Day: November 29, 2015

THE ART OF GIFT GIVING

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THE ART OF GIFT GIVING

Give others all that is alive in us—our interest, understanding, our knowledge, our humor, everything in us that’s good. In doing so, we enhance the sense of aliveness in others while enhancing our own. When we give, we get a “heightened vitality” of what it means to be human.”

With our changing economic times, everyone is asking for help in some form. There are as many reasons to give as there are ways to give.

Some people give for recognition. They want their names in programs, on park benches and in hospital lobbies. Others give expecting to be paid back or thanked, they give to get. Some people want a hands-on-experience and are generous with their time. Some like to give anonymously and don’t want any recognition at all.

People who truly master the art of giving give out of the goodness of their hearts with no self-serving motives. Giving becomes a blessing for the giver and receiver. Generosity is a choice that feels right and joyful. Generosity comes from believing you have enough to share.

The purpose of gift-giving, whether by an individual or a corporation, is to please the recipient. Your reasons for doing so may vary but, whatever the reason; the focus must remain on the recipient if you want to elevate your gift-giving to an art.

Routine, careless or improper gift-giving can do your cause or relationship more harm than good. Gifts are never a substitute for a caring attitude, good business practices, goodwill or company manners. Nor should a gift ever be given as a bribe or when it could be misconstrued as one.

The following are gifts we all have, even if you are not aware of it, that can benefit others. (1) Give of Your Talents – Give someone an hour of coaching, a signed copy of your book or a golf lesson. Can you offer child care? Or do you have plumbing, painting, or landscaping skills?; (2) Give things – Clean your home and clear out your closet of unwanted things. Give what you don’t use or need to charity. Your junk is someone else’s treasure; (3) Give blood/Be an Organ Donor – Save a life. I’ve done this on several occasions; it’s a great feeling to know you are helping to save someone’s life. It is also heartwarming to become an organ donor, and it’s another way to help save a life(s). And to know that a part of you will live on; (4) Give of yourself – Make someone feel loved, special and appreciated with a visit, phone call, email, text or card. Give a handmade gift. Give praise, gratitude and appreciation. This creates heart-to-heart connections; (5) Give someone a lift – When you encounter a quotation or a good news story, pass it on with a personal “thinking of you” note. This is spirit-lifting. It can make someone’s day. Today hand written notes and cards are rare gifts; (6) Give a recommendation – Enrich someone’s life by sharing the discovery of a great blog, book, restaurant, product or service. The message you give is “This was a great find for me and I want to share it with you.”; (7) Give the gift of laughter – Laughter brings health and happiness to others. It offers physiological, psychological and spiritual benefits. Laugh loud and laugh often with everyone; (8) Give an invitation – Being invited to any kind of event means people want to be with you. When you invite someone into your life you are saying, “I want to spend time with you, you are important to me; (9) Give affection – Appropriately offer a hug, a kiss on the cheek, a pat on the back, a touch on an arm or a tender look. We never lose the need for affection and acceptance. Touching heals emotional wounds; (10) Give good advice – Ask the question, “Do you want advice or to you want me to listen.” If needed and wanted advice can be life-saving. Shared insights and wisdom is a precious gift; (11) Give encouragement – When people are filled with doubt and fear they lack courage. When you inspire and motivate someone to act on their dreams, it can be life changing. You are making the world a better place; (12) Give An Act Of Kindness – Kindness is the easiest and most abundant gift we have to give away. Buy Girl Scout cookies, always open the door for the person behind you, return your grocery cart, make cookies for your neighbor. The list is endless. Kindness brings joy to the giver, receiver and anyone witnessing the act!; and (14) Give love – It’s easy to love those who love us back. Challenge yourself to give love to those who deserve it the least. Make your love unconditional. Make the world a more loving place. Everyone will reap the benefits!

Keep a file on anyone who might be on your gift list. Note any interests, hobbies and other personal information that arise in conversation throughout the year, like the person’s alma mater or the purchase of a new home, that may be a source of inspiration. The file does double duty because it can also be a source for casual conversation or a reason to stay in touch throughout the year. I make notes of friends and family members interests to make it easier for finding just the right gift.

Should you not be able to come up with any information about hobbies or interests, then consider a gift for the office like a leather business card case, good desk accessories, a crystal paperweight or a crystal and sterling inkwell for someone who uses a fountain pen. Gifts for the home are another option, provided they are not too personal or stylized. A good crystal vase filled with seasonal flowers like Amaryllis is appropriate for men and women. Food always makes an excellent gift, whether it is a case of Florida citrus fruit, a wheel of Vermont cheese or a crystal jar filled with candy.

In your research, don’t forget to note any dislikes. Nor should a gift reflect a person’s shortcomings. Someone with a skin problem may misinterpret a gift certificate for a facial. And, while a sense of humor is wonderful, a gift should not be used to play a joke on someone. Avoid liquor and wine unless you know the person well because they or their company might look upon alcohol negatively. Smoking accoutrements and chocolates can also be taboo gifts.

