Start a new tradition

This year, we created a series of short videos to show what Christmas inside of a group home looks like. Individuals decorated Christmas trees, made lists for Santa, and hung lights outside that shone brightly in their neighborhoods.

For many of the individuals in Good Neighbor homes, Christmas in a house and community they call their own is a new thing. And it's our joy to make it a tradition.

What's your favorite holiday tradition? Let us know in the comments below.

5 healthy tips to tackle stress this holiday season

If you've ever experienced stress during the holidays, you're not alone. Turns out, more Americans say they feel like their stress goes up this time of year than those who say it goes down (which is kinda the point of a holiday, right?)

That's why we've compiled a short list of healthy tips to help make the holidays feel a little more jolly.

1. Give yourself a break.

Nothing spells stress like unrealistic expectations. Set your own expectations this year for what to cook, what to buy, where to travel. Especially if this past year has been particularly stressful already for you. If ever there were a time to rest, it's the holidays!

2. Reach out.

Seek out support and encouragement from friends, family, your community. You might be surprised at who is eager to help. Flip side: volunteer or give a hug! Either way, try to step a bit out of your comfort zone if you have to, joy might be hiding around the corner.

3. Set finance goals.

The #1 cause of stress this time of year is finances. Set a goal that's reasonable to you and stick to it. There are also ways to get creative with gift-giving on a budget. Think outside the box this year with how you show your loved ones you care about them!

4. Don't abandon healthy habits.

Keep moving. Take a walk after a holiday meal. Also, sleep well! It's easy to get caught up in wrapping presents, preparing meals, celebrating life with those you love, but all that is hard work! Don't forget your ZZZs.

5. Know if it's more.

If your anxiety or stress or sadness persists, consider talking to a therapist. Be willing to invest your mental health just like you would your physical health. If you're noticing recurring issues, engaging care for your mental health might be the best first step forward.

Think of any other tips? Let us know!

Holiday decorating contest

The week before Christmas, we went out to judge the holiday decorating chops of the individuals and staff in our homes. Each of the five regions (including the Northern Virginia, Petersburg, and Richmond areas) selected a house and teamed up to decorate.

Perhaps the hardest part was picking a winner. Each house was unique and lit up the block. The creativity and dedication shone brightly with each bulb and inflatable Santa Claus. But brighter still were the smiles on the individuals’ faces.

Thanks to all of our staff and individuals for their hard work decorating the houses! We’re looking forward to next year!