seeing the small: how to look for the little things
words to live by: the only way is up

holiday awesomeness: giveaway + holiday photos

Holiday awesome()

Remember when I reviewed The Book of Awesome back in 2010? Or The Book of (Even More) Awesome in 2011? Well, the creator of these books, Neil Pasricha, hasn't stopped sharing the awesomeness. He's created a third book: The Book of (Holiday) Awesome, and, as a big time holiday lover, this one might be my favorite.

Ever since I stumbled across his site, 1000 Awesome Things, Neil has been an inspiration to me. He seeks out the good in the smallest of situations and that's such a wonderful way to stay present. According to his bio on Amazon, Neil "is terrible at wrapping gifts, can't carve a turkey, and always forgets birthdays. He's just a regular guy who loves seeing the first shipment of eggnog in the store, eating all the chocolate in the Advent calendar at once, and driving around town to see all the Christmas lights. Neil started his site as a small reminder-in a world of rising sea levels, global conflict, and a troubled economy-of the free and easy little joys that make life sweet."

Neil's new book, The Book of (Holiday) Awesome, is showing us just how important it is to find the small joys during the crazy, hectic holidays.  There are a lot of things to be stressed out about during the holidays. Sometimes the holidays bring out the worst in people. However, as Neil reminds us in his latest installment of awesome, there are so many completely awesome things about the holidays. From Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa to such holidays as Mother's Day and Father's Day, Thanksgiving, and beyond, Neil's book will show you just how awesome the holidays are. 

Neil inspired me to think about what I love most about the upcoming holiday season -- Christmas, in particular -- and I've created a list below of some of the things I think are awesome about the holidays. Creating it has made me really thankful (and excited!) for the next few weeks and all I have to look forward to. I'd highly recommend taking a moment to create your own list of holiday awesome! 


Positively Present's Holiday Awesome

  • Seeing a Christmas tree lighting up a window in early December 

  • A holiday gift list with every person crossed off

  • The Santa display suddenly appearing at the mall

  • Finding the absolute perfect gift for someone you love

  • Uploading all of your favorite holiday songs to your iPod

  • Deer crossing signs with red stickers placed as Rudolph's nose

  • Snowflakes coming down on Christmas morning (rare where I live!)

  • An impressively, perfectly wrapped package

  • Ridiculously tacky holiday decorations on a neighbor's house

  • Baking (and eating!) sugar cookies with holiday sprinkles

  • Christmas music playing in every single store

  • Hanging up the stockings and decorating the tree

  • The moment you hang your favorite ornament on the tree

  • Terrible made-for-TV holiday movies (love you, Hallmark channel!)

  • Cracking open a new door on an advent calendar

  • My dog Bella's excitement when opening (everyone's!) Christmas gifts

  • Turning off all the lights except the Christmas tree -- beautiful!

  • Holiday favorites (Snoopy, Rudolph, Frosty, the Grinch) on TV 

  • Dressing up for holiday parties (sparkles! glitter!)

  • Receiving holiday cards from dear friends in the mail 

  • When you unwrap the gift you really, really wanted

  • Seeing strangers in the holiday spirit and sharing a smile

  • Memories of childhood holidays coming back to you

  • The smell of a roaring fire coming from someone's house

  • Remembering what it was like to really believe in Santa

  • Donating clothes and toys to those in need

  • The smells of pine, cinnamon, pumpkin pie

  • Opening one gift on Christmas Eve (which one will you pick!?)

  • The look on a child's face on Christmas morning

  • Watching the movie Elf over and over again

  • Knowing the words to way too many holiday songs

  • New holiday favorites (Jingle, I heart you!)


I know it was probably super exciting to read what I think is awesome about the holidays, but I know you're really dying to check out the what the awesome expert, Neil, has to say. Lucky for you, you can win a free copy of the book to keep for yourself or give as a holiday gift! See details below. 

The-book-of-holiday-awesomeBook of (Holiday) Awesome Giveaway

  • Leave a comment about holiday awesomeness (any holiday!).

  • Include your email address so we can contact you when you win. 

  • Want an extra chance to win? Tweet this link + mention @positivepresent 

  • The winner will be randomly selected on Tuesday, December 8, 2011.



Missing the Positively Present Photo Challenge?

Don't worry! For all of you interested in continuing to snap and share your photos, you can share your holiday awesomeness with the Positively Present 25 Day Photo Challenge: Christmas! Below are the categories for the next 25 days. 

