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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An Apple Bake Off Party with DIY Decor Inspirations for a Late Fall Harvest

An Apple Bake Off Party with DIY Decor Inspirations for a Late Fall Harvest

The frosts of winter will soon blanket the trees around my hometown with a frozen sparkle, but, first, there’s a final harvest of my favorite handheld snack—the apple. Late fall always means a visit to the local cider mill and farm where my favorite Braeburns are ripe and plentiful, just in time to make a medley of baked treats for the upcoming holiday celebrations. With a basket full of juicy Jonagolds or Galas at hand to inspire my holiday dessert…

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Get-To-Know-You Party Games That Make a Friendsgiving Feel Like a Family Gathering

Get-To-Know-You Party Games That Make a Friendsgiving Feel Like a Family Gathering

Now known in my circle of friends as “The Epic Bird Battle of 2015,” I’ll never forget watching my old college roommate Sarah wrestle with a 30lb turkey last Thanksgiving. If I can’t be home for the holidays to enjoy my grandma’s famous sweet potato casserole, or to watch my uncles debate over how to spice the gravy, there’s nowhere I’d rather be than sitting at Sarah’s kitchen counter, wine in hand, watching her in her themed apron, attempt to…

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DIY Fall Paradise Party Ideas for Hosting an Out-of-Season Luau

DIY Fall Paradise Party Ideas for Hosting an Out-of-Season Luau

Only the leaves blowing past my living room window gave evidence of the day’s chill—the weather in my house was a balmy 80 degrees, and not a cloud in sight. Crepe paper Hawaiian flower banners were strewn across the mantle and apple-scented candles were lit in tiki torches—the party vibe was strong, ready to transport my guests from a world of pumpkin spice to palm trees. A month into fall, the novelty of the beautifully colored leaves and apple cider…

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Personalized Wrapping Paper Helps Craft Thoughtful Gift Giving

Personalized Wrapping Paper Helps Craft Thoughtful Gift Giving

I’ve never liked that old saying “don’t judge a book by its cover”—everyone knows the cover is an extension of the book. It’s an introduction to the heart of the story, a way to begin crafting a tale using bright colors, fun designs, or eye-grabbing creative touches before a page is ever turned. And your wrapping paper should represent your gift in the same way. My first foray into personalized gift wrapping was accidental. My sister Susan’s birthday had snuck…

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Hosting a Carefree Birthday Party for Your Introverted Kid

Hosting a Carefree Birthday Party for Your Introverted Kid

Photo credit Etsy seller justalittlesparkle Cake. Balloons. Bouncy castles. These party staples sound like heaven to most children—for my little one, the fuss and hoopla created more stress than smiles. But that didn’t mean he had to miss out on all the fun of a classic kid’s birthday party. When planning a party for an introverted or shy child, ditch the party traditions that cause sensory overload. If your kid doesn’t revel in being the center of attention, or the thought…

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Elfster, Toys for Tots, and You: Conjuring up Christmas Magic on Giving Tuesday

Elfster, Toys for Tots, and You: Conjuring up Christmas Magic on Giving Tuesday

There’s a special magic that wells up in children everywhere this time of year—their hearts are filled with hope at just the thought of twinkling lights, happy carols, and the possibility of snow flurries to turn the world into a dreamy greeting card. Every kid delights in Christmas morning surprises wrapped in colorful paper and tied with a bow, under the fragrant bough of an evergreen tree delicately laced with sparkling garlands. Elfster and Toys for Tots make those childish dreams come true each holiday…

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A Telecommuters’ Office Pizza Party That’s Virtually Guaranteed to Help Coworkers Connect

A Telecommuters’ Office Pizza Party That’s Virtually Guaranteed to Help Coworkers Connect

Photo credit Amazon seller New Wave Office pizza parties were a tradition at my old job, where we would file into a tiny conference room where cheesy pies covered in generic toppings would be stacked up on a folding table. I complained at the time about the lack of veggies, and Arthur eating the last slice of pepperoni, but really missed those moments of office camaraderie once I became a telecommuter—my co-workers lived everywhere from San Francisco to San Antonio. So when…

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A-Tisket, A-Tasket, A Gilmore Girls Revival Party with Gift Exchange Baskets

A-Tisket, A-Tasket, A Gilmore Girls Revival Party with Gift Exchange Baskets

Photo credit flick’r user Joe Flood “One of those moments that everything is so perfect and so wonderful that you almost feel sad because nothing can ever be this good again.” – Rory Gilmore Rory’s words encapsulate the very real emotions all of us die-hard Gilmore Girls fans felt watching the series finale back in 2007—and still feel over and over again when we Netflix binge on old episodes. Soon, we can once again revel in the glorious television perfection…

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Ghostly Gifting and Ghoulish Food: A You’ve Been Boo’ed Halloween Office Party

Ghostly Gifting and Ghoulish Food: A You’ve Been Boo’ed Halloween Office Party

As I pour myself a cup of coffee in the breakroom to warm up, I can’t help but overhear the typical buzz about the office. Sam is still telling his summer vacation adventures stories, and Carol hums Christmas songs—two months early and slightly off key. Yes, the holiday season is just around the corner, but it’s not here quite yet. So, why not embrace the harvest season? Inspire some warm smiles on chilly mornings with a You’ve Been Boo’ed secret gifting…

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A Coffee Mug Gift Exchange for Moms That Doubles as a Back to School Teachers’ Craft Surprise

A Coffee Mug Gift Exchange for Moms That Doubles as a Back to School Teachers’ Craft Surprise

Back to school prep—you have been conquered. From the binders to the #2 pencils, all the supplies are checked off the list, and the kids are getting used to their new school year schedules. Well, sort of. Fellow moms, we emerge victorious from the hectic weeks of activities crammed into a few short summer months to keep our littles happy—and, let’s be honest, worn out enough for bedtime. Now to make plans with our mom-friends to congratulate ourselves on successfully…

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