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Hosting Christmas: 7 Common Mistakes to Avoid This Christmas Season

It’s that time of year again. Break out the red hats and fuzzy pajamas; it’s Christmas time! We all love Christmas: it’s a special time of year that we get to spend with our loved ones. We finally get to see some whom we miss the most. Regardless of whether we are planning a small gathering or a huge turnout, we want to spend as much good, quality time enjoying those around us as possible. Here are 7 common mistakes to avoid this Christmas season:

1. Leaving someone out.

Don’t forget gifts for everybody. Everyone receiving a gift this Christmas except one has the potential in not only creating unnecessary awkwardness, it can hurt. If possible, keep something as a backup present. Although a backup present may not be the real thing, whoever shows up on Christmas made some effort to spend the holidays with you. A backup present helps to avoid problems and spread the joy of Christmas.

2. Forgetting to invite.

Oops! Don’t make the mistake of realizing last minute that you forgot to invite your sister. Communicate with others early to ensure everyone is on the same page. This way arrangements can be made for any problems that may arise.

3. Having weak decorations.

Nothing can spoil the mood like pulling up to a house with a yard that says it’s some ordinary day. Don’t forget the decorations! It just doesn’t feel like Christmas without unique patterns of Christmas lights, extraordinary wreaths, and a glorious tree to boot. While the lawn blow-up Santas everywhere may be over-rated, decorations help put everyone in a warm-hearted, jolly mood for the holiday.

4. Not going all out on food.

Food is vital. While some families are more traditional than others, some things run common. Good food and a full belly are the expected outcome when Christmas (Christmas Eve for some) dinner comes around. Plan for how many you are expecting to come and prepare accordingly.

5. Forgetting the dessert.

This tip goes along with number 4. Dessert is also vital. Who can imagine Christmas without properly themed cookies, fantastic pies, and other favorites?

6. Not shopping early enough.

Getting stuck in lines and traffic is not fun. Remember to shop early: the earlier, the better. As days come and go, both traffic on roads and lines in stores will continue to get longer and harder to maneuver.

7. The mess of a real tree.

It’s a good idea in theory: real trees are unique and give a more “real” feeling. The reality is having to water a tree while needles fall off for a month. Save yourself a headache and buy a pseudo-tree. They are relatively cheap nowadays and reusable for many years down the road when stored properly.

In Summary…

If we were to sum these steps up, it would be this: Don’t forget to prepare. Planning and preparing in advance helps avoid common mistakes that can cause a wide range of effects in severity and consequence. If there’s one thing to remember, it’s this: Preparation is the key to success; success not only in being superhuman on the holidays but success with most things life happens to throw our way.

Most importantly, don’t forget to search our platform for all your Christmas needs.

Enjoy the extra time with your loved ones. Have a happy holiday and a merry Christmas!


Tone Up and Trim Down in Dubai

Getting fit no longer means simply slogging away on a treadmill or lifting heavy weights, especially in Dubai where there are plenty of activities on offer for those looking to shed a few pounds or tone up those muscles. Here you will find world-class gyms with state-of-the-art equipment and classes, as well as fun workout alternatives that will get your body moving and your heart rate pumping.

Zen Yoga

Since they opened in 2006, Zen Yoga has gone on to become one of the top yoga studios in Dubai with a wide variety of classes for beginners, advanced yogis and everything in between. You can choose to take it easy with a smooth-flowing Hatha classes or test your strength and agility with a challenging Power Yoga session. They also offer neo-natal and postnatal yoga, Pilates, Booty Barre classes, gong meditation and Tibetan singing bowl sessions.

OP Integrated Lifestyle Centre

Channel your inner child at OP Lifestyle Centre, a unique health club that has been set up like a giant playground with climbing bars and ropes, balance beams and giant balls. But it’s not just all about fun and games here. OP’s experienced trainers personally assess each new member so they can design a unique programme that is tailored specifically to your individual needs and goals. Over the course of your programme they will monitor your progress to ensure you are getting the most out of your workout and the maximum results.

Pole Fit Dubai

If you’re bored of the gym and looking for a unique workout that combines strength training, flexibility and fluid movement, then pole fitness classes may be for you. Pole Fit Dubai is an aerial arts academy that lets you fly, swing and twirl your way around poles and props to tone up nearly every muscle in your body. They offer over 60 classes a week in pole fitness, aerial hoop, and trapeze in a warm and welcoming environment that encourages you to have fun and let your inner flair shine.