Christmas Photo Challenge


Day 1: Lights

Day 2: Decorations

Day 3: Gifts

Day 4: Tradition

Day 5: Santa

Day 6: Stockings

Day 7: Snow

Day 8: Tree

Day 9: Treats

Day 10: Joy

Day 11: Carols

Day 12: Vintage

Day 13: Festive

Day 14: Glitter

Day 15: Warmth

Day 16: Ornaments

Day 17: Wreath

Day 18: Giving

Day 19: Reindeer

Day 20: Memories

Day 21: Bells

Day 22: Cookies

Day 23: Sparkle

Day 24: Xmas Eve

Day 25: Unwrapped


Feel free to join the Photo Challenge any time! You can check out the Positively Present photos on Flickr, join the Positively Present Photo Challenge: Christmas! Flickr group, and share your photos on Twitter or Instagram using #PPphoto



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I recently found your site and just in time! The holidays are the most stressful and in the past I only enjoy them AFTER the holiday has past and I can reflect. This year, I am working to enjoy each minute as it's happening. Thank you for your help.

I was going to start the Gratitude challenge today, but then I just saw this one. So now I'm off to take a pic. :) And it's a good thing I live in North Pole, AK, lots of things to take pics of. :)


I love Christmas lights, especially the white ones! I can't wait until after Christmas so I can buy some pretty ones on sale to use next year :)

Suzanne - So glad you found this site at the perfect time! It's so hard to stay present during the holidays, but I really think the 25 Day Photo Challenge will help you. Enjoy it!

Hayley - North Pole! How perfect! I can't wait to see your photos. Feel free to share them on Flickr or link to them here.

Katie - There's definitely something magical about Christmas lights. Whenever I see them, they put a smile on my face!

Excited about your new Christmas photo challenge - I did your Gratitude photo challenge && LOVED it. Every holiday is AWESOME in it's own special way, but for some reason Christmas to me always brings about it's own unique warmth && love. Maybe it's the shopping, the lights && decorations, the rush till that special day, but for me - it's just being with the people I love :)

I love you even more now that I know you like Elf too :)

I wait ALL year for mid-September so I can get out my Halloween decorations!! I live for Fall and have an exploding closet of pumpkins, ghosts, ghouls and goblins, monsters, and spider webs to prove it!! I leave them up as long as I possibly can without being 'that house' in the neighborhood! I even considered having Santa-hatted Jack-o-lanterns last year! Ha!! That'd be a sight to see!!

I absolutely love family on holidays. Not extended family really. I just have small get togethers with my immediate family (which also now includes my sister's fiance and my long-term boyfriend). This also included my late-Dad's parents until they both passed away at the beginning of this year (2 months apart, exactly). So I was worried the holidays would become a somber time for me and my family, but we have made the best of celebrating to our fullest and still respecting the loss of the hosts of our get-togethers. I absolutely love the multiple opportunities to remember them and the love we all shared. :)

Also, I love 'The Little Drummer Boy' song. It has the best vibe for winter and Christmas. :)

My holiday awesomeness is waking up my parents Christmas morning and bringing my stocking onto their bed look through first. Yes, I still do this...yes, I am 24 years old! Happy holidays!

My (Christmas) holiday awesomeness is trying new-to-me recipes -- this weekend I am trying my hand at home made peppermint marshmallows.

I am joining your 25-day Photo Challenge! See you on flickr/instagram.

Brittney - I'm so glad you're going to do the Christmas challenge! It's only Day 2, but I'm already feeling more excited about Christmas by doing it, paying more attention to all of the holiday festivities.

Jen - Aww, thanks! Have you seen the post I wrote on Elf? You'll probably like it:

Angie - Halloween is my favorite holiday so I completely know where you're coming from! My birthday's at the end of August and I feel like that's the start of the Halloween season. I love it! I think Santa pumpkins is a great idea! Just take a look at The Nightmare Before Christmas movie for ideas!

Tori - It's so wonderful to hear that you spend quality time with family during the holidays. With the hustle and bustle of everything, this can be very hard to do, but it sounds like you really make the most of the season. And it's so great that you use the holidays as a time not to be sad for your loss, which I'm sorry to hear about, but to rejoice in the memory of your loved ones.

Dana - Haha, I'm 28 and still love all of my childhood Christmas traditions with my family so I know where you're coming from. I love the idea of bringing your stocking into the bed. I wish I'd thought of that as a kid!

Laurie - Ooh, those sound delicious! New traditions are always so much fun! So glad you're joining in on the challenge... perhaps this will become a new tradition!

