Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

History: The Romans were the first to use January 1st as the beginning of the year in 153BC. Prior to that March 25th or the vernal equinox was celebrated as the New Year’s Day. This went against tradition as each “new year” was celebrated around an agricultural event – a harvest or the ripening of corn, the blooming of the orange trees, etc. Blah, blah, blah – anyone who knows me knows that I’m not into history.

Symbolically the New Year signifies the ‘renewal of life’ and with this comes the never ending “resolutions”, the cleaning of the slate or the promise of a better life. However, resolutions have acquired a bad reputation – how could they not, the majority of resolutions made fail. I too, have announced New Year’s Resolutions that went undoubtedly into the bin of forgotten proclamations.

Over the last few years I have been more thoughtful in my resolutions. In 2006, I was going to be more organized (could that even be possible? lol). Well, one needs to start out with a ‘resolution’ that can be attainable! With the approach of 2007, I proclaimed I wanted a larger family and in October our first son was born. For 2008, I announced that I would enjoy life more and do something I loved (CSJEvents). For 2009, I resolved to become debt free. I got a part-time job along with keeping my full-time job and the entrepreneurial endeavors I also had (I know, I’m a bit crazy – read more about me in this Saturday’s issue of ‘Balance’ in The Daily Gleaner). Success is emanate - I have only but 2 outstanding debts which are reasonable and manageable.

A search of the internet on the top New Year’s resolutions left me with:
1. Spend more time with family and friends
2. Fit in fitness
3. Quit smoking
4. Get out of debt
5. Get organized

If none of these resolutions grab your interest or are the same ones you’ve already tried in years past, why not try something new and individual like:
1. Conquer a fear
2. Step outside of your comfort zone – professionally and personally
3. Learn something new and/or practical
for women – learn to change a tire or the headlight in your car
for men – build a shelf, develop or re-visit a hobby

No matter what your New Year’s Resolution is following these 6 easy tips can help ensure this year doesn’t get wasted:
1. Avoid previous resolutions
2. Set a specific goal and time period
3. Determine how you will measure your success & track progress
4. Share your plan with someone else for encouragement, support and challenge
5. Reward yourself
6. Re-evaluate – continue or develop a new plan

My New Year’s Resolution for 2010 – Simplify.

I’ll keep you posted on how that goes – Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Eco-friendly wrapping

So this year I announced on facebook that I was going to wrap all of my gifts in newsprint. Some have asked for photos so here is a sample of them.

I chose only newsprint that came to my home (flyers, papers, etc) that had something "Christmas" on them. I then wrapped the gifts and tied them with a great ribbon (which I also had in my supply stocks) and then used an assortment of hand-made (not by me) ornaments as the tags.

After wrapping only a few gifts my hands were indeed 'dirty' with newsprint. My son was quite intrigued - he's 2 and not allowed to touch anything with dirty Needless to say I rethought my situation and wrapped his gifts in left-over wrapping paper!

I think they turned out great!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The unexpected gift

I feel that I must also touch upon the ever etiquette-bundle-of-mess which is the "I don't have a gift for you" scenario. It happens to all of us, receiving a gift from an unexpected giver.

What to do? Say 'Thank you very much this is such a surprise' and put it under the tree.
You really can't be expected to have a personalized gift for everyone that could randomly give you a gift.

Some are of the mind set that you must return a gift with a gift; if you agree then you probably have a stack of pre-wrapped gifts set aside just for this situation. Favourites would included: chocolates (see last post), alcohol, gift cards....did you read my 'easy gifts'?

I do however, recommend that you add this person to your gift list for the next year and make an extra point to get a good gift for them. And you shouldn't expect a gift in return either.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Last minute gifts! with less stress

Well, if I haven't mentioned it enough I have been very fortunate to have been on the radio (News91.9) every week talking about the Holidays and ways to get ready for it. With Christmas right around the corner (OMG! 2 sleeps) it seems like a good time to talk about the last minute shopping that we know exists.

As a planner and organizer myself, most are shocked to learn that I love last minute shopping. I even leave some of my important gifts until then (so, if you haven't got your gift's cause i haven't bought it yet - silly!) The air of the mall this time of year with all the holiday shoppers can be daunting if you are not prepared so I've made a few lists that may help lessen the stress and even make it fun perhaps.

5 Tips for making last-minute holiday shopping less stressful
1. Set a budget for each person prior to going out
2. Make a list of gifts needed or people you need to buy for
3. Know where to look for the gifts: do your recon-work (this can also be worked into 'ways to make last minute shopping fun')
4. Be prepared to not get your top gift pick (let's face it others have already been there and you aren't the only one who thought it would make a great gift for so-and-so)
5. Don't despair! If you really can't find that great gift for "x" make them a really great IOU with the promise of something spectacular. Be careful with this one though - you don't want to be remembered for giving a 'gift' and failing to deliver on it.

Ways to make last minute shopping fun:
1. Make an evening of it - be prepared for long lines and short tempers
2. Split the gift list (make a race of it)
3. Reward yourself with that "venti mocha peppermint late" if you get everything on your list done.

