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Five ways to celebrate the holidays in Atlanta
The holiday season is in full swing, and for most people, celebrating everything merry and bright is the best annual tradition. While many large-scale events are canceled because of the ongoing pandemic, that doesn’t mean you can’t experience Yuletide cheer. Ready to have a holly, jolly holiday? Keep reading below for five ways to safely celebrate the holiday season in Atlanta.
Garden Lights, Holiday Nights at the Atlanta Botanical Garden
Kick off the most wonderful time of the year by visiting the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s Garden Lights, Holiday Nights. Thousands of lights illuminate the gardens and sculptures from their new exhibition, Alice’s Wonderland Reimagined. While the characters twinkle throughout the night, you can bask in the holiday glow. Plus, enjoy Nature’s Wonders, the world’s largest curtain of choreographed lights and sound. Their prized Ice Goddess also returns with all-new colors. This dazzling exhibit is sure to wow everyone of all ages, and it’s the ultimate way to commemorate the holidays. Tickets are available online only and start at $21.95 for children ages 3-11 and $24.95 for adults.
Holidays on the Roof at Ponce City Market
What better way to celebrate the holidays than on a rooftop overlooking the city? Ponce City Market’s Holidays on the Roof is back and better than ever. Whether you’re with your significant other, your family, or friends, there’s something for everyone to love. Atlanta may not have the classic frozen pond to skate on, but a rooftop with bounding views is a close second—the Roof becomes a winter wonderland with a full ice rink so you can become the figure skater of your dreams. For only $30 per person, you’ll receive access to the Roof plus re-entry, skating for 50 minutes, skate rental, and unlimited gameplay at Skyline Park. There’s even a live DJ on the weekends so you can skate the night away. If ice skating isn’t your thing, reserve a private igloo and take in extraordinary views of the Atlanta skyline. There’s plenty of fun for the family, too. Family-friendly igloos are available on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, plus performances by the resident Ice Queen.
Stone Mountain Christmas
Stone Mountain is transformed into a Christmas village straight from a Hallmark® movie during the annual Stone Mountain Christmas. Lights and trees decorate the park while you partake in magical moments with your family—marvel at the Snow Angel as she floats through the park in their Christmas parade, or enjoy the new Christmas laser show. And, there’s one thing you don’t want to miss: Santa himself flying above in his sleigh during the nightly Enchanted Tree Lighting Ceremony. Plus, tune into the renowned Tinseltone Carolers as they sing classic holiday favorites—or, experience the wonder of The Polar Express in a thrilling, 4D film format. Tickets start at $29.95 for children ages 3-11 and $31.95 for adults.
Six Flags’ Holiday in the Park
Looking to bring out your adventurous side? Six Flags’ Holiday in the Park is the perfect way to commemorate the holidays, all while experiencing an adrenaline rush. Feel the joys of the holiday season with dozens of trees, millions of lights, and garland adorning the park. Experience the most popular, thrilling rides the park has to offer while simultaneously taking part in holiday festivities. If rides aren’t your thing, there are plenty of shows, tasty treats, and more. Tickets start at $34.99 per person.
License to Chill Snow Island at Lake Lanier
While a white Christmas isn’t always guaranteed here in Georgia, there’s no shortage of snow at License to Chill Snow Island at Margaritaville® Lanier Islands. There’s plenty of fun to be had with snow tubing, snowball fights, and more. Home to one of the longest snow rides in North America, Parrot Mountain is a 575-foot-long, eight-story snow slide that is perfect for snow tubing pros and beginners alike. Or, play in the snow, challenge your friends to a snowball fight, and make snow angels at Snowball Alley. And although Lake Lanier’s Magical Nights of Light is no more, you can enjoy the new Lakeside Lights, allowing you to walk through thousands of brilliant lights—with plenty of photo ops. Ticket prices vary.
12 ways to make distance learning a success for your family
Distance learning has been an adventure for parents, students, and teachers alike as they work to maintain the high quality of in-person learning through a digital platform. This is new territory for a lot of people, and we have some ideas on how you can make the digital days a little more manageable.
1. Plan, Plan, Plan
There are so many unknowns that come with digital learning, so taking care of the known obstacles will help you free up some time. For instance, you might go ahead and plan and prep your meals for the week over the weekend, or arrange for work calls to be taken during school breaks if you are working from home.
