In the age of social media, it can be hard to keep up. As soon as you get the hang of one platform, it changes; or, newer, better platforms rise up to usurp its throne. In the game of social media, you win, or you fade into oblivion.

Part of being able to execute a successful social strategy is choosing the right platforms for your business. Between all the available options, this may seem daunting. However, if you ask yourself a few key questions, you should be able to quickly determine which platforms make sense for your business.

Objectives

The first and most important question revolves around your social media objectives. If you’re unable to state how and why a specific channel will help you reach your goals, you should probably forgo it.

If your goal is to boost brand awareness, choose well-established platforms with a large user-base and avoid newer platforms. Well-established platforms are typically easy to use and have the largest audience. As we move toward pay-to-play, it can be hard to reach your target audience organically. Look into available social media advertising options as well, whether your budget is large or small. If your goal is to increase lead generation for your product or service, platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are your best bet.

Target

You should also consider the platforms your target audience is already using. For example, if the bulk of your target is women, ages 45-65, Snapchat is likely not the right platform for you to be spending your time and efforts.

Be aware of your current demographics to make the best decision. Your audience should inform your decision on where to place your efforts and the content you create. The more targeted your approach, the higher your chances are of conversion. If you don’t already have social channels set up, conduct some demographic research to determine what makes the most sense.

Competitors

Where are your competitors present online? What is their following and level of engagement like? What kind of content are they sharing? Knowing the current landscape will give you an idea of what you should and should not be sharing. Sprout Social is a resourceful platform with tools for monitoring how you stack up against your competitors on social media.

Content

The kind of content you create depends on your business and goals. If you want to share industry-specific news, company updates or thought-leadership editorials, you want a platform that is B2B friendly, such as LinkedIn. Twitter is also a great platform for industry news and updates and Medium, Pinterest and Instagram are best suited for B2C businesses that have interesting visual elements. These platforms lend themselves to aspirational visuals and are an excellent place to build your brand’s visual story.

As video content has become more popular, social platforms have adapted to support video content more seamlessly into their feeds. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter tend to have a more universal appeal, while YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and Periscope appeal more to younger audiences.

When choosing the channels that are right for your business, it’s important to strike a balance. Utilizing only one platform will likely not be enough; however; spreading yourself too thin will make it difficult for you to make enough of an impact on any one platform.

Need help with your social strategy? Let’s talk!

Summertime is meant for sunbathing by the pool with a good book. Although after you’ve read the same Jane Austen novel for the fifth time, you start to question what else might be out there for you. Here are some of our top book recommendations for some easy summer reading.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)
By: Mindy Kaling

Are you looking to indulge in a light and easygoing book that will make you laugh out loud? Well, you’re in for a treat with this one. Actress and comedy writer, Mindy Kaling, tells her life story – from childhood to how she ended up in the world of show business. Filled with funny anecdotes, Kaling narrates the novel as if she’s your best friend guiding you through her experiences. From friendships and romance to bizarre Hollywood moments, Kaling is incredibly relatable and will surely entertain you if you choose to spend some time reading her story.

All the Light We Cannot See
By: Anthony Doerr

All the Light We Cannot See is a New York Times Best Seller that has captured the hearts of many readers. This coming-of-age story follows the lives of a French girl and a German boy during World War II, from childhood to after the war. It has been praised for being so beautifully and vividly written that you might forget you’re in the year 2017 because you will be so immersed!

How to Win Friends and Influence People
By: Daniel Carnegie

If you are a workaholic and feel guilty about reading for leisure, consider checking out this classic self-help book. This novel was originally published in 1936 but is still relevant to the professional world today. Dive into the pages of this book where you’ll find helpful tips on how to be successful in your professional life. Relax by the pool and work at the same time – certainly a “novel” idea!

Sweetbitter
By: Stephanie Danler

Sweetbitter is the story of a young woman who moves to New York City to start an exciting life. This book will give you a peek into the wild world of the New York food industry as a young person in her twenties experiences romance, parties, and a little scandal on the side. Get your fill of drama this summer with a novel instead of a TV screen!

We hope you take time to relax and read a book this summer! What are some of your favorite summer reads?

