Holiday Gift Guide: For Your Dog

You can’t forget your best friend this holiday season.

Get him fresh and clean with one our our favorite dog shampoos without the bottle: Shampoochie. This all-natural, herbal shampoo is made with eight natural plant oils to condition skin and fur and five pure essential oils to soothe itchiness. It’s non-detergent based, and sulfate and chemical free, leaving your pooch feeling silky and soft.

Style him out with a new collar and leash, the give him a tasty treat. He’ll be one happy pup.

Holiday Gift Guide: For the Man in Your Life

Finding the right gift for the dad/brother/husband/boyfriend in your life can be the ultimate Holiday Problem. Here are a few suggestions, all available at the Travaasa shops in Hana and Austin.

  • Liberty Black Mens Cowboy Boots – Maybe he’s not actually out riding the range on a daily basis, but these handmade boots have deep Old West flavor.
  • Henley Rollup Barware Set – Give this gift and watch your guy transform into a master mixologist.
  • TopShelf Western Leather Flask – A supercool, old school flask that is perfect for winter nights out on the town.
  • Organic Male Skincare Line – Guys’ skin needs to be taken care of, too! Organic Male Skincare Line is easy to use and effective.

All items are available at the Travaasa Spa Boutique. 

Holiday Games for the Whole Family

Getting everyone in the family together over the holidays is always wonderful, but also stressful. Here are some activities and games to settle the fun family feuds and really enjoy the time with each other:

  • Holiday themed mad libs.
  • Karaoke to holiday songs
  • Instead of putting all the presents under the tree, create a scavenger hunt for the children and have them search for the presents.
  • Have a gingerbread house making contest.  Gather materials for guests to make gingerbread houses.  Then, have guests vote on their favorite two houses.
  • Make this season a healthy one.  Instead of having a typical cookie exchange, trade healthy desserts and recipes.
  • Get a camera that prints out stickers or a Polaroid camera.  Take a group photo and then have the family members use the photo to make Christmas ornaments.
  • Go around the room and have everyone say what they are thankful for (without repeats).
  • Have an ugly Christmas sweater contest.
  • Drive or walk around town in search of the best decorated house.
  • Make holiday cards for those who may be lonely during the holiday season, such as people in nursing homes, the hospital,etc.
  • Play card games, such as bridge, spades, euchre, or gin rummy
  • Play corn hole, table tennis, or foosball
  • Get to know relatives you rarely see with board games.  Games are a great way to bond with relatives you don’t know very well. Board games such as Apples to Apples are easy enough for the young ones to grasp and, and often result in laughter.
  • If you have just spent hours driving to your relatives house, take off some steam and get moving with an active game such as kubb, croquet, kickball, baseball, or horse shoes.
  • White Elephant Gift Exchanges get everyone involved, and talking long after the exchange has taken place.
  • Name that holiday song.  Play a short clip from different holiday songs.  Whoever guesses the song first wins.  A more challenging version of this game is to write out clips from different holiday songs.  Whoever guesses the most correctly wins that version.

How to Split Holiday Time Between Families

It’s easy enough to spend holidays with the family when there’s one big gathering, but what about when you’re trying to decide between in-laws or divorced parents? Here are a few guidelines to help make those tricky holiday decisions.

  1. Manage expectations early. If you can decide to spend Thanksgiving with one family and Christmas/Hannukah with another family, that can help alleviate stress and avoid potentially hurt feelings in advance. (It also makes travel planning much easier.) Another option (if long-distance travel isn’t an issue) is to spend Christmas Eve with one and Christmas day with another.
  2. Alternate Christmas/Hannukah/Thanksgiving every other year. If you’re choosing between two families who make a big deal out of a particular holiday, just switch off every other year. This year, spend Christmas at one place, and next year, spend it at the other location. Yes, it’s a long-term plan, but it’s certainly fair and gives everyone some face time.
  3. Host a holiday at your house. Yes, that means planning ahead and possibly preparing a large meal or hosting numerous house guests., but hosting one holiday at your house means you and your family won’t have to deal with expensive, out-of-town travel, and you don’t have to choose between families to visit.
  4. Go somewhere completely different. Don’t want to choose between families (or deal with the potential drama) this year? Plan a fun, relaxing getaway somewhere totally different instead—and bring a friend or that special someone. At Travaasa Hana and Travaasa Austin, you’ll have plenty of spa treatments, yoga classes, outdoor adventures and down time to enjoy. You might have thought “relaxing holidays” was an oxymoron, but you’ll soon be thinking otherwise.

