8 Tips for Holiday Gift Giving to Save You Time and Money—Part 2

 

Last week I gave you the first 4 tips for your holiday gift giving. Here’s the rest of the tips that are designed to save you time and money this holiday season.

 

 

5. Embrace one for all.

 

The idea here is everyone receives the same kind of gift. Talk about consolidating your holiday gift giving list! A visit to just two departments or a single website could satisfy your entire list.

A teddy bear Christmas c. 1983.

Probably the most magical and memorable Christmas my family ever had was the year that my mom decided that everyone—from my 7-year old cousin to my 65-year old aunt—would receive a teddy bear. But not just any teddy bear, a “personality bear” (many of which I understand were embroiled in a lawsuit by the personalities impersonated by the bears).

It was especially easy to wrap them—because they weren’t wrapped! My mom and I set them out around the living room with name tags. Finding your own bear was part of the fun on Christmas morning!

Other years, Mom would pick a general item for the girls and women, and another for the boys and men. Within that general category, she selected something that fit each person’s personality. For example, one year all the women folk received nightshirts and all the men received wallets. One of my favorite years was the one where all women received Coach purses.

A recent trend in the “all for one and one for all” gifting idea is getting the family together for dinner and a show (or, the more inexpensive option, lunch and a matinee). It helps create a sense of family, it’s festive and it creates shared memories which are the best gifts of all.

Other great family gifts include a subscription to an online movie services or a “fruit of the month” club—each of which continue to give throughout the year.

6. Harness the power of the Internet.

Recently I was watching a show on BBC that traced the development of digital currency, and I was shocked at how recent so much of the technology of online shopping really is. Can it be that the iPhone was only introduced 10 years ago?  Click here for a brief recap of e-commerce from the National Retail Federation.

Now of course everyone seems to have a smartphone and consumer behavior has radically shifted to mobile shopping and online cashless payment.

Attendees at Shop.org—e-commerce’s annual convention—say that smartphones aren’t just for browsing, and they’re the best point of contact between a merchant and a shopper.

Simply put, more people are shopping online and via apps these days and skipping the malls and big box stores. With exclusive online merchandise and sales, periodic free shipping promotions and the option of delivering the gift directly to your recipient, what’s not to love?

Plus, you’re not tied down to regular store hours—perfect for the busy person! You can shop in your robe at 2 a.m. and still find just the right gift for everyone.

Another way to use the Internet to save you time is to comparison shop online before heading out to survey several stores for the best deal. In addition, many retailers allow you to order and purchase online and pick the item up at a store if you need it right away or want to save on shipping.

Personally, I love the convenience of buying online and picking up in the store, and use it frequently, even for everyday items.

Remember to download your free gift tracker to keep your holiday gift giving on track, because being organized is key to a lower-stress holiday!

 

7. Ask adults for a “bye.”

For better or worse, holiday gift giving has become an expectation—even if we never use the gift card or you put that too-small sweater right into the donation bin.

But sometimes (even following the tips in my book), you may run out of steam or ideas for gifts for everyone on your usual list.

As bizarre as it may sound, ask each of the grownups on your list if the two of you could not exchange gifts this year. After all, the holidays spark the most wonderment for children, so keep them on your list.

You may be surprised at how relieved and agreeable the adults are! Instead of gifts, take the money you would have spent and donate it to a local charity that provides food and gifts for the needy in your area.

8. Use a system to find the perfect gift.

To paraphrase Maya Angelou, it’s how you leave them feeling.

How do you feel when someone gives you a gift that is just “you”—your style, your color, your interests? It feels great, doesn’t it? Like, wow, this person gets me. They know me.

We feel special, seen and understood when we receive the perfect gift.

Wouldn’t you love to give people that feeling with your holiday gift giving?

Find the perfect gift, gift giving made easy for holidays and beyond.

It is possible to find the perfect gift; all you need is a system! In Gift Giving for Busy People, I give you a simple but effective series of questions that all lead you to the perfect gift for anyone on your holiday gift giving list, and on any budget.

It can take just minutes to run through the questions, and readers all over the country have gotten great results using the method in Gift Giving for Busy People.

