Monthly Archives: December 2009

How Not to Suck at Giving Gifts

Sadly, this guide is a little late for Christmas, but there are plenty of birthdays, Valentine’s Days, and anniversaries where it can come in handy. I won’t claim to be a master of all things giftwrapped. However, I do love giving presents, and this year in particular I was on the prowl for gifts my friends would really enjoy. It made me think about the things I liked getting myself and the things that have worked best when buying for someone else.

Maybe reading on won’t make you the most beloved St. Nick in the room, but it should help you avoid that ugly Christmas sweater cringe your grandma gets every year.

UGH. Thanks a LOT, gramma!picture from here

Don’t Buy A Generic Gift

If your Auntie Barbara from Nowheresville, Unknown drops in one Christmas, sure, feel free to give her that ready-made lotion kit. A third cousin you haven’t seen in a decade? Hand over those lottery tickets! Your boyfriend of nearly four years? Honey, put the mini toolkit down. You and I both know he is never, ever going to use that screwdriver to fix the doorknob, no matter how many you buy him.

Don’t get me wrong here; I like getting ten Bath and Bodyworks sets as much as the next girl, but there is one thing it always says to me: “Hi, unspecified person I felt the need to get a present for! I don’t know anything about you, but everyone likes Sweetpea! Enjoy!”.

If you care about a person and want to get them a gift they won’t easily forget, you have to dig a little deeper than the Holiday Giftset stands in WalMart.

If You Do Buy a Generic Gift, Personalize It

picture from here

So maybe this person’s birthday is tomorrow, you don’t have any time to come up with the perfect present, and an ‘IOU’ seems insufficient. It’s okay. It happens. But when you pick up that giftcard, make sure it’s for a place they actually like. If you’re shuffling though the $7 DVDs, how about searching for a movie that has some significance? Maybe you all went to see Mamma Mia! in the theater a while back, and so-and-so really loved it. And hey, if you’re going to buy that movie, don’t just throw it in a giftbag and write your name on it. Add a bottle of Coke and a bag of popcorn and make it into a movie watching kit. If the movie’s for your sweetie, you could double that order and add a pseudo ticket that reads, “One free night out at the movies with me!”.

The point is, even if you do have to resort to typical gifts, you can always make it a little more personal. Wrap it up so that it’s super-pretty, add a homemade card that will make the person laugh…just find something that assures them you were thinking about them.

Pay Attention

Okay, this is kind of a no-brainer, but the ultimate rule of giving a great gift is knowing the person you’re giving it to. If you’re close to them, you probably already know a lot, and all it takes to figure out the perfect gift is some time to think on it. If someone’s birthday is coming up, start paying attention to the sort of things they talk about. Women, at least, often give hints to things they might like if they know you’ll be buying them presents.

Also, thanks to the magic of networking sites, we now have these nifty little tools called profiles to use to our benefit. Check out your recipient’s list of interests to see if that can help you pick a gift. Maybe you know a book that’s in a similar style to a series they love, or perhaps you’re fantastic with music and can whip up a great mix CD. Do be careful not to be a creeper, though; knowing the things a person likes shouldn’t translate to buying him a DVD of every single movie he’s listed as a favorite.

More Expensive is Not Always Better

picture from here

Here’s the best thing about being good at picking out presents: you don’t have to have a lot of money. I’ve gotten some big presents over the years, from a Wacom tablet to bedroom furniture, but when I think back over the things I’ve loved most, two that come to mind are a homemade journal and a painted jar. The journal contained a quote from a poet my friend remembered me liking. The jar was adorable and made to look like my favorite animal, a penguin.

So before you buy that super-expensive CD collection of a band your friend only vaguely knows about, think about making a homemade present instead, or giving them a coupon book of favors, or even just taking them out for a night. Personally, I’d prefer a picnic lunch over an $80 perfume any day.

That said, do pay attention to the person for whom you’re buying. While I know one of my friends loves homemade soap and would be happy to get a wrapped package of it, I also know my mother would much prefer jewelry, even if it’s not expensive.

The final thing to remember is that, corny though it may sound, it really is the thought that counts. Putting time and effort into your gifts will make them great, and even if they are recieved with a less enthusiastic response than you’d hoped, rest assured that for every gift that flops, you’ll give five that make someone’s special day ten times brighter.

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How to Make Good New Year’s Resolutions

It’s almost the end of 2009. Whether you’re devastated or delirious to see it go, make your amends now, ’cause it’s time to wave goodbye. Not to worry, though; when one door closes, another door opens, and 2010 is waltzing in and setting itself up to be the best year of your life–that is, if you want it to be.

Though every person has different traditions, from counting money to kissing to getting falling-down drunk as the ball drops, there is at least one thing we seem to have in common: the idea of New Year’s resolutions. Often, these resolutions aren’t made with a lot of intent…or at least, the intent dies quickly. But if you stop making New Year’s resolutions because you have to come up with an answer for a Facebook survey and start truly resolving to change your life for the better, they can be jumping off points for a wonderful year.

Today, I’m going to talk about how to make resolutions you can stick to and really use, not just forget two weeks into January. At the very least, I hope it’ll get you to put a little thought into your to-do list before you start your newest celery-and-water diet.

