Ways to Show Gratitude During the Holiday Season

Daughter kissing her mother

The holiday season is replete with things to be grateful for. Quality time with friends and family, good food, laughter and merriment, and so much more. But have you ever had the experience of having a hard time really, sincerely being able to thank someone? It can be all easy to fall into the pattern of relying on a simple, trite “thanks” that doesn’t really communicate how thankful you may actually be.

So we would like to help you better express your thankfulness this holiday season, and we’re going to do so by providing you with a handy list of ideas of various creative ways to say “thank you.”

Some of us aren’t so great at conveying emotion face to face, but it can be much easier to take your time getting your feelings down on paper, and leaving a note somewhere where the person you want to thank will find it. Whether it’s for something big or a small gesture, if you want to convey sincere thanks in a way that will not only allow you ample time to compose your thoughts (unlike face-to-face interaction), but will last longer than a momentary interaction; the person you leave it for can save the note for as long as they wish and re-read it whenever they like and get those warm fuzzies from knowing they’re appreciated.

You can sign the note, but it can also be fun to leave it unsigned to make it somewhat anonymous. Granted, if the person knows your handwriting or has other context clues, they may figure it out anyway, but getting an anonymous note of gratitude can be quite nice.

Phone Calls
What about when you’re fine talking out loud, but the person you want to thank isn’t nearby when you think of it? Well, that’s why phones exist. Don’t hesitate; if you have something that you think someone deserves thanks for, pick up the phone right now and give them a call. Once again, it doesn’t matter how big or small the gesture was; something as simple as doing some chores for you because you didn’t have the energy for it can still merit a heartfelt “thank you.”

It doesn’t even have to be for a specific act, gift, or any particular thing that happened recently. Sometimes you just need to thank a close friend or family member simply for being in your life, and giving them a long, affectionate, warm hug is a great way to show that appreciation. Just make sure they know it’s coming and are okay with hugs (not everyone is).

Don’t Forget about You!
You deserve to give yourself thanks as well. Take some time to relax, indulge in some good chocolate and a glass of wine (or something else you enjoy if that’s not your thing), take yourself on a solo date to your favorite restaurant, engage in a favored hobby or pastime, or even just lounge for an evening and binge on Netflix. One way or another, treat yourself, and tell yourself you deserve it.

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Our 4 Favorite Holiday Drinks

Hosting holiday gatherings is a wonderful way to bring friends and family together, but it can also be overwhelming. From making sure the food is perfect and the place settings are just right, there is a lot of work to be done. When it comes to serving holiday drinks, we’ve got you covered with our four favorite holiday drinks, one of which the whole family can enjoy together.


Candy Cane Hot Cocoa

Candy Cane Hot Cocoa
This warm drink blends rich chocolate flavor with the season’s favorite peppermint candy in a delicious drink the whole family can enjoy.


  • 4 cups milk
  • 3 ounces semisweet chocolate chopped
  • 4 finely crushed peppermint candy canes
  • 1 cup whipped cream
  • 4 mini peppermint candy canes
  • Red sugar sprinkles

In a medium saucepan, heat milk until hot but do not allow to boil. When milk is hot, whisk in chopped chocolate and crushed candy canes. Allow both candies to melt and stir mixture until it is smooth and creamy. Pour into mugs and add whipped cream on top. Sprinkle red sugar crystals on top of whipped cream and serve with a mini candy cane garnish or stirring stick.

Pumpkin Spice Martini
Enjoy the last few days of pumpkin spice with this festive martini.


  • 1 ½ oz vanilla flavored vodka
  • 1 ½ oz Irish cream liqueur
  • 1 ½ oz pumpkin flavored liqueur
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • Pinch of pumpkin pie spice
  • Whipped cream
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Add ice and water to your martini glass and swirl to chill. Fill the cocktail shaker with ice and pour vodka, Irish cream liqueur and pumpkin liqueur on top. Cover and shake well, or until the outside of shaker is frosted. Strain into chilled martini glass and add whipped cream. Add pumpkin pie spice to the top of whipped cream and garnish with cinnamon stick.


Red Santa Sangria
This blend of fruit and red wine is perfect for any holiday party.


  • 2 cups pomegranate seeds
  • 2 red Bartlett pears seeded and sliced
  • 2 star fruits thinly sliced
  • 3 bottles red wine
  • 1 cup brandy
  • 1 cup pomegranate juice (or grenadine for sweeter results)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 cinnamon stick
  • 1 liter club soda chilled

Place pomegranate seeds, pears and star fruit into a large pitcher or serving bowl. Pour wine, brandy and pomegranate juice over fruit. Add sugar and cinnamon and stir well. Chill in refrigerator for several hours, or for a stronger flavor combination, allow to chill overnight. Right before serving, pour club soda into sangria and gently stir to mix.

