Sure the thought counts, but the gift itself matters, too. Some gifts present a clear and present danger when bestowed upon a spouse and should be avoided at all costs. Here are 10 gifts that could be hazardous to your marriage:
2. Sexy underwear (or anything else you’re dying to see them in ). Nothing says “It’s all about me” more than gifting something that makes you happier than the recipient.
3. Exercise equipment. This category includes gym memberships and healthy-eating cookbooks. Unless you are providing something they specifically requested, your well-intentioned gift may not be well-received!
4. Home improvements. Even if one spouse has been wanting a bigger bathroom or modernized cabinets, making the project “a gift” sets up the recipient to be responsible for any mishaps or frustrations that might be part of the process. (Just because it doesn’t make a great gift, doesn’t mean you can’t still use the big home-improvement announcement to earn additional spousal-brownie-points!)
5. Gift card. Think about it – how different is that from just handing your spouse some cash and telling them to go buy their own gift? Well, there is one difference – you are now dictating exactly where they must buy their own gift from.
6. Anything on your own wish list. See #2, above.
7. Perfume or cologne they’ve never worn before. First of all, there may be a reason they’ve never worn it. Second, what it smells like on the paper tester isn’t necessarily what it’s going to smell like on someone’s body. Unless indicated otherwise, assume your spouse wants some say about how they smell.
8. That item you have both been planning and saving for. Do NOT “surprise” your spouse by making the final decision on the vacation you have been debating for the last few months or picking the recliner that will sit for years to come in the living room. And examine the reasons you would even want to – is it intended to delight, or put an end to a discussion you are tired of having? If you immediately responded: “to delight, of course,” you need to realize that might not be the same conclusion your spouse reaches.
9. Nothing. Even if that is what they ask for. Gift-giving is about putting yourself out there to do something kind for the one you love. “Nothing” does not serve that goal. Nor does it honor your mate. “Something” does not have to be expensive, extravagant, or even wrap-able. It just has to be a little more thoughtful than “nothing.”
10. Anything that comes with payments. Yes, this is worse than nothing. It is the exact opposite of “the gift that keeps on giving.” It is the gift that keeps depleting. No gift should come with a bill.
Looking for a great gift for your husband, your dad or that special father in your life? Skip the predictable shirt, tie and golf balls and go right to the fun stuff! No matter what your budget is, you’ll find a gift from these 10 Fun Father’s Day Finds guaranteed to make him smile!
6. Sriracha key chain – For the guy who eats on the go and doesn’t like to be without his heat, this little handy-dandy refillable sriracha bottle keychain serves a dual purpose. Don’t forget to have a bottle of sriracha handy to fill from – you don’t want to be like the gifter who gives the toy without the batteries! (Starting from $5 for a single on up for sets)
10. The Cooper Kit – For the dad with children from 5 to 9 years old – the one who’s still a kid-at-heart himself – the Cooper Kit might be the perfect gift. It’s a subscription to a mini adventure. Every 3 months a box arrives full of fun for dad and offspring to work on together. A bit of a splurge at $260 for the four deliveries, it turns Father’s Day into Father/Child year!
Are you looking for the perfect way to express your love to you favorite Valentine? Something that says I am SO grateful I have you in my life? Something that has more impact than chocolates and more staying power than flowers? Maybe the best gift you and your spouse can give each other is Project Valentine.
You and your mate know that you are loved – that each of you think the other is special. How about joining together to create that same wonderful feeling for someone else? There are so many people who don’t have a Valentine – and you both are in the perfect place to say: “Will you be mine?”
Use the funds you would have spent on each other for over-priced flowers (you know costs double for V-day, right?) and unnecessary chocolate (no excuses to sabotage those New Years Resolutions!) to buy Valentines or sweet treats for somebody who could use some love.
Here are some Project Valentine ideas:
Project Valentine is the perfect gift for you and your spouse to give each other. What better way to express your love than by helping others feel it first hand?[Note: Project Valentine could be one of those experiences that ends up being one of those “jar moments” referred to in the last post!]