Get ready for the ride of your life at Flywheel, a high-energy spin studio where you can cycle away up to 500 calories per session on custom-made bikes with weighted armbars. Each of the classes here is run by world-class instructors who will motivate you to push yourself to your limit while you cycle hard and fast to the beat of choreographed music by the in-house DJ. If you’re feeling competitive, you can opt to have your stats displayed on the Torqboard to see how you rank with other riders.


In addition to being a funky state-of-the-art gym with fabulous views out over the marina, Tribefit aims to bring a social element to working out with their lively group classes, team sports and beach bootcamp sessions. Take part in one of their addictive Bodyjam classes and work up a sweat dancing to all the hottest new dance tracks or kick, punch and block your way through a Bodycombat class inspired by martial arts. They also do one-on-one personal training sessions for more private types.

Jump for Joy at BOUNCE Trampoline Park in Dubai

Trampoline parks are quickly becoming a worldwide favorite among indoor exercise facilities, with hundreds of them popping up all across the globe during the last few years. If trampoline jumping (or “tramping”, as it’s called) is your thing, and you find yourself in the grand city of Dubai, then you’re in luck.

BOUNCE Middle East is one of the best-reviewed and most fun trampoline parks in the world, and winner of multiple awards, including Indoor Sports and Recreation Facility of the Year according to Sports Industry Awards, and a Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor.

BOUNCE is a world of its own, where walls and floors trade places, where the shortest kid on the block can still slam-dunk, and where gravity takes a backseat to acrobatics and aerial maneuvering. More than 100 brightly colored trampolines are interconnected, forming a playground of catapults where safety is ensured with giant sponges and air bags. ­­­The best part about BOUNCE is that is has something to offer just about everyone, from junior jumper to full-fledged adrenaline junkies.

Kids three to five years old will love getting started with the miniBOUNCE program. This two hour session (held Sundays through Thursdays) is an intro to safe jumping, but is really all about having fun and burning energy. They, and older kids too, will also love the awesome parties hosted at BOUNCE (it’s recommended that you book well in advance), where delicious food is available in between jumps.

Be aware, though, there is much more than just jumping happening at BOUNCE. The dedicated dodgeball court is a favorite, where flighty warriors duke it out with acrobatic ninjas, and the outskirts of the free jump area are constantly being traversed in vertical fashion by avid wall runners. For those who want to jump, but need to build some confidence or technique, expert staff are always on hand to offer guidance. Not to worry, there’s even a place to put your feet up and take in the situation with a view. It seems that experiencing BOUNCE can be as relaxing or as challenging as you want to make it. The common denominator is fun, plain and simple.

International Eats: Top American Restaurants in Dubai

For those Americans living and traveling through Dubai and the UAE, nostalgia and a yearning for home may translate to hunger pangs. Those looking to satiate their cravings will find that there are quite a few familiar names in American fare throughout Dubai of late–with names like IHOP, Cheesecake Factory and Denny’s making an appearance throughout the Emirates since 2012. More recently, US-style cuisine is making a big impact in the area, with varied American eateries opening up throughout. Here’s a look at some of the must-see locals to give you a taste of everything from Los Angeles to New York–with a little of everything in between.

The Hamptons Café

Inspired by the luxury and sophistication of the Long Island, New York getaway locale, this family run café and bakery on Jumeriah Beach Road is spread out over three floors, including an herb garden and roof terrace. Known for their all-day breakfast and fresh baked goods, there are also fresh salads, sandwiches, and a revolving dinner menu.

Claw BBQ

If a southern crab shack is what you’re craving, then look no further than Claw BBQ. From ribs and slaw to crabs, lobster, prawns, and freshly shucked oysters, Claw is the spirit of a southern American crab shack and grill. Drawing people equally for the atmosphere–plastic bibs, wooden hammers, and a laid back vibe–its food like buffalo jumbo prawns and gooey mac n cheese that keeps them coming back.

Cut by Wolfgang Puck

Originally a Los Angeles import, Cut is one of celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck’s latest outposts. For fine dining American style, it’s tough to beat Puck’s take on Kobe beef, Peking style duck, Wiener schnitzel, or other offerings.

Cravin Cajun

Inspired by the spices, flavors, and sounds of the Deep South, Cravin Cajun is an ode to everything Cajun and Creole. Capturing the spirit of Louisiana with live Jazz music (except for Ramadan) this delicious hot spot features southern staples like shrimp etoufee, chicken and waffles, and jambalaya.


