‘Tis Better to Give: Reciprocal Altruism and the Psychology of Gift Giving

‘Tis Better to Give: Reciprocal Altruism and the Psychology of Gift Giving

I used to be terrible at gift giving. I was always prolific in my gifts, sure, but I wasn’t very good at picking them out—I often bought gifts based on what I liked, and what I assumed the recipient should like. “Here!,” I was basically saying, “I loved this book, so you certainly should as well.” And that tends to make for a bad present—not only is it not what the person in question wants, but it puts pressure on…

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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 Wrapping Party Ideas to Get Organized While Getting in the Spirit

Christmas Wrapping Party Ideas to Get Organized While Getting in the Spirit

Gifts are my favorite Christmas decoration. Each present is its own story—mysterious and offering the promise of joy—and the wrapping paper is the prologue. Watching as they are opened, and the heartfelt gifts inside discovered, is the beautiful conclusion. Each box or bag is filled with potential, symbols of upcoming happiness that embody the giddy anticipation of the holiday season. So, yeah, I love wrapped gifts. But actually wrapping them, that’s a whole other story. Wrapping a Christmas’ worth of…

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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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Thoughtful Gift Ideas for Seniors, from the Inexpensive to the Unexpected

Thoughtful Gift Ideas for Seniors, from the Inexpensive to the Unexpected

Buying gifts for seniors, whether your parents or another special person in your life, always seems strangely difficult, even as it feels more vital and urgent—and I think I’ve figured out why. They’ve had a lifetime to accumulate things. More than that, though, I’m always worried about getting something that seems too common, too basic, and not weighted with the thoughtfulness they deserve. There is so much I want to express with my gifts—love, appreciation, respect, a quiet thanks for…

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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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Have a Ball with Charitable Giving by Joining ZogSports, the Largest Social Sports League

Have a Ball with Charitable Giving by Joining ZogSports, the Largest Social Sports League

It was arguably the worst day America had ever seen—a few moments in time that no American will ever forget. But, many stories of strength, fortitude, and positive energy have emerged in the 15 years since the events of September 11th, 2001. One such story is that of Robert Herzog, founder of ZogSports, which has grown to become the most popular adult co-ed social sports league in the country. Each year, ZogSports has seen its membership grow. Over 100,000 fun-loving,…

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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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Unwrapping Japanese Gift Giving Traditions: Simple Generosity and Artful Presentations

Unwrapping Japanese Gift Giving Traditions: Simple Generosity and Artful Presentations

When I first started dating the woman who would become my wife, we were young, irresponsible, and worked low-paying jobs. Consequently, and not helped by our love for going out to dinner, we were generally strapped for cash. Her birthday happened to fall a month after we both realized we were in a this-is-the-one relationship, and it plunged me into an indecisive, Hamlet-esque agony. Did I scrimp and save to get something extravagant? Or did I just not get her…

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Urbanite Inspirations for a Rustic Farmhouse Dinner Party

Urbanite Inspirations for a Rustic Farmhouse Dinner Party

Rolling up the sleeves on my flannel, and feeling the creeping cold rustling through my beard, I picked up the bale of hay, and threw it over my shoulder. “You look,” my wife said, “absolutely ridiculous.” I admit she had a point. After all, I was pulling the hay out of our compact sedan, which I had just parallel parked on our busy city street, and was preparing to carry it up to our third-floor urban apartment. It’s safe to…

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