2. Make a Schedule
You may think you can keep everything organized in your head, because that’s what you do as a parent anyway. But for distance learning, consider making a schedule that everyone can see. If your children aren’t reading yet, you can use pictures instead of words to give everyone an idea of how the day will go.
3. Set the Scene
If possible, create a space that is exclusively for digital learning. That way, you can keep your school materials organized, while also giving your kids the chance to leave school behind at the end of the day, just like they would if they were there in person.
4. Be Flexible
There will be a day where nothing works right. The laptop won’t turn on. A rogue tree limb will knock out the power. Your internet connection will be spotty. These days will be frustrating, but it’s important to go with the flow as much as you can. Distance learning is new to everyone, so keep an open mind and do some deep breathing to get through the tough times.
5. Communicate Often
The only way to get answers to your questions is to ask them! If you or your child are struggling to navigate the distance learning world due to a lack of understanding or communication, reach out for help, either to other parents or the teacher. Your question may be shared by other people, and working together will allow you to find a solution more quickly.
6. Take Breaks
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that many people, and especially kids, do not love being trapped inside their houses for months at a time. Be intentional in planning and taking breaks with your family, whether that means taking a walk around the yard or having a movie night together. School will be waiting for you when you return, so go ahead and take five minutes to relax.
7. Get School Supplies
Just because you’re learning from home doesn’t mean you won’t need those glue sticks! Many schools have released modified supply lists that will allow your child to thrive from home. You can even let your kids be part of the fun and pick out some supplies of their own, like a hot pink pencil box or some neon markers.
8. Create a Local Group
If you have some neighbors or local friends who have children, why not create a group where you can all get together for distance learning? This will allow you to reach out to other parents who are in the same boat and give you some much-needed mental and emotional support. Meanwhile, your kids can benefit from having older kids to help them understand more difficult concepts.
9. Prepare for Video Calls
Many teachers are doing live lessons over video platforms to teach new material. This means your child will need to be able to access video calls – and it also means you need to remember that you may be on camera. It’s up to you to determine what that means for your family, but if your child decides not to wear pants that day, odds are high that his teacher and class will know.
10. Pretend Everyone is at School
No, we are not suggesting you leave your six-year-old at home and head to the store alone. But you and your children should act like a typical school day is in session. This means making appointments for after-school hours as much as possible, eliminating other distractions, and showing up on time and prepared to learn.
11. Set Expectations
When your child is on a computer or tablet most of the day, they will eventually find their way to Minecraft. Talk with your child ahead of time about what they need to be doing during school hours, and set up a time in your schedule for them to have some free time. This is a win-win – they get the information they need while still having the freedom to do what they love later in the day.
12. Find a Balance
While it is important to treat distance learning like a regular day, it’s also important to remember that some days will be harder than others. Don’t be afraid to skip a lesson and come back to it later if it’s causing your child to stress. You’re their caregiver and you know better than anyone what will help them thrive and learn.
Distance learning has been an interesting turn of events for everyone, but you can make it work! Prepare as much as possible and team up with others to handle the unique aspects that will make this school year a memorable one.
Where to learn if you have time on your hands
You’re stuck at home with nothing to do, and you’ve watched every season of The Crown on Netflix twice already. How you will pass the rest of your free time without going absolutely insane? This could be just the opportunity you have been looking for to learn a new skill – and we have ideas on where to get started.
Learn to code with Treehouse
Coding is a useful skill, even if you don’t have to use it for your job. Knowing a little bit about coding can you take you far in both hobbies and your professional life alike. So why not try out Treehouse? You can sign up for a week’s worth of classes to see if it suits you, and go from there. Do it alone or try it with a friend to encourage each other as you both learn a new skill.
Fine tune your fine motor skills with crocheting or knitting
A lot of people enjoy crocheting or knitting, both as a stress reliever and as a way to occupy their time. If this is a skill you are interested in honing, there are plenty of tutorials on YouTube – and you can even watch Emily Blunt teach you how to make snakes from finger weaving. This is an activity that even young kids can learn, and it’s a great way to keep those fine motor skills fresh.
Learn some new lingo
Have you always dreamed of being bilingual? This is the perfect time to get a head start. Sign up with a program like Duolingo to begin learning Spanish, or to tune up that rusty French you remember from high school. Or check out this list from Mashable that gives you great tips and resources for learning American Sign Language. By the time life goes back to normal, you will be a true expert.