Austin is great place to live – for people, and for our four-legged friends! It’s well established that Austin has a delightfully dog-friendly attitude. If you’re new to the city or looking for something fun to do with your pup, you should take advantage of all the great dog-friendly activities the city has to offer. Here are our top 5 doggy-approved activities:

Zilker Park

Zilker Park is an Austin staple. This 350-acre hangout is right off Barton Springs Road and home to Austin City Limits, Blues on the Green, the Austin Trail of Lights and more. On weekends, you will find people out for a picnic, pick-up games of soccer, sand volleyball, and lots and lots of dogs. If you’re not sure where to take your dog first, this is a great jumping off point. It’s off-leash and laid back – just be sure to bring plenty of poop bags!

Vic Mathias Shores

Located downtown off Lady Bird Lake, Vic Mathias Shores (previously Auditorium Shores) is great for pups who like to get wet. Although a bit less roomy than Zilker, Auditorium Shores has been recently renovated with multiple docks your pooch can practice their belly flops from.

Yard Bar

Crack a cold one while your dog gets a workout in! Located off Burnet Road, Yard Bar has a relaxed environment and is the perfect afternoon hangout spot with your pooch. The yard is fenced in and includes picnic tables and agility equipment. Day passes are $5, but memberships are also available for purchase. Please note, all dogs must be 21 and up.

Bull Creek

Bull Creek is ideal for the more adventurous pup. With 32 miles of beautiful terrain, there’s something for everyone here. Take a hike on the trails, or bring a cooler and go for a swim. You can expect scenic cliffs, swimming holes and waterfalls. As there are both deep and shallow areas of water, we would recommend bringing a life jacket for your pup.

The Domain

Is your pup looking for something a bit more posh? The Domain may be the perfect spot! This outdoor shopping center boasts more than 100 restaurants and stores. You will find plenty of water bowls scattered throughout, along with numerous benches for people watching. Most restaurant patios welcome dogs, and many of the stores are dog-friendly as well – just be sure to ask first if you’re unsure.

What are your favorite Austin places to take your pooch? Let us know in the comments!

Improvisational theater or improv is a form of theater in which much of what is performed is unplanned or unscripted. Think “Whose Line is it Anyway?” or shows you might see at your local comedy club. As it turns out, improv doesn’t have to be limited to the stage. There can be many benefits to incorporating improv exercises and principles at the office.

The Power of “Yes, And…”

“Yes, and…” is the golden rule of improv and is all about positive affirmation. For example, if you’re in a scene with someone and they exclaim, “The asteroid is heading straight for Earth!” you wouldn’t respond, “No it’s not, and we’re not even on Earth,” or the scene would effectively be dead. Instead, you’d have to build upon the idea, no matter how outlandish. You might say, “Yes, and we need to build a rocket ship before it hits!”

This principle can be extremely useful when carried into to the office, as it establishes a positive and creative environment where people feel more comfortable contributing their ideas. This is especially true in brainstorm sessions. When no idea is dismissed, but is instead built upon, people are more likely to toss out bolder and more creative ideas.

Boosts Confidence

Taking risks and getting out of your comfort zone is crucial in any improv exercise. It creates a judgement free environment where no idea is shut down or “too crazy.” It can help introverts come out of their shell, while reducing anxiety around office communication. It can also help sharpen public speaking skills and is a great exercise in performing under pressure. This comes in handy in any business, but especially in an agency setting.

More Productive Meetings

Improv is all about being present and in the moment – reacting and listening to what your scene partner is saying. Scenes can quickly derail if one person isn’t actively paying attention to what the other is saying, so focus is key. In addition to greater focus, it can encourage a more open environment, making it easier for people to speak up during meetings.

Prepare for the Unexpected

This can be especially useful for any surprises that pop up at work. If a presentation goes wrong or technology fails; if there’s a crisis that needs to be solved ASAP; or, if you’re asked a question you weren’t expecting – improv teaches you to be calm under pressure and really think on your feet. These skills can also come in handy during a job interview. There’s only so much you can prepare when going into an interview. There’s always that one question that comes out of left field and requires serious improvisation to be able to think of the answer and also tie it back to why the company should hire you.

