The holidays are the perfect time to say thank you to the hairdressers, bus drivers, babysitters, baristas and many others who regularly serve you. If you’re wondering what to get them, here are some ideas.
• Pretty hand soaps
• Holiday dish cloths
• Scented candles
• A scarf or shawl
• A soft blanket
• A tote bag
• Premium coffee or tea
• A to-go mug
• A bottle of wine
• A box of chocolates
If you know a little about their tastes, you can also consider something more personal like a book you think they might enjoy, a sweater or a decorative item for their home or workspace.
The point of buying gifts for the people who serve you is to thank them for the positive difference the make in your life all year long. Don’t forget to include a nice card with a handwritten mes¬sage expressing your appreciation.
Five tips to ensure your reno will last
Do you plan to renovate your home? If so, here are a few tips to ensure your project stands the test of time.
1. Project yourself into the future
Don’t base your renovation decisions solely on your current wants and needs. If you anticipate expanding your family over the next few years, or if your children are getting ready to leave the nest, consider these eventualities.
2. Invest in quality products
When purchasing or replacing pricier items like your bathtub, stove, or sofa, it’s best to seek out brands with a reputation for reliability. Though they may cost more initially, you won’t have to replace them as quickly, and their longer lifespan will put money in your pocket.
3. Integrate trends economically
If you like to keep up with trends, do it with accessories like curtains, mirrors, and cushions. These items are easy to replace without breaking the bank when they wear out or look dated. You might also want to experiment with paint, which is a relatively affordable way to update a space.
4. Opt for neutral colors
Choose neutral colors for anything you intend to be permanent and for items that are more expensive or difficult to replace, such as a shower stall or ceramic floor. Consider white, beige, or gray, and opt for a design that’ll age well.
5. Consider functionality
Take some time to reflect on your options to ensure your choices are as practical as they are fashionable. Don’t leave things like lighting, storage, and clearance space to chance. These details can make the difference between a successful renovation and one you regret.
To ensure your renovations live up to your expectations, be sure to rely on the expertise of your local contractors, architects, and interior decorators.
Real vs. fake Christmas trees
Are you looking forward to putting up your Christmas tree and decorating your home for the holidays? If so, you may be wondering whether a real or artificial tree is best. Here’s a short guide to help you make the right choice.
A real tree is an eco-friendly option, especially if it’s grown locally. When properly disposed of at the end of the holiday season, it can be used to make compost and mulch or feed farm animals.
Keep in mind you must regularly water a real tree and vacuum any fallen needles. While pine trees smell great, they have a limited lifespan and aren’t ideal if you enjoy decorating early for Christmas.
Though artificial trees are manufactured in large facilities that produce pollution, they can last several years. If you reuse your tree for at least 15 years, it may be the more ecological choice.
However, you must carefully store your fake tree to keep it in good condition. This means you must set aside space for it in your home. Make sure to purchase a high-quality tree to ensure the branches and needles don’t fall out prematurely.
To find a Christmas tree for your home, visit Royal Plaza in Front Royal. The Boys Scout Troop 52 will be selling real trees until they sell out.
Monday – Friday 4 pm – 8 pm
Saturday – 8 am – 8 pm
Sunday – 12 – 8 pm
Gifts to entertain them
Do you want to give your loved ones gifts that help them forget their worries? If so, here are some presents to include under your tree.
• Tickets to a performance. Offer a friend or family member a night out on the town with tickets to a concert, comedy act, dance recital, circus, or play.
• Board games. Playing board games is a great way to spend quality time with the people you love. Pick out one that matches your loved one’s age, abilities, and interests.
• TV shows or movies. If you want to give a gift that combines entertainment and relaxation, purchase your friend or family member a film or TV series you think they’ll enjoy. A gift card to your local movie theater is also a great option.
• Books. Let your loved one immerse themself in an exciting thriller, funny comic, or inspiring biography. No matter what they’re passionate about, you’re sure to find a book that interests them.