Recently, a reader sent me a message on Facebook, saying that, she had been giving her friends the same present for their birthdays (that’s the “one for all” concept in action!) for a year. Now she needed a new idea for this next year of birthdays starting with her first recipient, who loves to bake cookies for her son and friends.

“I was having a tough time coming up with a new idea, so I looked through your eBook and thinking through her hobbies was just the ticket.I went to Barnes & Noble and got her a recipe book with lots of gorgeous photos of cookies. She loved it and said her son was telling her he was tired of the same old cookies. They like the photos so he can point out which ones he’d like her to make, and she’s planning to try a few new ones this weekend. Just wanted to say thanks!”

What are you waiting for? Find the perfect gifts this holiday season! And don’t forget to download your free holiday gift giving tracker to write down all of the gift ideas you’ll have once you read the book!

All of the tips in this series were adapted from Gift Giving for Busy People which goes more in depth on finding the perfect gift for anyone on your holiday gift giving list. You can get the Kindle version for a limited time for only $1.99!

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8 Tips for Holiday Gift Giving to Save You Time and Money – Part 1

Start your holiday gift giving engines with these smart tips that save you precious time and money!

The holiday season will soon be upon us, and consumer surveys show that most holiday gift givers start shopping in October.

If you’re among those who start their holiday gift giving now, here are the first of 8 tips to help you get the most of the time you’re devoting to your holiday gift giving. Plus, I’ve got a free gift tracker for you to stay organized with your holiday gift giving.

 

1. Shop where you are.

Getting as much done as possible in one place is a secret that time managers and professional organizers tell their clients. And shopping for gifts is no different—no matter where you are, from a hardware store to a discount megastore to a car dealership waiting room—gift ideas are all around you.

For example, let’s say you’re grocery shopping on Saturday afternoon and you realize there’s no time to sprint across town to the chic boutique to buy a hostess gift for the dinner party you’re attending that evening. No problem. Head to the floral department for a gorgeous bouquet or a healthy house plant; add a beautiful ribbon when you return home. Or, find a nice bottle of wine in the liquor department or box of quality chocolates.

The next time you’re in a time crunch and need a gift, no matter where you are, if you look at things from a gifting perspective you will find something prefect.

 

2. Shop when you are.

You know when Christmas is. You know when Hanukkah, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day and your mom’s birthday are. If you find the perfect gift for someone but the occasion is months away, buy the gift now.

I used to think, “oh, I’ll remember” and even if I did remember, the item was usually gone when I went back. Buying a gift “when” you are will save you time and stress later.

Who knows, maybe you will be swamped with work or a family situation when the holiday or birthday comes around; by shopping when you are, you will have the perfect gift stashed away in your gift drawer.

To help you stay organized with your holiday gift giving, use a gift tracker. You can write down who you’re buying for, ideas for gifts and where to find it. Then, wherever and whenever you are, you’ll know what you’re looking for! Click the graphic below to download the gift tracker for free.

 

3. Create a signature wrap.

One of the best ways I’ve found to reduce stress in any area of life is to simplify and streamline. To adapt these concepts to holiday gift giving, develop your own personal style to present every gift you give.

Select one or two coordinating gift wraps (or gift bags), one or two colors and styles of ribbon, and one style of gift tag and keep these items in stock and handy. My mom often did this, purchasing multiple rolls of wrapping paper all at once (usually at a discount shop), even going so far as making sure everyone in the family has some of that year’s wrap.

Doing this decreases the amount of space required to store your holiday gift wrapping items, ensures you’re ready to wrap even the most last-minute of gifts and makes your gifts memorable. (Get more tips on creating a signature wrap.)

Plus, wrapping all your holiday gifts in a signature wrap creates a festive and cohesive look under your Christmas tree. There’s nothing like it! You can get creative with ribbons, bows and tie-ons.

 

4. Re-gift with confidence.

If you’ve ever asked, “Is re-gifting OK?,” think about these questions:
– Do you think recycling is OK?
– Is living without clutter OK?
– How about blessing someone else with a useful item?

As much as you strive to select the perfect gift, sometimes your recipient just won’t like it. Her tastes may have changed. She may not have room to store it. It may be a duplicate.