Specialty stores that cater to the person’s interests are probably the best source of ideas within your budget. Don’t be afraid to consult the sales staff, especially if you know nothing about the hobby. Don’t forget catalogues from major department and specialty stores throughout the country; a quick phone call will usually get one in the mail to you. Most large stores have an in-store shopping service that will make selections at little or no extra charge. Specialized gift services and personal shoppers can also be found in your local Yellow Pages.

Always wrap a gift before giving it. Not wrapping a present implies carelessness and an uncaring attitude. It undermines the impact of your gift. If you are all thumbs trying to tie a bow, have the store where you purchased the gift wrap it for you. Or, have a wrapping service or a friend do it for you. In selecting the wrapping, consider the recipient just as you did in buying the gift. A pink and blue bow on flowery paper will probably cause the a male executive to raise an eyebrow while a young female administrative assistant might wonder if the gift wrapped in navy, burgundy and Hunter green stripes were actually intended for her boss.

Remember to enclose a gift card with a personal comment and your signature. A correspondence card is an ideal enclosure card. If possible, give the gift in person. That you took the time to share the moment adds immensely to the occasion. More important, make sure the gift is timely. The impact of the gift diminishes with every passing day. Just think how thrilled you would be to receive your birthday presents three or four months after the day has passed.

Unless you are attending a celebration at which everyone else is giving gifts too, give your gift in private. Singling the person out with a gift in front of others can be embarrassing to the recipient and to the people who neglected to give a gift. When giving a gift, don’t insist the person open it immediately; the person might prefer to open it in private when they don’t have to worry about making the appropriate responses. Don’t disparage the gift with remarks like “Oh, it’s nothing!” because the recipient might believe you.

Always accept a gift gracefully, regardless of how you feel about the gift or the giver. Even if a gift appears to be a hostile act, like a health club membership for someone who is overweight, it may have been well intentioned, albeit misguidedly. A simple ‘thank you’ is always an appropriate expression of appreciation. Never diminish the giver’s generosity with a statement like ‘you shouldn’t have’ even if you wish they hadn’t. How would you feel if someone did that to you after you had invested your time, effort and money?

Although a telephone call may be easier and more convenient, a ‘thank you’ note is compulsory. And, the note should be written immediately. Putting it off makes it an increasingly onerous task and diminishes the impact of your gratitude.

It is perfectly acceptable to refuse a gift and, under certain circumstances, it becomes obligatory. Always return a gift that is extravagant, too personal, has sexual implications or can be misconstrued as bribery. Although you may be furious about the gift, venting your anger can put you at a disadvantage. Enclosing a note that, because of the nature of the gift you are unable to accept it is more than sufficient. Be sure to keep a copy of the note and return it in a way that ensures you have receipt of the return.

When you’ve taken the time to find out what is acceptable and what the person may like and you allow yourself enough time, you relieve yourself of much of the stress associated with giving. Finding the perfect present can become a fun-filled adventure. A gift given with joy is the most wonderful gift to receive, and taking pleasure in gift giving elevates the act to an art.

Kathy Kiefer

 

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ACCESORIZING FOR THE HOLIDAYS

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919489_10151732965286363_1548741135_o ACCESORIZING FOR THE HOLIDAYS

Use accessories with sparkle or shine to make outfits more festive. Choose one or two bold items to elevate your look. And have fun accessorizing! The holiday season is a wonderful time to dress up and highlight accessories you may not wear on a daily basis.

If you were invited to a holiday party this season and don’t have time or the money to go out and purchase a new dress, look to accessories to add some holiday spirit to what you already own.  Not only are accessories cheaper than buying a whole new outfit, but you don’t have to worry about dressing room meltdowns; jewelry usually fits.   You can even use many of my tips to take daytime dresses into proper evening wear.

Investing in a collection of accessories makes sense for both fashion-conscious shoppers and those with limited budgets.   Accessories let individuals create several different outfits simply by adding carefully selected jewelry, shoes, purses or accent pieces. This is useful during the holiday season when people need an easy way to transition from day to night wear, or want to update an existing look without having to purchase new clothes. These traditional ways to accessorize outfits transform and expand basic wardrobes for the holiday season.

Choose focal pieces, instead of over-accessorizing. Think bold instead of quantity. Try chandelier earrings, bold cuffs, multi-layer necklaces and cocktail ring, but not all at the same time. A good rule of thumb is not to put items too close together on the body. Instead of big earrings AND a big necklace, try big earrings and a cocktail ring.

Scarves are versatile and functional accessories that add a touch of color and warmth to a holiday outfit. These simple pieces of
fabric eliminate the need to search for coordinating jewelry and fit any body type. A printed scarf draped over the neckline dresses up a casual T-shirt, while a long, skinny silk scarf adds texture and panache to a dress. Scarves made from wool and silk blends work well in colder weather because they keep the body warm without adding excessive layers of clothing.