Games, Games, Games!

Not sure where to start? Improv games are great icebreakers and excellent for getting team members warmed up before a brainstorming session. Harvard Business Review gives some great examples of improv games you can try with your team.

Do you think this is a fit for your team? Give improv a try and let us know how it goes!

Summer in Texas is a unique experience. Living in the city, brunching at trendy spots and shopping downtown can be fun, but come late afternoon, the 96 degree weather starts to hit hard. Texas heat is very real, but our great state supplies us with swimming holes to keep us cool and entertained.

Barton Springs

This swimming hole in the midst of the city of Austin is a whopping three acres of pool, and is kept at 68 degrees year-round. Considered one of the most popular swimming holes in Austin, this pool is spring-fed and open from 5am-10pm, with the last two hours being free admission. The guests of Barton Springs are a diverse group of people and are a microcosm of the Austin people and culture. You will find yogis practicing on the hill, families splashing around with their children and plenty of people laying out in the sun or jumping off the diving boards.

Jacob’s Well

Located in Wimberley, Jacob’s Well is the endpoint to an underground natural spring that provides clear and cool waters perfect for those hot Texas days. This swimming hole is usually open from 10am-8pm during the summer months, but we recommend calling ahead about hours to plan accordingly. Jacob’s Well is a great place to day trip on a hot summer day off, and has plenty of areas of shade for bringing a picnic and some pals.

Hamilton Pool

Take a drive to Dripping Springs and visit Hamilton Pool, a swimming hole whose natural beauty gives off major lagoon vibes. Make sure to bring comfortable shoes because you will be doing a few minutes of walking to get to the pool area. Expect a beautiful 50 foot waterfall, and a shore area to lay out soaking up sun rays. The times of admission to this pool vary according to weather conditions, so take the time to call beforehand to ensure they’re open and waiting for you!

Krause Springs

Venture into Spicewood and you will find Krause Springs, a privately-owned swimming hole by the Krause family for over 50 years. There are 32 springs feeding into the large natural swimming hole, and the water is kept at a chilly 68 degrees year-round. If you are feeling extra adventurous there is also an opportunity to camp to fully immerse yourself in the Krause Springs experience.

Bull Creek

Another Austin gem is Bull Creek, an entire 11 miles of water, trail and climbing spots. It’s located in North Central Austin, and has been serving as a place for people to cool off as early as the 1950s. This area is dog friendly, and provides areas to bring a picnic and spend a hot summer day outdoors. Swimming in the creek, volleyball courts and walking the trails are all attractions that will make for an entertaining day in the hot Texas sun.

What are some other fun swimming holes to visit in Texas? Let us know in the comments below!

Houston is getting hot and heavy – and we’re not just talking about the weather. What else is hot and heavy, you ask? Well … the music scene at the 2017 Free Press Summer Fest Lineup. The annual music festival will be pumping up the jams June 3-4th. Here are the artists to look for during the 2017 FPSF Houston!

Couple Classics

Flume

The Australian band with a heavy electronica influence is ready to drop the beat. With countless remixes and features with other leading artists, the ambient jams they produce are always inventive. Flume’s beat-driven music is sure to get some heads rockin’ and rollin’.

Lorde

This poetic singer, whose songs often tend to point out the obvious societal gap between luxury life of excess and vast poverty, is back on the radar with a new single. Green Light is all the rave, and Lorde never ceases to produce anything but an exceptionally unique live performance.

Forever Folksy

Milky Chance

The German folk pop band’s new album Blossom is circulating throughout the globe. A little more pop and beat influenced than their first album, Sandnecessary, Blossom features instrumentals, layered harmonies, and Spanish guitars, amid an electronica atmosphere. This niche and elaborate combination of influences are sure to make a live performance worthwhile.

Portugal. the Man

The indie pop band derived from the Alaskan wilderness knows how to rock. Indie and alternative, Portugual. the Man seems to produce a sound that feels appropriate for the beach, campfire or, of course, a music festival. The mustachioed lead singer, John Gourley, has bright vocals that will linger in the depths of your music-loving head long after the performance.

