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Author: Brian B

Brian thinks that giving someone a gift is just about the most fun you can have, so long as you don't stress out about finding the right one. He likes helping people not stress out during the holidays. Hit him up for ways to make your Christmas more fun.
Feliz Dia de la Reyes: Three Kings Day Gift Ideas for a Royal Celebration

Feliz Dia de la Reyes: Three Kings Day Gift Ideas for a Royal Celebration

The story of Christmas doesn’t begin or end on the 25th. There’s an entire holiday season full of parties and gifts that leads up to Christmas Day. And, for many around the world, a hugely important Yule-inspired holiday is celebrated after the new year: Three Kings Day (or The Feast of the Magi), known in many Latino cultures as Dias de la Reyes. It’s a day that is as venerated and fun-filled as Christmas morning. Dias de la Reyes, which…

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A Freilichen Purim! Gift Basket Ideas to Celebrate Spring, Community, and Life’s Joys

A Freilichen Purim! Gift Basket Ideas to Celebrate Spring, Community, and Life’s Joys

Late winter and early spring are, for everyone, imbued with a sense of rebirth and excitement. It’s a time to escape the long winter—and look forward to the light. For the Jewish people, though, it means something more. It is the time for Purim, to celebrate when they were saved from annihilation at the hands of the Persians. It’s more than a party for the rebirth of spring; it is celebrating the miracle of existence.  And what a celebration it…

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A Hopping Good Time: Easter Party Ideas for Toddlers, Kids, and the Young at Heart

A Hopping Good Time: Easter Party Ideas for Toddlers, Kids, and the Young at Heart

When we grow up, Easter tends to get unfairly short shrift. For one thing, it isn’t fixed in place like Christmas or always on the same weekend like Thanksgiving. Landing anywhere from late March to end of April, as adults in a life filled with responsibilities and hecticness, Easter can catch us by surprise. But you know who loves Easter? Who looks forward to it every year? Kids. And what’s not to love? There’s candy, there’s the thrill of the…

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Imaginative Make Up Your Own Holiday Day Ideas That Celebrate Whatever Inspires You

Imaginative Make Up Your Own Holiday Day Ideas That Celebrate Whatever Inspires You

Have you ever said something along the lines of, “Oh man, if I were president, I’d declare a national holiday for whoever invented string cheese.”  Well, it turns out that under a close reading of the Constitution, it isn’t only a president who can declare holidays. It isn’t even one of their primary duties. Anyone, in fact, can invent a holiday, and you should do so at the end of March. March 26th is Make Up a Holiday Day, a…

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An April Fools’ Day Gag Gift Exchange and Prank Party Ideas That Are No Joke

An April Fools’ Day Gag Gift Exchange and Prank Party Ideas That Are No Joke

  Maybe the first recorded prank in history was when the Greek army hid themselves in a giant horse and pretended it was a gift to the Trojan people. While the Trojans slept, the Greeks slipped out, yelled “Surprise!,” and… well, it didn’t go too well for the Trojans. Not funny? Maybe the joke gets lost in translation. Maybe you had to be there (pro tip: you should not have been there). Pranks these days are a little more about…

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Weight Watchers Members “Send the Love” on Connect Using Elfster’s Gift Exchanges

Weight Watchers Members “Send the Love” on Connect Using Elfster’s Gift Exchanges

Eleanor Roosevelt, who paved the way for so many strong and independent women leaders, famously said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Her statements were backed up a few years later by one Lady Gaga, who noted, “Remember there’s always someone fighting for you.” Both of these women are expressing that being strong, and gaining strength from other’s encouragement, are still relevant. When doing something difficult, it helps to have a strong community to back you…

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National Read Across America Day Ideas for an Alice in Wonderland Mad Tea Party

National Read Across America Day Ideas for an Alice in Wonderland Mad Tea Party

“Dear dear, how queer everything is today. And yesterday things went on just as usual!” Have you ever had a Mad Tea Party? To do so, one has to be warned, is to abdicate any sense of rules or decorum. It is to embrace nonsense as the guiding principle: pure, anarchic nonsense of the kind that leads to sloshed tea cups and wild, wordy toasts, circumlocutions that never quite make a circle. It’s bonkers, of course, and you’ll be bonkers…

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Bring Your Brogue: Charmed St. Patrick’s Day Party Ideas Inspired by The Quiet Man

Bring Your Brogue: Charmed St. Patrick’s Day Party Ideas Inspired by The Quiet Man

There’s an Irish pub near my home that I frequent quite often. It was my dad’s favorite place, and we were often the only people there born this side of the Atlantic. Warm and homey, it was thick with brogues and resplendent with laughter. I once took my soon-to-be-in-laws there and a friend of mine introduced himself to them saying, “Many a times have I celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in this very pub with Brian. And, a few of those…

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Celebrate Greenery, Pantone’s 2017 Color of the Year, with a Return to Spring Dinner Party

Celebrate Greenery, Pantone’s 2017 Color of the Year, with a Return to Spring Dinner Party

My wife and I live in Chicago, near Lake Michigan. We walk to the shore often to appreciate its wild beauty, an untameable giant abutting one of man’s great cities. And while it is beautiful, the howling and biting wind that whips off it this time of year reminds us that we live in a very cold area. Once Christmas passes, our thoughts and hopes immediately begin to turn to spring.   This year, our longing for a change of…

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Meatballs and Meditation: How to Host an Eat, Pray, Love Friendship Book Club Soiree

Meatballs and Meditation: How to Host an Eat, Pray, Love Friendship Book Club Soiree

Just after Valentine’s Day 2006, at a time when people thought print was dying and new books couldn’t move the needle, a comedic memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert, at once both reverent and irreverent, cynical and romantic, hit the shelves. Despite (or maybe because of) the romantic holiday having just passed, it became an immediate best-seller. This was Eat, Pray, Love, a tale of divorce, frustration, and travel. It is, at its essence, deeply human. And that’s why it was, and…

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Modern Paper First Wedding Anniversary Gifts for Couples Living in the Digital Age

Modern Paper First Wedding Anniversary Gifts for Couples Living in the Digital Age

When my first anniversary was coming up, all those long two years ago now, my wife and I had to look up what the traditional gift theme was. She had guessed it was paper, but I dismissed that. “Paper,” I scoffed incredulously. Turns out, as is so often the case, she was right and I was wrong. My wife and I are not very traditional, so, paradoxically, we decided it would be fun to try to follow the spirit of…

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Relaxation Gift Ideas for Anxiety Prone Loved Ones to Inspire a Calm and Serene Mind

Relaxation Gift Ideas for Anxiety Prone Loved Ones to Inspire a Calm and Serene Mind

We all know someone who’s always anxious about, well, everything. While everyone gets nervous about this or that, for some people, anxiety affects their daily life. We often refer to them as “nervous” or “a real worrier,” but those labels simplify what our anxious loved ones experience, and even giving them a gift can create stress for both the giver and the givee. After all, you don’t want to give them something that will make their anxiety worse, like concert…

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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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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 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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‘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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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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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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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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