Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Holiday Entertaining? Make it EASY

Holiday entertaining tips guaranteed to help hosts impress guests

The holiday season is packed with social events big and small. What makes some more memorable than others? The extra thought and special touches from the host or hostess.

Cookbook author and entertaining expert Gaby Dalkin recently teamed up with the Paper & Packaging - How Life Unfolds campaign to share how you can make a big statement this season with surprisingly little effort. These five entertaining tips are guaranteed to help you create a one-of-kind party, leaving guests impressed and full of holiday spirit.

Conquer holiday stress with to-do lists

To reduce stress, stay organized and ensure you maintain a merry attitude, use printed templates to create handwritten holiday party to-do lists.

"I start my to-do lists weeks before the celebration and break them down by day," Dalkin says. "A few days before the big event, I stock up on beverages. Two days before I buy all the shelf-stable ingredients. The day before, all the produce goes into the fridge, and I make any sauces or appetizers that can rest in the fridge overnight without being affected. And then, the day of the party is broken down by the hour. If you're making a roast, start it in the morning. A salad can be prepped ahead of time and dressed before serving."

Elevate gifting with personalized presentation

Nearly half of Americans feel that gift presentation enhances the gift they give or receive, according to a Paper and Packaging Board survey. That means if you want to impress, don't skimp on gift presentation.

"I grab a few rolls of brown kraft paper and make it special," Dalkin says. "If I'm sending a present to someone who loves food, I'll grab some stamps with fun food on them and stamp the paper so it's customized for that individual. If it's my younger niece, I'll stamp it with some hearts. These small gestures make a big impact."

Use a creative approach to assigned seating 

Assigned seating is particularly helpful when entertaining large groups. It takes the guesswork out of sitting down to dinner and keeps the evening flowing smoothly. It's also an easy way to add festive style to the tabletop.

"If I'm entertaining for more than 10, I'll make little fold-over name tags out of cute cardstock," says Dalkin. "I'll punch a hole in the paper name tag and weave in a bit of rosemary, paper ribbon or a fresh flower to give it an extra pop."

Add pizazz with a Champagne bar

The survey also found that for approximately half of Americans, a cocktail bar stands out as a key component for an unforgettable holiday party.

Add an easy yet elegant touch to any holiday gathering by setting up a Champagne bar. Simply chill a few bottles, place on a bar cart and add bowls of fresh berries and carafes of fresh squeezed juices. Include handwritten cardstock labels near each ingredient so your guests can mix and match to their hearts' content.

This no-fuss station encourages guests to make their own cocktails at their leisure, giving the host extra time to catch up. Plus, Dalkin adds, "I've found that Champagne bars are often one of the most photographed elements of the night."

Send guests home with a little something homemade

Frozen cookie dough is one of the trendiest homemade gifts of the year. Just whip up your favorite batch of dough, tightly wrap it in parchment paper and freeze. Then add some holiday ribbons, a personalized paper label and handwritten baking instructions.

"Recipients can slice and bake at their leisure and file the recipe card for years to come," says Dalkin. "You can make the same thing for everyone, or perhaps a few different batches to suit any sweet tooth. I think of it as a gift that keeps giving."

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Strokes: Your Guide To Stroke Prevention

Getting help quickly during a stroke can help lead to a full recovery.

What happens during a stroke?

A stroke is when brain cells are being deprived of oxygen and begin to die, affecting the areas of the brain that control muscles and memory.  during this time, as many as 1.9 million brain cells die every minute during a stroke.

There are three primary types of strokes:

  1. Ischemic - clots in blood vessels supplying blood to the brain
  2. Hemorrhagic - when a weakened blood vessel ruptures
  3. TIA - a temporary clot or "mini-stroke" or warning stroke
There are a number of uncontrollable risk factors, but still important to identify to assess the overall risk for stroke.  These include: age, family history, ad previous strokes or TIAs.  

Medically, controlling blood pressure and cholesterol reduces the risk of strokes, as does controlling irregular heartbeat (AFib) with medication.

Prevention is key, and there are lifestyle changes hat can mitigate the risk of a stroke, such as:
  • Maintaining a healthy diet and regular exercise;
  • Refraining from tobacco use as smoking can increase clot formations;
  • Drinking alcohol in moderation as it increases blood pressure which heightens the risk of strokes.

