With the holidays quickly approaching, and gift wrapping underway, here is one last gift to add the final personal touch to your packages. Wishing you the merriest of holidays to you and yours! -TM
As the weather gets colder who doesn’t love a good Hallmark Christmas movie? My wife and I sure do. Ok, I know what you are probably thinking — what guy would spend an evening watching something so sappy when there is a perfectly good football game on another channel?
To be honest, Hallmark means much more than movies and greeting cards to us—it is where we met and fell in love. It all started back in the early ‘90s. I was living in Kansas City and had landed my dream job at Hallmark corporate headquarters. My job was to do consumer research and figure out which products and sentiments customers would want to buy—before we started making them. Then, like in some Hallmark movie, my boss came to me one day and said he had hired a cute girl from Alabama who would be working in our department. To help make her feel welcome I crafted a name plate by hand and put it in her cubicle. When she arrived we became instant friends, eating lunch together, traveling and working side by side, shopping after work at Crown Center mall next to our office, hanging out at the park on the weekends, and line dancing at night. After a year we were secretly dating, often discreetly leaving personalized greeting cards on each other’s desks.
And just like in some Hallmark movie Alicia told me one day that she wanted to move back South, someplace closer to home. I told her I understood but of course I was heartbroken. I didn’t want to lose her. There was this great job that was fun and fulfilling but there was also this girl I had grown to love. One day she told me she had lined up an interview with a company in Atlanta. Alicia is brilliant, outgoing and very likable so I just knew they would hire her. The time had come for me to make a choice. So, one weekend while we were at our favorite park I popped the question, pulled out a ring, she said yes, and we were engaged. I followed her to Atlanta and eight months later we were married at the church she grew up in.
We later started a company we called Heartstrings and another called Initial Outfitters. Both companies make sentimental, personalized gifts. Initial Outfitters is a social selling business where we teach and encourage others to sell our products and work from home. Finding time for vacations isn’t always easy but last year we made our way back to Kansas City. The snow was falling and we found a pretty hotel on The Plaza—a beautiful old outdoor shopping mall near where we used to live. We spent the next couple days retracing that time in our life, had breakfast with our old boss who had introduced us, and, of course, we visited Hallmark. This fall you can find us at night sitting side by side in our recliners, watching Hallmark movies with a big mug of hot tea. Alicia will typically bundle herself up in one of our monogrammed fleece throws. And now our daughter has caught the movie bug and often watches with us. It’s becoming a family tradition.
Christmas gift wrapping will soon be in full swing! If you’re a gift wrapping procrastinator, maybe you just need a little wrapping inspiration to get you in the spirit this year.
When I was a kid, wrapping presents was one of my favorite holiday activities – second only to baking with my grandmother and mom. No joke! It’s still one of the things I look forward to the most each year, as strange as that may seem. To me, nothing is more fun than putting the kids to bed, grabbing the hot chocolate and peanut M&Ms, and wrapping gifts while watching my favorite Christmas movies.
I set out early, planning a paper color scheme (yes, I am that type of gift wrapper). Some years each recipient gets their own color of paper and other years, I go with two base colors of paper and change up with ribbons and bows.
Making that gift a little special for the receiver (and making it eye catching too) can cover up any gift fails you might have had. That’s why I love adding ornaments as name tags -it’s just a little something extra that they can use for years to come on their own Christmas tree.
Grab your paper, ribbon, scissors, and tape and let your creativity shine! I hope that you have the best and happiest of holidays this year! – Tiffany
Ah, the holidays. For many of us it’s a time to be with our families and close friends, take a break from work, and appreciate all the great things in our lives.
But as much we love the holidays, this time of year can also involve plenty of stress, particularly on the parenting front. For many of us, the holidays are also a time when we travel with our kids—with all of the planning and logistics that involves. We can all probably remember at least one cranky car ride that we’re hoping to avoid this year.
While you can’t prevent all travel stress (ahem- traffic), there are things you can do to increase the odds that your holiday trip goes well for all involved and the journey to grandma’s house is smooth sailing. If things go really well, you might even arrive without forgetting something at home. How many times has that happened?
TIPS FOR TRAVELING WITH KIDS OF ALL AGES:
Make your motto “Be flexible.”
Even the best-laid plans sometimes go awry, so flexibility is going to be your best friend. You’ve done all the prep work for the trip, but kids are unpredictable. Know that however this trip goes, you’ll come out the other side and your kids are truly only going to remember all the happy moments.
Pack an easily accessible bag of essentials
This should include a change of clothes, any medications, a light blanket, and anything else you may need in case plans change. Knowing that you have your “in case of emergency” bag packed can give you peace of mind in case of things like a vehicle breakdown. We throw our “emergency items” in a backpack to make it super easy to find and each kid has their own so there’s no confusion (or arguing). We have also turned a small lunch box into our first aid kit. It never fails, someone needs an aspirin or gets a cut that requires a little TLC while we we’re on the road (fancy band-aids make great fashion accessories according to my 8yo).
Who doesn’t love snacks? It’s perfectly okay to relax certain rules during trips, and snacking during trips can be a great way to keep kids distracted and entertained. We pack a cooler filled with a variety of snacks, and include some new or favorite “special” treats as well.
We have charging cables, earbuds, dolls, books, pens, and markers for days when we take road trips. One thing that always causes problems is keeping them organized so they don’t get lost in the car. I have found that using tech organization cases, cosmetic bags, and jewelry rolls have been major sanity savers in this department. Not to mention, they fit perfectly into the kids’ backpacks so I’m not forced to surrender my purse to hold all the stuff.
I hope these tips help make your family’s next holiday trip the best one yet. -Tiffany
I don’t know about you, but going to the mall or any shopping center this time of year to shop for presents is enough to make me want to skip the holidays altogether and land right in January. I think it has something to do with the fact that I worked in retail all through high school and college and I witnessed firsthand the insanity of last minute shopping with no sense of purpose or meaning. The endless droves of desperate guys, with their arms filled with whatever random items they could find, lined up – all day Christmas Eve – it scarred me for life. But while I hate shopping, I love finding the perfect gifts for my friends and family! I don’t like buying things just because, so it is important for me to find useful, original, and thoughtful gifts that I know will be appreciated. Thankfully, online shopping has made it possible for me to do that without ever having to wait 20 minutes for a parking spot. Seriously, what did we do before we could just sit down, coffee in hand, and just Add to Cart?
In any case, this year I thought I’d share some of my favorite gift ideas on my 30 Gifts Under $30 tree. All of the items you see can be found for $30 or less (free personalization too), and all of them are gifts I would be super excited to give (or receive!) -Tiffany