Ten Free Gifts

A while ago, I received the following list of “10 free gifts” and I’d like to share it with you today.  You can use this list for Christmas, birthdays, or any special occasion:

TEN FREE GIFTS FOR CHRISTMAS
(You don’t even have to shop for them!)

  1. The gift of LISTENING –Why not give this valuable gift to someone who lives alone? And you must really listen. No interrupting, no daydreaming, no planning your responses. Just listen.
  2. The gift of SIGNS OF AFFECTIONS – Be generous with your hugs, kisses, and gentle squeezes of the hand. Let these tiny actions demonstrate the love inside YOU.
  3. The gift of a NOTE – It can be as simple as “I Love You” or as creative as a sonnet. Put your notes where they will surprise your loved ones.
  4. The gift of LAUGHTER –Just cut out a cartoon or save a clever article. Your gift will say, “I live to laugh with you.”
  5. The gift of a COMPLIMENT – A simple “You look good in blue” or “I like your hair” or “Good supper, honey” can be of greatest value to those who may feel they are being taken for granted.
  6. The gift of a FAVOR — Help with the dishes, clean out the basement, etc.
  7. The gift of LEAVING ALONE –There are times in our lives when we want nothing better than to be left alone. Become more sensitive to those times and give solitude.
  8. The gift of a CHEERFUL DISPOSITION – Try to be cheerful around those you love especially.
  9. The gift of a GAME — Offer to play your loved one’s favorite game. Even if you lose, you’ll be a winner.
  10. The gift of PRAYER – Pray for those people on your Christmas list and let them know that you pray for them. Praying for someone is a way of saying, “You are so special to me that I talk to God about you.”

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Happy New Year!

I sincerely hope you and yours have had a wonderful Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Winter Solstice (did I miss any?)!  I loved having all my daughters, son-in-law, and grandson home for the holidays (husband too – but he’s always here).

I’m sitting here at my desk looking at my brand new 2013 calendar.  It’s waiting to be filled with exciting events – conferences, trips, times with friends and families.  It’s also sitting here challenging me to think of what I want to improve in this new year.

Do you set resolutions?  It seems there are two different types of people – those who do every year and those that are vehemently opposed.  I supposed I’d have to place myself in the opposed category because the word “resolution” is too overwhelming for me.  I prefer the word “goal.”  A goal is much more forgiving than a resolution.

How would I suggest setting a goal for yourself?  I love the S.M.A.R.T. goal format:

Using this format, as opposed to an open-ended resolution, your goal is well thought-out, approachable, and has a plan.  Instead of “I resolve to organize my entire house in 2013 and keep it that way” think more in the way of “My goal is to declutter my home, donating at least 100 items to charity in 2013” and then map out a plan for room-by-room.  The more specific you can get, the better!  I’ll be sharing one of my 2013 goals next week – stay tuned!

Slow down for the holidays

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My grandson wanted to help decorate this year.

One of my favorite times of year is the holiday season, but, the older I get, the less I want to work to get ready for the holidays!  I don’t see anything wrong with lightening my load and spending more time with family rather than perfecting my Christmas village set-up!

How am I lightening my load?  As my daughters have grown and left our home, I have given them many seasonal decorations and only kept those that I truly enjoy and are of sentimental value.  I know my daughters love having ornaments from their childhood decorate their trees in their own home and I love having less!  It takes much less time to decorate now that I have let go of the decor I never really cared for!

How else do I lighten my holiday load?  I limit my gift list and focus on consumable gifts for my family such as gift cards tailored to the specific family member, tickets to events or shows, or supporting their hobbies (my daughters all scrapbook – what a great consumable gift to give!).  Consumable presents are much less likely to be returned to exchanged and those gift cards can be used by the giftee to buy something they want!

I do enjoy sending and receiving holiday cards.  I keep it simple – only writing longer notes to those friends or family I don’t see very often.  I have a list of addresses organized and ready to go so I’m not hunting down names and addresses when I’m ready to send my cards!

Other ways to lighten your holiday load:

  • Don’t get caught up in all the things to do around the holidays – focus on a few that work well for your family.
  • If you don’t like sending cards, DON’T send them!
  • Make one dozen of each of your favorite cookies rather than 10 dozen!
  • Slow down, smell the roses, and spend time with your family rather than running out to the mall every night

Happy Holidays!

Count Your Blessings

When my daughters were young they loved the Berenstain Bear books by Stan and Jan Berenstain.  As I’m watching my facebook feed filling with friends who are participating in the 30 days of Gratefulness, I’m reminded of reading “The Berenstain Bears Count Their Blessings” many times to my girls.

The storyline was simple – Brother and Sister Bear were comparing themselves to their friends who had so many more toys – I believe it was video games and “Bearbie” dolls.  In the midst of their arguing, a thunderstorm hits and knocks out the electricity and Mama and Papa Bear encourage the cubs to stop and consider their blessings – a safe home, a loving family, good food to eat, etc.

(Sister Bear of course takes it a step to far at the end and actually starts counting her blessings numerically…but the concept is still sweet.)

Take 5 minutes right now.  Close your eyes and consider your lives’ blessings.  You don’t need to count and tell us how many!

Don’t open until you really consider what is important in your life.

No peeking!

Okay, ready?

I’m going to guess that you thought about blessings such as your family, friends, health, a home, perhaps financial security, food, water, your religious beliefs etc.  I’m also going to guess that you did NOT say “I’m so blessed to own an overabundance of clutter.  Clearly I need MORE things!”

Why aren’t we grateful for the clutter and the excessive things taking over our lives?  They aren’t what really matter!  The people we love and cherish, the memories we make each day, the ability to provide for our family, good nutrition, a healthy lifestyle – this is the stuff that really matters.

Take a look around your home.  Is there clutter you’ve been meaning to let go?  Release it.  Recall those simple blessings you were thinking of and remember what’s really important.

May you all have a Happy Thanksgiving filled with loving family and friends.

Holiday tip – buy less!

I love Kevin Stevens’ article on consuming less for the holidays.  So many times the clutter in our lives can be attributed to feeling the need to buy into the latest fads and sales.  Just because your neighbor has the entire 100 piece holiday village throughout her house doesn’t mean you need it too!  Stick with what you like – don’t buy more to fit in!  Consider each purchase, holiday oriented or not, with a question – do I need this or want it?  If I want it – do I have room for it?  Will it bring joy to my life?  Is it worth the space it will take up?  Avoid impulse buys – think it over!  You may find that you enjoy having your tables not cluttered with knickknacks and a more full wallet!

Holiday tip – storage!

I love to use colored containers for my holiday storage – such as black and orange for Halloween, bright blue for Easter, and red and green for Christmas.  It makes it so easy when we go into the attic to quickly get the correct container!  (You can also use a different color for each member of the family to quickly locate seasonal clothing in your storage area!)  I also use a label maker to label each container with what decorations are inside so we can bring it right away to the correct room.  It also makes it easy for taking down the holiday garb when I know what goes in which container!  (Hint – holiday decoration colored containers tend to go on sale and clearance right after the holidays!)  How do you store your holiday decorations?

Holiday tip – decorations

Are there too many decorations cluttering up your home?  Downsize.  There is no rule that every inch of your home needs to be covered in Christmas cheer.  Keep your favorites and let go of the ones you don’t really like.  I love my kids’ holiday crafts they made over the years, but after 20 years they start to fall apart!  You can always take a picture – it will take up less space, won’t disintegrate, and you’ll be able to keep the memory forever while letting go of the decoration!  What are your ideas for not being overwhelmed with holiday decorations?