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Make the Holidays Pay
by Rebecca Matthews

Holidays can be hectic times for writers. Between the family gatherings, the big dinners, and the social commitments, finding time to write can seem impossible. Rather than trying to work around the holidays, make the holidays work for you. Magazines are always looking for articles and filler pieces for the holidays, be it Halloween, Easter, or the Fourth of July.

Recipes: Big holidays such as Christmas, Thanksgiving or Easter evoke thoughts of spectacular spreads, or long days in the kitchen cooking over a hot stove.  Perhaps the holidays bring up memories of Aunt Claire’s clam dip, or Uncle Al’s homemade wine. Utilize this. What are some of the staples you have at Thanksgiving dinner? Do you smoke a turkey? Do you have your grandmother’s recipe for cranberries that everyone raves about?  How about that pumpkin pie? What makes it so special?

Don’t limit yourself to the big holidays either. Look to smaller ones such as the Fourth of July or Memorial Day. Do you have family barbeques?  Do you make the world’s best burger? Does Cousin Paul bring the homemade beer he brags about every year?  Look outside the boundaries of only food magazines, there are tons of magazines that accept recipes all year long.

Crafts:  I have a friend whose table is always decorated with the prettiest candle configurations in glass pebbles each holiday season and handmade snowflakes dot her walls and windows. She makes little harvest decorations and can dye the snazziest Easter eggs. What can you do?

Can you make an ornament out of glass beads? Can you cross stitch a stocking from your own pattern? Do you have a knack for making glittering shamrocks, or fierce pumpkin faces? Do you have a table with matching napkins and plates, and you made the napkins yourself? Use your know-how and query craft magazines or women magazines for the holidays.

Vacations:  Going to see Aunt Myrtle can bring the festivities of the season to a halt. Get the kids in the car; stop the squabbles, pack luggage. Don’t forget your dessert!  Now take a deep breath and think on your mad dash to auntie’s house. Did you drive? What did you see along the way? Did you make up games for the trip? Did you fly? How did you book your flight? Did you find some deals?  What did you do when you got there? Look to travel magazines, or outdoor magazines. If you took the kids to a park, or some out the norm tourist spot, write about it. Tell what you liked or didn’t like. Talk to others who were there as well. (Remember to get names, numbers and permission.)

Gatherings: What if you just went down the road to grandma’s house rather than out of town or state?  Look to parenting magazines: How to kid proof grandma’s house. Do you bribe your kids to behave? How about a way to get them to clean up after holiday dinner – without you asking?

Then again, what if your house is where all the gatherings take place? How do you prepare for the family to descend?  What are your secrets to a rapidly clean house?  For a festive atmosphere? For your own sanity?  

Research food magazines, men, women and children magazines, parenting magazines, craft and health magazines, and query your little heart out.  There is a holiday just about every month during the year. You are only as limited as your creativeness.

© Copyright 2010, Rebecca Matthews

Rebecca Matthews is a freelance writer based in southern Idaho. Her work has appeared in such magazines as EQUUS and The Northwest Horse Source.  When she's not writing, you can find her out riding her horses.

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