Cranberry Prosecco
This festive bubbly drink is perfect for any holiday toasts.


  • 2 cups cranberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 bottle prosecco

In a small saucepan, cook cranberries with sugar until they begin to produce juice, about five minutes. Allow to cool. Spoon cranberry mixture into the bottom of a glass and top with prosecco.

Not only are these holiday drinks quick and easy to whip up, they are guaranteed to delight you and your guests. Make one of our favorite holiday drinks the signature cocktail for your holiday gathering and let the festivities begin!

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Face Yoga

There are a lot of different ways to improve the appearance of the skin on your face. You can disguise the feature you’re unhappy about with makeup, you can use anti-aging products with ingredients like antioxidants, collagen, retinol, and more, or you can undergo cosmetic procedures like injections (such as botox), laser treatments, deep peels, surgeries, and more.

Or, you could try face yoga. Never heard of it? Sounds weird? We don’t blame you. But it’s looking like there might actually be something to this seemingly bizarre notion.

If you really think about it, it makes sense: when the rest of your body is out of shape, how do you solve it? By working out, of course. It almost seems to follow intuitively, then, that the same could be true of the face. Let’s take a look at the practice of face yoga and what it entails.

various face yoga poses

Face Yoga
Facial yoga simply involves stretching your head and face in various ways to stimulate the skin and the muscles in it to improve the appearance of your facial skin.

How, exactly, could this work? Well, your skin is attached to your muscle. Sometimes, when your skin sags, it’s in part because the muscles it’s attached to are out of shape and sagging. Just like any other muscles, exercising the ones in your face can firm up and tighten them, dragging the skin on top of it along for the ride, resulting in smoother, tighter skin.

Now that we’ve established how it could work, let’s give it a go. Try these stretches on for size.

Smooth your Forehead
Ball up both your hands into fists. Place your fists on your forehead, with the middle and index knuckles making contact with the center of your forehead. Push down with firm, but gentle pressure, and gradually slide your fists out from the center, finishing it off with a firm press into the temple. Do this four times to help prevent wrinkles by relieving tension in the forehead.

Lift Your Neck
Pucker up your lips like you’re going to kiss someone, but exaggerate it. Move your puckered lips to one side until you feel a stretch in your cheek, then turn your whole head to that side at a 45-degree angle, stretching your neck. Hold it for three seconds. Do this twice in each direction to prevent or reverse sagging of the chin and jawline.

Lift Your Face
Put your hands on your temples, pushing up and back, pulling the skin on the sides of your face upward. Make an open “O” shape with your mouth and stretch your face as long as possible (drop your jaw). Hold for five seconds and repeat a total of three times for smoothing out your smile lines.

Lift Your Eyes
Drop your shoulders down. Lift one arm straight up, dropping it over your head, bringing your fingers to the opposite side of the head, and resting your fingers on your temple. Press firmly but gently on that temple, gradually letting your head be pulled towards your shoulder. Slowly exhale through your mouth, and repeat on the other side, helping lift drooping eyelids and sagging skin all over the face.

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Anti-Aging for Hair

When it comes to anti-aging, that ceaseless, sometimes bitter war between you and the encroaching signs of aging, its oh so satisfying when you’re winning, we often focus on the skin exclusively. I mean really, we mostly focus on the face, but sometimes we’ll think about the skin on other body parts too, and Vine Vera is pretty good about pointing out helpful advice for the areas that aren’t the face.

But what about anti-aging for a part of your body that doesn’t even have skin? Might sound silly, but there’s actually something to it. In case you haven’t caught on by now, we’re talking about your hair. While it doesn’t need the same kind of care as skin, your hair absolutely does change as you age, so any full, comprehensive anti-aging strategy should include the hair. As you grow older, your hair will thin if you don’t do anything about it, particularly after you hit menopause. The color will gradually drift towards gray, and the texture might even change, all telltale signs of age.

And as such, today, Vine Vera’s going to be throwing some of our very favorite hair-related anti-aging tips for your perusal.

Woman conditioning her hair.

Yes, nutrition can indeed affect the quality of your hair. If this surprises you, consider that just as nutrition affects the functioning of the majority of your body, including external parts like the skin, it’s only natural that your hair might be affected too.