Newer Noise

The Wheel Workers

This local band from our very own Houston, Texas, comes with a sturdy and sound lyrical base. Steven Higginbotham has strong vocals that are just as powerful as the political relevancies his lyrics highlight. Heavy on both rock and meaningful topics, the Wheel Workers are sure to make an impactful appearance at 2017 FPSF.

Stick Figure

American reggae is the genre. The Southern California band creates a marriage between reggae and electronica sound, giving them a distinctive niche. The new American reggae sound has dub beats, heavy instrumentals, and great vibes. Get ready to chill out and kick it with Stick Figure.

Ah, summertime. Rest, relaxation, and time spent outdoors with family. It can be easy to neglect our skin when we’re busy having fun. Between sun, sand, chlorine and heat, it’s essential to make sure we’re taking the necessary precautions to protect the largest organ in our body: our skin.

Prevent

UV levels can wreak havoc on unprotected skin, and contribute to wrinkles, age spots, premature aging and skin cancer. Your greatest ally in the fight against these is sunscreen, and lots of it!

There are two types of UV rays that can be damaging to the skin – UVA and UVB. UVB rays are what cause sunburn, while UVA rays penetrate more deeply, causing premature aging. Both are damaging to the skin, so it’s important to pick up a sunscreen labeled as “broad-spectrum,” which protects against both UVA and UVB.

Apply sunscreen at least 15-30 minutes before sun exposure to ensure the active ingredients have time to take effect. Be sure to re-apply every two hours, or immediately after getting wet to stay protected all day. This one from Neutrogena is great – it has a nice scent and is waterproof.

Maintain

While it’s important to prevent sun damage, it’s equally as important to take care of and maintain the skin we’re in. Consistent sweat and sunscreen use can cause congestion in the skin, so you may need to switch to a heavy-duty cleanser during the summer. Try something such as the Algae Deep Cleanse from Source Vital Apothecary to keep pores clear – bentonite clay purifies, while red algae and geranium essential oil soothe the skin.

The skin around your eyes is especially delicate; extra care should be taken in the summer to guard against premature aging. To help prevent crow’s feet, be sure to wear sunglasses outdoors and invest in a good eye cream. We love this one from Mad Hippie – light enough that it doesn’t feel greasy, but seriously hydrating. Pro tip: If you want to up your eye cream game, keep it in the refrigerator. It feels great, and the cold helps soothe any puffiness.

If you find that your skin begins to look and feel dull during the day, you could benefit from using a facial mist. Sprays like this one from Evian are great at adding moisture back to overheated skin.

Heal

Despite our best efforts, sunburns happen. When they do, we need to be prepared. Aloe Vera gel has stood the test of time, and remains one of our favorite ways to soothe and treat nasty burns. Stock up on your own, or keep an Aloe Vera plant at home. Avoid hot showers, and be sure to use gentle products on your skin while it’s healing. If you’re sunburned, it’s probably not the best time to try a new scrub or peel.

What are your summer-skin must haves? Sound off in the comments below!

 

One exceptional aspect about living in Austin is that it’s a booming city for exquisite cuisines. There is never a lack of delicious dining or eats around the eclectic neighborhoods of Austin, TX. Curious about the latest restaurants? Here’s a little scoop of some of Austin’s most exciting new places to chow down!

Tillery Kitchen & Bar

Right off E Caesar Chavez, Tillery takes a slight turn to Mediterranean fusion. Whether shareable tapas or personal plates, you can’t go wrong. We hear the paella is a must. This new local Austin restaurant has a delightful outdoor dining area that is perfect for social events, parties, weddings, or just a serene outdoor dining experience.

Kuneho

This Japanese Kitchen and Bar off E 6th puts a level of uniqueness into each perfect bite. With a focus on specialty sushi, Kuneho integrates small bites with the finest culinary practices of Asia. This uppity Japanese bar offers craft cocktails that compliment a pallet for optimal Asian cuisine enjoyment.