Holiday awesome - is the feeling in december, people are little more friendlier, kind, giving, just the joy in the air. ESPECIALLY with the first sprinkle of snow. I'm a Christmas freak and the holiday awesome feeling in dec is the best!!!!!

I receive a daily positive thought from you guys every day - but my favorite most awesome Christmas thing is our church choir's annual cantata. Written and compiled by our choir director, we practice long and hard, but the final product is always awesome! (NOT because I am an awesome singer by any stretch of the imagination - I make a joyful noise!)

Jenn - I agree. There's definitely more joy in the air this time of year and it makes for a very festive holiday season!

Marcia - That sounds great! I'm sure your choir is wonderful and singing is always a great way to feel festive.

My holiday awesome moment is when I bring in all my Christmas decorations from the garage and start decorating our house. It's like seeing old friends and catching up. I love putting the ornaments on the tree and reminiscing about the stories behind each one. The holidays are the most wonderful time of the year!

Rachel - Bringing out all of the decorations is such a great feeling! It's so much fun to get out all of the ornaments. For the first year ever, I have my own full-sized tree and I love it!

The best holiday awesome moment is during Christmas when you are able to sit down on your couch and enjoy the cold weather, the holiday songs playing on your stereo, the Christmas tree, hot chocolate and your beloved ones at the same time! There is nothing better that enjoying all these elements at once. Christmas is the perfect time to live Positively Present! Each day is always special, so you LIVE IT!

Ana - That sounds like a PERFECT holiday scenario. Just reading your words made me feel like I was in the holiday spirit. :)

I am finding it hard to get in the holiday spirit this year. I haven't even decorated and don't know if I will. This year has been challenging to say the least. Maybe The Book of AWESOME will get be in the mood and out of this funk! :)

Michelle - I've had years like that where I don't feel as into the holiday spirit. If you're looking for inspiration, this book will certainly motivate you!

This comment comes from Saggleo, who was unable to post on the blog for some reason...

I think it's a toss up between Thanksgiving and Christmas...but Christmas may have the top spot because it just turns into a whole day of relaxing, fun and games with family and friends (I particularly enjoy the time with family - seem to get along moreso during the holidays lol).

Excited for the Christmas challenge...still working on the last one so I'll just combine them. =)

Tori...I'm sorry to hear of your family's losses...I hope you all find comfort in your memories during this holiday season and always.

Saggleo - Thanks for your comment! I'm glad you're going to be participating in the Christmas challeneg! Yay!

Some of the holiday awesomeness for me is in the handmade gifts and time spent with loved ones. After a life scare a couple of years ago, I do my best to stay present (why I loved your photo challenge) and be grateful for each and every second that includes something meaningful.

As November went on, it made me decide to start my own photo challenge with the beginning of December and one that I'll continue throughout 2012 as well. Thank you for being an inspiration!

Estrella - Handmade gifts are really a great part of the holiday season. I hope you're enjoying your photo challenge. If you want to join in on the 25 Days of Christmas Challenge, you can see the photos here:

Contest to win the Happiness Project 2012 calendar - I dont know how to comment on the other site, but I am commenting here on how I plan to make 2012 a happy year... to start, I had a bit of tragedy in 2011. By focusing on the blessings within the sadness, I am choosing to make ALL my relationships a priority... I have started in a small way, just this week. I am participating in a secret santa game at work and I drew the name of a gal that I dont know well and have noted many times to be unfriendly and unhappy, someone I would typically avoid. At first I thought to myself, it would have been more "fun" to draw a different name, but then I realized, this was my opportunity to challenge myself to do nice things for her for the next 7 days. I certainly cannot change her or her attitude, but maybe for these 7 days I can make her smile even if just at the moment she gets my surprise... I am realizing that my attitude and how I choose to approach each interaction and each relationship will set the tone. If I want to be happy and honor those that I love most (that are here or that I have lost), my best course of action is to be myself, honest, positive and bring joy... We have to cherish every moment and THINK HAPPY. I truly believe that what I put out there will return to me two-fold, just as my steady faith and prayer brings me what I need each day. I will strive to maintain this effort in 2012. If only with a small act each day, I hope to change someones thinking or make them smile. This will bring me joy...

Kristen - I love your comment! You've taken such a great approach to handling the difficult person you drew as your secret santa partner. I love your positive thinking. I'm sorry to hear that you've had a tragedy this year, but if you keep up the positive attitude, I know thinks will look up for you in 2012.

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