Snow Day Winter Crafts and Games: “Cool” Boredom Busters That Warm up Imaginations

Snow Day Winter Crafts and Games: “Cool” Boredom Busters That Warm up Imaginations

Puffy snow-quality coat? Check. Mittens clipped to coat? Check. But wait—where’s her hat??? Getting my niece ready to play in the snow takes a full 20 minutes of hunting down winter accessories and struggling into layer after layer of warm clothing. Her excitement means she’s unable to stay still, even for us to help put her boots on. We finally get outside and have ten brief, but blissful minutes of pointing, touching, and snow throwing… and then she decides it’s…

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Last Minute Oscar Party Planning Ideas That Blend Hollywood Glamour with Glitzy Fun

Last Minute Oscar Party Planning Ideas That Blend Hollywood Glamour with Glitzy Fun

I have a confession: I don’t hate the Oscars. I know I’m supposed to grumble about how you can’t really objectively judge art, but my wife and I watch every year. I’ll also pretend I don’t know who everyone is, saying things like, “What’s a Hayden Panettiere,” or whatever, but I peruse the celeb clickbait articles. Sure, I’ll tell myself that my fingers did so on their own, but we know the truth. When it comes down to it, I still…

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Creative Packaging Ideas to Add Pizzazz and Personalization to Gift Cards for Teens

Creative Packaging Ideas to Add Pizzazz and Personalization to Gift Cards for Teens

As a young adult not far from her teen years, I remember exactly how it feels to be gifted free stuff. Free meals, books, and hobby-related items always made for a fantastic day in my book. So, for my cousin Holly’s 16th birthday last week, I remembered that feeling and decided to give her what I most appreciated at that age: a gift card. When you give a teen a gift card, you’re handing over a sense of freedom, and…

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Easy Snow Day Sports Crafts for Preschoolers to Make Fun Winter Memories with Kids

Easy Snow Day Sports Crafts for Preschoolers to Make Fun Winter Memories with Kids

For years I’ve been babysitting my best friend’s kids, Daniel and Nathan, and I feel so lucky to watch their personalities emerge. Now that they’re 4 and 6, we’ve become a big part of each other’s lives—they even call me Auntie Rai. While we usually spend our time together climbing trees or kicking a ball around the year, the recent snows in our area have made the jungle gyms impassable (and there are only so many snowmen I can handle),…

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Simple and Sweet DIY Coworker Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for the Office

Simple and Sweet DIY Coworker Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for the Office

There are few questions more fraught in the workplace than, “So, do you have Valentine’s Day plans?” It can lead to some awkward moments. The answer could be, “No, for I have yet to find love,” or, “We’re going skydiving with heart-shaped parachutes,” and then everyone else feels like scrambling to improve their plans. And many people just say, “I don’t really do Valentine’s Day.” Work relationships are an interesting middle ground in our lives. You spend a ton of…

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National Send a Card to a Friend Day: Letter Writing Inspirations and Ideas

National Send a Card to a Friend Day: Letter Writing Inspirations and Ideas

“Oh, my stars! It’s a letter from dear Willeford! He’s writing from far off America!” You’ve probably watched a scene just like this one on some BBC period drama, with sumptuous clothes and weirdly bad lighting and various viscounts—and a character exclaiming delightedly at receiving a letter. It’s almost unimaginable that there was a time when you could go months without word from a loved one, instead of reading about the daily life of grade-school acquaintances on social media. But…

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A Year of Simplicity: How to Embrace the Minimalist Gift Giving Trend of 2017

A Year of Simplicity: How to Embrace the Minimalist Gift Giving Trend of 2017

Wandering aimlessly through the mall, I hunted for the perfect gift: an item that would be useful and beautiful—something that says, “I care about you,” without saying, “Here’s another knick-knack that I know you probably don’t need.” How in the world are you supposed to give a gift to a minimalist? 2017 is the year of consumer simplification—and that can make gift giving even more challenging. Many of us are being influenced by the minimalist lifestyle, from Marie Kondo’s viral…

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A Kids’ Valentine’s Day Craft Party to DIY Handmade Treats, Cards—and Fun

A Kids’ Valentine’s Day Craft Party to DIY Handmade Treats, Cards—and Fun

Around this time of year, my friend Sophie and I find ourselves reminiscing about the good ol’ days of elementary school, when we would make construction paper valentines for each of our friends. Though we were clumsy with a bottle of Elmer’s glue and overzealous with the glitter, we worked so hard to create perfect notes and cards that all had unique, personalized touches. Last year, Sophie didn’t want her two school-aged daughters to have to rely on pre-made valentines…

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Woo Him with Japanese Valentine’s Day Traditions and Heartfelt Homemade Gifts

Woo Him with Japanese Valentine’s Day Traditions and Heartfelt Homemade Gifts

My husband and I will be celebrating our sixth Valentine’s Day together this year, so the traditional gestures of chocolates, flowers, and a card were beginning to feel a little trite and bland. Our love for each other, however, is not, and I wanted my gifts to reflect this. As a travel and culture enthusiast, I searched abroad for some international inspiration. Though I always thought of the holiday as an invention of Western culture, the roots of Valentine’s Day…