Top 8 Easy Gifts that Don’t Suck (in my opinion):
1. Liquor Store Gift Cards: alcohol purchases can become pretty significant with Christmas and New Years so close together.
2. Spa Services: great gift for moms (new and old) as they typically wouldn’t splurge now on this. Receiving it for free on the other hand is a luxury not many would turn down
3. Gift Cards: previously looked upon as a ‘cop-out’. However, now everyone from the drugstore to the electronics store to the coffee shop offers them and hey – you did at least figure out what store to get the gift at – right?
4. Tickets: concert/show/sporting event, remember to get 2.
5. Getaway: evening or weekend. Great gift for the ‘hard to buy for’ person or the person ‘who has everything’. Everyone loves to relax.
6. Subscriptions: magazines/paper. If you know someone who loves cooking get them “Cook’s Illustrated”. You can buy the current issue and wrap it up with the promise of 12, 6, or 4 more coming.
7. Charity: (remember it’s my opinion here) a donation in the name of someone to their favourite charity is nice. Makes a great gift for those ‘who have everything’. Environmentally friendly? Save a piece of the rain forest for them.
8. Give the Gift of Yourself: (hehehe) very budget friendly. Make up coupons for services you can provide in the weeks to come. A 4 course meal, babysitting services, pet-care services, website building, car repairs, and painting – the list is endless. Word of Caution: Don’t over promise or you will be remembered as giving a gift but ‘failing’ to deliver on it.

When all else fails by chocolate!

Holiday decorating tips

So, I'm a bit behind in the blogging....

I have had the great opportunity to be on the radio each week this month (News91.9) and I've had a lot of fun. This past week (16th) we talked about holiday decorating:

5 great budget extenders for holiday decorating:
1. hold a 'last year's' decoration swap with neighbours or friends to change it up. This can be really fun provided you have people who's taste you like :)
2. throw a party organized around decorating to minimize the work. (This would also work for baking) This is great event for bringing together extended families who live close together and including those friends who may not have family close to be involved in something festive.
3. Organize family craft night for making decorations. This could range from cut-out decorations to candy dish centrepieces.
4. Use the outdoors as inspiration - add twigs and evergreens. This will also be very 'green' and minimal effort provided you have some in the back yard. You may need to be willing to go for a chilly walk.
5. When you have a dinner party it would be easy to take a simple Christmas bulb and tie a ribbon on it with a name tag to use as place cards. Each guest could then take them home. This could also be swapped with individual goodie bags at each place setting.

We also touched upon some tips for holiday decorating in general:

1. Edit the room first by removing all those items that aren't necessary.
Why? if you don't edit, after you remove the christmas decorations the room will look empty if you don't have things to move back in.
2. Seperate your "Christmas" and "winter" decorations.

3. Decide on which decorations you will use (this year) Use a colour scheme and let it flow thorough the entire house.

4. Extend decorations into non-traditional rooms such as the bathroom. This will help to tie the entire house together. It also adds a great mood lift as guest see decorations all around.

As some of you know I was also on Live at 5. It was a great experience and some got to glimpse my tree (which is never decorated the same).

Update: So as promised - here is a photo of my tree. I'm not computer savy so I don't know how to add a poll yet but during our radio show when Dan announced that I would be on Live at 5 we opened it up for people to judge my tree. Like or Dislike.
Lets have at it!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Holiday Office Parties - Etiquette

I had the opportunity on Wednesday to be on News91.9 in Moncton. I talked with Dan about etiquette when it comes to holiday parties - specifically the 'work' party.
May people have different views on what the office party should and should not be but, polls and surveys rule, in that those employees who act 'inappropriate' at these holiday parties are negatively affected in terms of career growth.
WOW! Makes you think about this party thing in a more serious light.
With this in mind I have a few tips to make your party appearance a good one:
1. You must attend. This is one of those moments where you need to think about your decision carefully. Your employer is hosting a gathering in which you are expected to go, this function although tied up in the ribbon of "social context" is in fact a business function. This should be treated the same as any other work related event - you show up because it is expected. Trust me when I say that managers notice if you attend.
2.Dress appropriately. Leave the bar clubbing attire at home. This is not the occasion to don on the super glitzy, mid thigh (well really closer to top of the thigh) dress. Yes this one is for the ladies more so than the men as - well - they have it a bit easier in that they wear pant - all the time. :)
3. Drink in moderation. That's right, as un-festive as that may be to some, it is again a work function where all those in the ranks above you will be attending and they will notice if you've had to much to drink.
4. Network & Schmooze. Even if it is outside of your comfort zone try to talk to those people who are in those "higher ranks". Let them notice you (outside) of the traditional workplace. This is in fact one of the main reasons that companies have this type of function - to encourage socializing with other professionals within the company. You may discover someone in another department who knows or has the skills that you are looking for. Break your self-imposed boundaries and mingle outside of the group that you see on a daily basis.
5. Don't complain or monopolize the conversation. Really?! Do I have to state the obvious of this one - no one wants to hear it. Especially be careful if you insist on complaining as there are ears every where. Do you really want the host (your employer) to know that you only came for the booze and food and that you can't even tolerate those you work with - probably not.

Really funny as I'm finishing this post I have Global News in the background and there is a holiday segment running on 'etiquette at the office party' :)
Oddly enough I feel that I have heard this interview before - did they hear me on Wednesday? :)