Skip to main content

No Need To Fear The Holidays

Planning, not scrambling, is the secret for success this time of year

Ashley Gravano
Ashley Gravano
No Need To Fear The Holidays

Every year many of us take weeks, months even, to prepare for the holiday season. Some have yearly traditions, some wing it and go with the flow (that’s me, YIKES). As much as I am a planner/control freak (yes, I admit it) I tend to fall behind on planning and scramble before the holiday. Holidays are also about sharing and being thankful for your friends and family. As I do each issue, I connect with a few of our Mortgage Moms and share ideas, thoughts and most recently tips and recipes. We all can use some inspiration.

Holidays are not just about feasts, gift giving, and parties. They are about showing thanks/gratitude to our family, friends, clients, and colleagues. They are also about giving back. How can we practice gratitude? How can we show our thanks to our friends, clients, and family?

Michele Kryczkowski
Michele Kryczkowski, Chief
of Staff, Cardinal Financial

Each holiday season Michelle’s family finds a different way to give back. No two years are the same. One year they served meals in the café on base for active-duty airmen and women on Thanksgiving, and another year they made meals for a local shelter.

For Cecilia the most important part of showing thanks to our colleagues and customers is to be genuine in our actions. Taking time to understand who they are, what fills their cup, and what they enjoy outside of work is critical to showing sincere appreciation. She is a big believer that breaking bread with someone is where we can really learn about that person and when you know who a person really is, you find all kinds of ways to show them thanks. Most importantly, they will know you value them simply because you took the time to get to know them. Also, not all gifts of appreciation must cost money — simple acts of kindness, writing a genuine thank you note can go a long way.

Cecilia Janson
Cecilia Janson, CMB, CTC,
Consultant, BlueJ Strategies

We all should practice gratitude. Daily. It is not an easy task although it may appear to be.

Tara starts her day with gratitude by reflecting on three things she is thankful for, whether it’s the support of loved ones or the warmth of the morning sun. She also makes it a goal to express gratitude to at least two people daily, often with a simple ‘Thank you.’ This practice boosts her positivity and strengthens her connections with others, both personally and professionally.

Sabrina has gratitude rituals. She reflects on her days while on an evening walk. I would say that is a win win since you’re getting physical activity as well Sabrina!

Gratitude activities for adults

  • Gratitude Jar
  • Gratitude Journaling
  • Gratitude letters
  • Gratitude vision boards.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” 
~ Melody Beattie

Tara Healy
Tara Healy, CMB, Chief Compliance
Officer, Cherry Creek Mortgage

We are thankful for many things. Our friends, our experiences, our family. Many of us are thankful for our industry. This is where all of us call home more than half of our week. Especially when it is busy! Our work shapes and defines many of us.

Sabrina is most grateful for the community in the industry. The network serves as a wellspring of encouragement, collaboration and mutual learning that she truly values.

Holiday tips — we all need a tip or two to get us through a busy season.

Sabrina prefers to shop for meaningful gifts year-round rather than rushing to find everything during the holiday season. She has found that makes the shopping much less stressful.

Sabrina Park
Sabrina Park, Head of Digital,
Creative Strategy, BeSmartee, Inc.

Michelle’s tip is to be selective! Growing older has taught her the value of meaningful interactions, where spending quality time with loved ones takes precedence and not overpacking her schedule. The selective approach is key, especially with accepting party and event invitations. Quality over quantity.

Cecilia, who is a planner at heart, has many tips for us but her top few are as follow. She makes sure all holiday events are captured on the family calendar, so everyone is aware of what is happening and when. She is not afraid to delegate and ask for help. And most importantly, set realistic expectations. When it comes to decorations, she takes one full day to fully immerse herself in the holiday decorating experience. Once that day is complete, make sure to put all boxes away so there is nothing lingering causing stress.

Tara has similar tips to our other moms! Be sure to plan ahead, prioritize tasks, communicate availability, use tech wisely, delegate, and set clear work-life boundaries.

These are great tips from our Moms, I may need to follow these!

Oreo cookies

Oreo Cookie Balls

  • 1lb Oreo cookies
  • 1 8oz cream cheese (softened)
  • 1lb candy coating (pick your favorite), melted — (I use vanilla)
  • Edible Glitter (if you so desire)
  1. Crush the cookies — zip lock bag and rolling pin works as does a food processor. You choose!
  2. Add crushed cookies with softened cream cheese to a mixing bowl — mix well.
  3. Roll the dough into small (1-inch) balls and then place on a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. Place in the freezer for about 30 minutes
  5. After frozen, dip them in the melted candy coating. Allow to cool and refrigerated to set.

I also use edible glitter to decorate the candy coating for a festive appearance. This is why I use the vanilla candy coating — provides a white surface for any color glitter to look amazing!

Apple Crisp

Apple Crisp

Ingredients (For the Apple Filling):
  • 6 cups of peeled, cored, and sliced apples (such as Granny Smith or Honeycrisp)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • For the Crumble Topping:
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cubed

Preheat the Oven: 
Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish or a similar-sized oven-safe dish.

Prepare the Apple Filling:
In a large mixing bowl, combine the sliced apples, granulated sugar, flour, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. Toss until the apples are well coated.

Transfer to Baking Dish:
Transfer the apple mixture to the greased baking dish, spreading it out evenly.

Prepare the Crumble Topping:
In a separate bowl, combine the rolled oats, flour, brown sugar, and salt.

Add the cold, cubed butter to the dry mixture. Use a pastry cutter or your fingers to incorporate the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Top the Apples:
Sprinkle the crumble topping evenly over the apple mixture in the baking dish.

Place the baking dish in the preheated oven and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown, and the apple filling is bubbling.

Cool Slightly and Serve:
Allow the apple crisp to cool for a few minutes before serving. It’s best served warm. Service it with Ice cream or whipped cream.

This article was originally published in the Mortgage Women Magazine November 2023 issue.
Ashley Gravano
Ashley Gravano

Ashley Gravano is vice president of product solutions at Mortgage Cadence.

Published on
Nov 21, 2023
2023 Top Employers For Women

Saluting The Top Employers For Women

NMP Staff
Chasing Prosperity, Or Just Really, Really Desperate For New Leads?

Mortgage companies are partnering for new sources of business and growth

Sarah Wolak
Driving Change (And Business Too!)

A charitable drive can improve a mortgage Broker's bottom line

Jack Dunn


Navigating Experienced Real Estate Investor Needs

With one of four homes being sold to real estate investors, it’s clear there’s an enormous opportunity to work...

Nov 02, 2023
Investor Confidence in Today’s Non-QM And Why Originators Are Paying Attention... A Virtual Town Hall

We host Angel Oak Mortgage Solutions for a special 2021 edition of their virtual town hall series they ran fro...

Apr 08, 2021
How to Help Real Estate Pros in a Post-Refi World

Hear from Melissa Merriman, REALTOR® with The Melissa Merriman Team at Keller Williams, on what real estate pr...

Mar 18, 2021
Connect with your local mortgage community.

Meet your your colleagues, both national and local, by attending an event in your area.