Start a project – and finish it
Organize your pantry. Clean out your linen closet. Get rid of the pile of clothes that you have been meaning to throw out for months. You can even take it a step further and repaint an old room, or spice up your décor with some new pillows. You have been given a unique opportunity to devote extra time to all of the house projects you started and never completed, so make a list and get moving.
Become a famous chef… or at least learn to make dessert
If you’re going to have to cook at home all the time, why not branch out and try some new dishes? This tutorial features over 40 recipes that take only three ingredients to make – sounds doable, right? Take a look and then see if you can recreate some of these delicious snacks for your family. Don’t worry – they’ll let you know if you get it wrong.
At many workplaces, employees are required to complete continuing education credits, or to take courses that allow them to be certified in a skill or become licensed through a manufacturer. Even if it isn’t a requirement, this is an ideal circumstance for you to seek out information on how to get certified, and to complete the steps necessary.
You can even ask your HR department for ideas, and once you’ve done the work, you will have gained some knowledge and will be in a great position to find a new job later down the road.
Go back to school
You probably can’t complete an entire semester before things begin to go back to normal, but you can certainly get a head start on working towards a new degree. Do some research on online schooling options and figure out how you could continue your education once everything is back in full swing. This is your chance to get that degree that no one said you would ever use but that you always wished you had.
Improve your mile time
Running isn’t everyone’s favorite pastime, but why not see how fast you can go? You can try out apps like Couch to 5K to ease yourself into a new running routine, and, before you know it, you’ll be unstoppable. Even if you don’t want to enter a marathon anytime soon, getting outside and taking a brisk walk will do wonders for your body and your mind.
You may be ready to rejoin the world, but it’s important to take advantage of the extra time on our hands. You’re stuck at home, so you may as well make the most of it and come out on the other side with a brand new skill to brag about. Happy learning!
Quarantine cooking: recipes to make you feel like you’re traveling the world
Due to social distancing requirements, most people are staying home and cooking their meals, rather than going out to eat. And, because of COVID-19, people were forced to cancel their travel plans. If you’re tired of cooking the same recipes or need a vacation, we have the perfect solution for you—try these dishes that will transform your typical weeknight dinner and have you feeling like you’re traveling the world, even when you can’t.
Creamy chipotle chicken breast
This creamy chipotle chicken breast recipe will make it seem as if you’ve hopped on a plane and traveled to Mexico. Like many Mexican dishes, it’s rich in flavor and looks incredible. Even better? It’s simple to make. You need only a few ingredients, and it takes fewer than 30 minutes to prepare. This recipe is from Mexico in my Kitchen—a food blog dedicated to authentic, Mexican cooking, created by Mely Martinez. The website has dozens of recipes to choose from, too—even vegetarian options.
If you’re looking for a hearty sandwich that instantly transports you to a French bistro, what better than a croque monsieur? It’s essentially a grilled cheese, but with a French twist—it’s made with ham, Dijon, bechamel, and gruyere cheese. You can use any cheese, but gruyere is preferred. This sandwich makes for hassle-free cooking that will satisfy your cravings. You can find this and dozens of other French recipes on Mon Petit Four®, a site that is devoted to French fare.
Although it sounds like a new fusion creation, Japanese-style pasta is prominent in Japanese cuisine. Japanese-style pasta, also known as Wafu pasta, is a pasta dish that has Japanese seasonings and ingredients—usually soy sauce, miso, and nori seaweed. This Japanese pasta is perfect for a quick, easy dinner—it takes only 15 minutes to cook. The ingredients are simple, too—all you need is pasta, shrimp, broccolini, soy sauce, and garlic chili oil. This recipe is from Just One Cookbook—a website that is all about Japanese culture and cuisine, created by Nami Hirasawa Chen, a home chef aiming to make Japanese cooking easy and accessible to everyone.
One-pan Bobotie casserole
Bobotie is a South African casserole that is similar to Greek Moussaka and is typically served with yellow rice. It’s very simple to make and is ideal for those weeknights when you don’t necessarily feel like cooking. The dish is filled with flavor from spices and everything is prepared in one pan. The ingredients can be found in your local grocery store, too. You can find this recipe on All that’s Jas—a food blog that features comfort food from around the world.
We hope these recipes not only help you switch up your mundane dinners but also provide a way for you and your family to escape to different parts of the world—all from the comfort of your kitchen.