DIY Gifts for the Holidays

With Pinterest, searching for DIY gift ideas has never been easier.

But especially with the holidays right around the corner, we know you don’t have time to spend hours searching for the perfect gift to make for your mom/sister/best friend/cousin/next-door neighbor.

So, we complied a list of our favorite DIY gifts for the holidays as a solution to your #HolidayProblems.

Lavender sachet
Use dried lavender and a small muslin bag to form a sachet.

Scented Body Scrubs
Create a scrub from 1/2 cup each Epsom salts and sugar, plus 1/4 cup sunflower oil, and place inside a pretty glass mason jar

Travel candle
Repurpose candy or mint tins as candles: Simply melt wax and add a wick (available at craft stores).

How to Be the Best Guest

Advice columns are full of suggestions on how to deal with difficult house guests and holiday party attendees. Ensure you’re not one of them with these easy tips.

…At a Holiday Dinner

  • Show up on time. When it comes to holiday dinner, you’re not being fashionably late—just late—and it can be stressful to the host, especially if they’re worrying about dinner getting cold.
  • Bring a dish. Ask the host ahead of time if there’s something you can bring to dinner, whether it’s an appetizer or dessert.
  • Bring a gift for the host. Something as simple as a bouquet of flowers can mean a lot to the host—and it can double as a centerpiece. Otherwise, bring a bottle of wine or a small home gift.
  • Offer to help clean up. No one wants to cook dinner and clean up. Even if the host refuses clean-up assistance, at least make sure to offer your help.

…At a Holiday Cocktail Party

  • Pay attention to your limits. Avoid embarrassing yourself (and other guests) by keeping your alcohol in check. If being at cocktail parties makes you nervous and drink more than you would normally, try alternating cocktails with a glass of water or soda water.
  • Have a snack before you show up. If you show up starving, not only do you run the risk of getting too drunk too soon, but you’re also more likely to devour way too many hors d’oeuvres.
  • Arrive ready to mingle. Cocktail parties mean plenty of conversation, so show up ready to work the room. Make sure to ask plenty of open-ended questions and come with something interesting to chat about, whether it’s a fun trip you’re planning or a great new restaurant you just tried.

…At Someone’s House for the Holidays

  • Be clear about who you’re bringing. Whether you’re bringing your dog or your significant other, make sure your host knows who will be coming with you, as to avoid any unwelcome surprises.
  • Follow house rules. It could mean no shoes in the house or it could mean quiet time after 10 p.m. on week nights. Either way, go with the flow—their flow—while staying there.
  • Bring appropriate pajamas. You might be used to sleeping in your underwear or a sexy, silky getup when you’re at home, but when you’re in someone else’s home, make sure to wear something a bit more PG-rated.
  • Entertain yourself. Your host isn’t a tour guide. Keep yourself busy, or if you’re intent on doing touristy things during your stay, take it upon yourself to make that happen, rather than expecting your host to show you around.
  • Bring a gift or send a thank you card. Show your gratitude by bringing a small gift or taking your host family out to dinner. Afterward, send a quick thank you note to let them know how much you appreciated their hospitality.

Holiday Gift Guide: The Host and/or Hostess

This holiday season delight your party or dinner hostess with a thoughtful gift. Hostess gifts can be extravagant if you wish, but simple gifts are equally appreciated.When searching for the perfect hostess gift, think outside the box. For both traditional and unique Holiday hostess gift ideas, we have rounded up some of our favorites.

1. Fine chocolate.  Visit any specialty candy store to choose a set of four delectable truffles. Consider specialty items like gourmet topped chocolate covered pretzels or pistachio marzipan dark-chocolate bonbons.