Whatever the reason, sometimes your recipient will pass your gift on to someone else. Is it OK? If the gift is perfect for someone else, then absolutely it’s OK. Your recipient appreciated your efforts and your remembrance of her occasion. Your gift will find the perfect home; just maybe not with the exact recipient you intended.

And by the way, the same goes for gifts you receive. Cherish the thought of your well-wisher, and let go of what would otherwise be clutter.

I once received a three-panel, brushed nickel picture frame. A nice frame, but I didn’t have space for it, and it did not coordinate with my home décor. I put it in my gift drawer, knowing that the perfect recipient would come along.

A few months later, a friend was visiting and while we were out shopping, she expressed a need for a brushed nickel frame. I pointed out a frame similar to the one I had unopened at home, she loved it, and it saved her some money!

***

Next week I’ll bring you 4 more tips for time-and-money saving holiday gift giving tips. Stay tuned! Be sure to download the gift tracker to get started!

These tips are adapted from my book Gift Giving for Busy People which goes more in depth on finding the perfect gift for anyone on your holiday gift giving list. You can get the Kindle version for a limited time for only $1.99!

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5 Ways Gratitude Brings Balance and Grace to Your Life

If you’ve ever told yourself anything like, “I need to exercise more” or “I wish I could stop the negative chatter in my head” but you’ve never quite accomplished either, have I got a smart and simple solution for you! Gratitude.

Yep, scientists have proven that gratitude can have measurable effects on our overall wellbeing and very specific benefits to our physical and mental health.

This is the perfect time to start (or refresh) a habit of gratitude: a daily practice of words and deeds that generate a sense of goodness our lives. With Thanksgiving Day just a couple of weeks away, giving thanks is naturally on our minds. But more than that, the holiday season is for many of us a stressful, non-stop time, while others may experience bouts of seasonal depression or anxiety.

Gratitude to the rescue!

Research proves that professing and feeling gratitude improves one’s emotional state, life experiences, health and relationships. The word comes from the Latin gratia (grace, favor, goodwill). So practicing gratitude literally brings grace into our lives. It helps us connect to something outside of ourselves—whether it’s other people, nature, or a higher power.

Without going all science-y on you, here are five surprising benefits that gratitude brings to your life and your health.

 1. Grateful people exercise more, have fewer aches and pains and generally feel healthier than other people.

In a study by noted gratitude expert Dr. Robert A. Emmons, participants were asked to write just a few sentences a week about things they were grateful for. Another group wrote about things that annoyed or irritated them, and a third group wrote about events in their life (not specifically positive or negative). Participants that focused on gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives compared to the group that focused on irritations.

 2. Practicing gratitude can decrease a range of negative feelings, from regret and resentment to envy and frustration.

 3. You’ll sleep better. Spending just 15 minutes a night before bedtime writing in a gratitude journal was shown to improve sleep in a study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. It makes sense if that’s the last thing your brain is thinking about, instead of a news program of the latest doomsday headlines, sports, or a movie.

 4. Gratitude can reduce aggression and increases empathy and compassion, according to a study by the University of Kentucky in 2012. Those who ranked higher on gratitude scales exhibited greater sensitivity and empathy toward others, even when given negative feedback, as well as a reduced desire to seek revenge.

 5. Gratitude can actually boost your immune system! By promoting feelings of optimism, being thankful stimulates the production of red blood cells which in turns boosts our immunity to disease.

All of these benefits are great, but like any practice the question is, how do you start and more importantly, stick with it? The good news is, there are a lot of simple and practical ways to incorporate more gratitude into your daily life and routine. What’s important is the intention to feel gratitude for someone or something, and to express it in some way.

One of the easiest ways is to cultivate a habit of writing a thank-you note a week to someone who has done you a good turn or provided a great service. My friend Dawn Mena has five ways to write thank you’s that will create raving fans. What a great start!

For more ways to experience the everyday grace of gratitude, I’ve put together 20 simple ways to practice gratitude. It’s surprisingly easy to make thankfulness a part of your daily life and routine and reap all those benefits!

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Why not just try and see what happens when you experience and express gratitude? What have you got to lose?

I’d love to hear your results and what effects you see in your life and wellbeing with a gratitude practice. Share your experiences on the Facebook page—and thank you in advance!