Backed by actor and the ex Mr. Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher, the concept at Ketchup is all American–with a focus on burgers, fries, and Philly steak sandwiches. High end sandwiches are as American as it gets, and Ketchup tops the meal off with additions like onion rings, milkshakes, and pie.

Dubai’s Spas: Ultimate Luxury Relaxation

Dubai, on the coast of a country with some of the world’s richest oil reserves, ranks extremely high in income per capita. Even after a significant economic slowdown from 2007 to 2010, the United Arab Emirates remains on the list of the five richest countries in the world. Is it any wonder that some of the world’s most fabulous and luxurious spas are located in Dubai? Everybody needs some pampering now and again, and in Dubai, there are lots of choices for exceptional experiences. Let’s take a look at a few and what they offer.

Cool Aroma Spa: This spa was created to cater specifically to men’s needs and offers deep tissue massage, reflexology, Indian head massage, hot stone massage and Ayurvedic massage among a full menu of other types. Additionally, the spa offers facials and purifying skin treatments, body scrubs, manicures, body waxing and pedicures. One alternative therapy that is popular is ear coning, which is said to improve symptoms of swimmer’s ear, tinnitus and sinus infections. Cool Aroma has long hours and two locations in Dubai to serve men’s spa needs.

Shine Spa at Dubai Sheraton: The Shine Spa offers something for everyone, and fantastic views of the skyline from the 52nd floor. Whether signature treatments are your desire or you prefer more private, bespoke treatments, the expert staff will handle your every need with grace and genuine warmth. Shine has ten separate treatment rooms, each with a twilight sanctuary ceiling that is tranquil and relaxing. For total relaxation and privacy, book the Private Spa Suite with its own whirlpool tub, shower and bath facilities. Shine Spa offers its four hands signature massage, using a combination of techniques and exotic oil blends to increase circulation and hydrate.

Katrin Ladies Spa: This new and luxurious facility offers many services for ladies only, from hair, skin and nail treatments to massage, in a convenient location. The spa has a beautiful interior, along with an Oriental bath and infrared sauna; they offer cellulite treatment, Moroccan Bath, bikini wax, keratin treatments, hair coloring, extensions, highlights and lowlights.They also do nail art, gel nails, manicures, pedicure, and nail extensions. Massage choices are Thai massage, hot stone massage and aromatherapy massage.

Zodiac International Training Institute, Beauty Salon and Slimming Spa: This spa offers a full team of specialists to care for you and help your character to shine. The spa offers hot stone massage, Swedish massage, reflexology and Shiatsu massage. They also offer a Moroccan bath that focuses on your whole body, started with the traditional black exfoliation soap and scalp mask, then an invigorating body scrub and rose petal bath. There are many types of facial deep cleansing available for leaving your skin refreshed and younger-looking, including Microdermabrasion and crystal peeling. Zodiac offers a slimming spa which features guaranteed weight loss machines Hypoxi and Vacunaut; these machines let you target your problem areas, as well as yoga, pilates and other slimming equipment.

No matter what type of luxury spa treatment and pampering you are looking for, you will find it in one of Dubai’s world-class facilities that leave you totally spoiled for choice.

Dubai’s Best International Restaurants

Being the thriving cosmopolitan emirate that it is, Dubai has no shortage of great restaurants serving up tempting cuisine from around the globe. Whether you are hankering for a Middle Eastern shawarma, Italian pasta or Singaporean chilli crab, great eats await around nearly every corner. If you are looking for a good mix of global flavours, these are some excellent international dining options in Dubai.

Middle Eastern Cuisine

Not surprisingly Dubai is home to a simply staggering amount of restaurants serving Arabian cuisine. However, with so many options it can be difficult to differentiate between the ordinary and extraordinary. For authentic Emirati cuisine in a fine dining setting, Al Fanar Restaurant & Cafe is a good bet. The decor here harkens back to the days when Dubai was just a small town on the Arabian Gulf, and the menu features local delicacies like chicken machboos cooked with yellow rice, spices and dry lemon; mutton kabobs; and donuts in a sticky date syrup.

Italian Cuisine

You can find Italian cuisine in nearly every city in the world, and Dubai is no exception. If you are looking for exquisite Italian fare in a scenic setting, head to BiCE Mare, a contemporary space with cool blue and white interiors inside and an al fresco terrace with incredible views of the Burj Khalifa. Artisanal plates include high-end ingredients like truffles, lobster, scallops and veal. If low-key is more your style, try the upstairs pizzeria at Bussola where you can get gourmet thin-crust slices at reasonable prices.