If you are larger in stature go for bigger pieces. Don’t wear anything so small that it simply gets lost on you. Conversely, if you are smaller, don’t wear pieces that are so big, it looks like you are drowning in decoration. Save that for the tree.

Just like red and green are colors to avoid at Christmas, resist “seasonal accessories” which include but are not limited to, ceramic reindeer or turkey pins, Christmas tree and candy cane earrings, mistletoe brooches and pilgrim hats (unless you are in a school play). Buy timeless, beautiful, interesting jewelry that will last you throughout the year with oodles of outfits, not just for November and December.

A faux fur vest is a fall wardrobe staple that works with a variety of looks. Unlike a coat that completely covers up an outfit, a vest adds a touch of warmth while letting the beauty of the ensemble shine through. Those who want a sophisticated look wear a faux fur vest over a slim turtleneck or fitted dress, while people who prefer a bohemian appearance pair the vest with a flowing skirt and boots.

One of the challenges of dressing for the holidays is finding accessories that stand out among layers of dark, bulky clothing. Chunky necklaces do just that by adding a pop of color to traditional holiday shades of black and gray. The secret to wearing statement pieces like cluster or collar necklaces is sticking with a single piece of jewelry that coordinates with the outfit. A cluster of silver beads around the neck, or a cascade of rhinestones draped over a collar, instantly perks up holiday flare.   Choose focal pieces, instead of over-accessorizing. Think bold instead of quantity. Try chandelier earrings, bold cuffs, multi-layer necklaces and cocktail rings — but not all at the same time. A good rule of thumb is not to put items too close together on the body. Instead of big earrings AND a big necklace, try big earrings and a cocktail ring.

Look to statement necklaces to add some glamour to any dress you’re thinking of wearing.  Right now these types of bold, chunky necklaces are really popular and perfect for evening.  Imagine how ready for a holiday party your little black dress will look with some bling around your neck.  Right now layering necklaces is one of the hottest trends.   If you’re bored with a string of pearls, try adding a second blingier necklace into the mix.  Additionally, it’s all about the bib necklace and there are tons of sparkly bib necklaces out there that look like they cost a fortune, but don’t.

Shine (metallic, patent, embellishment) is always good for dressing up an outfit and going from day to evening. Leave the beat-up leather boots or shoulder bag you wear every day to the office at home.

When in doubt about how to accessorize a dress for evening, go for metallic, silver or gold, your choice.  Not only does a pair of sparkly shoes and handbag make a dress look after-five appropriate but metallic will match whatever color your dress is.  You can go all metallic with a bag and shoes or just choose metallic in one or the other.  After the party, use these metallic accessories to liven up jeans or take a suit from desk to dinner.

Knee-high and ankle boots are holiday wardrobe staples that accent both dress and casual outfits. They add a touch of sophistication to a casual outfit and keep feet warm while consumers complete their holiday shopping. Ankle boots with embellishments like rhinestone studs or fur cuffs bring interesting detail to holiday dresses. When wearing boots, consumers need to aim for a balanced look between the boots and the clothing. They create a monochromatic look that slims the figure by pairing leggings, skinny jeans, or opaque tights with boots in the same color, or break up the pieces by opting for contrasting colors or neutral shades.

Another way to add some excitement to a holiday dress is through brightly colored shoes.  This strategy works well if your dress is in a neutral shade, like black, navy, brown or grey.  However, you can also add shoes in a bright color with a colorful dress if you want to color block your outfit.  If you really want to be festive, try wearing a pair of red shoes to your little black dress.  A great way to say holiday without going overboard.

Tights are a terrific accessory because they are inexpensive and available in a plethora of colors and patterns to complement any look. They keep legs warm in cooler weather and pull together the pieces of a holiday outfit. Opaque tights provide coverage that lets people wear skirts and dresses during the holiday season, while sheer tights let bare skin show through for a dressier look. In addition to the type of coverage, holiday dresses must consider how the tights’ colors and patterns look with the outfit. Tights with patterns as well as complementary colors break up monochromatic color schemes.

Sometimes, all it takes is a bag change to get a dress ready for a holiday party.  Grab a fun clutch with some sparkle or that is in an evening fabric, like satin, to elevate your dress for evening.  Like statement shoes in a bright color, a bright colored clutch is another way to add some festive feelings to your outfit in small doses.

When it comes to accessorizing for the holidays, a little goes a long way. You don’t have to go crazy with too many dressy details. Even if you choose one place to add a little shine, you will be well on your way to looking festive at your upcoming event. Try at least one of these accessorizing tips and you’ll be sure to shine.

My mother has been a source of style inspiration my entire life and helped to spark my love of vintage and stylish clothing. The best advice she gave me is that elegance is timeless and to wear what I love. If you love what you are wearing, it shows – elegance suits everyone!  I find it useful when I go out, I am always properly coordinated, with whatever I wear.

Kathy Kiefer