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Motivational Gift Ideas: Inspiring Friends to Keep Their 2017 New Year’s Resolutions

Motivational Gift Ideas: Inspiring Friends to Keep Their 2017 New Year’s Resolutions

March is how far I got in 2016. Come to think of it, March is about how long I can maintain my New Year’s resolutions most years. But wouldn’t it feel amazing to see a New Year’s resolution through for an entire calendar year? I’m determined to tough it out in 2017—I’m in it for the long haul and I know my friends are, too. From 12-step programs with support groups to exercise buddies counting on you to show up…

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The Year of the Rooster: A Traditional Chinese New Year Celebration for 2017

The Year of the Rooster: A Traditional Chinese New Year Celebration for 2017

A few years ago, my college pal Amanina, known as Amy to her American classmates, wasn’t able to make it home to Malaysia for Chinese New Year. She was clearly bummed—it’s the most important day of her year, a celebration of family and a chance to make way for new luck and opportunities—so I decided to bring home to her with a Chinese New Year-inspired surprise party. I started with very little knowledge about Chinese New Year, or its traditions,…

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The Legendary Saint of Love: Honoring the History and Traditions of Valentine’s Day

The Legendary Saint of Love: Honoring the History and Traditions of Valentine’s Day

Around the year 270 A.D., Emperor Claudius II decided that men would make better fighters if they were unwed, so he outlawed marriage for any potential soldier. Seeing this as a crime against humanity—and love—Saint Valentine secretly performed marriages for young men and their lovers. Infuriated, Emperor Claudius II had St. Valentine thrown into jail and sentenced to a horrible death, which was carried out on February 14th, according to legend. As the wife of a former Airman, I’m personally…

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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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DIY Silver Anniversary Gifts That Sparkle and Shine Without a Big Spend

DIY Silver Anniversary Gifts That Sparkle and Shine Without a Big Spend

When I see couples hitting those big marital milestones, I can’t help by fawn over how strong their relationship must be to last through all those years. My aunt and uncle recently celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary with a lovely garden party. They’re a traditional couple, so I wanted to honor their big milestone in a classic way. A 25-year anniversary calls for gifts of silver. This tradition began in the Germanic region of Europe when husbands would give their…

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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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New Year’s Resolution Gift Ideas to Help You Refocus, Recenter, and Succeed

New Year’s Resolution Gift Ideas to Help You Refocus, Recenter, and Succeed

A cultural phenomenon in Ancient Rome, throughout the Christian Empire, and in our modern, tech-hungry society of today, setting New Year’s resolutions, in fact, dates back to the Babylonians, who lived more than 4,000 years ago. Though they celebrated the new year in mid-March according to the lunar calendar, the Babylonians treated it as a time to make promises and improvements for the year to come. Despite its long history, only about 8% of Americans will actually keep their resolutions…

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How to Add a Personalized Surprise to a Wedding Gift Straight from the Registry

How to Add a Personalized Surprise to a Wedding Gift Straight from the Registry

Scrolling through another politely-requested online gift registry, I see the usual suspects: a crockpot, a distinct china pattern set, a brightly-colored stand mixer. The difference, this time, was that it was a dear friend from college who had become engaged. While I was thrilled for her (and who doesn’t love to attend a wedding), I was disappointed with the gift registry—she was asking me, one of her closest friends, to buy her a stock gift off of a registry list….

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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 World of Possibilities: How Technology Has Changed the Psychology Behind Gift Giving

A World of Possibilities: How Technology Has Changed the Psychology Behind Gift Giving

The other day, sitting at my desk at work, I got a whiff of something in the air—maybe it was a dish someone heated in the microwave that had a distinct food court air, or a hint of the outdoor chill lingering in someone’s jacket, or it was just the early-dimming light of a late December afternoon—but I was transported back into a memory. There I was, wandering around a childhood mall the first year I could drive, trying to…

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Honoring Diverse Cultural Traditions for a Christmas Around the World Party

Honoring Diverse Cultural Traditions for a Christmas Around the World Party

Sometimes, the best gift is simply being appreciated for who you are and where you come from. My alma mater, in the Bay Area, attracted a diverse student population—the racial makeup of our student body was like a youthful United Nations. Come Christmas, there was no right or wrong way to celebrate, as long as we all came together in peace, friendship, and joy. My dormmates and I started a tradition of celebrating an eclectic Christmas together and, while each…

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Easy Projects to Transform Reclaimed Scrap Wood into Rustic DIY Christmas Gifts

Easy Projects to Transform Reclaimed Scrap Wood into Rustic DIY Christmas Gifts

Fall is my favorite time of year—the leaves change colors, the weather starts to cool, and there’s always a lovely autumn breeze. But every once in awhile, in my little Texas town surrounded by nothing but wide open plains, that lovely autumn breeze turns into a gust of destruction.   About two weeks ago, we were bombarded with winds that were just too much for our old weather-beaten fence to stand up to. A section broke free from the support…

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