Inspirational Gifts That Keep on Giving to Connect Long Distance Family and Friends

Inspirational Gifts That Keep on Giving to Connect Long Distance Family and Friends

On the eve of our high school graduation, my three best friends and I knew we wanted to do something special to mark the end of an era. We would all be spreading out across the country to attend different schools—the days of watching One Tree Hill at Andrea’s after school or cheering on Lea at her volleyball games were over. But, regardless of what roads we would travel in life, we were bonded, a team. So, we came up…

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Uniquely Useful Gifts to Ease the Minds of First Time Parents

Uniquely Useful Gifts to Ease the Minds of First Time Parents

“Cupcakes,” I said quite exhaustedly, “all I want is sleep, baby cuddles, and cupcakes!” My mom should have known that I wouldn’t be able to come up with a better response to her question in my post-delivery, overtired silliness. It was still six weeks before my youngest son’s expected due date—the baby shower had come and gone, the nursery was nearly together, and I thought I still had at least a month to get my hospital bag packed. Boy, was…

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Imaginations Take Flight: Ideas for a Children’s International Storytime Party

Imaginations Take Flight: Ideas for a Children’s International Storytime Party

“We all went on safari, over grasslands damp with dew…” Little minds will fill with wonder as the story We All Went on Safari unfolds in detailed descriptions and colorful pictures, transporting wee ones to the foreign land of Tanzania on the wings of their imaginations—and with the help of author Laurie Krebs. Reading stories about traveling and people living colorful lives in foreign countries allows us to explore the world in ways not always open to us in real…

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Colorful Keepsakes: Make a Personalized Coloring Book from Your Favorite Photos

Colorful Keepsakes: Make a Personalized Coloring Book from Your Favorite Photos

It was just days away from my best friend’s birthday and not only was I short on her favorite flamingo-printed tissue paper, but I didn’t even have a good idea for her present. After some serious mulling, I decided I wanted to give Ellie a gift that expressed how much fun I always have with her, whether it’s an afternoon coffee date or our trip to the Caribbean last summer. We had taken some pretty amazing shots on our island-hopping…

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Hit Rewind: A New Year’s Eve Party That Turns Back Time

Hit Rewind: A New Year’s Eve Party That Turns Back Time

Rifling through a box that I’ve yet to unpack in the two years since buying our home, I pull out a stack of old photos from my high school days. I can’t help but wonder how time possible could have passed so quickly. As I pull a second handful of pictures from the box, a few CDs become visible—and they give me a brilliant idea for ringing in the new year with a trip down memory lane. With photographic proof…

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Keep Them Tied up with Laughter by Disguising Christmas Gifts in Prank Wrapping

Keep Them Tied up with Laughter by Disguising Christmas Gifts in Prank Wrapping

“Let me guess… Peanut M&Ms?!?,” my dad says, squishing the wrapped gift in his hands and shaking it ever so slightly. While they’re still his favorite treat, and a longstanding tradition I always include with his holiday gifts, I’ve had to learn the stealthy art of prank gift wrapping in order to stop dad from another year of, “Oh, I bet this is my candy,” as he tears into the paper. The sneaky gifting tricks I’ve developed over the years,…

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A Carry-On Christmas: Travel-Friendly Gifts That Pack a Punch, Not Your Luggage

A Carry-On Christmas: Travel-Friendly Gifts That Pack a Punch, Not Your Luggage

“Above the river and over the woods, to Grandmother’s house I’ll fly…” I can’t help but laugh at my own goofy rendition of the familiar holiday tune, all the while puzzling on how I can possibly fit everything I’d love to gift my family into my carry-on suitcase—without needing to oust my favorite outfit of worn-in jeans and a cozy flannel top. Then it dawns on me. I don’t need to forgo my fireside comfies, nor will I have to…

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A Gift in Itself: Easy Eco-Friendly Christmas Wrapping Ideas

A Gift in Itself: Easy Eco-Friendly Christmas Wrapping Ideas

As a child, Christmas was full of magic. I loved the gifts, the food, being with family—and collecting leftover wrapping paper at the end of all the festivities. I always asked my family and friends to unwrap their presents carefully so I could save the paper. Then, I’d spend long, winter hours indoors turning the sparkly, colorful, crinkly scraps into art projects. Years later, I still love crafts and DIY, but I’m also more conscious about how wrapping paper affects…

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A Sneaky Elf’s Guide to Hosting an Anonymous Secret Santa Office Gift Exchange with Coworkers

A Sneaky Elf’s Guide to Hosting an Anonymous Secret Santa Office Gift Exchange with Coworkers

This time last year, I had just started in a new department at work. Along with my orientation package came an invitation to participate in the office Secret Santa gift exchange. I was hesitant because I didn’t actually know anyone in my new office, but my boss encouraged me to take part—and I’m so glad I did! This fun office tradition truly helped me become a part of the team. On the day of the gift exchange, I arrived at…

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Christmas Shopping Tips to Help Soothe Sensory Overload in Special Needs Kids

Christmas Shopping Tips to Help Soothe Sensory Overload in Special Needs Kids

Christmas music chimes through overhead speakers, brightly colored lights gleam in window displays, and vast aisles of decor offer an assortment of musical novelty toys all belting out carols like a dissonant choir. Rushed shoppers are out in droves, lined up at check-out counters. As their treasures beep across the scanners, I hear them chatting on cellphones, or yelling to a spouse to make a run for a forgotten item while they hold down a coveted place in line. The…

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