2. Gourmet olives. Many regular grocery stores now carry a selection of gourmet food items including local and imported olives. Consider a jar of almond stuffed olives and package in a simple gift bag. If you know your hostess enjoys stronger tastes, you can find olives stuffed with blue cheese, garlic, or chipotles.

3. Flavored vinegars or oils. There are many gourmet vinegars and oils to choose from. Some flavored oil ideas include sun-dried tomato infused with Greek oregano, peppercorn, and garlic, or porcini & shiitake mushrooms combined with jalapenos, sage, bay leaves, and red peppers. Vinegars come infused with a variety of herbs and spices such as garlic, pepper, lemon thyme, baby dill, tarragon, cilantro, and mustard seed.

4. Wine. Wine is the traditional hostess gift, but always appreciated. Consider what you know about your hostess before purchasing wine. Are they a gourmet cook or do they prefer simple meals? If you are already a wine connoisseur, you will be able to choose an appropriate bottle. For those less educated about wine, a fine winery will assist you with appropriate choices in a range of prices.

5. Tea or coffee gift basket. Always appreciated, you can’t go wrong with a lovely tea or coffee gift basket. It’s also easy to make a gift basket by purchasing your own products, arranging in a basket purchased from a discount or craft store, and wrapping in cellophane or tissue paper.

Inexpensive DIY Holiday Décor

With the endless shopping list, travel expenses, and gift buying, the holidays can add up. The experts at Travaasa are here to answer your #HolidayProblems with some of our favorite inexpensive DIY Holiday décor tips. That way no matter what #HolidayProblems come your way, you’ll be in a festive environment. 

Glitter Pinecones – These glitzy decorations are perfect for filling up a large bowl on a coffee table, or you can turn them into sparkly ornaments by tying a piece of clear fishing line around the tops. Make sure to wash your pinecones beforehand (especially if you found them outside), and let them completely dry. Using a small paintbrush, coat the petals of pinecones with glue, and dust with glitter. Shake off any excess glitter, and let dry. And that’s it!

Origami Ornaments – Reuse colorful paper from junk mail or magazines by turning them into origami tree ornaments. From festive stars to elegant cranes, YouTube has a number of step-by-step instructional videos so you can transform paper waste into a work of art.

Cranberry tea lights – Inexpensive and super easy, this decoration is ideal for adding a splash of color to your credenza or holiday dinner table. Fill a small, decorative bowl or serving tray with fresh cranberries, and nestle white tea lights in the cranberries before lighting. You often can find bags of tea lights at dollar stores or discount stores.

Holiday Gift Guide: The In-Laws

It’s that time of year again—holiday shopping for the in-laws. It seems they’re the hardest members of the family to shop for but your #HolidayProblems have been solved with the help of the experts at Travaasa.  Here’s our list of great holiday gift ideas for in-laws.

  1. Photo Albums or Picture Frames—Collect pictures of your in-laws or family members. Put together a collage of the kids or dig through old pictures from when they were younger and blow one up to frame. Digital picture frames are also available and can hold many pictures at once. Either way, this is a gift they’ll be sure to love.
  2. Dinner Invitation—Invite them out to dinner with a homemade coupon for their favorite restaurant. If you’d rather cook, make the coupon redeemable for one dinner of their choice at your house.
  3. A Holiday-themed Gift—For those who celebrate Christmas, what about an ornament to hang on the tree? Kosher gift baskets are easy to find online, and what better to receive for Kwanzaa than a traditional African cookbook?
  4. Movie Basket—Create your own gift basket with popcorn, gift cards to the movies, candy and drinks. Or if you’d like, buy a DVD or two to add.
  5.  “Hobby Gifts”—Do you in-laws have a hobby they enjoy? Monogrammed golf balls and tees are great for the golfer. New knitting needles and different colored yarn is perfect for those who love to knit. Play off their hobbies, and they’ll be sure to appreciate whatever you choose for them.

Holiday Music with a Hawaiian Flair

Looking for some classic Hawaiian tunes to liven up the holiday season and help solve some of your #HolidayProblems? We’ve listed some traditional songs that are sure to get you feeling festive this season.