Check out more Italian Restaurants >>

Japanese Cuisine

With the ocean at your doorstep, fresh fish is a given in Dubai, and it is particularly good when enjoyed in the form of sushi, sashimi and other Japanese delights. Toko has garnered plenty of accolades for its contemporary design with a tranquil Zen garden outside and sleek booths inside. On the menu you will Japanese classics like crispy soft-shell crab and robatayaki steak, as well as imaginative creations like the scampi nigiri with foie gras and black truffle oil.

Check out more Japanese Restaurants >>

Mexican Cuisine

Mexico may be oceans away, but the cantina spirit is alive and well in many fine establishments scattered across Dubai. For a more upscale Mexican experience try Maya Modern Kitchen & Lounge where you can sip on passion fruit margaritas and snack on chile ancho battered calamari and Caribbean lobster tacos as you gaze out at views of the Dubai skyline lit up at night. For a more casual outing try Maria Bonita where you can settle in on colourful cushions and dig into Mexican favourites like guacamole and chips, burritos and fajitas.

Check out more Mexican Restaurants >>

Indian Cuisine

Indian restaurants abound in Dubai, so it is easy to find great biryani, curries, chapatis and tandoori dishes. However, if you want a truly special Indian dining experience, check out Indego by Vineet. This is the Dubai venture of famed Michelin-starred chef Vineet Bhatia, so you can expect to find innovative creations coming out of the kitchen like the smoked cashew and goat cheese samosas or theMacadamia crusted sea bass with a coconut-pumpkin seed khichdi kokum-beetroot sauce.

Bikanervala – A Modern Piece of History

For the patrons of the Bikanervala, it’s not simply a love of excellent food that attracts them.  Although the food is legendary in its own right, it’s also the rich history of the restaurant that keeps them coming back for more.  Fifty years ago, two sweet makers courageously moved from their small hometown to Dubai with little more than a handful of family recipes and a stellar work ethic.  Led by a desire to share their heritage with a larger audience, they set out on their mission to spread their love of sweets.

Through hard work and dedication, what started out as a small shop in Old Delhi’s Moti Bazaar has become a modern day institution in Dubai.  Although Bikanervala now has a modern day presence, the recipes remain faithful to their rich heritage.  Family recipes which have been passed down through several generations are still the foundation of the menu.

Over thirty years ago, the shop introduced Dubai to the sweet concoction Kaju ki Burfi.  It is now a staple at most Dubai celebrations.  It is with good reason that Bikanervala has become such a revered name in Indian fare as they continue to make their mark on the history of Dubai cuisine.  It would be near impossible to find a resident of Dubai who hasn’t heard of Bikanervala.

In addition to traditional choices such as chana bhatoora, chaata, and pani puri are more contemporary dishes like pizzas and burgers.  Because of the variety offered at Bikanervala, the restaurants appeal to a broad range of palates.  As a result of its ever growing popularity, Bikanervala now has 35 outlets in various cities in India.  In addition to its physical restaurants, it also offers an extensive catering menu for parties of all sizes.  It also has an extensive web presence as well which contributes to its notoriety.

It is difficult to imagine how two sweet makers from Bikaner became one of India’s most prominent families in regards to restaurants and hospitality.  By incorporating modern technology into their foundation of heritage, the Bikanervala family has implemented a successful business model which now offers a variety of products and services.  Although their rich history is still recognizable within the company, the Bikanervala family business has grown with the times and is definitely leaving an imprint on Indian cuisine.

Located behind the Mall of the Emirates, Bikanervala is one restaurant you simply won’t want to miss when in Dubai.  It is open from 9 in the morning until midnight.  Whether you’re looking for something sweet to snack on or a quick lunch or dinner on the go, Bikanervala is sure to have something to suit your appetite.  With so many options to choose from, the hardest part may be trying to decide what to order.  Not only is the food superb, but the history that goes along with it is a treat of its own.  If you are in Dubai and have the opportunity, you should put this on your short list of places to visit.

4 Tips to Lessen the Stress of a New School Year

Each and every year around this time, children are heading back to school. Some of them will be returning to their old school, others will be starting middle school or high school. Even if they are returning to the same building, the beginning of a new school year can be stressful for a lot of children, because they’ll likely have a new teacher and they’ll have to learn new things. In order to help your child make a smooth and less stressful transition into the new school year, here are a few tips for you to try.

