The holiday spirit motivates many of us to open our wallets and give as much as we can to our loved ones. In fact, maxing out credit cards, camping out in parking lots in the dead of winter, and braving the early mornings, crazy crowds and lines have [somehow] become the hallmarks of the holiday season in America. Talk about pressure. According to recent statistics reported by the American Psychological Association, 69% of people are stressed by a lack of money and 51% feel stressed out over the pressure to give gifts.
But consider this: Buying a tea set for your mother that she’ll never use, a handbag for your sister that she’s going to return and a sweater for your boyfriend that he’s too embarrassed to wear are not the only ways to spread the holiday spirit. Devoting our time, expertise or energy can improve the lives of others in ways that marked down goods simply can’t. If we aspire to give more of ourselves this holiday season, we’ll enjoy much more than the fleeting satisfaction of mere gift giving. Here are five ways to bring good cheer to your loved ones and your wallet:
1. Deliver meals to those in need: To help out members of your community who are sick or elderly, try Mealtrain.com. It makes it easy for friends, family and neighbors to sign up to prepare meals for those in need.
2. Donate: Clean out your closets and donate gently used winter clothes to Goodwill or The Salvation Army. You can also donate toiletries and canned goods to support families in need during the holiday season.
3. Volunteer. Anywhere. Helping out at your local food bank, church or homeless shelter are all great ways to give back to your community. Nonprofit organizations can always use the extra help. Idealist and Volunteer Match are online resources that can help you find volunteer opportunities in your community based on your interests.
4. Offer your expertise: Are you a financial guru, a fabulous beautician or an expert party planner? These are all services that people want and need this time of year, but often can't afford. Your knowledge and skill will be greatly appreciated.
5. Be of good cheer: A positive attitude can go a long way. Offer emotional support in the form of a words of encouragement for a student stressed out during finals, a hug for a lonely friend or a smile to a stranger. It doesn’t cost a thing and no one will want to return it.
The holiday season can be a great time to reflect and be thankful for everything that we have. Whether it is wealth, health, friends or family, we all have something that we can be grateful for this year. Giving back helps to nurture your assets and your relationships. And it will last longer than any holiday fruit cake!
The holiday season is right around the corner. That means cocktail parties, cocktail dresses, and of course, the classic LBD. What that also means is you’ll need to gain the will power to "just say no" to your pants with the elastic waistband this Thanksgiving and in the weeks that follow. Here are few simple, easy-to-follow tips to enjoy your holiday eating and imbibing without the guilt.
Exercise in the morning
Plan a hike with your family and/or visiting guests, join a local group bike ride, or check out local fitness facilities that offer special Thanksgiving or other morning classes. On Turkey Day, check to see if your hometown holds a Turkey Trot or another fun 5k or 10k race on Thanksgiving morning. Many of these races exist around the country and most of the proceeds benefit food banks and local charities trying to feed the hungry.
Including physical activity on the mornings of the most gluttonous season of the year means you will be able to increase your metabolism for the day and will likely make better food choices when at the dinner table. If you decide to indulge in an extra slice of pie or glass of wine, at least you’ve burned a few calories first!
Maintain your workout schedule
Company, club, and family parties may interfere with your regular workout schedule. Checking your weekly schedule at the beginning of each week is a good practice to keep, and even more so during this time of holiday commitments. When holiday parties interfere with your workouts, reschedule your workout at a different time. Don't skip your workouts, even if it means abbreviating them. Squeezing in 15-20 minutes will still provide you more benefits than not doing anything at all.
Don’t skip breakfast
In order to prevent guilt-ridden overeating and letting out the waistband on your trousers, eat breakfast. Do not skip meals earlier in the day. Prepare healthy meals or snacks before your dinner to avoid feeling famished, which can result in overeating.
Use smaller plates
I know... you are already dreaming about plates laden with Thanksgiving goodies. But if you want to keep your summer shape, you will have to serve yourself smaller portions all winter long. Serve yourself 1/3-1/2 of what you would normally put on your plate. If you opt for a second serving you should still serve yourself a smaller portion. With this approach you will consume at least half the calories of holidays-past.
Practice conscious consumption
Rather than eating mindlessly while deep in conversation, look at what you stick your fork into before putting it in your mouth. Enjoy the flavors while savoring the food as you chew slowly. You will be less likely to eat the food that is not as satisfying to you, become satiated faster, eat more slowly (which means you will have less time to go up for seconds), and enjoy the taste of your meal at the first plate.
Enjoy this holiday season! And if you follow these tips, you'll be able to do it while staying the same size into the New Year's Eve party. Read: you won't be one of those frantic weight loss fanatics fighting over the treadmill at the gym, madly trying to lose the nine pounds gained over the course of the five weeks of winter holiday festivities. Instead, you’ll look stunning and chic as you ring in 2013.