Featured image (c) 2013 Shay Cochrane

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Gratitude: It’s Just Good for You!

Gift of Gratitude

There is so much in the world to be upset about right now. Truly, deeply, justifiably upset about. And I  believe there is just as much to be thankful for. Truly, deeply, wildly thankful for.

I bet if you stopped and took a nanosecond to think about it, you’d come up with at least 100 things in your life you’re grateful for.

Personally I find that practicing gratitude makes me feel better. Whether it’s finding a penny in a parking lot and lifting my eyes to the sky and saying, “Thank you!” or commenting on someone’s social media post that impacted me, or a thousand other situations large and small–expressing the feeling is a gift to myself and the other person.

Today I’d like to share two resources with you. The first is a worthy cause that is helping children in Guatemala by showcasing some of their precious artwork on a series of thank-you note cards. Check out their Indiegogo campaign at www.SayItWithGratitude.com. Founder Scott Colby says on the site that his research into the powerful and positive effects of gratitude on us as humans is what convinced him to share this knowledge with the world. Please hop over and pick up one of his packages–you can write your first thank-you note to yourself for doing something good for yourself and others.

The second resource is my new Kindle version of “101 Ways to Say Thank You.” I wrote the book a few years ago and recently decided to share it more widely with the world. I’m happy and humbled to say in the first day on the market, it was the #1 Hot New Release in etiquette books on amazon.com!

In it you’ll find a well-phrased “thank you” for 18 of life’s occasions and situations (from getting married to getting a ride to the airport) and more than 70 specific gift items. I also included ten common business thank-you letters as a bonus. It’s available this month only for a promotional price of 99 cents. You will never be at a loss for sincere words of appreciation and gratitude again.

Between note cards for a great cause and 101 thank you’s, you’ll be all set to begin your own personal journey of gratitude. Sounds like a great way to start the fall holiday season to me!

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Out of the Basket Easter Ideas

Here’s a complete list of the products shown on Wake Up with the CW on March 24, 2016.

FOR KIDS

This basket is full of fun and flavorful (and healthier) alternatives to chocolate rabbits and sugary marshmallow chicks.

AquaballAquaballs

  • Sugar-free, naturally flavored water
  • A healthy alternative to sugary sodas and drinks
  • Available in four flavors, Fruit Punch, Orange, Berry Frost and Grape,
  • Features fan favorite characters from Disney’s Frozen, Disney Princesses, Marvel Avengers, and Disney Classic Characters.
  • ($1-$1.19/bottle)

Bauli Chocolate Mini CroissantsChoc

  • Looking to fill Easter baskets with something other than candy?
  • 50 calories a pop, they’re the perfect, guilt-free basket filler
  • Made in a REAL oven with no preservatives and naturally leavened dough
  • Available at select retailers for $1.99/2.64 oz bag (6 mini croissants per bag).

 

 

Viki’s GranolaVikis Granola

  • Replace the sugary treats that often come in Easter baskets with delicious snacks kids will love
  • Great tasting, GLUTEN-FREE, and made with 100% ALL NATURAL ingredients
  • Available in Original, Blueberry Almond, Maple Cranberry, (NEW!) Banana Walnut & (NEW!) Apple Cinnamon.
  • Available at retailers nationwide and online at VikisFoods.com

Welch’s® Fruit SnacksWelchs

  • Perfect for Easter Baskets and stuffing eggs.
  • Custom Easter-themed graphics with fun shapes which include a Chick, Egg, Flower and Bunny
  • Every pack is made with REAL Fruit, is Fat Free, Gluten Free, and contains No Preservatives

 

 

FOR THE FOODIE

This basket is perfect for the foodie in your life who loves to cook and enjoys delicious foods.

