An Untraditional Christmas Podcast with American Idol Alumni Melinda Doolittle

For the final episode of our Untraditional Traditions series, Jen’s good friend, American Idol alumni Melinda Doolittle, is with us to have an enlightening chat with Jen, which, as Jen readily admits, is 90% not about Christmas at all—and since we’re being untraditional this year, we’re here for it!  Jen gets Melinda to spill all the behind the scenes scoop on what it was like to come through the American Idol machine, including how it felt to be the oldest contestant for her season (at the ripe old age of 28, mind you). They also set the record straight about what happened when Melinda “ignored” Tyler Merritt for a year (let’s just say it involved not knowing how social media works). Finally, since it is our holiday series, Melinda tells us about her favorite Christmas ever, which involves her yearly Christmas show in Nashville, TN, and the very special guest that happened to be in the audience that night.

Retooling Our Holiday Gatherings for More Meaning and Less Stress: Priya Parker

We’re back with another installment of our Untraditional Traditions series and continuing to celebrate the best of the season with different perspectives on how to change things up toward augmenting old traditions, creating new ones, or letting go of those that no longer serve us. Perhaps you’re thinking–how do I even begin to shift long held traditions—especially around holiday gatherings? Or maybe you’ve never been the “gather-er,” but you want to step your toe into those waters? We’ve got some fantastic practical guidance based on real life experience from our guest this week, on how we can get more from how we gather, and how to facilitate gatherings that bring life instead of stress. Priya Parker is a facilitator, a strategic advisor, an author and a life-long curious student. Priya believes everyone has the ability to gather well and gives us tangible tools to help us reimagine how we spend our time together and infuse it with creativity and meaning. Her best-selling book The Art of Gathering Well, is such a vital work when it comes to rethinking how we plan all our get togethers. Priya got her start in this field at a really young age as a kid when she straddled the two very different worlds of her parents, where she’d leave her mother and stepfather’s Indian, liberal, vegetarian, Buddhist, household and travel to her father and stepmothers’, white American, evangelical Christian, conservative, meat eating household. Priya believes that a gathering starts when you pause first to ask “why do I want to do this, what are the needs and who should be there?” She and Jen talk through some of the possible answers to these questions and how they help us make important shifts in approaching our holiday gatherings. Recognizing that rituals are powerful, they also look at when they are needed–and when they’ve outlived their usefulness or specialness, or even when the observation of them brings sadness or pain. As we all search for belonging and true connection in our holiday gatherings, Priya and Jen walk us through how we can lay the foundation for our own blended and newly-created traditions. 

[BONUS] Jen’s Favorite Things – 6th Annual Holiday Gift Guide

Another year, another holiday, and another special bonus episode of our podcast featuring our 6th Annual Jen’s Favorite Things Gift Guide. If you’re just now realizing that we’ve got about a month before Christmas, Jen and team are here to help! In this episode, Jen will guide us to some of the most practical, fun and beautiful gifts this year—along with all kinds of deals, just for you, our faithful listeners. And as we’ve done in past years, Jen has selected products she loves from businesses who are doing good in the world—whether that’s through dollars back to worthy causes, employing and empowering marginalized communities, or creating sustainable solutions that are both good for us and our planet. And here’s a fun bonus (on top of a bonus episode!). We love a good story here on our show, so to celebrate 6 years of this guide, we’ve invited some of the folks who’ve benefited from the “giving back” component of our gift companies this year to share how their lives were impacted by the help and support they’ve received through the conscientious work of these companies AND because generous buyers like you decided they wanted to spend their holiday dollars meaningfully.

Maybe It’s Time for A Calm Christmas This Year? Beth Kempton Shows Us How

We’re in the midpoint of our Untraditional Traditions series, and we want to ask all of you listeners to consider something; what kind of Christmas do you want or need this year?  Maybe it’s a riotous, celebratory Christmas with tons of gatherings and activities, a frenzy of lights and shopping and cooking and more. But perhaps some of us might be feeling a bit tethered to the way we’ve always done it—and the notion of a calm Christmas sounds nothing short of divine (and kudos to you all who have found the joy of this already). Perhaps you feel like you don’t really have a choice as to what kind of Christmas you have, as you’ve been the “keeper of Christmas” for your family and friends for so long, but our guest this week is here to tell us otherwise. Beth Kempton is a writer, a mother and has been obsessed with Christmas since she was a little girl. After one particularly stressful Christmas when her children were small (and she and her husband decided that neither of them really liked turkey) Beth began to realize that Christmas could be what she wanted it to be (sans turkey, for one!), and she started spreading that message—namely through her book “Calm Christmas and a Happy New Year.” She and Jen talk through the 5 “stories” of Christmas and which one they identify with most, they discuss when Christmas is hard and how to help yourself and others when that’s the case, and the comfort and joy of letting yourself be free of anyone else’s Christmas expectations and choosing the kind of season that is nurturing instead of draining.