Getting Help during a stroke

Experts agree that getting treatment within the first 60 minutes, or the "Golden Hour" can significantly increase the chances of recovery, or diminish the long term impact of a stroke.  A medical alert system allows the wearer to press one simple button and be immediately connected to emergency response professionals, even if they are unable to speak.  A medical alert system with automatic fall detection built into the pendant can add an additional layer of protection for those who are susceptible to falls and strokes.

Please review the info-graphic below "Moments Matter - A Complete Stroke Resource" courtesy of Crouse Hospital.   And be sure to see our other stroke-related tips to help keep yourself safe:

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Overstuffed? Try These Thanksgiving Turkey Tummy Trouble Tips

Too much gobble, gobble? 6 Steps to better digestion this holiday season

Cheer and goodwill aren't the only things Americans share during the holiday season. We also swap germs, overindulge in seasonal foods and spirits, and stew in stress - all of which can lead to digestive woes.

You know you'll have to work hard at self-control if you don't want the numbers on the scale to climb by the end of the holiday season. But you can also take steps to minimize stomach upset, indigestion, bloating, reflux and general intestinal distress during the holidays.

So good yet so bad

Holiday foods taste good because they're often rich, and high in fat and sugar - qualities that cause not only weight gain but also digestive discomfort. During this hectic time of year, most of us eat more - especially at celebrations.

Giving up holiday treats and favorite dishes would be like going through the season without a single cornucopia or twinkling decoration. Rather than suffering digestive distress through indulgence, or choosing to deprive yourself entirely, start with a plan for how you'll deal with holiday digestive upset, then take action.

Steps to feel better

  • Stay hydrated. The hectic pace of the holidays may make you forget to drink enough water. What's more, overindulging in holiday libations like cocktails, wine, champagne and beer can actually dehydrate your body. Non-alcoholic sugary beverages like mulled cider, hot chocolate and pumpkin-flavored coffees can also throw off your body's balance. Remember to drink plenty of water every day throughout the holidays.
  • Prioritize food choices. Sure, that slice of pumpkin pie looks great on the plate and tastes yummy going down, but will it be worth the heartburn and bloating you'll experience later? Raw veggies are a healthful and fiber-filled alternative to fatty hors d'oeuvres, but be aware that raw vegetables can also cause bloating and gas. Pay attention to the foods that trigger discomfort and decide how important they really are. You may be able to substitute something else that's just as satisfying but less upsetting to your stomach.
  • Promote gut health. If your digestive tract is already in good shape, it will be better equipped to handle occasional holiday overindulgence. Taking a probiotic supplement, like Family Flora Daily Balance, can support the growth of good gut bacteria that aid in digestion. Family Flora's Dual-Action formula helps populate the gut with healthy bacteria and also provides prebiotics, the "food" that helps probiotic bacteria thrive and multiply inside the body. The probiotic + non-GMO prebiotic blend helps promote improved digestion, support gut flora renewal and colon health, and maintain healthier gastrointestinal function. The neutral-tasting powder can be mixed into any cold food or beverage. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Visit to learn more.
  • Reduce portion sizes. Do you give yourself license to overindulge during the holidays, figuring you'll pay for it later when you step on the scale? Large portions can also make you pay for them right away when you feel indigestion or reflux after finishing a big meal. Reducing portion sizes can help ease holiday strain on your stomach and digestive tract. One easy trick for controlling portion sizes - serve yourself on a dessert-size dish, rather than a large dinner plate. Smaller portions will look like more on a smaller plate.
  • Limit variety. Whether a buffet or a sit-down dinner, holiday meals often feature multiple dishes that just look so good you want to try them all. Mixing too many different foods, however, can lead to stomach upset. Trying everything - even if it's just a bite or two - can rack up the calories, fat and sugar. Instead, choose just a few favorites to have at each meal. If you have a spoon of green bean casserole with your Thanksgiving turkey, pass on the yams and plan to have them with tomorrow's leftovers.
  • Keep exercising. Along with all the other benefits exercise brings, it can also promote digestive health. In addition to its positive physical effects, exercise can also help relieve holiday stress - a contributor to holiday stomach upset. Whether it's an hour at the gym or 30 minutes on a yoga mat in your living room, it's important to maintain an exercise regimen throughout the holidays.
The holidays are meant to be a time of enjoyment, and that includes eating foods you just don't have around at other times of the year. With some proactive steps, you can help ensure your holidays stay bright and your stomach stays healthy throughout the season.