Specifically, biotin, vitamin C, and keratin supplementation can help improve the quality of your hair. You can often find pills that contain a supplement of each of these things mixed together in a specialized “hair care” supplement. Do note, though, that this will only affect new hair growth, and not the hairs already on your head, but they can help the new growth to stay healthy, vigorous, and grow out longer and stay thicker.

As we mentioned, one major cause of hair thinning and degradation is hormonal in nature. Menopausal women often experience a rapid increase in the rate of hair thinning as they continue to age, and a lack of estrogen can negatively affect the texture of your hair, too. This can also happen to a lesser extent even if you’re pre-menopausal, because your hormone levels can change slightly with age even before menopause.

So whether you’re pre or post-menopausal, consider making an appointment with your doctor and discussing hormonal supplementation. Bringing your estrogen levels a bit higher and within a healthy range will not only help your hair, preventing or even reversing thinning, but it can also make your skin softer and decrease your pore size.

Coconut Oil

Natural oils, especially argan oil and coconut oil, can help you restore moisture and shine to rough, damaged, hair, and help prevent thinning and breakage. Try mixing a small dab into your conditioner, work some into your hair after you get out of the shower, or for intensive deep conditioning, warm some up a little, put on a very generous amount (seriously, make your hair as greasy as possible) at night, put a shower cap, wig cap. Or similar over it, and go to bed. The next morning, wash out the excess oil and your hair should be incredibly soft.

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Look Younger with Makeup

Woman applying makeup

Makeup may only be temporary, and washed off at the end of every day, but that doesn’t mean it’s not tons of fun to use it to accentuate your best features, downplay the ones you’re not so fond of, and try out a variety of great looks as a means to express yourself.

But makeup—temporary though it is—can also be used as an anti-aging tool. To be sure, the best anti-aging methods involve nourishing and healing your skin for long-term results that will be there whether you’re made-up or not, but that said, there’s certainly something to the “fake it ’till you make it” mantra. In other words, we are not saying that you can abandon your dreams, serums, and exfoliants and just use makeup instead. Obviously, keep using all those things, and keep reevaluating and making sure you’re using only the best. In the meantime, though, while you wait for those long-term results to eventually kick in, use makeup as a stopgap, so you can have flawless, youthful, radiant skin right now. To help you along the way, we have some killer tips and tricks that actually work. Read on if you’re ready to look great today.

Woman using concealer

Deal with Dark Circles
Dark circles, one of the peskiest banes of cosmetic brilliance on the planet. The solution? Use clever color-matching to neutralize them. You want a concealer that’s close in brightness to your skin tone, one tone lighter at most, but with more yellow than your actual skin. Dark circles tend to have a purplish hue, so using a yellow concealer will neutralize their color and make them just about completely disappear. Further, only apply where dark circles are actually present, and rub the concealer in with short, vertical motions, not horizontal.

Woman examining crow's feet.

Kill Crow’s Feet…the Right Way
One of the biggest problems with disguising fine lines like crow’s feet is that concealer tends to cake in and around them and actually emphasize them, making your problem worse. Part of this, once again, is related to color matching. The other half of the puzzle is weight and texture.

Regarding color, crow’s feet tend to have brown undertones. So where you want yellowish concealer when it comes to dark circles, crow’s feet require a different color-neutralization tactic. Search for a concealer with pink or pink-beige tones if you’re fair skinned, peach or ocher tones if you’re medium to olive skinned, and for darker skin tones than that, just look for something close to your own skin tone, with just a hint of pink. Apply only to the crow’s feet, after you’ve already concealed dark circles.

Woman applying pink lipstick.

Choose Your Lips Carefully
While in the long term, proper care and maintenance of your lips should let you rock any color you like without issue, for now, aim for various shades of mauve and pink. These colors are subdued enough not to draw attention to the fact that your lips may be thinner than they once were (a problem you’ll no doubt fix with time and attention), but still give your face a youthful “pop” and rosiness.

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Addressing Vitamin A Deficiency in Infants in Poverty

Doctor examining an infant

Vitamin A, like every other vitamin, is essential for health and well-being in humans. This isn’t exactly a disputed fact, and if you’ve read many of Vine Vera’s other articles this week, it’s one you’re no doubt familiar with. That said, one thing we haven’t paid particular attention to yet that deserves a spotlight or three is the need for proper nutrition in the youngest part of the population, namely: unborn infants, newborns, and toddlers. These ages are no doubt formative in a number of ways. Psychologically, the experience a young child has at those ages is quintessential for developing into a happy, emotionally balanced adult. And physically speaking, nutrition at that age is so important as to merit very, very serious attention, as improper nutrition at that time can lead to lifelong health problems, or even death.