One of the toughest situations to deal with in the aftermath of divorce is holiday visitation with the children. As if the holiday season by itself wasn’t stressful enough, dealing with only having the children for part of the holiday in addition to making sure they get to where they’re suppose to be for the other part of the holiday can send stress levels right off the chart! As a Family Law attorney who often represents children, I field a lot of calls from frustrated parents this time of year – and here’s what I tell them. Whether there are hard feelings to or from your ex or you both get along great, these five tips can make the holiday visitation less stressful for you, your ex, and – more importantly – your children.
1. Transition your child before the doorbell rings. I’m often told by parents that the child just doesn’t want to go to the other parent’s for the holidays, they want to stay right where they are. This may be true, and/or there may be a legitimate reason the child feels this way. But often the reluctance to go is because they are enjoying what they’re doing or are afraid they’re going to miss out on something. To overcome the latter two, prepare ahead of time. Watch how you talk about activities the child won’t be a part of – don’t tell him “how sad” you will be that he can’t be there for them. There’s nothing to be sad about (on the outside!) because he gets to spend time with the other parent, too. Make sure the game being played or movie being watched ends a substantial amount of time before the other parent picks up to avoid the child ending up being resentful that he has to “stop having fun” when it’s time to go.
2. Have the extra packing done, too. Most people don’t wait until the last minute to pack up the child’s visitation suitcase with clothes, nightwear and toiletries. But those little last-minute round-ups that leave the ex cooling his or her heels at the door (deliberately??) are unnecessary. Make a checklist as you think of things the child needs to have with her (medicine, gifts for the other family members, that book for the report she has to write over the break) and make sure they are packed and ready to go well ahead of time. Give your child the gift of a stress-free (or at least less-stressed) transition – one where they don’t start out with an irritated parent annoyed at them or grumbling about you.
3. Limit incoming phone and text message interruptions. Unless there is a court-ordered (or previously agreed-upon) phone visitation time, you don’t have to answer phone calls from the other parent during meals, gift exchanges, movies, family gatherings and other events where it would be disruptive to the child. I am not suggesting you don’t allow phone visitation during your holiday period with your child. On the contrary, I’m suggesting you plan for it. Have the child call the other parent, or answer calls, during times when the child is not engaged in fun events. Initiate (or take) the calls in a quiet place or room free of distractions so that the child can enjoy his chat with the other parent and not “just get through” it.
4. Limit outgoing phone and text message intrusions. Assume your ex has read the paragraph above and try to be sensitive about the intrusiveness of your own visitation calls. While negotiating prior to the visit for set times to speak to the child via phone may seem like a good idea, psychologist Arlene Schaefer says that arrangement is “all about the parents.” She says kids don’t like to be ripped from what they’re doing to have a conversation they often don’t feel like having – which can leave the calling parent feeling slighted and resentful toward the other parent who is perceived as not encouraging the contact. The better arrangement includes flexibility – maybe an agreement for the child to call “after her shower” or in the morning while breakfast is being cooked.
5. Anticipate and plan for the obstacles. Two complaints I hear often from divorced parents is that their ex is always late for exchanges and/or the the child is tuckered out upon arrival. Whether it’s deliberate sabotage or just insensitivity, the result of chronic lateness or turning over sleep-deprived children is the same – conflict, more stress, and potentially ruined plans. You have no power to change the offender – but you can prepare for the offense. Don’t create tight deadlines on yourself by making plans that you can only be timely for if the other parent is timely. Allow plenty of time between pick-up and any event – it’s easier to “kill time” if you’re early than dealing with stress, frustration and resentment that accompany rushing to make it to wherever you’re headed. If your child routinely is tired when she arrives from the other parent’s custody, plan ahead so that she has time to take a nap before heading out for the evening’s entertainment. Or factor in some down-time on the first day of visitation. Or plan for an early evening on the night of arrival so that on the first full day of visitation everyone can hit the ground running. While it may not seem right that you should have to construct your plans around the other parent’s offending behavior, doing so totally annihilates you ex’s power to ruin your plans or create a stressful start to your holiday time with your child.
