Local Teens Answering the Call for Help

Last year was surprising in a number of ways. In the midst of a pandemic, most people were doing their best to avoid others. So, the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad membership committee was not expecting any new applications to come in for quite a long time.

We couldn’t have been more wrong. Community members came forward to help, while putting their own safety at risk. Even more surprising, many of these applicants were teenagers looking to join our cadet program.

Here, some of these members talk about why they made this decision, and how it has affected them.

Julia Jackson – age 17

I joined the Rescue Squad during COVID-19, which is a scary thing, but also in my mind this was the most impactful time to join the squad. Of course, we are very cautious on calls with preventing the spread of this virus, but overall, if anything, I think this pandemic has just made me a stronger EMT. I love that I can help our community when it really needs me.

Riley Gasson – age 16

Once the pandemic started, I saw all of the amazing work that first responders were doing. I noticed a need for EMTs and I wanted to do everything I could to help my community. Now being an EMT, I find it so rewarding to help people when they are in need. I couldn’t imagine joining in a more pivotal moment in history, and I am so thankful that I am a part of the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad.

Ashini Bhardwaj – age 17

When I became a member during the pandemic, I was very nervous at first. I was afraid of such a deadly outbreak that had cost so many people their lives. But as I started to get more patients, I realized how rewarding this job was. There needs to be people who help those who are in need and I like the fact that I can try and be one of those. Helping people makes me happy and after seeing many people in pain, I realized that I want to try and at least make them feel a little better no matter what the issue is. Becoming a member during the pandemic is probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. 

TJ Walsh – age 17

I initially looked into cadet programs last year prior to the pandemic, thinking that it would be a good way for me to get involved with healthcare. Once things were more stable over the summer, I started applying again because I wanted to jump in and help wherever I could. All over the news you would see doctors and nurses risking their lives for the well-being of others, and because I am young, healthy, and have an interest in working in medicine, I just wanted to serve my community and help in whatever way I could. 

Maura Farrell – age 18

I wanted to do something for the community amidst the pandemic, and I was drawn to SPRS because of my medical interest. Taking the EMT course hybrid was a little bit out of my comfort zone, but over time between that and virtual school I was able to get used to having online lectures. Because there were new precautions taken due to the pandemic, I felt like even though I was still learning on my shifts, everyone around me was learning a little as well. Everyone I’ve met at the squad has been so kind and supportive! They were always willing to help me review skills or study for my class. I’m so happy I made the decision to join! 

Karoline Hocevar – age 16

I joined the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad around June of 2020. Seeing my parents work during quarantine made me want to do something more with my time. I had always hoped to one day join a rescue squad and I felt like it was the perfect time to help those in need. 

If you too are interested in joining the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad, please go to our website at www.scotchplainsrescuesquad.com, email us at scotchplainsrescuesquad@gmail.com, or call 908-322-2103.

Contributing Author:  Susan Baldani, lifemember and membership chairperson of the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad.

Making Magical Memories

By Sue Baldani

Like most nonprofit organizations, Camp Fatima of New Jersey is experiencing major challenges due to COVID-19. Founded in 1968 by four Seton Hall seminary students, the camp offers free sleep-away programs for disabled children and adults. And it’s determined to continue doing so. Seeing the smiles on the faces of those it serves, and providing a respite to their families, is not something that can be sacrificed due to a pandemic.

And smile they do. It’s not called FATIMAGIC for nothing. The campers, regardless of their disabilities, get to do things that most able-bodied children and adults take for granted. They splash around in pools, sing songs, eat s’mores, dance, and take part in arts and crafts. Every child has his or her own dedicated counselor to ensure the utmost care, so each activity can be individually tailored according to the camper’s ability.

Its mission statement, “Camp Fatima provides free, life enriching camp experiences for children and adults with developmental disabilities,” says it all. Some of the campers are in wheelchairs, while others have neurological, sensory or other serious issues. Camp Fatima and its volunteers open their hearts to all who come. It truly is a magical place.

The volunteers come from diverse ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. Most have experience working directly with the disabled, and include teachers, nurses, police officers, firefighters, college students and other professionals. For these selfless individuals, the sounds of laughter and the looks of pure joy on the campers’ faces are all the payment they need.