Think About All the Children, Not Just Yours
That said, in developed countries like ours, infant and toddler nutrition is relatively easy to do right. Granted, it still deserves attention, and you should absolutely talk to your OBGYN while pregnant, and make sure you follow dietary advice to the letter (this is your kid’s future we’re talking about after all), and likewise seek professional medical advice after birth and throughout childhood.

But if you have a reasonable, stable income, this is not hard to do. It requires only that you take the initiative to do it. The rest of the world, though, is not so lucky. Nutrition is a huge issue in undeveloped and under-developed countries; it’s not enough to simply have food, even if one has enough food to keep one full and satisfied. Recall that all the macronutrients (carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins) and all the micronutrients (vitamins), in addition to certain essential trace minerals, aren’t just good for health, they’re required, and if lacking any one of them, serious consequences occur, eventually and inevitably leading to death if untreated. Again, we have it easy in developed countries; so long as we have a halfway-decent income, it’s simply a matter of making good choices, and we’re covered nutritionally. Those in poverty do not have that luxury, and may not have an easy solution for nutrient deficiencies.

Addressing Infant Vitamin A deficiency in Undeveloped and Under-Developed Countries
That said, there is promise for this predicament. Studies are currently being proposed that aim to assess the effect of giving newborns a large dose of vitamin A on the first day of life. The research has yet to be conducted, but the idea is that a big dose on that first day could leave infants with a large supply to draw from during that formative time of life. This is a promising notion, because if true, it would help assess the problem in situations where regular supplementation is difficult.

So keep a lookout, and if you have the inclination, do consider donating to any cause that helps people in poverty receive access to better nutrition (not only in regard to vitamin A, but anything that helps the affected people receive a more complete and nutritious diet). Vine Vera hopes you have a clearer picture of the need for it after reading this.

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Why You Need Retinol in Your Skin Care

Woman applying serum around her eyes

Retinol is a powerful anti-aging ingredient in skin care products that can do a lot of good for the health and appearance of your skin. But Vine Vera thinks it’s more than one of many optional ingredients that you may or may not want to include in your skin care repertoire. We tend to think that the benefits of retinol are so diverse and so profound that you basically need to be using at least a little of it.

If you’re not convinced yet (or even if you’re already a fan of retinol but would like to hear why we love it so much), keep reading, because Vine Vera’s not just going to tell you that you need retinol, we’re going to tell you exactly why you need it in your life, in full detail.

Retinol Boosts Collagen Production
Collagen is one of the main substances responsible for providing skin with its elasticity. It makes up the bulk of the extracellular matrix, the system of connections between cells that hold tissues together. The more you have in your skin, the better the skin, well, holds itself together, meaning it will stretch tight and smooth out wrinkles and lines, and using retinol regularly can potentially boost the collagen production of your in.

Retinol Improves Cellular Communication
Retinol’s biggest draw, and the mechanism by which it performs most of its anti-aging feats, is its role in cellular communication. Retinol has the unique distinction in being one of the best substances that can be used to enhance communication between cells. Why is this a big deal? More on that next.

Retinol is an Antioxidant
Along with resveratrol and vitamin C, retinol is among the ranks of powerful antioxidants in the skin care world. As a refresher, antioxidants are substances that reduce oxidative stress on cells and help keep damaging free radicals at bay. This ultimately means happier, healthier cells, and when talking about skin cells in particular, this means a lovely boost to anti-aging effects.

Retinol Reduces Wrinkles and Discoloration
With the improved communication between cells that retinol provides comes the phenomenon of old and/or damaged skin cells behaving like younger, healthier skin cells. This carries a number of benefits, but chief among the is retinol’s ability to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and discoloration, quite possibly the two characteristics that can age a face the most.

Retinol Improves Pore Function and Size
As if all that weren’t enough, retinol also stimulates pores to behave themselves, as it were. This results in improvement and maybe even elimination of acne and eczema, as well as reducing pore size, which makes the skin visibly smoother.

Bottom Line
The reason Vine Vera says “need” instead of “you should consider it” is because very few ingredients in the skin care world do so well. The reason we heavily recommend retinol for your skin isn’t because it has antioxidant properties, because it helps with wrinkles and discoloration, or because it maintains pores, but because it does all of these things, and does them very well to boot. Retinol is a rare gem as a highly effective multitasker, and you should add some to your routine right now.

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