There are many more entertaining gift options, including puzzles, craft kits, video games, CDs, and passes to festivals and tourist attractions.
De-Grinching Christmas by fighting inflation
Maybe the Grinch isn’t real, but as inflation continues unabated, it could feel like your Christmas has been stolen.
Happily, there are still ways to save some money.
First, it’s smart to put your holiday gift list together earlier rather than later. This way, you’ll have more time to watch for great deals and won’t make last-minute purchases in a panic. You can also use tools like CamelCamelCamel.com that will track price drops and alert you if items on your list go on sale. You can also use services like Rakuten that provide rewards and cash back when you make purchases.
And who to buy gifts for? With inflation at historic levels, you can’t really blame folks for buying gifts only for immediate family members. The fact is, pretty much everyone is being forced to tighten their belts right now. Inevitably, there are people you feel obligated to purchase for. Try buying small boxes of candy. Or bake holiday cookies or cakes to give away. A half-dozen cookies in a bright wrapper can be very welcome and festive.
Rather than super-sizing your Christmas meal this year, make only what you can eat at one meal (and maybe enough for sandwiches the next day). It’s estimated that roughly 40 percent of food ends up in the trash — and that’s like burning cash. Rather than picking up a 20-pound turkey for a six-person Christmas party, downsize to 13 pounds. Instead of pouring eggnog into a punch bowl, make a small pitcher for the fridge. There will be less waste.
Also, folks typically want brand-new products, but you can often save a ton of cash buying refurbished goods. It’s not uncommon to find refurbished gadgets on eBay and elsewhere that are selling at a steep discount and come with a warranty. And if you’re buying any gifts for yourself, consider waiting until the New Year, as many retailers will hold generous after-holiday sales to clear out stock and holiday returns.
Gardeners can help pollinators in winter
Keeping the hive running is a year-round business for bees — even during the winter when no nectar-producing flowers are in bloom.
For the most part, bees won’t leave the nest when the temperature plunges and rely on their stockpiles to stay alive, but you may see a few flying around on warmer winter days. As autumn wanes into winter, you can turn your yard into a protective haven for bees, butterflies, and other important pollinators to help them see another spring.
The University of New Hampshire Agriculture Extension advises conscientious gardeners not to discard or compost piles of raked leaves and instead use them as mulch or just leave them in a pile.
The leaves provide excellent cover for insects, including moth and butterfly cocoons, over the winter. Spread the leaves about two inches high on all your garden beds and overlay them with branches to keep the leaves in place.
Gardeners can also leave dead annuals and perennials in place instead of pulling them. The dead stalks trap additional leaves, which enhances the mulch.
If you see areas of bare soil, leave them alone — the soil may be shielding underground bumblebee nests. Dead logs are also commonly used as winter shelters for some bee species.
Five self-care tips for busy caregivers
Many people who look after a sick or disabled family member neglect to take care of themselves. Here are a few things you can do to relieve stress while caring for a loved one.
1. Take short breaks
Take frequent breaks, even if it involves just having a cup of coffee. Doing so can help you regain your motivation and ability to concentrate.
2. Make time for naps
You don’t necessarily have to fall asleep. Simply lying down and closing your eyes for a few minutes can help you think more clearly and recharge your batteries.
3. Stretch your limbs
To help combat fatigue and release tightness in your muscles, gently stretch your arms and legs. You can do this while standing, sitting, or lying down.
4. Get a massage
The benefits of massage therapy are well documented. A 30-minute Swedish massage, for example, can help you relax while reducing the effect of stress on your body. Keep in mind that some massage therapists offer in-home services.
5. Listen to music
If you and the person you take care of both like music, make time to enjoy it together. Studies show that listening to music can limit anxiety, enhance sleep quality, and reduce chronic pain.
To improve your mental and physical health, be sure to make time for self-care. This way, you can continue to be an effective caregiver for your loved one.