Bonhomie

This new French bistro-inspired American diner off Burnet offers a delicious cross of French styled food with an American take… or American styled food with a French take? As they’re still debating, we hear it’s a fantastic idea to try the Loup de Mer comprised of seabass, mussels, confit garlic, purple potato, and basil. So many flavors that pair to leave you feeling oh so satisfied.

Velvet Taco

This casual mini-taco chain that originated in Dallas has finally moved to the Domain in Austin. Known for its late hours, this funky taco shop slow roasts their chicken and corn and then marries it with a delicious homemade tortilla. Who doesn’t love another taco shop that’s doing it right?

My Name Is Joe Coffee Co.

This is no ordinary food truck. Off of Colorado St, My Name Is Joe Coffee Co. originated with an idea to serve those in the service industry who are looking for a new life from drug and alcohol addiction. This food truck with charitable operations is known for its specialty breakfast toasts made with healthy, fresh ingredients. Let’s not forget the coffee! We can’t wait to try the Turmeric Latte.

These new restaurants are fitting right into Austin’s food-loving culture. Experience any extra delicious new Austin restaurants? Let us know in the comments below!

 

 

It’s hard to get bored in a city like Austin where there’s always something going on. There’s so much to do, in fact, that sometimes it may seem a little overwhelming to plan for all of the activities that are taking place. Have no fear – we’ve rounded up some of the best, can’t-miss events happening in Austin this month!

March 5th: Zilker Park Kite Festival

This free event is the nation’s oldest kite festival! The festival will have kite flying contests, food, games and more – what better way to spend a beautiful Sunday in Austin?

March 10th – March 19th: SXSW Music, Film and Interactive Conference and Festival

The event that brings people to Austin from all over the world is almost here. South by Southwest kicks off on March 10th and will be going on through the 19th. Make sure you catch some of the free shows and film screenings that will be taking place throughout the week! Check out the Unofficial SXSW Guide for an incredible list of free showcases and parties.

March 11th – March 25th: Rodeo Austin

Get your country on throughout March at Rodeo Austin, taking place at the Travis County Expo Center. There will be rodeo events, concerts, a livestock show, and more on a daily basis! Tickets are available at www.rodeoaustin.com.

March 17th: St. Patrick’s Day Festival

Austin, Texas knows how to party! This annual celebration at Jourdan-Bachman Pioneer Farms is a family-friendly celebration for all things Irish. There will be authentic Celtic music and dancers, Irish language workshops, and the finest Irish imports. Learn more at www.stpatricksdayaustin.com.

March 31st – April 1st: Austin Urban Music Festival

Join over 15,000 music enthusiasts at Auditorium Shores located at Lady Bird Lake to experience the only music festival focused on R&B, neo-soul, and hip hop music. The full line-up and tickets can be found at www.urbanmusicfest.com.

March 31st – April 2nd: Art City Austin

Art Alliance Austin hosts this iconic 3-day art fair and festival annually. They will be celebrating the fair’s 67th year by hosting over 100 exhibiting artists at the Palmer Event Center. This historic event combines street and contemporary art from local and national artists, earning its title of Austin’s annual Art event of the year.

What Austin events are on your calendar for March? Let us know in the comments below!

It’s the season of love in the ATX. Tired of going on dates to a restaurant or the movie theater? In a city like Austin, the possibilities are endless! Try these fun date ideas with your main squeeze.

  1. BYOB mini golf at Peter Pan – grab a six-pack and relive your childhood days with 18 nostalgic, themed holes. Nothing more romantic than a little healthy competition!
  2. Two Stepping at Broken Spoke – put on your cowboy boots for an unforgettable night of country dancing at this historic honky-tonk dive.
  3. Catch a flick at Blue Starlite Drive-in – time travel back to the 1950’s at this old-time drive-in that shows classics. On Valentine’s night, they’re showing The Princess Bride, Casablanca and the Bride of Frankenstein!
  4. Karaoke at Hi Tunes – belt out your favorite songs together and laugh at how bad you both sound, — is there a better ice breaker?.
  5. Picnic at Mount Bonnell – if you’re looking to up your romance game, take a short climb to the top of the “mountain” to enjoy marvelous views and a DIY picnic.
  6. Paddle Boarding on Lady Bird Lake – get a nice workout, cool off in the water and enjoy the beautiful view of Austin right on the lake. Bonus points if you knock your significant other off their board.
  7. Enjoy a Comedy Sketch – with places like Hideout Theatre, Velveeta Room, Coldtown, Esther’s Follies and Cap City Comedy Club, you’ve got some great places to choose from.
  8. Swimming and sightseeing at Hamilton Pool – once the Texas heat comes back, Hamilton Pool is the perfect place to take a dip while taking pics that look like they belong on a postcard.
  9. iFLY Indoor Skydiving – experience the thrill of skydiving without jumping out of a plane at the indoor skydiving facility located in North Austin. This one is for thrill seekers!
  10. Game Night at The Goodnight – enjoy an adults-only gaming spot that will bring you back to your childhood days with bowling, billiards and more games. Plus, there’s a full bar and patio!