How to help small businesses during COVID-19
Many locally owned businesses are struggling because of COVID-19. With social distancing measures in place, small businesses are either drastically changing how they operate or shutting their doors altogether. However, there are various ways you can help local businesses stay afloat. Here are five things you can do to help small businesses in your community survive:
Purchase gift cards
Gift cards are a great way to support small businesses while maintaining social distancing. By purchasing a gift card, you’re still contributing to local businesses, and you can shop or go out to eat at a later date. This especially helps places that have had to completely shut their doors, like nail and hair salons or boutiques. Most places allow you to purchase gift cards on their website.
Continue to shop online
Shopping online is another fantastic way to practice social distancing and continue supporting local businesses. Despite closing their doors to foot traffic, many small businesses are still open and operating, offering curbside pick-up or delivery. Even if some businesses don’t have the option to purchase online, you can often shop by simply messaging them through social media sites like Instagram or calling the store and placing an order directly.
Many local restaurants offer takeout or curbside pick-up. Most restaurants are also waiving delivery fees or offering no-contact delivery—meaning the delivery driver leaves your order outside of your door. If you plan having your food delivered, try to order directly from the restaurant, so you know they’re receiving 100% of the profits. A majority of food delivery services take a portion of the profits for themselves or charge restaurants high fees.
Contribute to a fundraising campaign
If you don’t feel comfortable ordering from restaurants, you could contribute to a fundraising campaign. Many restaurants and other small businesses are starting fundraisers for their employees who aren’t working their full hours or aren’t working altogether. Most post the fundraisers on their social media pages—all you have to do is donate online. However, do your research to be sure that what you’re donating to is legitimate. And, if your favorite restaurant doesn’t have a fundraising campaign, you could even start one for them.
Share on social media
If you’re not in the place to contribute financially, that’s okay. You can still help small businesses by solely sharing their posts on social media. Share a local restaurant’s menu or a local boutique’s post about their virtual styling appointments—either way, a simple share goes a long way, and it’s greatly appreciated by many small businesses.
How to manage stress and anxiety during a pandemic
With news about the current pandemic on a loop, as well as other factors looming over our heads, right now is a stressful time for everyone. News about the Coronavirus has affected almost every aspect of society. And, with more people staying in and practicing social distancing, this can severely impact mental well-being. If you’re coping with feelings of stress and anxiety, you’re not alone—here are a few tips to help you manage those feelings:
Stick to your usual routine
In this era of uncertainty, having a sense of normalcy is critical to maintaining your mental health. It’s one of the few factors you can control, so it’s essential to ensure you’re sticking to a routine, just like any regular day. Do what you would accomplish on a normal work morning—wake up, shower, and get dressed as if you’re going to run into people. It’s also vital to avoid burnout by enforcing your work hours.
Keep yourself occupied
While it seems easy to treat this period of social distancing as an opportunity to veg out and watch Netflix, it quickly grows old. There are surprisingly a ton of things you can do from the comfort of your home. You could experience a virtual tour of the Louvre, started spring cleaning, or even learn a foreign language. Either way, finding something to stay occupied will relieve some boredom you might face.
Take a break from the news
It’s essential to stay informed, but constantly hearing news about the pandemic is exhausting. Every once in awhile, take a break. Whether it’s from social media, reading, or even having the news playing in the background, shut it off. Find something uplifting to watch or listen to, so your mind will be on other things. Puppy videos are highly recommended, because who doesn’t love puppies?
Yoga and meditation are highly beneficial—there are numerous physical and mental benefits. Yoga and meditation are proven methods to help relieve stress and anxiety. People of all ages and fitness levels can participate, and you don’t have to be an expert, either. There are dozens of apps and YouTube channels that guide you on the essentials of yoga and meditation. Headspace is an app that’s great for beginners—their free basics pack instructs you on the fundamentals of meditation. Yoga with Adriene is another fantastic resource—her YouTube channel is filled with over 500 free videos for all fitness levels and ages. From simple meditation to yoga for writers, there’s something for everyone.
Talk to others
Just because people are social distancing doesn’t mean you can’t keep in touch with people. Staying home and not having any social interaction can take a huge toll on your mental health. As humans, social interaction is essential for coping with stress and anxiety. So, it’s especially important to maintain contact with friends and family. Set FaceTime dates, or pick up the phone and call a friend or family member. It’s always great to hear someone else’s voice and have someone to talk with about whatever issues you may be facing.
We understand this is a difficult period for many of you. We hope that these tips will help you manage your stress and anxiety and get you through this crazy, confusing time.
For more information on coping with stress and anxiety during COVID-19, visit cdc.gov.