Many of these volunteers live locally. Billy Malone, a Scotch Plains firefighter and Fanwood resident, became a volunteer in 1994 and has been the chairperson for the past 13 years. Scotch Plains resident and former Scotch Plains police officer, Jamie Denman, has been a volunteer since 1979, and is the current director.

Even though no one at the camp is paid, all this magic requires funding. It costs several hundred thousand dollars to operate the two children’s summer sessions and the four adult weekends each year. Funding to support and host the more than 200 campers and over 450 on site-volunteers comes from generous benefactors, corporate matching gifts, private giving, and fundraising. Because of COVID-19, many of the usual fundraisers are not able to take place.

So this year, Camp Fatima is looking for individuals to sponsor a camper. The cost to feed, house, and supply materials to each camper is more than $1000.00. To find out more about Camp Fatima, or to volunteer, make a donation, or sponsor a camper, please go to https://campfatimanj.org/.  Since the camp is a designated 501(c) (3) organization, all donations may be tax-deductible.

 Camp Fatima of New Jersey: Changing Lives, Enriching Hearts – One Camper, One Volunteer at a Time.

Hockey on Ice

How COVID-19 has put the sport on hold

By Susan Baldani

The sports industry, like many others, has been seriously impacted by the restrictions necessitated by COVID-19. From managers and players to fans and arena owners, the effect has been devastating, especially for a sport like hockey.

“It’s had a really dramatic effect on the business of hockey at every level, as it’s had with other sports,” says Costa Papista, sports manager and former semi-professional hockey player. “However, with some other sports, you can practice and train outdoors, but with hockey, not so much.

“You’re in an indoor arena, out on the ice, working really hard, and then you come off the ice after your 60 second shift and you’re sitting on the bench shoulder to shoulder with your teammates, breathing heavily and gasping for air. So, it seems logical that this airborne virus is bad luck for hockey.”

Hockey also doesn’t have the television revenue that some other sports do, he explains. It relies heavily on ticket sales and sponsorship and those two go hand-in-hand – if you’re not selling tickets and filling stadiums, the value to sponsors is greatly diminished.

At the minor professional level, says Papista, they’re looking at many different options. “Primarily, by having a shorter season and trying to hold off as long as possible to be able to get fans into the arenas and stadiums because that ticket revenue is so critical.”

A lot of the minor leagues have set start dates, then reset then, and then reset them again. Most semi-professional leagues and major junior leagues would have normally started in September, but they’ve been waiting to be able to at least be allowed a limited number of fans.

“No one wants to just cancel; they just want to wait until it’s safe and feasible,” says Papista. “But the way things have been going with case counts, it’s not really encouraging.

“It’s very difficult on so many levels because you got players that have a window of time where they have to be seen, recruited, and signed. So it’s tough on the players, tough on the families, and tough on the team owners. I also feel really bad for the arena owners and operators because they literally survive on ice rentals.”

Papista loves the sport, and has been playing since he was 4 years old. As a young man, he played on different local teams in his hometown of Grosse Pointe, and then in 1985, was drafted into the Ontario hockey league by the Sudbury Wolves. He’s also played for the London Knights, and for the University of New Brunswick in Canada while on a hockey scholarship. In addition, he’s competed internationally at the Hockey World Championships (1995) as a member of the Greek National Team.

“I like the speed of the game, and the physicality of the game as well,” he says. “I always loved being part of a team and I’ve been lucky to be a part of some close-knit teams. Some of those guys are my closest friends.”

Besides playing hockey, Papista always had an interest in the business side of sports as well. He has parlayed his experience and knowledge of the sport into management positions and has launched start-up franchises. He also currently plays on a local recreation team just for fun. So, he is seeing the sport struggle from many different angles.

Papista thinks the next six to 12 months are going to remain very challenging and difficult, but he does believe that hockey, and other sports, will rebound.

“If the vaccines from different companies are really effective, and once people get vaccinated and feel comfortable going out in public again, especially in large gatherings, I think all sports are going to recover,” he says.

“But I do think things are going to have to be done somewhat differently. It’s not going to be back to normal; it’s going to be back to some semblance of normalcy.”

Written for Grosse Pointe Lifestyle magazine in Michigan.

Feeding Families

How a local restaurant is giving back to those in need

By Susan Baldani

Last spring, Calabria Pizzeria and Restaurant in Livingston marked its 40th anniversary. Unfortunately, because of the pandemic, a big celebration just wasn’t possible. Instead, the family who owns the restaurant came up with a way to support and thank their loyal customers.  