What are some of your favorite date spots in Austin? Let us know in the comments below!

January is for getting back in the groove, so here’s some songs you can get your groove on to this month! Give our playlist a listen on Spotify.

 

It’s officially 2017- oh how time flies! Every year, we make a list of our New Years resolutions, yet by March they seem to get moved to the back burner. That’s why this year, we put together a list of simple and achievable New Year’s resolution goals you can hold yourself accountable to. Let’s make 2017 the best year yet!

1. Get more sleep – at least 7 hours a night.

2. Incorporate 30 minutes of physical exercise into every day.

3. Save a portion of each paycheck to spend on yourself.

4. Eat at least one serving of fruit and vegetables daily.

5. Donate to or volunteer for your favorite cause once a month.

6. Learn something new, whether it’s a language, instrument, sport, or subject.

7. Write down one positive thing about yourself every day.

8. Try 20 minutes of meditation a day to help you enjoy life and living in the present.

9. Give at least one compliment a day.

10. Plan more weekend getaways to new places.

What are you planning on adding to your New Year’s resolutions list for 2017? Let us know in the comments below!

The holiday season is here, and we’re jumping for joy! Some of the best parts about December are the holiday movie marathons that take place. We can’t wait to sit around the house in our PJs, watching these classics with our loved ones. Here are some of our favorite holiday movies and why we love them!

1. It’s a Wonderful Life – The most classic Christmas movie ever. Clarence and Zuzu’s petals and the Bank and Loan and Jimmy Stewart in the 40’s, ah. It’s a Christmas Eve tradition to drink egg nog, watch the whole movie and then catch the Santa tracker on the local broadcast station. Don’t forget: every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings!

2. Home Alone – Where are all the ’90s kids at? It’s hard not to watch this movie every year, as it seems to be on every channel at all hours of the day (which is perfectly okay with us). KEVIN?!?!?! Beware: the sequels are terrible (except the second one, according to Rachel).

3. A Christmas Story – The nostalgia! There’s nothing better than getting to relive your nerdy, dysfunctional childhood all over again. We can’t wait to watch this one and quote along with every iconic line. Thank goodness for the 24 hour marathon on TBS!

4. Elf – It’s hard to believe this one didn’t exist before 2004 – it’s such a classic! Just your typical movie about accidentally being transported to the North Pole as a toddler to be raised alongside Santa’s elves…wait, what? Buddy the Elf is absolutely hilarious, and if you aren’t constantly quoting this movie in your everyday life, you’re doing things wrong. SANTAAAAA!!!!!!

5. Eighty Crazy Nights – An animated Hanukkah movie might not be top of mind for a holiday classic, but it’s definitely one to remember. Invite your Jewish friends over and sing The Chanukah Song at the top of your lungs – “instead of one day of presents, we get eight crazy nights!”

What are some of your favorite holiday movies to watch during the winter season? Let us know in the comments below!

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, reminding us all that this year is almost over. Thanksgiving is the perfect time to reflect back on the year, thinking about what we have accomplished and how we can improve. It is a time to contemplate what we are thankful for, as we spend time with friends, family and loved ones. Our team at Wellington Group Marketing and PR has decided to share our favorite Thanksgiving traditions and why it is such a special holiday to us.