Mele Kalikimaka

Kana Kaloka

Ho’o Haehae

Papalina Lahilahi

Holiday Gift Guide: Coworkers

It’s always difficult choosing gifts for coworkers and on the list of  common #HolidayProblems. Here at Travaasa, we’ve put together our list of top holiday gift ideas for co-workers in 2012. Don’t forget to include a card!

  1. Themed gift sets are perfect for colleagues because they come in a variety of options. From tea to hot chocolate to candy, gift baskets can be customized and don’t have to be expensive.
  2. Plants are also great gift ideas. These too are inexpensive and a lot of plants bring along meaning with them. For instance, a bamboo plant symbolizes good luck, and the Jade plant is known as the “friendship” plant.
  3. Travel Mugs are great for co-workers. Who doesn’t enjoy a cup of coffee or tea in the morning? And USB-heated travel mugs can be found for as low as $20 online.
  4. Homemade baked goods are a favorite everyone can enjoy. From brownies to cookies and cakes, if you love to bake and show off your creativity this is the perfect gift to give this holiday season.
  5. Gift cards allow you to choose the exact amount you wish to spend. Choose a coffee shop or bakery located by your office. Gift cards are great because they are neutral gifts and allow co-workers you may not know well to pick out something they’ll love.

How to Be Better About Correspondence

  1. Create a monthly list of birthdays. Keep an ongoing list of people’s birthdays or anniversaries, sorted by month. At the beginning of each month, use the list to send everyone a card, even if some people will receive their birthday card a bit early.
  2. Take our Journaling class. If you’ve lost touch with the art of writing, our Journaling class at Travaasa can help you reconnect with this easy, pleasurable pastime. In this class, you’ll have plenty of time to self-reflect and communicate through the written word, making correspondence feel like second nature.
  3. Set a date to send holiday cards. The holidays come faster than you might realize, so stay on track by setting a deadline in your calendar for sending cards to friends and relatives.
  4. Buy plenty of stamps in advance. There’s nothing like needing a stamp to derail your intentions for keeping in touch. Plan ahead by stocking up on a variety of stamps, and for the ultimate convenience, order them online.
  5. E-newsletters – If you have a very large family or are in a bit of a time crunch, send a family e-newsletter updating everyone with your latest news, holiday plans and well wishes.

Adventurous Cocktails for Your Holiday Party: A Taste of Texas

After attending a couple holiday parties, it’s easy to feel burned out on eggnog and hot buttered rum—but not to worry. When it comes to throwing your own seasonal soiree, these exciting cocktails are sure to spice things up for your guests and add a Texan flair to any tablescape.


Cucumber Ginger Gimlet

Recipe by Shawn, our bartender at Travaasa Austin

1 ½ oz. Hendricks’ gin

½ oz. St. Germain Elderflower liqueur

½ oz. fresh lemon juice

¼ oz. simple syrup

Fill a shaker tin halfway with ice. Add ingredients. Shake and strain into a chilled martini glass. Top with sparkling wine and garnish with a lemon twist.


Pear Nectar and Reposado Tequila Cocktail

Recipe from Cookie and Kate

1 ½ oz. reposado tequila

3-4 oz. pear nectar

Dash cinnamon

Drop vanilla extract

Light drizzle of honey

Juice from half a lemon

Cinnamon stick (optional garnish)

Fill a high ball glass with ice. Pour in tequila and pear nectar. Add cinnamon, vanilla and honey. Squeeze in lemon juice. Mix by pouring into a cocktail shaker or another glass. Shake or stir well, and pout into original glass. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.


Cure Your #HolidayProblems with an Escape to Travaasa

This holiday season Travaasa’s experts are making sure you don’t get stuck in a rut with the most common #HolidayProblems, but we’re also looking to take it a step further with our #HolidayProblems Sweepstakes.

  • GRAND PRIZE: A three-night stay (for two) Vitality package at Travaasa Austin for a fresh, healthy start to the New Year and two $300 American Express gift card to apply towards travel expenses.
  • Weekly giveaways of two $50 Travaasa gift cards.

Share your #HolidayProblems with us and enter to win!