Courtesy of BPT.

Monday, November 21, 2016

These Wearable Tech Devices Help You Look and Feel Better

Wearable health technology first started in hospitals as a way to help people with injuries heal faster. 

girl with wearable medical alert system
Now, the trend has gone mainstream and pro-active; one in five online adults uses a wearable device, and the majority of those devices are health-related, according to Forrester Research.

"Americans are using a variety of wearable devices to help them reach their wellness goals," says Mike Nohilly, an expert in wearable technology for Slendertone. Once, people would have needed a doctor's visit to find out key wellness numbers like BMI or blood pressure, or needed gym equipment to monitor their heart rates while exercising. Wearable devices allow them to do all those things, and even tone specific muscle groups, at their own convenience."

Here are five wearable health devices and how you can use them to help build fitness and better health:

  • Fitness trackers - If it seems like everyone is wearing some kind of fitness tracker, you're not imagining it. The top wearable of 2015 was a fitness tracker that shipped more than 21 million units last year and represented nearly 38 percent of the wearables market, according to International Data Corporation. Fitness trackers allow wearers to monitor key health indicators such as heart rate or calories burned. You can also use them to set and track exercise goals, such as walking a certain number of steps per day, or monitor your heart rate while exercising to ensure you reach a target zone.

  • Pain relief braces - Worn like traditional braces, smart braces use neurostimulation sensors, built into the fabric, to ease pain with low-level electrical impulses. Wearers rely on the bands to help relieve joint pain from chronic conditions like arthritis. Some come with a smartphone app that allows you to track usage and sleep patterns.

fall detection pendant with lanyard and compared to a quarter
  • Fall Detection Pendant - preventing falls is essential, especially for those over 65 years old.  New automatic fall detection pendants can tell the difference between a drop and a fall, reducing false alarms.  Fall detection pendants can be worn around the neck, or on a belt clip - always close to the body. 
  • Ab toner - Instead of spending hours in the gym doing crunches, you can enhance your workout by wearing a piece of technology that works to strengthen, firm and tone your abs. The Slendertone Connect Abs wearable belt uses electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) to stimulate the major abdominal muscles, and can be worn and used at any time - even under your clothes. Users report visible results in six to eight weeks when used at least five days per week for 30 minutes. You can control this FDA-cleared device through an app on Android or Apple smartphones, and choose one of five goal-driven programs, from essential toning to post-natal and even advanced toning. The app also tracks and shares data on your progress. Visit

  • Sleep trackers - Getting the right amount of sleep is critical for overall health, so sleep trackers have gained popularity as aids to help people get better rest. Many types are available and some are wearable. Sleep trackers monitor such sleep metrics as REM phases, how long per night you spend in light sleep versus deep sleep, wake times, how quickly you fall asleep, what time you sleep each night and more.

  • UV detector - An emerging form of wearable technology, UV detectors monitor skin exposure to harmful ultra-violet radiation - the portion of sunlight that causes sunburn, tanning and skin cancer. Multiple versions are under development, and one commercially available detector is a small patch that you wear on your skin and then scan using your smartphone that's been equipped with a special app. The app allows you to read the information recorded in the patch so you know your UV exposure, and offers tips for sun safety, including what level SPF sunscreen you should wear.

"Many health care and tech industry watchers say the wearable health care device trend is really just getting started," Nohilly says. "Technology has great potential to help make it easier than ever to achieve our health and fitness goals, whether we want to get a better night's rest, improving cardio-vascular health or get toned abs."

Content courtesy of BPT.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Birthday Goodie Bag Perfection

5 simple tips for the perfect birthday goodie bag

Birthday parties are an exciting time for all, from the party games to the presents and delicious cake, birthdays are an occasion for family and friends to come together and celebrate. There are so many ways to make a birthday party special, but why not kick it up a notch and make your next birthday party even more memorable?

Just because the party is over, doesn't mean the fun has to stop. Send your guests home with a fun and specially-crafted goodie bag. All it takes is a little creativity and some custom supplies to match your theme. Send guests home with the ultimate party favor. Your guests will thank you for the surprise and you can be sure they will be looking forward to your next party!