You may be interested in this related post:
Are you trying to come up with a gift idea for your husband or wife that is truly special? Something that says: you are so incredible that you deserve this one-of-a-kind gift, something that’s been created just for you! As a spouse, you are in the unique position of being the one who can take one of your spouse’s precious memories and make it come to life!
To generate some ideas about what memory may be gift-worthy, ask yourself these questions:
If you’re memory-gift consists of a single precious item, you’re ready for Step 2. If, however, your memory is an event, place, or loved one, you have a little gathering to do. If your spouse has some mementos collected, you’re off and running. Let me give you an example. My husband had been on his high school’s President’s Physical Fitness Team and on their second trip to compete in the finals in Washington, D.C., they took first place in the nation. Having trained rigorously with his teammates for three years, he had formed some special friendships and memories – including a parade given in his hometown in honor of the team. A corresponding scrapbook had been stowed away with his medals for years. I mean, where do you put such things 20 years after the fact? Yet they were too special to just discard, and running across them every once in a while made him smile. Always up for finding ways to keep that smile going, I pilfered the scrapbook* for some of the yellowed newspaper articles, found some team photos, added the medals to the mix and arranged them all in a shadowbox I had purchased at a hobby store. It did, indeed, put a huge smile on his face when he opened his gift, and it looks quite nice hanging in his computer room. Not to mention the satisfaction I received from presenting him with something that he was finally unable to guess prior to opening!
Photos will work for all the categories that aren’t a particular item. You might want to check with your spouse’s friends or family members who might have pictures of the event that they can contribute or copy for your project. Memorabilia and souvenirs are great additions to recreate the memory of events and places. But don’t despair if such items were not thoughtfully retained by your spouse for your use here. There are many ways to put together a meaningful collection or supplement any existing picture and memorabilia. Here’s some suggestions:
For an event: Check out the internet for pictures of where it took place, quotes that can be printed out that compliment the experience (childhood, friendship, adventure, etc.), and pictures of tickets, programs, articles, or write-ups regarding the event. You might find trinkets that correlate at a craft or hobby store – things like a miniature representation of the school mascot or a miniature rocking chair. Most craft stores have a whole section dedicated to miniatures-almost-anything-you-can-think-of!
For a place: In addition to the event suggestions, look for things like postcards, travel brochures, maps, drink or food recipe cards, and pictures or small objects that represent the culture.
For a missed loved one: A picture of a meaningful place or shared interest, lyrics to a song, a poem or quote about the type of relationship, an object that belonged to the person or pet, a miniature object which represents an activity they did together (tennis rackets, movie popcorn container, playing cards, paintbrush) or an interest they shared (ballet shoes, gardening gloves, workshop tools, etc.).
You want to package your memory-gift in a way that it can be easily displayed on a wall, shelf, or furniture surface.
Framing works best for flat items such as:
Shadowboxes work best for items that are small or combinations of flat and non-flat collections such as:
Cubes, plastic boxes, glass or plastic display containers come in a variety of sizes and shapes and work for larger items such as:
You are in the unique position of being the only one who has access to both your spouse’s memories AND the drawers and dusty basement boxes they keep the reminders in. The combination is a heady best-gift-ever-waiting-to-happen. And only YOU can be the one that makes sure it does! Giving your spouse the gift of a fond memory made tangible will have him or her smiling long after the holiday is over!
*Pilfering scrapbooks is NOT recommended if they were put together with loving care by your spouse!
