Monthly Archives: November 2015

Not Another Tie! Better Gift Giving Ideas

FreeDigitalImages_ApoloniaThanksgiving Doorbusters.  Black Friday Specials.   Cyber Monday Madness.

The holiday gift-giving time is upon us . . . along with the stress we put upon ourselves to find the perfect gifts.  Don’t get me wrong, there is amazing joy in finding the perfect gift (when it happens you hear harps playing and angels singing)!   But more often than not, gift-giving is stressful and, frankly, not very much fun.

In my organizing work, I see lots and lots of not so perfect gifts that get stuffed in a drawer or put away in a cupboard because the recipient is too embarrassed to say that it doesn’t fit, isn’t their style, or doesn’t satisfy a current need.  Many times, as recipients, we would really prefer that the time, energy, and money spent on gifts be directed to those that are truly in need.

So, if you are not quite sure what Aunt Suzi wants or needs as a holiday gift this year and you’re pretty sure another velour robe isn’t going to be the “perfect” gift, how about trying something new . . . give to those truly in need and send Aunt Suzi a sweet card saying that a donation has been made in her name.  (Many charities will send the cards for you if you would prefer she receive something directly.)  My guess is Aunt Suzi will appreciate the charitable thought . . . and not having to return yet another pink velour robe.

Here are some thought starters:

Donate cash to a local charity:  Cash is always a welcome gift for many charities.  Although it may feel good to buy a bag of canned food or a frozen turkey, that may not be exactly what the local food bank or soup kitchen needs right now.  If you plan to go this route, give them a call and see what they may need and follow their suggestions.  And while you’re at it, see if they could use a helping hand or two.  According to a Berkeley study,  “scientists also believe that altruistic behavior releases endorphins in the brain, producing the positive feeling known as the “helper’s high.””

Donate to a national charity:   There are those in need all across the country.  National and international charities like Red Cross, Salvation Army, and Goodwill, are well-established organizations that help those less fortunate and those in crisis.

Adopt-A-Family:  Many cities and businesses adopt local families or foster children during the holiday season.  Check with your local Chamber of Commerce or your employer’s Human Resources to see what might be available.  Friends, neighbors, and co-workers coming together behind this cause will bring even more joy to giving.

Spread your gifts around the world:  The  Good Gifts catalog was born 12 years ago, as a refreshing alternative to conventional unwanted presents.  From livestock to tress, school uniforms to an orphan’s dowry, donations can be directed around the world to those truly in need.  Good Gifts will provide a  keepsake card (to send or keep) bearing a light-hearted description of the gift.

Water, education and disaster relief: A gift to World Vision enables them to respond quickly in areas of greatest need to help the world’s most vulnerable.

Whatever gift-giving solution feels best to you, remember the spirit of the holidays is really to spend time with the ones we love.

Click here for more Stressless Holiday suggestions.


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3 Quick Ways to De-Stress the Holidays

Happy HolidaysIt’s hard to believe, but it’s early November and the holidays are right around the corner!  How did that happen?

This time of year I hear a lot of stress-related concerns from my clients.  In large part, they center around not having enough time to “get it all done.”  This gives me the perfect opportunity to have the conversation about what “it all” is and if everything that falls under the “it all” category is bringing joy to the holiday season or just layering on undue stress.

I encourage my clients to check in with themselves, review their priorities, and give themselves the most precious of all gifts . . . time!  Here are some great places to start:

  1. Holiday gatherings.  If you feel more stress than joy about attending a holiday event, maybe the answer to the invitation should be “thank you for inviting us, but we just can’t make it this year.”  You don’t need to go into a long explanation about why, simply responding that you can’t make it is sufficient.
  2. De-stress holiday baking.  It’s amazing to me how much stress people put on themselves when it comes to holiday baking.  Baking is not my passion, but I love having holiday treats to share with neighbors and friends.   Here are two simple and fun ways to take some baking shortcuts.
    1. Coordinate baking efforts.  Have a dessert exchange party where everyone makes several dozen of their favorite recipes and then swap with each other. It’s a super-simple, and super-fun, way to easily get a full assortment of desserts without having to make several different kinds yourself.  (Special Note: It helps to specify that the desserts should freeze well.)
    2. Let the grocery store do some (or all) of the work.  It’s amazing what the neighborhood grocery store has on hand these days!  From ready-made desserts to cookies you can decorate yourself, let the professionals handle the heavy-lifting of baking so you can spend your time doing things you enjoy more.
  3. It’s okay to buy gift cards!  Unless you absolutely, positively know someone’s perfect size, color, or favorite author, a gift card would probably be a welcome gift.  It’s easy to customize the gift by selecting a recipient’s favorite store or Amazon sells gift cards from $.50 – $2,000.  And what can’t you buy on Amazon these days?

The holidays are meant to be joyful and fun . . . for everyone.  I encourage you to take a step back, let go of some of the holiday guilt, and use a few shortcuts to give yourself the gift of time.  You deserve it!