We are not the first generation of Made Women. There is a whole generation of confident, down-to-earth, career-driven women--with the enviable social life--who came before us. And some of us are even lucky enough to call one of these women “Mom”. They are the women who taught us to mind our manners but never be afraid to speak up, who took their hands and carefully trained ours to use our first curling-iron, and who taught us that a good education, an open-mind, and a wide smile would open countless doors as we navigate life.
As Mother’s Day approaches, we know that it can be a process to find that ideal Mother’s Day gift — especially for women like this. How can we say all that we mean in one gift-wrapped box? We probably can’t, but if selected right, our gift can be the perfect start to a day spent reminding Mom that we’d never be as “Made” as we are now if she hadn’t been there to pave the way. Here are a few unique gift ideas that will hopefully be a perfect fit:
Does you mom have a taste for one-of-a-kind jewelry? Then she’ll probably appreciate these hand-engraved rings with her children’s names and birth-dates. Extra special bonus, no two can be exactly alike!
An Excuse to See You Whenever She Likes
Does a plane-ride separate you and your Mother from sharing gossip in person? Why not pre-fund an upcoming trip of hers with an American Airline gift card? And for every $50 worth of travel dollars, American will donate $5 to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. You get your Mom, your Mom gets you, and millions of women everywhere will get the benefit of your gift.
Your Mom has taught you countless lessons throughout your life, now let her sit back and enjoy the lessons preached from one of the most graceful, Made Women we know: Coco Chanel. (And be prepared for her to look up from the book every once in a while to point out a line and say: “I told you so!”)
Whether its jotting notes while flying back from business trips or making her grocery list, give her an organized, personalized place to put it all -- a place that will always remind her of you.
For all those tech-savvy Mom’s out there, why not get her an iPad case that protects her precious sidekick and looks great while doing so? We love this version by Michael Kors for its sleek design and eye-catching color.
Have any other ideas for the perfect gift for Moms this Mother’s Day? Tell us in the comment section below. Better yet --tell us one thing your Mom always said that still resonates with you today.
May this year’s Mother’s Day be one of the best!
Novice shoppers walk into a mall during the holiday season trying to remember how many family members, friends and co-workers they need to get gifts for. They spend hours wandering aimlessly from store to store, hoping something will scream out "Buy me! I’m the perfect gift for your mother and I’m on sale." Come closing time, they are probably over-budget, overwhelmed and over it all. Bah humbug. Well, I’ve had many years of shopping experience and I can tell you it all should start with planning. While setting up a budget doesn’t seem like the first step toward Christmas cheer, it can help you spread more holiday spirit than an IOU.
Making a List, Checking It Twice…
First things first, make a list of all the people you need to get gifts for; don’t forget your co-workers! You see them every day and giving them a little sumthing sumthing this Christmas can only improve your working relationship.
Naughty or Nice?
Once you have the list, go over it and decide how much you want to spend on each person. People should fall into three categories: Splurge, Bargain Shop or Homemade. Don’t feel bad for breaking the list up this way. You can’t buy everyone a diamond ring this year, even if you love them all. Plus, homemade gifts show that you went the extra mile and created something unique. If you have the money, set it aside for a few small gifts in case you happen to forget someone. This can save your butt when the next Secret Santa party comes around.
Once you have decided how much you are going to spend, it's time to hunt down a bargain. Check online for deals first so you can compare prices without driving around town. If you are into eBay you can try bidding online to get a cheaper price.
It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas Planning...
Okay, I hereby officially remove the stigma from re-gifting. Let’s face it: the economy outweighs your delicate sensibilities. Besides, your friend Sarah might look great in that dress your aunt gave you that was two sizes too small…. Your aunt was probably trying to be funny anyway.
Christmas is also a great time to put reward points to use. Most people rack them up and forget about them. Check with your credit card company to see what deals they can offer.
Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire…
An easy way to stretch a dollar and spread some cheer is to cook a gift instead of wrapping it. A co-worker of mine gave out homemade jam around the holidays last year. It was a tasty treat and completely unexpected. You can try that or whip up a batch of Christmas tree-shaped cookies, gingerbread men or Rice Crispy Treats, bag them and add a bow. Ta Da! Christmas right out of the oven.
This holiday season do all you can to spread the love, but stay within your means. If giving a gift to someone is detrimental to your finances then the spirit of the act is lessened. Your loved ones wouldn't want you to go bankrupt in order to get them pricey stocking stuffers. So have the best holiday season ever!...No Pressure.