Have you ever tried to stir up some “what we are thankful for” discussion at Thanksgiving dinner, only to be met with blank faces? Or the spouting of obligatory mini-lists such as: “I’m thankful for my spouse. And my children.” Which are not bad things to express thankfulness for – especially if the spouse and children are present – but it doesn’t inspire further conversational contributions. If you’re looking for friends and family to go a little deeper – to evoke a memory of person or place each is grateful for – lose the generic (and somewhat tired) request. To get the gratitude flowing along with the feast, get specific. You can toss out topics or pass around a bowl containing slips of paper with topics for dinner attendees to draw from. Here are 15 questions to help put the “thanks” into your Thanksgiving dinner conversation.
It may seem like the word “favorite” could be substituted for some of the “thankfuls” and “gratefuls” – but that might be a different discussion. For instance, my favorite teacher – the one who made class so enjoyable – is not the teacher I’m most grateful for. While I certainly appreciated the fun teacher, the one I have gratitude for is the one that saw something in me and required me to improve and grow. Asking specific questions can generate meaningful conversation that puts a spotlight on the “thanks” in Thanksgiving.
For more Thanksgiving Table Talk ideas, click HERE.
Let’s be honest – flowers and candy are kind of an easy out for Valentine’s Day. They’re nice, sure – but not the most creative gift choice. And what’s the deal with the price of roses doubling just for the occasion?? Costs skyrocket like the price of gas on Labor Day weekend – for no other reason than people will pay more to give the traditional gift. So buck the system. Be a Valentine’s Day rebel. Here are a dozen (roseless!) gift ideas to that will get you thinking outside the chocolate box!
1. Vanity license plate. Get that special saying or nickname on a license plate – and your loved one will have your special sentiments with them where ever they go!
2. Newspaper greeting. If you live in a small town, buying a page, half page, quarter page or smaller of the local newspaper is probably an option. You can have it say whatever you want – and even include that special picture that will make your mate smile. What goes better with a morning cup of coffee like a personalized newspaper?!
3. Etched mirror. Take a hanging mirror from your wall to a glass etcher and have that meaningful quote, symbol or picture etched permanently in the place your mate will see reflected around their face for years to come! For a bigger splurge, hire the etcher to come to your home and do the bathroom mirror.
4. Create a secret code. Do something simple like having the letters in your own names represent different letters. Give your mate a card with your secret message (maybe where you’re going for dinner?) with instruction on the back for how to crack the code. When the day is over you’ll still have your code to tweet or send Facebook message that only the two of you will understand!
5. Name a star for them. Really. The International Star Registry has several “packages” for star-naming available. They even have coordinates of your personalized star included. Additional splurge? Buy, rent or borrow a telescope to have it aiming at your mate’s new star when you present your gift!
6. Personalized office supplies. Staplers, tape dispensers, letter holders and pens can be boring. Unless they’re a reminder that you are loved! Go traditional with your mate’s name, or make it even more personal with an inside joke, favorite song lyric, or other meaningful engraving.
7. Workplace delivery. Instead of sending those predictable (and grossly overpriced) roses to the workplace, how about surprising your mate with lunch delivered from their favorite restaurant, or a special coffee and pastry for their morning break?
8. Personalized games. Dice and playing cards can be personalized with words and pictures. Want to go bigger? How about personalizing a whole board game like this Make Your Opoly Board Game? Operating on a tight budget? There’s an app for that! In this case, a My Monopoly Game app that allows you to create and print personalized stickers to go over an existing game board.
10. A calendar. Boring? Not if you have few mystery dates penned in for upcoming months. Now the mundane qualifies as a gift that keeps on giving!
11. The selfie presentation. Want to take your mate to a special movie, dinner, or other event? Take a picture of yourself holding the tickets or menu and download the picture as wallpaper on your mate’s computer. What better way to start the day then turning on the computer and having the promise of a gift-to-come virtually presented?
10. Happily-ever-after book ending. Draft a Love Letter and glue it to the back inside cover of the book they’re reading for a very special ending!
With horns tooting, fireworks popping, and Auld Lang Syne blaring off the TV, it’s pretty hard to miss the arrival of the New Year. But just in case you slept through the hoopla and haven’t heard any official announcement, here’s 10 ways you can tell the New Year is here without leaving your house or looking at a calendar!
