For as long as I can remember, my family never had those traditions that most families have when the holidays rolled around. Whenever it came to anything holiday related, my dad would be working for the extra money, and sometimes we’d go and see him at work for dinner. That was basically our Thanksgiving and Christmas celebration every year for as long as I can remember.

About four years ago when I started dating my now husband, I began to see what the holidays should really be like. His family is very big on holidays to the extent of arguing over who gets to host which holiday each year. And that’s when I started to see how much fun the holidays could actually be.

My sister and I decided right then and there that we were going to make our own traditions. Forget the fact that all these years we never had any. We just decided with the snap of our fingers we needed to do this for us, and if we met others along the way that would join us, great! If not, we would still make it happen.

photo of green leafed plants

We started with little things like watching How The Grinch Stole Christmas (the Jim Carrey version) and listening to Christmas songs when they played on the radio. Pinterest wasn’t as big as it is now, but we were able to find ideas through that and Google. We saw that “Elf on a Shelf” was big with parents, and how adults in general were using the idea of naughty elves to make funny jokes.

That year my husband actually bought us both an “Elf on a Shelf” for Christmas. It was one of the best things we’d ever received because we’d never had anything like it. We kept it in the box because we didn’t want to ruin it, but we put it to use the next year. The second year was a little hard to do anything because of health issues with my dad, but the year after we decided to wear ugly Christmas sweaters with our significant others, and they were FUNNY! I bought mine but my sister made hers and my husband’s that year.

Last year, we brought my husband’s cousin into the family traditions. We all chose to wear some kind of Grinch themed clothing and it was great! It made us all happy that we could start doing these small things which meant a great deal. This year we’re still trying to decide what we are going to do, but we are steering towards actually dressing up as our very own “Elf on a Shelf.” We are very crafty people so we might even sew our own costumes!

What hits us especially this year is that my sister is pregnant and will be giving birth around Christmas time. We’ve promised to give her daughter these traditions that we never had growing up, because we want her to be happy during a time that always felt like a chore to us as kids. It just takes one person (or two in our case) to decide that the holidays are going to be happy time, rather than something to dread.

Find new friends to start your traditions with by downloading the Hey! VINA app today!


We’ve all seen that cute ad during the holiday season — the entire family gathered around the Christmas tree to open presents, when suddenly the kids hear a barking or shuffling noise in one of the boxes. The box starts moving, and the kids jump to unwrap it with anticipation of what could be inside. The camera suddenly switches to the dog’s point of view as it looks up at the it’s new family fighting to get a peak inside the box. Surprise, it’s a puppy!

I’ve been working in the pet industry for almost 10 years, and one big thing I have noticed is that the store gets PACKED around the holiday season. Christmas, along with Easter definitely rank at the top of the list with more than double the people coming through the door to make a deposit for a pet. A fair amount of people who come in at other times also do so looking for a gift for their children or significant others. So, yes, a good portion of our sales depend on pets as gifts. But I’m telling you nevertheless, please, please, please do NOT buy pets for gifts!

First of all, many don’t think it through. The fact that they are cute and would make a great gift is not enough. There is tons to inform yourself of before bringing a pet into your household. Depending on the actual breed of a cat or dog specifically, you really should know all of their traits and needs before purchasing these animals.


What’s to come is usually more about responsibilities and risks than one would expect, especially if you’ve only been thinking about their cuteness. The responsibility is just like having a small child. You have to feed them, clean up after them, play with them, and take them to the doctor’s, just like you would for a child. Not many actually understand that until they are in their lives.

When bringing these little “people” into your home, you’re deciding to give them a life they wouldn’t have had inside the pet store, and anyone willing to do that should also be willing to understand the risks that come with it. When you are giving the pet as a gift to someone else, you are also giving them all the responsibilities and risks that come with it.

The company I work for, like many other pet stores, sells rabbits. And of course during Easter time, rabbits tend to sell out very fast. We actually have a policy that states unless you plan on buying a kit for the rabbit, you are not allowed to buy the rabbit. We want to ensure that you will be buying the rabbit to be an actual pet and not as a motif on the front lawn while the kids are searching for Easter eggs. Trust me, there are plenty of people who buy them for the day and bring them back to the store with no consideration for the animal’s stress level and emotional stability.

These animals have emotions as much as we do, even if they can’t express them the way we do. When becoming a pet parent, one must abide by the same rules of having a child. Just because the holidays are rolling around, and it will look cute under your tree for the day, doesn’t mean you should give a pet as a present. Unless you know for sure that the person you are gifting is capable and willing to take on the responsibility of pet ownership, steer clear of those little fur balls wrapped in ribbons.

OK, so no pets, but there’s still other great gift ideas for the holidays. Download the Hey! VINA app now and plan a holiday shopping trip with your vinas! Our fashionistas community is filled with mall rats 🛍