Posted December 5, 2007

10 ways to make the most of your holiday

With winter break right around the corner, Temple faculty and staff have shared some suggestions for making the holidays more enjoyable.

1. How to stay fit

Tricia DePoe,
fitness coordinator for Campus Recreation, says to “eat whatever you want on the holiday day, but then get right back on track the next day; don’t let it snowball.”

She explains that depriving yourself will leave you more likely to binge when you do actually eat. Of course, DePoe also recommends exercise and starting your new year’s resolution early. “Start eating right and exercising today and then you won’t feel as guilty when you do celebrate the holidays. Another benefit of exercise is reducing stress levels — we all need that this time of year!”

2. How to save money

Bruce Rader,
assistant professor of finance at the Fox School of Business, says:

“Before you buy gifts, set an overall limit and a limit per person for each gift — and stay within the limits. Otherwise, people end up spending from the heart and usually beyond their means.” Of course, he adds: “The best way to save money during the holiday is not to spend.”

3. Where to go

Joe Goldblatt,
professor of tourism and hospitality management at the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management, suggests five fun places to visit during the holidays:

- The Messiah Sing-Along at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia (Dec.10, 7:30 p.m.).

- Christmas Eve at Christ Church in Philadelphia: “The founding fathers and mothers sang here!”

- The Radio City Musical Hall Christmas Spectacular in New York: “How do you spell holiday joy?”

- The National Pageant of Peace Celebration on the Ellipse in Washington, D.C.

- Christmas City USA in Bethlehem, Pa.: "One of the top Christmas celebrations in the world including a live circus, fabulous crafts, and music everywhere — and it is just around the corner in the Lehigh Valley!"

4. What to watch

Warren Bass,
chair of film and media arts in the School of Communications and Theater, recommends seeing:

Eastern Promises: “It has tense drama, richly layered characters, amazing screen acting by Viggo Mortensen and David Cronenberg’s superb directing.”

Bass also suggests seeing American Gangster and Gone Baby Gone because of the Temple alumni connection: Alumnus Larry McConkey did camera work in American Gangster and alumnus William Goldenberg did editing for Gone Baby Gone.

5. How to give back

Participate in one of the many toy, food and other drives Temple hosts during the holiday, from the School of Pharmacy toy drive to benefit patients at the Temple University Cancer Center to the Temple University Alumni Association’s book drive for Temple’s Partnership Schools.

Check Ways to Give 2007 in the Online Newsroom for a complete list.

6. What to grow

Jenny Rose Carey,
director of the Landscape Arboretum at Temple Ambler, suggests indoor plants for the holidays:

Poinsettia: “This is a very popular favorite. If you are bored of red they are now available in tasteful cream and in luminous blue! These plants are from Mexico so do not take them from the shop to car in cold weather without wrapping them up. They need a warmer windowsill. Water when the soil surface seems dry.”

Amaryllis: “Can be grown from a big bulb- directions are on the 'In Bloom' for November- on the Temple Ambler Website. Spectacular- conversation piece. Tall flower spike that opens with huge lily like flowers. In shades of red, white, peach coral, pink and several of the colors combined.”

Paperwhites: “Very easy to grow and look like a white multi-headed daffodil — which they are — but an indoor one. Buy the bulbs and plant in a pot of soil or pebbles. Some people love the strong musky fragrance — others loathe it. Only takes a few weeks to flower from the bulb. The top of the bulb should be sticking out of the soil or pebbles. Water to the roots only, not above.”

Herbs: “The last choice is non-traditional. I love to grow herbs inside in the winter. They are great on a sunny kitchen windowsill, as you can cut some thyme or rosemary for your cooking and throw it right into the pot (great on roast meat or potatoes). A small bay laurel tree is another good choice. The leaves are used in stews — removed before eating. The more that you use the herbs, the more full the plant. In the summer after Mother's Day, the herbs can be planted outside.”

