Stuff is out. Making memories in. Here’s Reba’s Holiday ideas that keep on giving.

Seventy days ’til Christmas. Yikes!

Our best ever were when our son was in college at USC and Rex got the idea that we needed a more grown up way of dealing with the Holidays. I was resistant. What about our traditions? Would I have to transport presents? I couldn’t imagine our Holiday dinner in a restaurant. I should have known better. Rex Masterson is a genius at planning trips and activities – he could have been a cruise director at 10 years of age with out a minute of training.

We went to Rome. Another year to Chicago. Santa Fe was a blast and one sublime holiday get-away delivered us to Paris. We’d splurge on rooms. And always on the first evening after dinner, and with a bottle of bubble as lubricant, we’d decorate. The tree was always scrounged. In Santa Fe it was a tumble weed. In Paris a rubber plant absconded from the hallway. Rome’s tree was fabricated from coat hangers. We agreed that we could buy one ornament but the rest we made from whatever we could find in the room. Paper chains made from the hotel stationary, snow flakes from toilet paper. My jewelry was always loaded on the tree. Snowmen made from shower caps stuffed with TP became a signature item in our repertoire. Some of these ornaments we still have and love dearly as they remind us of wonderful family adventures.

Re presents: the rule was that each of us got $300 and with that we had to buy one (ONLY ONE) gift for the other two. The gifts had to be related to the destination. Soon, after our arrival, we’d each go our separate ways for a couple of hours to find, purchase and gift wrap presents. Solo exploration of a strange town at the height of a Holiday season can be really fun. After a couple of hours we’d meet at a designated location and time to share our experiences. In Rome it was Babington’s for an English high tea. Can you imagine an English high tea in Rome on Christmas Eve? Somehow – leave it to Rex – it was perfect.

Christmas Eve always involved something that the locals would do. In Rome it was a free Monsarat Caballe concert staged in a 17th Century basilica. In Santa Fe we strolled up Canyon Road to view the thousands of luminaries decorating charming Spanish Colonial homes. In Paris it was the most beautiful Nutcracker I’ve experienced – all shimmering silver, gold and white.

Hotels in some towns can be empty on the Holidays so the wait staff in the restaurants would always plead with us to join them for the Holiday meal. Spectacular meals ended without a single dish to wash and put away. A girl can get used to this!

So here’s my idea for this year. Book rooms for the Holidays at a resort in beautiful Rancho Mirage. Do your shopping at The River. Dine at one of the many fabulous Rancho Mirage Restaurant Row establishments. Take the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to the top on Christmas Eve and play in the snow. Enjoy a round of golf. Pamper yourself at a spa. Hike the Indian Canyons.

On the Eve, late at night with your family in tow, step outside and peer into the deep and dark desert night-star filled sky. Far from the hustle, you and your loved ones will be filled with the joy and peace of the Holidays. I promise.

Reba