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.
It’s arrived! That wonderful crisp fall weather that makes you want to break out the cozy sweaters and head out with your mate to do something fun. There are some activities that are uniquely autumn entertainment and others that are enhanced when done in the fall. So grab your mate and celebrate the season with some of these great fall date ideas!
You didn’t really think you were going to get all the way through an article about fall without seeing the words “pumpkin spice” did you??
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!]
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.
Did you and your mate have more good intentions to be productive this summer than summer days? There’s still enough summer left for the two of you to enjoy a joint project that is fun, fills that productivity quota you set for yourselves, and has benefits that will extend into the seasons ahead. Here are 5 that can fill the bill!
1. Create a Little Lending Library. These mini treasures are popping up everywhere! The small structures are often found at the end of a driveway with a sign that says “Free Books: Take one now, leave one later!” Library kits can be purchased, or you can use what you have on hand to build your own. Or re-purpose cabinets and shelves. The designs can be as basic or complex as you like – the creative options are endless. Google “little lending library images” for oodles of inspiration. Creating a book exchanges is a fun way to promote literacy, share books you’ve read, find books to read, and get some conversations started!
2. Organize a Progressive Dinner. Invite as many other couples/friends as you want dinner courses. Each takes one course and the invitees move from house to house enjoying a course at each. Appetizer, soup, salad, entree, cheese, desert, after dinner drink – add or subtract to fit your group. This is a fun way to have a get-together before everybody gets into their fall routines while sharing the workload. This works especially well in neighborhoods and apartment complexes where the group can just walk from one residence to the next. You can add a rebel twist – totally defying the old notion that there will be no dessert until you eat your dinner – by having a reverse progressive dinner. As in starting with dessert and working backward to the appetizer. Bon apetite!
3. Paint Chairs. Whether some tired kitchen chairs you already own, $5 garage sale finds, or folding chairs that could use some perking up, slapping a little paint around will leave you smiling. You can make your chairs match, contrast, or speak for themselves. Check out Pinterest or Google “painted chair patterns” to generate ideas and find “how-tos.” Then, let the creativity begin!
4. Get Your Garden On. Your spring garden, that is. Now’s the time to gather and plant the bulbs for flowers you want to enjoy in the spring. You can dot crocus throughout your yard for an early-in-the-year pop of color, fill a bed with vibrant tulips-to-be, or orchestrate weeks of color by planting bulbs that bloom at different times. Don’t have garden space? If you have room for a large planter, you can still get in on the fun now to enjoy the fragrance of spring later. For simple ideas and planning tips, check out this This Old House link.
5. Create a Classic Board Game. Jumbo-style. Here’s a version of Scrabble you may not have seen before! It makes a great project to work together on, and results in entertainment you can enjoy for many seasons to come! Click the picture for the how-tos.
Playdates aren’t just for toddlers and puppies! While “date night” is a good thing, what could be more fun than just grabbing your mate to go outside and play? Participating in organized sports and furthering fitness goals are worthy pursuits. But for the playdate? Let your inner child have free reign with some blast-from-the-childhood-past fun. Here’s 5 ideas to get you started!
1. Hula Hooping. Just try not to giggle while watching the other wiggle and squiggle to keep that hoop from hitting the ground! Don’t forget arm spins, leg spins, and neck spins for a little variety! Click How to Hula Hoop to get all the basics down, or tour some YouTube videos for a few moves to wow your mate with!
2. Backyard Games. While yesteryear games of tag, Statues, or Red Rover, Red Rover may be a little too youthful to revisit, a nostalgic game of croquet or badminton might fill the bill. Both are portable, easily found, and available in a broad range of prices. Nothing like whacking a birdie or cracking a croquet ball to release a little pent up energy! Or check out some newer games to get your challenge on HERE.
3. Laying in the grass. Start out on your stomachs with a roll-out mat of games to play. End up rolling onto your backs to enjoy evolving cloud-pictures floating overhead.
4. Picnic Play. Whether it’s fancy-shmancy fare tucked into a wicker basket or PBJ’s in a brown bag, take your food and a travel game or two to the park. Or the patio. You won’t have any problem finding most of your favorite board games in a compact, nicely contained travel version. Scrabble, Backgammon, Cribbage, Battleship – something for everyone!
5. Visit a playground. Sure, that’s taking the whole playdate thing a bit literally – but so what? Remember swinging on swings with your buddy for hours, sharing stories, confiding dreams? Then racing each other to the merry-go-round where you took turns spinning and hopping on while the other rode? The afternoon can be a step-back-in-time that will leave you both with a smile on your face. Assuming, of course, that you don’t do that teeter-totter thing where you jump off while the other is in the air!
NOW GO FORTH AND PLAY!
As a young girl, you would not allow me to allow myself to be disrespected. There wasn’t enough eye-rolling in my head to lessen the requirement about a visiting guy coming up to the door. No horn honking, running out to his car when he pulled up, waiting outside for him. I was worth his time to come up to the door to get me. I was worth his time to walk me back to the door and make sure I got in the house safely. When as an insecure teenager I was willing to settle for someone – anyone – who liked me, you were not willing to let me settle for someone who did not hold me in high esteem. You caused me to have certain expectations about how one should be treated in a relationship. It took me years to realize you were not just being controlling, judgmental, and generally uncool.
These are just a few of the lessons I learned about marriage from you. I know as soon as my letter is sent, I’ll think of one I forgot to write down. An important one. And they’ll keep coming to me as long as I’m married. Know that I am grateful for those, also.
With an abundance of love and admiration, Daughter #2
P.S. If I’d known in my early years what I know now, I would have spoken much kinder about you both in my diary. I’ll forgive you for reading it, if you’ll forgive me for the words you read!
Is there anyone YOU can honor with a love letter?
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!
1. Gift Pass: Pick a play and start passing a gift item – maybe a thermo cup or $5 Coffee Card. No holding more than a 3-count! The person holding it when a touchdown is made gets to keep the prize! After the first touchdown, the winner gets to pick what wins the next prize – maybe a penalty or field goal. And the watch is on! Variation: Everyone puts a dollar or a quarter in the cup and starts passing it – same finish!
2. The Icebreaker. For a crowd that doesn’t know each other well, you can have a pre-game warm-up game! Have a variety of questions in a jar and some small prizes to hand out for the winning answer. Then take turns pulling out and reading the get-to-know-you questions. Here’s a few to get you started:
3. Predict the winner: As each person enters the party, have them make their prediction of the winning team and final score on a sheet you’ve prepared for everybody’s answers. The one whose right (or closest!) gets the prize – maybe a tin of popcorn or oldy-but-goody football movie.
4. Don’t say it!: Everybody starts out with 10 quarters at the beginning of the party. Then choose a football-related word that no one can say during the game, such as “quarterback” or – if you really want to make it difficult – “touchdown.” If someone hears another person say the word, they can take a quarter. The person with the most quarters at the end gets one more quarter from everybody who has remaining quarters. Any quarters each person has left after paying their final quarter is theirs to keep! Variation: Pass out beads or buttons for each person instead of using quarters. The one at the end of the game with the most beads or buttons collected with a prize.
5. Commercial Bingo – Enjoy the commercials even more by winning a prize based on the order they’re shown. You can make your own cards or go HERE for some free printable cards.