Dawn – We love the holidays at our house! Thanksgiving is one of our favorites – good food, running the Turkey Trot together, time with friends and family, late afternoon naps with football playing in the background, and most importantly time to give thanks and reflect on all that we have. While I don’t get to do this every year, one of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions (I’ve been doing this since I was in high school) is to enjoy a Thanksgiving feast at several homes. It’s basically Thanksgiving dinner hopping and I love it. You really can’t beat a traditional Thanksgiving feast, and I like to be able to enjoy one as many times as possible in one day. I also love being sent home with leftovers!

Rachel – My favorite Thanksgiving tradition involves walking to the neighborhood park with my family after we are stuffed and full of wine. My cousins and I always fight over the swings and relive our glory days as kids sliding down the playground slide. It’s a great chance to catch up with family and reflect on all that we are thankful for!

Julia – For the past two years, I’ve participated in the ThunderCloud Turkey Trot and have loved it. It’s a great way to burn calories before the big meal and come together as a community. This year though, I’ve signed up to help the Austin homeless shelters with their Thanksgiving meal, which I hope will become my new tradition. I also love spending time with my family and watching the UT football game.

Nicole – Almost every Thanksgiving, my whole family is able to come together from across the U.S. to spend the holiday together. The tradition of my whole family meeting in my hometown of Chicago is my favorite part about Thanksgiving because it so rarely happens. With both of my brothers living in California, my aunt and uncle living in Texas, and other family spread out throughout Illinois, it’s one of the only times every year we can all spend together. We watch football games, cook and bake a variety of foods, share what we are thankful for, play games with the little ones, and overall just have a great time.

Michael – The Wellington’s have traditionally been big “decorators” at holiday time. The Halloween pumpkins that didn’t morph into jack-o-lanterns are repurposed into the Thanksgiving displays, joining the turkeys and hay bales that foretell the coming feast day, when big families and bigger appetites converge for a few hours of thanks, gluttony and football. Thanksgiving Day is spent at the Wellington home in Abilene—while the turkey is roasting, all the Christmas decorations make their way out from storage. As the ladies head out early for the Black Friday sales, I begin transforming the house and yard into a glowing winter wonderland. It’s a labor of love, whether the temperature is a sweat-producing 90 degrees or a finger-numbing 28 degrees with spitting snow. Each passing year makes this Thanksgiving weekend tradition a little harder to maintain, but for now, the tradition continues.

What are some of your favorite parts about Thanksgiving and what traditions does your family partake in? Let us know in the comments below!

With swimsuit season over and sweater season underway, it can be easy to forget about your fitness routine as the temperature drops. We know a little motivation goes a long way, and having the right attire can be that extra push to get you going. Check out our top ten workout gear picks to keep you excited this fall.

1. We use this Fly Away Tamer headband from Lululemon every day to keep those pesky flyaway hairs from sticking to our faces during yoga or cycling class!

2. This Tervis water bottle accompanies us to work and every workout. It keeps our water cold for the whole day and is sweat-free, keeping our belongings dry.

3. Music is such an important aspect of our workouts. These in-ear headphones by Bose are our favorite way to listen to tunes while hitting the weights.

4. These spacious and colorful Adidas Duffel Bags carry all of our gear to and from the gym without breaking the bank.

5. Our office is full of yogis—and we love this Lululemon yoga mat! This mat is the perfect size and shape to bring with us wherever we go.

6. The name says it all. The Incredible sports bra by Victoria’s Secret provides maximum support during high-intensity workouts, making it our go-to choice when we’re killing it at kickboxing.

7. Whenever it gets chilly outside, we throw on this ¼ zip pullover from Old Navy for our outdoor workouts.

8. These classic Nike running shorts rock because they don’t ride up during a jog. Their loose fit and variety of colors make for a go-to short for any of our workouts.

9. We love these Wild and Free pants from Lululemon. They keep our legs covered without being too warm during a sweaty spin class thanks to the mesh cutouts.

10. Keep your feet from feeling pain with these comfortable and fashionable Nike Free Running Shoes. They are the perfect kicks for a jog along Lady Bird Lake!

What is your must-have gear when you head to the gym? Let us know in the comments!