“I created the Family Meal at the beginning of the pandemic in order for us to give back to customers,” says Gabriella Ottaiano, one of the general managers. “Plus, we wanted to do something special for our anniversary on April 1. It was only supposed to be for that day, but the demand was so crazy that we decided to continue it.”

It is a true family business: Gabriella is the daughter of Bernardino Ottaiano, who founded the restaurant along with his brother, Giuseppe (Joe) Ottaiano, Sr. His son, Giuseppe Ottaiano, Jr., is the other general manager.

For $39.99, customers who order the Family Meal get a half tray of chicken, a half tray of pasta, a half tray of salad, a whole pizza, a bottle of wine, and homemade Italian desserts. It’s enough food to feed a family of four to six people, says Gabriella.

Since the pandemic started, Calabria has been doing curbside pickup and no-contact delivery. Last fall, the family decided to feed struggling families at no cost.

“There are a lot of people in need who can’t make ends meet, and they’re literally losing their homes,” says Gabriella.

So, on Monday, November 16, she posted on Facebook, in part, “If you are not working/not getting a paycheck/struggling to make ends meet and run out of food or necessities…please don’t let yourself or your kids go to sleep with an empty stomach.”

All people had to do was send her a message at calabrias1@aol.com. In less than a week, the restaurant had fed over 100 families. “No questions asked, we’ll feed your family,” she says. “We’ve been donating the Family Meal.”

In order to continue to help people in need, customers have been buying gift cards to be used to feed more families. “In the beginning, we were just doing it on our own. Many of the gift cards purchased were used to buy 80 families Thanksgiving dinner (a value of $125.00).” They will use the other gift cards once they can’t afford to donate the Family Meals any longer.

“People can call and purchase a gift card which will be used to feed needy people,” says Gabriella. “We keep track of everything and everyone gets a phone confirmation of their gift card.

“There’s a lot of people out there and we need help spreading the word. The more we share, the more we can help people. The response, so far, has been unbelievable.”

If you’re interested in purchasing and donating gift cards, or just getting a delicious meal, go to Calabria Pizzeria and Restaurant’s website at https://calabrianj.com/, or call 973-992-8496. Calabria can also be found on Instagram.

Written for Chatham & Short Hills Lifestyle magazine in New Jersey.

Coping During COVID

Managing our mental health

By Susan Baldani

There’s no doubt that COVID-19 is having a negative effect on our mental health. Each day is filled with anxiety and stress over what the latest numbers will be and how our lives are going to be affected.

Here to help us navigate this new landscape and give us some tips on coping is Ellen Miller from Starting Point Therapy. Ellen, originally from Grosse Pointe, is a licensed marriage and family therapist in both Michigan and Illinois.

“It’s very rare that I have a session with somebody where COVID doesn’t come up because it’s impacting and touching people at all levels,” she says. “Everything that falls under the umbrella of things that can impact your mental health, COVID has a characteristic of that.”

Therefore, it’s important to be aware of how you’re dealing with uncertainty and stress. Some symptoms of depression, says Ellen, include self-isolation, negative talk, low motivation, and being hard pressed to find the positive in situations.

“It’s tricky, because with COVID, we’re saying to social distance, and not spend time with friends and family. Since staying distant is a symptom of depression, it’s hard to say what came first. For example, are you isolating because of COVID, or are you isolating because you’re feeling depressed or anxious. I would say that if people are feeling it’s hard to get through the day, hard to see the positives, and hard to be productive, it’s something to watch out for.

“However, I make it very clear to my clients that we want to set manageable expectations. We’re in a time of trauma and stress and anxiety, and limited human interactions, which are all things that get in the way of us being our best selves.”

Ellen says to manage expectations, but still be mindful of things that bring you joy, and things you can do that make you feel proud. If your form of self-care is to spend time with family and friends, continue to make that a priority, but in a way that keeps you safe and holds you accountable. So, if that means setting up Zoom meetings, or being able to safely socialize outside with masks, do it.

“If it’s fitness, and you can’t go to your favorite exercise classes, then try doing something like running or a different type of exercise that can still meet that need,” she says.

“Another really good tip for people to carry with them as they navigate COVID is that it’s not an either/or situation. It’s not ‘I’m great, everything is great, and I’m not affected’, or ‘Oh my gosh, this is the worst thing that’s ever happened.’ Yes, it is very challenging, but it’s both.”