Creating and Recreating Holiday Traditions with Brian Earl from “The Christmas Past Podcast”

Let’s get into the nitty gritty of our holiday traditions—real tree or a fake tree? Love egg nog or hate it? Decorating to the hilt or like to keep it minimalist? In this kickoff episode of our Untraditional Traditions series, we’re doing a deep dive into some of the traditions many of us may observe at the holidays, and a few we might want to try!  Like, how many of you put up your Christmas tree at Halloween and take it down on Valentine’s Day? Well, our guest this week does and he just gave us all permission to do that same (you’re welcome). Because that’s the fun thing about traditions—we can take the ones that mean the most to us and build off them to create something that really reflects who we are. And if our old traditions leave us feeling flat, there are always new things to explore. Brian Earl, the host of the “Christmas Past” podcast is the perfect guide as we begin this series. Brian dedicates hours of research to uncovering the roots behind many of our beloved (and maybe to some, annoying) holiday traditions. Ever wonder why we put up a Christmas tree in the first place? He lays it out for us, along with many other interesting facts around traditions. Also, he and Jen reminisce about being kids in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s and the nostalgia around gifts we received and the Christmas commercials that used to barrage us on TV. (Rubik’s Cube, anyone? How about Teddy Ruxpin)? As they wind through the nostalgia of traditions past, Jen and Brian also talk about creating new traditions, and how valuable those are and will become to us and our people. Brian’s years of research have resulted in a book about all the fascinating, sometimes really surprising stories behind our holiday traditions, why we should care about them, and what they mean. Get into the spirit of the holidays as we wax nostalgic and dream of new ways to celebrate the season.

Rewriting the Stories We Tell Ourselves: Lori Gottlieb

New year, new series! We’re thinking all about For the Love of Reconnecting, where we’ll try to get back in touch with who we are and what we value, so that we can start to inch forward in this brand-new year. What’s holding you back? Is there a real obstacle standing in the way of your growth—or is it just a story you’re telling yourself? Therapist, author, TED Talk superstar and podcast host Lori Gottlieb knows a thing or two about the stories we tell ourselves. In fact, Lori opens up her life in a deeply vulnerable way, taking us into the stories she told herself as a practicing therapist and how she moved past them in her New York Times bestselling memoir Maybe You Should Talk to Someone. Lori explains that we are the narrators of our own stories, and how we talk to ourselves and tell the story of our lives shapes who we will become. She asserts that when we begin to take responsibility for our choices and allow ourselves to examine what’s working in or lives and what we can tweak a little bit, we’ll begin to let go of the feeling of being trapped—and find a power in ourselves we never knew was there.

Living While We Wait: Cece Jones-Davis’ Blessing for 2021

We made it, you guys—we’re finally turning the corner into a brand-new year and into the hope of a fresh start. And while 2021 will no doubt have its set of challenges, we’ve set our minds to living in the moment while we wait for a post-pandemic world to settle in, thanks to inspiration from minister and activist Cece Jones-Davis. Cece was one of our favorite 2020 guests, and she’s back to lead us through a vigil on what we’ve walked through this year and reflect on all the beautiful things we have to look forward to. Cece reminds us that the weariness we feel from this year can be a powerful catalyst towards change for the better, and why 2021 can be the year of “Alive” (which happens to be the title of her brand-new worship album!). And here’s a little reminder for you, sister: as we enter a new chapter, remember that God is alive in you, and He has plans for hope and a future with your name written right on top. 

Hallmark and Chill: Christmas Movies with the guys from Deck the Hallmark

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! But let’s be honest: if you’re a Hallmark Christmas Movie addict, it’s been the most wonderful time of the year since October, and you’re *not sorry* about it. And neither are Dan, Panda, and Bran—the 3 dudes behind the smash-hit podcast Deck the Hallmark. These Hallmark movie connoisseurs each have a different perspective: Bran loves them, Panda’s okay with them, and Dan hate-watches with all his might. Jen and the guys break down why these, let’s face it, “less than stellar production value-filled” shows are so addicting. AND are we ever surprised that the big-city girl falls for the small-town candlemaker who owns the snowy inn?! The group dishes on the best movies Hallmark has to offer (spoiler alert: The Fonz makes an appearance!), and which ones you desperately need to avoid. And to wrap this holiday episode in the most beautiful bow, the group signs off by divulging their fantasy cast and plot lines for the Hallmark movies of their dreams. 

Jen’s Favorite Things – The 4th Annual Holiday Gift Guide

It’s the most wonderful time of the year—gift guide time! We’re going to go ahead and give 2020 the No, Thank You Award, but we can still try to make the holidays merry and bright. And to help you do that, we bring you the 4th installment of Jen’s Favorite Things! Every year, we shine a spotlight on brands we love that also give back, so we do the most good with the dollars we’re already going to spend (and PS: so many of these companies are women-owned!). So grab a cup of cocoa while Jen and her sisters, Lindsay and Cortney, share 12 incredible companies with amazing products—everything from coffee and candles to comfy robes and socks and Jen’s signature feather earrings. Plus, each brand has a special offer just for you, so you can stock up on great gifts and also *save some cash.* Look alive, campers, it’s time to do some Christmas shopping!

The Hatmakers’ Favorite Things – The Third Annual Holiday Gift Guide

Podcast Land’s giving-est couple Jen & Brandon are back with a slew of great gift ideas for the holidays on our 3rd Annual Hatmaker’s Favorite Things Holiday Gift Guide! Brennifer’s (we’re gonna get that “Super Couple” name to stick) giving us all the warm fuzzies by featuring 16 companies that not only make great products, but give back in significant ways to our communities, to people in need, and to the world. Our team has done the homework so you can feel good about all your gifts this year—PLUS the Hatmakers pulled a few strings so that For the Love Podcast listeners get amazing exclusive discounts from each company featured in the episode! From leather bags to soft blankets, from Jen-approved signature jewelry to wake-you-up-with-a-kick coffee, Jen & Brandon usher us into the holidays with their inimitable style and festive spirits. And don’t worry if you can’t write down these ideas as fast as Brandon and Jen are laying them down. The entire list of products—along with pictures, links and details about the exclusive discounts—are over on just waiting for you. Happy Holidays from Jen, Brandon and the entire For the Love Podcast team!