Put the Past Year to Rest

Whether it’s an opportunity you missed, not getting into your dream school, having fights with your parents, some cute girl or boy you couldn’t quite catch, or having an altogether sucktastic year, you need to let bygones be bygones. If there’s someone you really need to talk to, try to get it done before the year is out, or at least early on in January. If you made a mistake, take this chance to forgive yourself. If the life plan you had laid out isn’t going to work, prepare to find a new one. No matter how awful or great this year was, you have a chance to make the next one a thousand times better, so don’t hurt yourself by hanging too tightly to the past. Tack the moments you want to keep to the wall of your brain, then write a list of all the bad things and burn it. Dance around the ashes. Dance into the New Year.

Make Resolutions You Care About

Maybe you feel like knowing French is a requirement for being truly cultured but have never met a French person in your life and have no desire to see Montmartre. Maybe your metabolism works at lightening speed and you really, really want that slice of cheesecake but skip dessert because all your friends are trying to lose weight this year. Maybe you feel obligated to do something because it’s what a parent, friend, or lover would want. Regardless of the situation, you resolve to do this thing…and sure enough, two months later, you’re either chowing down on an extra large slice of cheesecake or have progressed to using your knowledge of French to say words that would make your grandmère blush.

If you’re making resolutions you don’t really care about, it’s going to be difficult and miserable to follow through with them. The point of New Year’s resolutions is to set a tone for the upcoming year that will leave you feeling delighted and powerful, or at least accomplished. If your long term goal is becoming a writer, make resolutions that will work throughout the year to help you get closer to that goal. Note that resolutions aren’t always fun, but they should always be something you really want. There’s no point in giving yourself unnecessary rules to follow when they won’t make your life into what you want it to be.

Don’t Give Yourself Too Many (Or Too Few) Resolutions

“This year, I want to lose weight, make more money, buy a new computer, get a dog, train the dog, enter the dog in talent shows, buy a new car, clean my house from top to bottom at least once every two months, buy a new house, meet the members of Green Day and kiss them all, travel to Greece, Spain, and Africa, fall in love, get married, have five kids, get an awesome job, discover a new planet, save the world…”

Sometimes, it’s easy to get carried away with resolutions. We can get really, really excited about things, so much so that we end up trying to lose one hundred and fifty pounds in a month’s time or set a crazy ultimatum for accomplishing a goal that we don’t have full control over (getting a record label or becoming co-owner of a huge, well-established company, for example). However fabulous and gifted we may be, we’re still human, and there’s only so much we can get done in a year. It’s better to have fewer resolutions than you’d like than to end up feeling like you haven’t accomplished anything because you set way too many.

On the flip side, be careful of setting too few resolutions. Being realistic doesn’t mean not believing in yourself, and once you accomplish that New Year’s goal of getting a hair cut, you’ll have 364 more days ’till next year and nothing left to do!

Remind Yourself of What You’re Trying to Do

I’ll be honest here. I’m not an organized person (which is one of the things I want to work on this year). I envy people who carry dayplanners and have neon post-it notes along their wall, but I’ve never been able to keep up with something like that. However, I have found that keeping a tangible reminder of your goals makes it harder to forget/ignore them. So put a list on your fridge, make a giant poster and tape it over your desk…heck, put it as your cellphone background if you have to. Just have a reminder of the things you want to accomplish where you can see it as much as possible.

Another great thing about having a tangible list of resolutions is the ability to check them off as you complete them. Finally mastered your grandpa’s famous garlic frog legs? Check! An even better, more thorough idea might be to keep a journal of your progress. That way, if your goal will take most of the year or if you can’t quite complete it in your timespan, you can at least put down what you’re doing to get it accomplished. That way, at the end of the year, you can see how far you’ve come and how much work you’ve put in.

Failing is Not the End of the World

Say we get to late December of next year and you haven’t taken that trip to Australia yet. It’s okay. Cry, stomp, scream, beat up a throw pillow, post an epic rant on your blog, tug your hair out…and then get over it. Have some wine (or sparkling cider, depending on your age and taste), toast yourself on a good effort, and start making resolutions for next year. The point is that you tried, and you can try again. Even putting that goal in mind is a step forward.

“It’s the journey, not the destination.”

Now the only thing left to do is go out there and start your resolutions! Try not to procrastinate on this one; the faster you begin, the faster you’ll get to see that beautiful finish line. I have to start writing my resolutions, too, so it’s time I wrapped up. (: Good luck!

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we’re taking no part in your cracked antique life

Hi there! I’m Tamara and this is Breadcrumbs, my blog about…well, at this point, anything. People say that in order to have a popular blog, you have to stick to one particular subject, something you’re passionate about. I don’t know about you, but I’m passionate about a lot of things, and I don’t really care about being popular.

Here, you’ll find musings on religion&people&literature&theworld, possibly some creative writing, advice, TiLT entries, little splashes of my life, quotes, and whatever else I feel like posting. I hope you’ll find something you like, but even more than that, I hope you’ll find something to make you think.

Check the tags on the right if you’re looking for anything in particular. (: Happy reading!

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