Maybe, she says, it’s creating more opportunities for you to spend time with your family, or being grateful that you’re able to work. She wants people to hold on to the entire experience and not feel like they have to oscillate between both extremes, because that will also create a lot of stress.

Something that’s also prevalent, especially with younger people, says Ellen, is COVID guilt if they have either gotten it or have done something to put themselves or others at risk.

“I would say, when people feel guilt, is check your intentions,” she says. “Was your intention to hurt somebody, no, but could you hold yourself more accountable and not put yourself and others at risk, yes.

“It’s interesting to be in this field at this time because the world is a challenging place and mental health issues are definitely on the rise. But, it’s a great time for people to get connected with a mental health professional: it’s much easier to access care because of the availability of virtual sessions and insurance being great with coverage. From my point of view, as a clinician, holding sessions virtually has not made treatment less effective.”

So, don’t hesitate to reach our for support during these trying times.  Help is just a click or phone call away.

Written for Grosse Pointe Lifestyle magazine in Michigan.


Managing the New Normal

Advice on adapting to our ever-changing lifestyles

By Susan Baldani

Selena Soni, a licensed clinical social worker with MUV Counseling in Scottdale, has been in practice for 15 years. Her specialties are anxiety disorders, depression, and adjustment to new medical and psychiatric diagnoses.

Here, she gives advice about dealing with the changes and restrictions that COVID-19 has introduced into our lives. She also talks about getting through the holidays in this unprecedented time.

  • Create some space around expectations. Most of us expect a lot from ourselves, but allow yourself to slow down and do things differently.
  • Connect with yourself and with the people you love, and be open to communicating about what’s going on and how you’re feeling. Right now, we’re all having to deal with things that make us uncomfortable.
  • Look at what’s important, and make adjustments to get that same feeling, be it holding Zoom calls or phone conferencing with family and friends. And, don’t give up on weekends; instead, find something that works within your comfort zone.
  • Develop your “Quaranteam,” have tolerance, and be very open about what you’re doing and when you’re doing it.
  • Get outside and soak up some Vitamin D. It’s really important for our entire body to move, and walking or riding a bike and getting fresh air is really a sensory experience. Our bodies need that engagement, and being outside gives us more variation than anything that we can do inside four walls. It’s incredibly important for our mental health.
  • For the holidays, decide what particular traditions you love and then figure out how to keep them. They may look different, but still give you the same feeling.
  • Ask for help to get everything done. Recruit your loved ones to make holidays relaxing and memorable.

Written for Scottsdale Lifestyle magazine in Arizona.

Playing Nice – Book Review

By Sue Baldani

What if a stranger came to your home and told you that your child wasn’t really yours? That he was switched at birth with the stranger’s son? In the book “Playing Nice” by JP Delaney, this is exactly what happens.

When stay-at-home dad Pete Riley opens the door of his small house in London one ordinary morning, he thinks the gentleman ringing the bell is looking to buy or possibly sell something. He has no idea that after this encounter, his life and that of his family will never be ordinary again.

“Playing Nice,” published in 2020, leads readers through a myriad of emotions, from sadness and fear to anger and disbelief. The characters they think are charming and perfectly normal may actually be the ones who are the most evil. And those telling Pete not to worry, that everything can be worked out, may be the most conniving of all.

Who knows what really goes on in people’s minds, or for that matter, behind closed doors? Many have secrets, and keeping these secrets from getting out may be worth killing for. But could these everyday, well-educated parents really go to that extreme? Why yes, because at least one is what psychiatrists would label a psychopath.

While Pete and his partner Maddie try to deal with the nightmare of possibly losing their 2-year-old child Ben, they also face the unimaginable consequence of not being able to raise their own birth child. The situation may force this once ordinary couple to do things they never imagined.  And it may make the other couple do even worse.

Also, can evil genes be inherited? Ben, even as a toddler, has shown himself to exhibit some of his “real” father’s less-than-admirable traits. If they do manage to hold onto Ben, how can they prevent him from following in his father’s footsteps?

Readers will be taken on a wild ride as the two couples battle to keep not only what’s rightly theirs, but also what isn’t. Who will win, and who will lose, possibly even paying with their own life?

