Wednesday, 27 March 2013 15:32

The Star - Lifestyle Verve - Happy Holidays

The Easter weekend is ahead. Such holidays can be filled with work and tension, especially if freinds or family come to stay. Lindsay Ord asked experts for tips to ensure fun, relaxed and safe holiday.

Be Prepared

  • Find out about your guests. There is nothing worse than having spent all day making a fabulous meal only to discover that someone can’t eat what you’ve made. An even bigger issue for a guest could be allergies to pets, so if you live surrounded by hounds, you may have a problem.
  • Before guests arrive, ask what they would like to do during their stay and make a schedule of when you could do it.
  • Create a menu beforehand so that you have shopped for all the ingredients and don’t have to go to the supermarket every day. If possible, make meals you can freeze before everyone arrives.
  • Have you got enough dishes, plates, cutlery and glasses?
  • Make sure you have enough bedding. If you need mattresses and extra pillows, ask your guests to bring their own or borrow from a friend.
  • You’ll no doubt have kids staying over, too, so plan ahead for them. Ask them what they would like to do. Choose two outings and then plan some at-home activities – for example, a family competition playing Wii games or building Lego cities for a morning. What about holding a This Family Has Talent competition where each member of the family has to participate? – Isabelle de Grandpre, owner of Neat Freak organising service.

Don't Ditch the Diet

If you are on a weight-loss programme, and can’t resist an Easter egg, here are some ways to do it:

  • Not all eggs are equal – read the packaging. Hollow eggs are far less kilojoule-dense.
  • Buy loose marshmallow eggs, not a box of 48 – you will be less tempted to eat them all in a week.
  • Choose dark chocolate over milk.
  • Keep your cupboards stocked with healthy snacks, such as nuts, pretzels and rice cakes.
  • You don’t always have to give eggs to children. Story books, gift cards or a teddy bear are great present ideas.
  • If you have houseguests or days out, don’t skip your ritual of starting the day with a healthy, nutritious breakfast.
  • Don’t shop hungry; always have a small healthy snack before you leave to ensure that a craving doesn’t strike in the Easter egg aisle.
  • Limit alcohol intake; try a white wine spritzer or “lite” beer instead.
  • Rather than watching TV, spend the day outside and have an Easter hunt with your family. Instead of hunting for chocolate, make a path with trail mix and hide a gift-wrapped book or toy.
  • Instead of piling your plate with fatty foods, take smaller portions. If you’re still hungry after dinner, go back for a second round of veggies.
  • Get your kids involved in shopping – encourage them to help you buy healthy treats, even give them their own shopping list.
  • Have a fun dinner activity and help your kids make their own pizzas – create works of art using tomatoes, cheese and vegetable additions.
  • Save space for dessert – anticipate any “must-eat” dishes that are coming and avoid eating your fill of what is currently available, so the likelihood of overeating is lessened. – Mary Holroyd, founder and chairwoman of Weigh-Less.

Lay the Ground Rules

A house full of family and friends can mean cramped living, increased tension and resentment over issues such as who does the cooking and washing up. It is crucial that you stand up for yourself and communicate assertively.

Being assertive does not mean being pushy, bolshy, forceful and overpowering – that’s aggressive. It means being clear, open and honest with others.

It means asking for what you want or need and saying no to what you don’t want in a way that is respectful to yourself and others.

When you are clear and open, everybody knows where they stand and what is expected of them.

This prevents misunderstanding and resentment building up.

To be assertive, remind yourself that you have the right to have a good time along with everyone else, and that you do not have to be the slave.

Be clear and let everybody know where they stand and what is expected of them: Before everyone arrives, have a conversation with your own family and let them know you expect everyone to help. Agree on what they will do. For example, Dad will oversee that everyone has drinks and snacks and will play with the children outside and watch over their safety outdoors. Mom will oversee the meals and the running of the house.

Kids will entertain the other kids and make sure the toys are put away when they have finished playing. They will lay the table at meal times. Grandparents can play the indoor games and help the children at bath time and bedtime and so on.

When your guests arrive, explain some “ground rules” as soon as possible. Let them know what is expected of them. For example, when Rob and Jane arrive with their kids and you are showing them to their room, you could say: “It’s wonderful to have you all here and I am so pleased we can all be together for Easter. Because there are so many of us, I am sure you understand that I am going to ask everyone to help with the chores, so everybody can have a good time. I will let you know when it’s your turn to help.”

Do not assume others can read your mind. Out of respect, they may in fact do just the opposite of what you want them to do. For example, you want them to look after themselves and help themselves to drinks and snacks, but they might think it bad manners and be waiting for you to offer them.

If an argument starts to get nasty, step in and intervene. For example, your brother and a cousin are arguing about politics and it is becoming heated. Say something like, “Guys, I know you are both passionate about your political views and that’s fine, but this is a family get-together and we don’t want this sort of tension this weekend. “Please agree to disagree for now and you can continue your discussion on your own after the weekend.” Then deliberately change the subject or ask one of the men to do something for you, so that they cannot continue their argument. – Claire Newton, counselling psychologist and coach. For an assertiveness course, see

Drink Responsibly

  • Before deciding to go out where you know you will be drinking, ask yourself: “How do I intend getting home?” If you are on holiday in a different city, check what metered taxi or shuttle services are available.
  • Keep taxi contact details on your cellphone and have money in your purse/wallet, should you not be in a position to drive home.
  • Club together with your friends to hire a car or mini-bus with a driver so you can responsibly enjoy a night of fun.
  • Ask a friend to be the designated driver for the night and agree upfront who that person will be and that they will remain sober.
  • If you are planning a party at home, consider how you will handle friends who have overindulged. Arrange alternative transport for them to get home, or offer them a spot on the couch until morning.
  • Drink plenty of water before, during and after drinking alcohol
  • Always eat before drinking alcohol and try to eat while drinking – choose foods that are high in fat and carbohydrates, like a burger and chips.
  • Don’t swim when you have had alcohol.
  • Drinking on the beach is against the law and can be very dangerous, as can drinking at a river or dam.
  • Don’t supply drinks to underage people – the South African legal drinking age is 18.
  • Avoid drinking with partners who are prone to aggressive behaviour.
  • Avoid lifts from strangers, especially when intoxicated. – The Industry Association for Responsible Alcohol Use (ARA)