1. Your spouse announced you both have new memberships at the local gym. Again.
2. The ads in your junk mail are for White Sales instead of toys and electronics.
3. Magazines, newspapers, and your toiletries are organized in baskets and colorful containers that have suddenly appeared.
4. You hear: “Is this deductible?” a lot.
5. The refrigerator is full of good-for-you stuff.
6. You’re the only one in your neighborhood that still has Christmas lights on at night.
7. Your spouse hasn’t sworn/eaten ice cream/indulged in whatever they consider to be their bad habit for over a week.
8. People have stopped sending you tweets, instagrams and Facebook posts of their darling pets wearing antlers or Santa hats.
9. The cookie stockpile is dwindling.
10. You have sworn off making New Year’s Resolutions. Again.
What’s the number one sign that the New Year has arrived at YOUR house?
Are you hanging the stockings by the chimney with care and realizing there’s still lots of empty spaces in there? The 5-day Christmas Stocking Stuffer Extravaganza has been condensed for you. If you’re doing some last minute stocking stuffing, here’s some great ideas of how, what and from where to get your stuffing on!
1. Budget friendly. Over 50 great stuffing ideas for $5 or less HERE.
2. Something for everyone. 75 gender-neutral ideas HERE.
3. It’s all about HER. Or HIM Oodles of ideas for the special man or woman in your life HERE.
4. Pick a theme. Animal lover? Coffee or tea drinker? Fitness buff? Sports enthusiast? Traveler? Cook or baker? Gardener? Artist? Knitter? Reader or writer on your stocking stuffing list? Check out the ideas for themed stockings HERE.
5. Last minute pickups. Plenty of suggestions for where to get and how to package those late additions to the stocking lineup HERE!
Whatever the weather, here’s wishing you a blessed and very MERRY CHRISTMAS!
This time of year can be absolutely crazy! We have so much to do, so many places to go, so many lists to write, so many things to remember. With all the hustle and bustle going on, it’s easy to overlook something. Or someone. One way to avoid being caught with a memory short and a gift shy is to have some great gifts on hand to present to those very special people you care about – but forgot. A great have-on-hand gift is one that is useful, not tied to a particular age, gender, or ethnicity, and – maybe most important of all – is something you wouldn’t mind owning if this is the year you forget nobody! Here are five that qualify!
1. Amaryllis in a box. This fast-growing flower comes in oodles of colors – including a cool peppermint striped variety – and can be found in big box stores and garden stores for $5-$10. The recipient will be delighted with the giant blooms (about 8 inches!) that erupt within 4-6 weeks indoors and last another two weeks on average. Bonus: the box is an easy-to-wrap shape.
2. Bottled Quick-Bread. Layering these common ingredients in a bottle – or clear jar – with the simple instructions makes an attractive gift that anybody would eat up! Click on the picture for this Chocolate Chip and Oatmeal Quick Bread recipe and how-to. Bonus: the mix lasts 2-3 months at room temperature.
3. Holiday CD. Classics, instrumentals, children’s favorites, Big Band editions, country Christmas . . . there’s more choices and places to buy them than ornaments on a crowded tree! Bonus: If this one’s not claimed by Christmas Day, you can use it immediately – no mixing or growing required!
4. Flavored Hot Chocolate Mix. You can present your gift in a jar as pictured, or fill cellophane bags, tie off and tuck them in a festive Christmas mug for two gifts in one! Click on the picture for this French Vanilla recipe. Bonus: this can be made in a batch and divided up to create multiple gifts.
5. Windowsill herb garden. The pictured kit was found on Amazon.com for $18.68 (give or take a few pennies), but you should be able to find something similar at a local lawn and garden type store. From attractive package, to something that looks nice in the kitchen, to something one can eat, this gift has it all! Bonus: It’s the gift that keeps on giving. Italian herb rubs, rosemary bread – there’s so many yummy possibilities you may want to gift this to one who lives close enough to share!Related: