Not too long ago, I saw an article that had a title that made me chuckle—"Eighty-Four Percent of Families Plan to Be Together this Christmas, even Though Two-thirds Predict an Argument with Relatives, According to New International Survey". Goodness. If you just read that and shook your head because you can totally relate, perhaps, "This Will Keep Your Family Off Of Your LAST Nerve This Holiday Season" might be the better read for you than this one (good luck and hang in there).
On the other hand, if you're someone who has decided to totally buck the system and forego all of the holiday travel, family bonding and potential drama so that you can have a nice quiet time at home with you and your boo—first of all, congrats. I salute anyone who chooses to do the holidays their own way. Secondly, I've got a few ideas the two of you can do together; things that will help to turn your home into an unforgettable romantic winter wonderland for you and yours—whether it snows outside or not this year or not.
Decorate Your Tree (or Go with a Tree Alternative)
As far as decorating your tree goes, this is probably already something that the two of you do. But the reason why it tops the list is because, what I mean is, to make a ritual out of it. Turn on some of your favorite music; break open a bottle of wine; once the lights are on the tree, dim your overhead lighting; turn off the television and silence your smartphone—shoot, put on some sexy lingerie and then decorate the tree. Maybe even take out this time to make a couple of ornaments; it's a great way to have fun with your partner and create memories at the same time (check out some DIY links here, here and here).
Or, if you'd prefer to spare a live tree this year or you want to go with more of an avant-garde look in your home, you could make—a tree display out of copper and wood (here); a wooden tree to display your Christmas greeting cards from (here); a wall-mounted tree out of velvet fabric (here); a tree that's made from yarn (here), or you can get a couple of faux tabletop trees to put on your nightstands and call it a day.
Cook (or Bake) Christmas Childhood Favorites
As a marriage life coach, something that I think can help couples to understand each other more is to discuss their childhoods more often. For instance, there is someone I know who doesn't miss a Christmas without watching The Wizard of Oz; like they get low-key irate if they miss it. When I finally asked them why, they explained that while growing up with an alcoholic parent, watching that movie was the only time when there seemed to be peace in the house. Someone else told me that big Christmas breakfasts are a must-do tradition because it reminds them of their home before their parents broke up.
Cooking with your partner is already a wonderful (and effective) way to spend quality time with them. But if you both are intentional about preparing some Christmas childhood favorites, the stories that you both share can shed some enlightenment and, in turn, bring the both of you closer together too.
Watch Your Favorite Throwback Christmas Episodes
Pretty much any throwback program that you can think of has a Christmas episode. If you can't find them on your favorite streaming service, sites like Dailymotion and YouTube may have them. It could be a lot of fun to watch a Christmas episode of A Different World, Living Single or Moesha in between some of those sappy Christmas movies that are in heavy rotation right about now. I know I always dig them when I see them.
Slow Drag—then Make Out—to Christmas Classics
In this ever-shifting culture, one thing that never gets old is slow dragging. I think it's because, whether you can actually dance or not, it's something that you can pull off. Plus, you're able to get all close 'n cuddly with your partner. Yeah, the slow drag continues to be undefeated. That's why I say that, in between all of the things on this list, take out at least 30 minutes to put on some of your favorite Black Christmas music classics while slow dragging underneath a mistletoe. If you do it right, the dance could turn into a make out session and…who knows what that could lead to?
Make S’mores in Your Fireplace
Dark chocolate is quite the aphrodisiac. If you're fortunate enough to have a fireplace, create your own mini bonfire by making some s'mores in it. You can find a classic recipe, along with over a dozen more creative ones, here. Or, if you still like the s'mores idea but all you've got is an oven, you can still make some bomb ones by following this recipe.
Have an Indoor (or Outdoor) Picnic
Something that couples can actually have year-round are picnics; it doesn't have to be indoors either. Yeah, I already know that some of y'all are looking at me like I am crazy, but I personally know some couples—yes, Black ones—who have had some really romantic Valentine's Day picnics outdoors with the help of some chicken noodle soup, hot chocolate and chunky knitted blankets.
Anyway, if you totally dig the picnic concept but indoor is more your speed, here are some of the things that you will need to totally set it off:
- An indoor tent
- Some candles (or twinkle lights)
- Some throw pills
- Background music
- Some finger foods
- A Christmas-themed dish
- A bottle of bubbly
After a little time in an indoor picnic tent, there's no telling how much you might end up prefer it to your own bed (if you know what I mean).
Play a Christmas Music or Movies Drinking Game
So, earlier this year, I read an article that addressed if sex when you're drunk or high is better, strictly from a scientific perspective. Long story short, if you wanna take more sexual risks, get drunk; if you want sex to feel better, get high. But if, for whatever the reason, weed ain't your thing, go with red wine. It's proven to boost the libido of men and especially women which can make for a really good time.
Make the drinking even more enjoyable by having your own Christmas pop culture drinking game. Ask each other questions about some classic Black Christmas movies and music and take a shot every time you get an answer wrong. Shoot, take the game up a notch by also taking off a piece of clothing too. A game that ends with some red wine-induced sex is a game worth playing (a few times), if you ask me.
Give Each Other a Love Language Present
Over this past year, we touched on the importance of love languages in relationships quite a bit (check out "I Discovered My Husband's Love Language ...And It Changed Everything", "Your Love Language, According To Your Zodiac Sign", "Knowing Your Partner's Love Language Can Transform Your Relationship" and "15 Date Ideas Based On Your Love Language").
One way to convey to your partner that you not only know what their love language is, but you understand how to speak it is to give them a Christmas present that is based on their love language.
For instance, if their love language is quality time, give them a reservation to a bed and breakfast in the next city. Or, if their love language is acts of service, offer to use your gifts and talents to help them get an idea off of the ground in the new year. Love language gifts are cool because, not only are they thoughtful, they can make you and your partner feel seen, heard and felt which is always a really beautiful and beneficial thing.
Also, Give Each Other a “12 Dates of Christmas” Date Jar
Speaking of spending quality time together, if you and yours have big plans in 2021, make sure that the romance in your relationship doesn't fall by the wayside. One way to avoid that is to plan ahead when it comes to going on future dates. One way to do that is by giving each other a "12 Dates of Christmas" Date Jar (not to be mistaken by the sex jar that every long-term committed couple also should have in their possession as well). In it, put pieces of paper that have cool date ideas for the next 12 months. Both of you hand each other a jar come Christmas morning. It can be exciting to see what the two of you have come up with. Plus, you can both have the assurance that you'll be going on at least two dates a month until 2022 rolls around.
If you and yours are serious about having a quiet and romantic Christmas, let those close to you know that you'll be falling totally off of the grid, at least from December 24 thru December 26. Then put your cell phones on vibrate and in a room where you won't be spending a ton of time. Keep your computers off, period and only have your television on to watch movies and television programs—no news (including entertainment news).
When you make a point to totally disconnect from technology, a day away can seem like an entire week. Plus, it can give you and yours time to really relax and reconnect with one another. Out of all of the suggestions I've shared, this is what could end up being the very thing that could result in you having the very best Christmas yet!
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Featured image by Shutterstock
Originally published on December 12, 2019
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
There’s nothing quite as humbling as navigating adulthood with no instruction manual. Since the turn of the decade, it seems like everything in our society that could go wrong has, inevitably, gone wrong. From the global pandemic, our crippling student debt problem, the loneliness crisis, layoffs, global warming, recession, and not to mention figuring out what to eat for dinner every night. This constant state of uncertainty has many of us wondering, when are the grown-ups coming to fix all of this?
But the catch is, we are the new grown-ups.
As if it happened without our permission, we became the new adults. We are the members of society who are paying taxes, having children, getting married, and keeping our communities afloat, one iced latte at a time. Still, there’s something about doing all these grown-up duties that feel unnaturally grown-up. Enter the #teenagegirlinher20s.
If there’s one hashtag to give you the state of the next cohort of adults, it’s this one. Of the videos that have garnered over 3.9M views, you’ll find a collection of users who are overwhelmed by life’s pressing existential responsibilities, clung to nostalgia, and reminiscent of the days when their mom and dad took care of their insurance plans.
no like i cant explain to her why i had to buy multiple tank air dupes from aritzia #teenagegirlinher20s #fyp
The concept of being a 20-something or 30-something teenager is linked to the sentiment of not feeling “grown up enough” to do grown-up things while feeling underprepared and even nihilistic about whether that preparation even matters.
It’s our generation’s version of when we ask our grandmothers how old they are and they simply reply with, “I still feel 45,” all while being every bit of 76 years old. In this, we share a warped concept of time while clinging to a desire for infantilization.
Granted, the pandemic did a number on our concept of time. Many of us who started the pandemic in our early or mid-20s missed out on three fundamental years of socialization, career development, and personal milestones that traditionally help to mark our growth.
Our time to figure out and plan our next steps through fumbling yet active participation was put on pause indefinitely and then resumed provisionally. This in turn has left many of us hanging in the balance of uncertainty as we try to make sense of the disconnect between our minds and bodies in this missing gap of time.
Because we’re all still figuring out what the ramifications of being locked away and frozen in time by a global pandemic will have on us as a society, there really is no “right” way of making up for lost time. Feeling unprepared for any new chapter of life is a natural rite of passage, pandemic or not. However, it’s important to not stay stuck in the last age or period of life that made sense to us because self-growth is the truest evidence of personal progress.
So whether you’re leaning on your inner child, teenager, or 20-something for guidance as you fill the gap between your real age and pandemic age, know that it’s okay to grieve the person you thought you would be and the milestones you thought you’d hit before you ever knew what a pandemic was. If there’s anything that the pandemic taught us, it’s that we have the power to reimagine a better world and life for ourselves. And if we tap into our inner teenager as a compass, we can piece together our next chapter with a fresh outlook.
Sure, we’ve lost a couple of years, but there are still some really amazing ones ahead.
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