Veestro Veestro

  • Tired of cooking or love to cook, but don’t have the time with all the hustle and bustle of everyday life and events?
  • All-natural, preservative-free food, packed with nutrients and high in protein and fiber.
  • Virtually no prep time! Meals are fully cooked, ready to heat-and-eat when you are, shipped frozen, and able to last in your freezer for up to 8 weeks.
  • Visit Veestro.com for more info

T-fal OptiCook Non-Stick Skillet Tfal pan

  • Foodies love this non-stick fry pan by T-fal
  • With Thermospot technology, your meal will be cooked to perfection every time
  • The Thermospot indicates when the pan is perfectly preheated to seal in flavor and prevents burning
  • T-fal’s Non-Stick skillet makes the cleanup even easier, to ensure more time spent with your friends and family!
  • To learn more, visit tfalusa.com

Explore Cuisine Chickpea Fusilli Explore pasta

  • Perfect for the pasta-lover in your life!
  • Healthy alternative to white pasta with a soft, supple texture and mild taste
  • In just one serving, Chickpea Fusilli has:
    • 11 grams of protein
    • 5 grams of fiber
    • 15% of your daily recommended iron intake
  • Vegan, certified gluten-free, non-GMO, made with organic ingredients
  • Available at supermarkets nationwide for $4.99

Omega – Fresh Juice and Healthful Recipes CookbookOmega Juices

  • Carefully handpicked and arranged
  • Comes with a remarkable assortment of recipes
  • Make a variety of fresh fruit juices, vegetable and green drinks, a medley of smoothie sorbets, creamy nut milks and nut butters, dips and purees, and many more practical and delicious recipes.
  • $14.99 at http://www.omegajuicers.com/books/a-juice-boost-274.html

 

 

FOR THE ADULT

Make sure to spoil your loved ones with an Easter basket full of relaxing and rejuvenating products.  

Coyuchi  Women’s Sateen Terry Robe Coyuchi Robe

  • Perfect addition for a relaxing Easter morning
  • Available in Alpine White and Pale Gray
  • Robe lined with velvety micro terry, it’s soft, absorbent and cozy
  • Retails for $128; Coyuchi can be found at fine retailers across the US and Canada, as well as available for purchase online at coyuchi.com

 

Hotel Collection Ultimate Micro Cotton Bath Towels Macys Towels

  • Add these high-quality, ring spun cotton towels for the ultimate spa basket
  • Durable and ultra-absorbent
  • Extra-soft and plush feel
  • Available exclusively at Macy’s; $31 per bath towel

 

 

Santa Margherita Prosecco SuperioreSanta M Prosecco

  • Celebrate Easter with Santa Margherita’s Prosecco Superiore
  • Perfect base for a variety of bubbly cocktails at your Easter brunch such as mimosas or bellinis.
  • Additional brand varietals include Pinot Grigio Alto Adige and Chianti Classico Riserva ($17.99-26.99)

 

 

 

 

 

Merle Norman Revitalizing Bubbly MaskMN Mask

  • With soft towels at your feet, a warm robe wrapped around your body and a glass of wine in hand, be sure to treat yourself even more with this sensational mask
  • Brightening bubbles recharge skin and take dull to dazzling with this new multi-sensory formula that transforms from a gel to a foam while on the face.
  • $30; Merle Norman Studios MerleNorman.com

 

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Easter 101: Baskets, Decor and More

Easter rabbit on fresh green grass

Easter is almost here! And that means, baskets to be assembled, tables to be set, and spring cleaning to be tackled.

 

iphone april 2012 053No basket? No problem! Get tips for alternatives to a plain ‘ol wicket basket that adds to the gifty-ness of this year’s Easter treasures. And some non-candy gift ideas, too!

 

 

 

 

Powder and basket 018Basket brush-up: Once you’ve got that basket (or non-basket!) use these principles and tips to create professional-looking gift baskets.

 

 

 

 

Easter centerpiece collageTable time: Need a quick and cheap centerpiece! Try this $12 idea!

 

 

 

 

 

Yellow TulipsFlower power: Keep spring flowers fresh as a daisy with these pro tips.

 

 

 

 

 

March 2014 030Last minute decor: Add a splash of color to your Easter festivities with scarves!

 

 

 

 

 

(c) Africa Studio/Fotolia

Clean it up: Get tips on spring cleaning, although maybe just a tidying up before Easter. It’s early this year after all, and nobody’s going to see the garage. I hope.

 

 

 

 

Need more inspiration? Browse all my Easter articles here for bits of history and even some extravagance.

Rabbit photo copyright levranii/Fotolia.com.

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