Keep it simple, that's the secret to the most successful goodie bag. Try these five tips for your next birthday party:

  1. All in the family. Party favors are more exciting when they involve the whole family. Include an activity that everyone will enjoy like a classic card game or a packet of flower seeds to plant as a family.
  2. Follow the theme. You've managed to successfully bring your child's birthday theme to life at the party, so why end it there? Pair a party treat with your themed decorations to give each partygoer a treasured memory in their bag. For example, Hershey birthday products, available at Wal-Mart retailers nationwide, come in a variety of fun colors to match your child's birthday bash. Whether it is pink for a princess theme or blue for an astronaut theme, you can choose from a variety of colored treats to send home with your guests.
  3. Keep contents age appropriate. Make sure to tailor goodie bag contents to match the age of attendees. While 5-year-old party guests might appreciate stickers and pencils, older children might prefer something more high-tech, like a gift certificate to a mobile app store. If you have a mix of ages among your party guests, choose items that can be enjoyed by all ages, such as craft kits.
  4. Include an engaging item. Rather than including trinkets that may get thrown out, choose items that your party guests can actually use. Bubbles are a crowd-favorite for all ages, and coloring books are great to have on hand for long road trips.
  5. Seal it with a "KISS." Make your guest feel appreciated by including a hand-written thank you note paired with some of the new HERSHEY'S KISSES Birthday Cake Candies. Nothing leaves you with the top hostess title quite like a well-crafted thank you and a sweet treat to take home.

To find all the supplies to make your next birthday party a hit, stop by the Hershey Birthday display in the Celebrations aisle at your local Wal-Mart and visit for recipes, crafts and other sweet birthday inspiration.

Courtesy of BPT

Friday, October 14, 2016

Heimlich Maneuver Anyone Can Learn

Learn the Heimlich Maneuver life-saving skill with these 4 steps

Choking is the fifth leading cause of unintentional deaths in the Unites States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

While choking is more likely to occur in children 3 years of age or younger, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, choking emergencies can happen to anyone, at anytime.

Choking is unpredictable, but preventable with the right tools. Heimlich Heroes, a Deaconess initiative based in Cincinnati, Ohio, trains young people ages 7-14 how to recognize, respond to and prevent a choking emergency.

"We have trained more than 40,000 kids to date since our inception in 2013," says Program Manager Terri Huntington. "Our specially-designed 42-inch training dolls give kids hands-on practice to help cement the steps when performing the Heimlich Maneuver."

Here are four simple steps to properly administer the maneuver from the experts at Heimlich Heroes:

1. Make a fist with one hand.

2. With the palm-side of your hand facing up, place your hand at the belly button, and then roll your fist up. This places your fist correctly at the diaphragm.

3. Place your free hand around your fisted hand.

4. Begin thrusting inward and upward, like a "J" stroke. Repeat thrusts until the blockage is removed.

Heimlich Heroes' mission is to equip young people with the skills and knowledge to reduce preventable choking deaths. And that's what they did when Taylors Creek Elementary in Hinesville, Georgia, used their training program.

Putting new skills to work

In August 2015, fourth graders Mariyah Carter and Ryan Lippy went through the training program alongside 250 classmates. Several months after the training, Mariyah put her new skills to work.

"Ryan was choking. He started gagging and his face was turning red," Mariyah said in a statement made to personnel at Taylors Creek Elementary.

When Ryan began choking on a piece of bread at lunch, Mariyah asked him if he was choking, walked around the table and performed the Heimlich Maneuver on him.

"Mariyah saved my life," Ryan says. "I think all kids and adults should know how to do the Heimlich."

School nurse Melissa Lanier ran the program with help from the school's PE Staff: Coach Brennan, Coach Polk, and Coach Flowers. When news spread about Taylors Creek very own Heimlich Hero, Lanier took pride in her student.

"Aside from just being super proud, I was humbled by her actions," Lanier says. "She just blew me away and showed me how young people can change the world in the blink of an eye with the right tools."

Heimlich Heroes is now used as part of the school's ongoing curriculum to teach students preparedness for a choking emergency.

"We have had two teachers save someone using the Heimlich and one student save a friend," Lanier says. "Those three lives saved are why we will continue to train as long as we can. We all benefit."

The Heimlich Heroes program is accessible to anyone in the world through their training-in-a-box. It provides all the necessary materials, including a video lesson and training dolls for hands-on practice.

To expand the program's reach, Heimlich Heroes also has released a Spanish program translation.

To learn more about Heimlich Heroes or how to register your group for training, visit

Content courtesy of BPT