1- Double Check Your Facts

Nothing can make a morning feel more hectic than missing the school bus or having to run to school to beat the bell. So before the first day arrives, double-check the time that the bus is supposed to pick your kids up or walk to the school and time how long it takes you to get there. This way you will know when they have to leave the house in the morning.

2- Listen to Their Concerns

If your child mentions that she’s worried all of her friends might be in a different class this year, or that he’s heard his new teacher is really tough, listen to them. Let them know it is okay to be worried, and don’t trivialize their fears. If you have some suggestions that will help fix or alleviate their worries, share them with your kids, but be warned that reassurances generally won’t make the situation any better.

3- Prepare the Night Before

The night before the first day, make sure your kids have everything ready to go: pull out their clothes, pack their school supplies, and prepare their lunch. This will help your kids avoid the last minute realization that they don’t know where their brand new backpack or special notebook is, and knowing that everything is ready to go will help keep their stress levels lower.

4- It Starts With Sleep

During the summer, many children’s regular bedtimes disappear because they are having sleepovers, roasting marshmallows or playing one more match of a favourite game. In the morning they crawl out of bed whenever they feel like it. While that might be fine in the summer, it’s a good idea to have a set bedtime during the school year. This will help ensure that your children are getting enough sleep, which will help them be happier and focus on their school work.

According to the Sleep Foundation, children between the ages of six and twelve need between nine and eleven hours of sleep each night, and teenagers need between eight and ten hours. To pick a bedtime, figure out when they need to be up and count backwards. Then gradually put your children to bed at an earlier time until they’ve reached their new bedtime.

Bonus Tip (to lessen your stress!):

Use app to find you’re child’s new school.

There you have it; four simple ways for you to make sure this school year starts off on the right foot. Hopefully, that feeling will carry your kids throughout the year.

7 Tips for Preparing Your Child to Go Back to School

Preparing your child to go back to school can be very stressful. Between money concerns, anxiety and dread, everyone tends to be more on edge and overwhelmed when it comes to starting a new school year. Here you will find seven tips for tackling this school year with finesse and ease.

  • Have your child to get back on a normal sleep schedule a few days in advance. Lack of proper sleep will only add to your child being cranky and unmotivated. If you get them used to going to bed at a decent time prior to the first day of school, they will have had time to adjust and be in a better mood for the first day of school.
  • Going to a new school can be very anxiety producing for children. If your child will be going to a new school this year, it’s best to empathize with their concerns. However, this doesn’t mean that you should play into their fear. Instead, tell your child that you understand their concerns and that everything will be okay. Assure them that you will be there for them if any of their concerns become a reality. If you act as though their concerns are unwarranted, they will either begin to resent you or lose confidence in themselves.
  • Encourage your child to read during the summer. Getting back into the swing of learning can be difficult. Reading during the summer months will make this transition much easier on your child because they will be used to reading when it’s time to write a book report or read textbooks. Use to find a list of bookstores around you.
  •  If money is a concern, space out buying the supplies and clothes your child will need. Oftentimes, children don’t get the list of supplies they will need until the first day of school. If this is the case, you can buy the essentials that you know they will need throughout the summer and get everything else the first week of school. It’s also not necessary to purchase all new school clothes by the first day of school.  Use to find a list of stationary stores around you.
  • Let your child be involved in back to school shopping. If they pick out the things they need and choose colors and designs they like, they will be more excited to go to school and use their supplies. This is also true for clothes. Let you child choose their outfit (within reason) for the first day of school. Set that outfit aside and don’t let them wear it until school starts. This will give them something to look forward to on the first day. Use to find a list of school bags around you.
  • Remind your child of rules that you have in place for homework and use of technology (phones, TV, etc…) ahead of time. If they know what to expect, they will have an easier time adjusting to more structured guidelines. Also, let your child voice their opinions on these rules and compromise when possible. If they feel they have a little bit of control, they will be more likely to follow the rules that are set.
  • Allow your child to spend time with classmates throughout the summer. Having friends is a huge part of school. If your child has friends they are comfortable with in their class, they will look forward to going to school and seeing their friends.

The more control you have over back to school activities, the easier it will be for everyone. Children thrive when there is structure and fair guidelines in place. Do yourself a favor and follow these seven simple tips and this school year will flow smoother than ever and your stress level will be much lower than you ever thought possible.

Over to you. 

Do you have any other back to school tips to share?  Let us know in the comments below.

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