JP Delany is a pseudonym for an author who has written under many different names. His New York Times bestsellers include “The Girl Before,” “Believe Me,” and “The Perfect Wife.” To find out more about him and his books, go to http://www.jpdelaney.co.uk/.

 Susan Baldani lives in the U.S. and writes articles about small town life, décor, books and food for various magazines across the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. You can contact her at suebaldani@yahoo.com, through her website at www.mywritingwall.com, or on Twitter @mywritingwall.

Written for The Felixstowe Magazine in Felixstowe, Suffolk, England.

Virtual Santa Visits

Christmas wishes are not on hold this year

By Susan Baldani

What would Christmas be without a visit to see Santa? Even though the big guy is very busy this time of year, he always finds time to speak with his fans. With COVID-19 on the naughty list, many of these in-person visits have been canceled.

But don’t despair! Santa has come up with a way to stay in touch and hear boys’ and girls’ wishes. Like most people these days, Santa is holding a lot of meetings through Zoom calls from his residence at the North Pole. Once he’s done ensuring all his elves are wearing masks and practicing social distancing while making all the toys requested on the ‘Dear Santa’ letters and through Zoom, Santa will sit down with your kids so he can add their wishes to his long list.

Children will also be able to sing their favorite Christmas songs with the jolly guy, or hear him read the classic, “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” more fondly known as “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” For an additional fee, Santa can share custom messages with your children to foster Christmas joy or to remind kiddos to be good so they can stay on his nice list.

Scheduling a meeting with Santa is easy, and calls can be conducted on computers, tablets, or video-enabled smartphones. Group calls can also be held with various organizations, such as scout troops and school classes.

These Zoom sessions usually last 10 minutes, but parents can sign up for longer times to enable up to four children to have their own personal visits with Santa. And, these calls can be recorded to share with other family members, such as grandparents and aunts and uncles. Your children can also share them with their own kids one day.

To bring the magic of Christmas into your home this season, just click on the website VisitWithSantaClaus.com and choose an available day and time. All payments are done through PayPal, and because Santa is a giving man, a portion of the proceeds collected from these visits are being used to support the website company’s annual toy drive.

Written for Franklin Lifestyle magazine in Tennessee.

Women Helping Women

Sharing faith and fellowship to overcome challenges

By Susan Baldani

Faithfully Restored Women, a faith-based group, was started by four close friends who have experienced more than their share of adversity. Recognizing the comfort they found in each other and from their faith encouraged them to seek ways to offer hope to others.

“Our friend group, for being in our 30s, has really gone through some pretty major life events,” says Executive Director Jamie Heard.

In the summer of 2015, Heather Milburn, the development director, was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 30; she relapsed in 2017.

“When I was young my mom passed away from breast cancer; it’s hereditary,” she says. “Then my father passed away a year later.”

With two young children of her own, she is thankful for her faith and trusts in God’s plan.

“My mom knew where she was going and that one day, we would all see each other again,” says Heather. “And now being in the situation that I’m in, I cling to that.”

Jamie has also relied heavily on her friends and faith to persevere through tragedy.

“When I was 25, three months before my wedding, my dad committed suicide; that was the first thing that kind of rocked my faith,” she says.

Having grown up in the church, she was initially angry at God. But a few years later, after having moved to Nashville with her husband, she found Fellowship Church in Brentwood.

“That really helped me have a really strong foundation.”

This foundation would be paramount in getting through one of the greatest losses a parent can suffer.  

“In December 2015, we had a daughter named Madeline and a son named William,” says Jamie. “When he was 2 ½, William choked at lunch and later on passed away.

After that happened, I was in such a different place in my faith that I could look back and really see that God was preparing me for losing William. I trusted Him and no matter what happened, I knew it was going to be okay.”

Six months after William died, Jennie Rebecca Springer, the secretary of the board for Faithfully Restored, lost her 7-year-old son, Hayes, in a car accident.

“That’s how we connected,” says Jamie. “We had a mutual friend who called me and told me what happened. I reached out, sent her a book, wrote her a note, and we met, and that relationship has been so sweet because you each know the depth of pain you’ve experienced. As much as my friends were there for me, they don’t really know what it’s like.”

So today, through Faithfully Restored, the group sends encouraging notes and care packages. They also try to match prayer partners with people who have gone through similar situations.

