They can turn a buffet into something special, and look amazing. This is how to make a savoury grazing platter that is healthy and appealing to most people. Most grazing platters are heavy on processed meat, cheese and crackers. While tasty, they are high in calories and saturated fat. Instead, try using these healthier versions
Prep Time30 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Grazing Platter
Cuisine: Entertainment
Keyword: Dinner, Easy, Entertaining, Grazing Platter, Healthy, Lunch
Author: midlifestylist
Cost: Varies

Equipment

  • Decorative Platter
  • Sharp knife
  • Cheese knives

Materials

  • Low fat ham or roast beef thinly sliced
  • Chicken breast grilled and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • Carrot sticks, capsicum, celery sticks
  • One or two cheeses – I usually use Brie for the soft cheese and a hard tasty cheese e.g. vintage cheddar cheese A small amount packs the flavour in which means you'll eat less of it
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Low carbohydrate crackers e.g. rice crackers and baked pea crisps from Harvest Snaps
  • Dips and spreads such as hummus and salsa which are healthier than a lot of other dips such as French onion.
  • Olives
  • Sun dried tomatoes or pickles

Instructions

  • You can increase the size to cater for the number of guests you'll have. You can also put some sweet flavors in like dried apricots, grapes and honey. Nuts such as cashews and almonds go well too. Alternatively, you can make a separate platter for dessert, like my Dessert Grazing Platter.
  • Experiment with different combinations of flavors, adding in food that you enjoy.

Notes

A healthy savoury grazing platter
Healthy savoury grazing platter to serve your guests
Serve healthy food to your guests at your next event.  Entertain with a Savoury Grazing Platter and a Dessert Grazing Platter.  Your guests will appreciate it.
Serve healthy food to your guests at your next event. Entertain with a Savoury Grazing Platter and a Dessert Grazing Platter. Your guests will appreciate it.
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