7. What to play

Jaykeen Holt,
Technical Support Specialist for Computer Services, suggests the best of the new games to get your hands on this holiday:

For the Nintendo Wii: “Super Mario Galaxy,” “Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles” and “Trauma Center.”

For Xbox 360: “Halo III” and “Call of Duty 4.”

For the PS3: “Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune” is a “good action adventure game” and “Ratchet” and “Clank Future: Tools of Destruction” “have outstanding graphics.”

For handhelds: “’Medal of Honor Heroes II’ is a great game for the PSP” and “The Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass” for Nintendo DS “is unique because the stylist is used for the whole game.”

As for that universal favorite, “Guitar Hero”: “The best version can be played on Xbox 360, but the Nintendo Wii version is less expensive.”

8. What to buy

Kathy Hirsh-Pasek,
Lefkowitz Professor of Psychology and co-director of the Temple University Infant Lab at Ambler, suggests:

Go retro. “Old-fashioned retro toys, such as red rubber balls, simple building blocks, clay and crayons, which don’t cost so much and are usually hidden in the back shelves, are usually much healthier for children than the electronic educational toys that have fancier boxes and cost $89.99” Read more on this.

9. Where to slide

Jeffrey Featherstone,
director of the Center for Sustainable Communities, says:

When it snows, “Fairmont Park has hills suitable for sledding [such as Belmont Plateau, Lemon Hill, behind the Art Museum and more]; check the Fairmont Park web site [] for times and availability. The Fort Washington and Tyler state parks also have sledding hills.”

10. What to read:

Carol Brigham,
librarian for access services, suggests a list of books to read over the holidays appealing to several audiences:

“Winter break is the perfect time for some self-indulgence. What better way to enjoy oneself than to curl up to read simply for the pleasure of it rather than for some project or other assignment?

“You could opt for something outrageously funny like Stephen Colbert’s I Am America (And So Can You!). John Grisham deviates from his normal legal thriller in Playing for Pizza, a novel about a third-string NFL quarterback who joins the Parma (Italy) Panthers. Oliver Stone’s past catches up with him as he becomes the target of a vengeful murderer in David Baldacci’s latest Camel Club novel.

“Indulge yourself by reading Danielle Steel’s latest offering about three women coping with the aftermath of a Bay area earthquake. Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series continues with Making Money, providing a humorous look at banking and economics. Be careful, though, for despite its comic tone, you may learn something.

“The holiday season wouldn’t be complete without thinking about New Year’s resolutions, and Michael Roizen’s and Mehmet Oz’s You, Staying Young: The Owner’s Manual for Extending Your Warranty may just provide you with the incentive to work at being a better you.”

When it comes to good books, there’s something for everyone, says Brigham:

Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes by Thomas Cathcart & Daniel Klein
I Am America (And So Can You!) by Stephen Colbert
The Book of General Ignorance by John Mitchinson & John Lloyd
Our Dumb World: The Onion’s Atlas of the Planet Earth, 73rd Edition, The Onion

World Without End by Ken Follett
Playing for Pizza by John Grisham
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
Run by Ann Patchett
The Choice byNicholas Sparks

Stone Cold by David Baldacci
Book of the Dead by Patricia Cornwell
T is for Trespass by Sue Grafton
Blonde Faith by Walter Mosley
Double Cross by James Patterson

All Through the Night by Suzanne Brockmann
Mine Till Midnight by Lisa Kleypas
Creation in Death by J.D. Robb
High Noon by Nora Roberts
Amazing Grace by Danielle Steele

Science Fiction/Fantasy
World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks
Confessor by Terry Goodkind
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Making Money by Terry Pratchett
Star Wars: A Pop-Up Guide to the Galaxy by Matthew Reinhart

Boom! Voices of the Sixties: Personal Reflections on the 60’s and Today by Tom Brokaw
You, Staying Young: The Owner’s Manual for Extending Your Warranty by Michael F. Roizen & Mehmet C. Oz
Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks

— Written by Victoria Coll

For the Office of News Communicaitons

Excerpts of this holiday feature were included in the Temple Times’ final issue of the semester, published Dec. 6.