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Salvage Your Holidays With 15 DIY Christmas Ideas

Salvage Your Holidays With 15 DIY Christmas Ideas
    Photo credit: poppet with a camera (CC BY-NC 2.0)

    A few years ago, someone I know sent out an email saying that he was cancelling Christmas that year due to financial constraints. He had gotten caught in the trap that Christmas was more about the expensive gifts than the time spent with others.

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    Being an “almost minimalist” by nature, I have always believed simplicity is the best solution for the holidays. With that in mind, I also feel that it is good to give gifts. I personally enjoy giving random gifts throughout the year, especially to people I don’t even know.

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    However, these gifts do not have to be expensive. In fact, I try to put together several “do-it-yourself” gifts to give on such occasions rather than spend a ton of money on gifts.

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    Here are some ideas for DIY gifts that can cause your family to say wow.

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    1. Cookies: My aunt’s favorite. While you are at it, host a holiday cookie baking party. Everyone makes their favorite cookies, and you all split the final results.
    2. Pine Cone Fire Starters: Just a little wax and pine cones. Perfect for fireplaces.
    3. Secret Hollow Book: Take an old book, a little glue, a knife and you have a secret box perfect for your friend’s car keys.
    4. Recipe Booklet: While subscriptions to food magazines are the norm in my family, I think a recipe book with your favorite recipes from the year is a nice personal touch.
    5. Themed Gift Basket: No need to go expensive, but find a theme they like and add some food or other small items related to the theme. Sports, Italian, Nature? The only limits to what you can think up as a theme are the limits of your own imagination.
    6. Memory Drawing: For the artistic folks, draw a picture of a memory you have of the other person.
    7. Gingerbread House: I don’t mean a set they build. Spend the time to build one and give it. Children love them!
    8. Personalized Calendar: If you have children, grandparents and other relatives always enjoy a calendar of them. Of course, you could also give a personalized calendar to your significant other or other important person in your life.
    9. Make An Ornament: It can be made out of salt dough, paper or anything you have around. Its handmade nature will make it unique and special.
    10. Volunteer As A Group: Setup a time to volunteer at a soup kitchen with them.
    11. Create An Experience: Do they like to camp? What about walking in the park? Take them out for the day; you can even make a picnic out of it.
    12. Start A Tradition
    13. Homemade Granola Or Trail Mix: Simple to make, and you can make different varieties for specific people.
    14. Mixed CD/DVD: Spend time crafting a mixed CD for them. Or maybe put together a DVD of your favorite pictures/short videos from throughout the year.
    15. Gift Certificates: Give them a handmade certificate for a service you can provide. Maybe you’ll do the dishes, give a massage, walk the dog, offer a special night out. It could be anything they would enjoy getting a break from — or having to do themselves.

     

    There are many options out there. Always remember: The time spent is more than the money spent. For those who still want to (or feel they must) give traditional gifts, just remember to keep a budget.

    What is your favorite DIY Christmas idea?

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    Last Updated on December 2, 2018

    How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

    How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

    Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

    The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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    The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

    Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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    Review Your Past Flow

    Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

    Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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    Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

    Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

    Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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    Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

    Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

    We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

    Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

      Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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