Jamie Hamilton, the president of the board, has dealt with her own struggles of infertility. She and her husband eventually adopted Jack and Stella to complete their family. Today, the group helps support adoptive and foster families as well.

Faithfully Restored provides many other services to help women. Now that the organization has grown a bit, it can do more than ever before.

“At first, it was the four of us meeting once a month at our homes, writing encouraging notes,” says Jamie. “Any money we spent was out of our pockets. It’s been neat now to have donors walk alongside us and kind of dream of what else we can do. We’re so blessed and thankful.”

Just the other day, she says, she met with a 44-year-old woman who had witnessed her son being murdered. This mom decided she was going back to school to get her counseling degree, but she was short $1,500.

When Jamie told her the group would give her that money, the woman broke down in tears.

Faithfully Restored held its first fundraiser in April. Because of COVID-19, it was a virtual event. The focus was not only on raising funds but also on telling William’s story and how, after he died, his heart was donated.

“We were presented with the gift of organ donation, and we said yes,” says Jamie. “His heart went to an 18-month-old girl named Ava. Within 24 hours after surgery, we had connected with her family. It was undeniably God’s plan.”

Elisabeth Hasselbeck, who is one of Jamie’s friends, interviewed her and Amie (Ava’s mother) during the event.

“We also had three amazing songwriters (Luke Laird, Lee Thomas Miller, and Jordan Reynolds) sign up, and we called it ‘Stories from the Heart,’” Jamie says. “We did it live from the Loveless and broadcast it on YouTube and Facebook. We had $136,000 come in for Faithfully Restored.”

Their goal for November and December will be supporting families who have experienced loss. They’ll be expanding the group’s Amazon wish list and holding Giving Tuesdays. In addition, they have an ongoing monthly program called Hope Builders, and donations can also be made by texting the word “Give” to 615-551-3737.

To find out more, go to https://www.faithfullyrestoredwomen.com/ or look on Instagram and Facebook under Restored Women.

Written for Brentwood Lifestyle magazine in Tennessee.


Giving Thanks

Friends are the family you choose

by Susan Baldani

For those who may be far away from their families or not able to celebrate Thanksgiving with them for other reasons, consider having a Friendsgiving instead. Invite those people who have made a positive impact on your life and who you would love to have seated around your holiday table. After all, the day is about being thankful and sharing with others.

In her popular blog, Life of Alley, Alley shows us just how to do this. Originally from Connecticut and living in Houston since 2014, she created her blog as a place where women could go to find inspiration, advice, and encouragement from other women; her blog covers everything from home décor and wellness to food and beauty.

Last year, Alley threw a boho-styled Friendsgiving in her backyard. Luckily, in Houston, the weather is usually mild enough to be comfortable outside in late November.

She mentions on her blog that the unofficial holiday of Friendsgiving seems to have popped up in the mid-1990s. A combination of the words “Friends” and “Thanksgiving”, it’s exactly what it sounds like. Friends come together to celebrate Thanksgiving and give thanks for one another.

Alley encourages hosts to think outside the box when it comes to the menu. There’s no rule that says you have to stick to traditional Thanksgiving foods, although some people might be upset if they don’t find a turkey on the table.

Also, decide how you’ll get all the food on the table, whatever it may be. Will you do all the cooking, or will you roast the turkey and have your friends each bring a side dish? Or, will you ask guests to bring a bottle of wine or dessert? Maybe you would prefer to sit back and relax and have the entire dinner, from appetizers to dessert, catered. You could even go a step further and hire someone who can serve and take care of clean up. Friendsgiving, says Alley, should be a relaxed event where you can sit back and have a great time with good friends.

Alternatively, if you are invited to a Friendsgiving and it’s not clear on the invitation, she suggests asking the host(s) what they would like you to bring. If no food is needed, then bring a bottle of wine or a small thank you gift such as flowers or a candle.

To find out more about Alley and to check out her blog, go to https://www.lifeofalley.com/.

Alley’s tips for a warm, wonderful, and successful Friendsgiving:

  • Assess your space and seating area in order to determine how many people you can comfortably accommodate. Everyone should have a spot at the table and a comfortable seat.
  • Then, create your guest list and send out invitations. Keep track of how who responds and how many will be attending.
  • Organize your table linens, plates, and silverware to make sure you have the right amount of supplies.
  • Next, plan your menu, and decide who will prepare it.

Written for Cypress Lifestyle magazine in Cypress, Texas.