Too-Simple Ways to De-Stress Holiday Gift Shopping

Many of us are painfully familiar with the anxiety and stress that the ‘happy’ holidays can create. That feeling of drowning in indecision – that sensation of falling behind – that inability to enjoy events because we might not get everything done if we relax for even the briefest moment. Familiar frantic frazzly tingles starting at the back of your neck when you think about what to get for Aunt Julie this year? Do you swallow the dread in your throat and settle for yet another ceramic deer statue for Cousin Ellen, just because you saw one on her mantle ten years ago?

Do the gifts you receive reflect the panic and anxiety building up in someone else? Is this the third year in a row you’ve gotten a size three pink sweater from your dearly beloved, even though he should know by now you’re not a size three, hate pink and never wear sweaters?

It’s not uncommon for gift-giving to cause stress and panic, even when your gifting target is someone you’ve known all your life. We try to select the ‘perfect gift no matter what’ even as the other person is trying to do exactly the same thing FOR US.

If the thought of digging into holiday shopping is leaving you short of breath and teetering on the edge of panic, take a deep breath and try a few of these simple ideas.

  • Make a list – but not of gifts…

    Remember the 3-by-5 card approach in debate class? Each topic got a card, and that card contained hints, not the entire text of the debate point. Grab this idea and use it for your gifting guidance. Start this as early in the year as you think about it (like NOW!) and you’ll have a priceless shopping resource for the holiday season. At the top of a card, print the person’s name. Below that, put the gift that you gave last year (no sense risking duplicate). Then right below that, add in pearls of wisdom… does she play tennis? Does he fly-fish? Jet ski enthusiast? Bookworm? Techie? Keep that list of hobbies as current as you possibly can and, if in doubt, ask Jerry if he’s still taking that sailboat out every weekend. If the sailboat sunk last year, a brand new set of flotation cushions may not be well-received.

  • Use Gift Registry services – and don’t forget yourself

    Gift registry services are not just for brides… encourage those you’ll be shopping for to sign up at registry services online and leave hints, clues, even specifics. I prefer the one at – give it a try. Whatever you decide to use, get your gift-target friends involved early so that they’ve had time to post their preferences long before the shopping crunch begins to hit.

  • Pick a done-shopping-date – and keep it.

    For instance, pick two Mondays after Thanksgiving weekend (for 2006, that will be December 4th.) This gives you two weekends after that US holiday to get to the stores, battle the crowds (way too many folks try to cram their holiday shopping into the Friday after Thanksgiving!), get clear of the crammed parking lots, and get things wrapped and shipped in plenty of time.

  • Make a budget – and stick to it.

    If you have $235 to spend on gifts, and you’re shopping on the ground (not the Internet), go to the bank or ATM, and get that $235 out, and spend ONLY what you have with you. Stow the credit cards at home. Stick an extra $20 in the back of your wallet for gas money and wrapping paper, but spend only what you plan to spend on the gifts themselves. If you’re wary about hauling cash around (and there are places on this planet where wariness of that sort is wise!), arrange for a debit card or use checks.

  • Shop early in the day – and deal with smaller, calmer crowds.

    Know your crowd-control limits. If you find it annoying to stand in line at check-out counters for ten minutes, do your shopping as early in the day as possible. Don’t put yourself into situations that you know will add to your stress level.

  • Shop the Internet – and let someone else handle the shipping.

    Use SAFE sites which prominently display TrustE, Hacker Safe, Better Business Bureau stamps and the like. Look for secure shopping carts – look for the HTTPS:// in the cart address as you head for the checkout page. Many browsers will alert you if the security certificate associated with the site is out of date or inaccurate.

  • Can’t find the perfect gift? Consider Time

    If you can’t find the right gift, find the right gift certificate, or make your own little booklet of certificates for services like a personal shopper day, a month of lawn-mowing, a three-week laundry reprieve, ten errand runs. Sometimes the most meaningful gift is the gift of your own time and attention.

  • Above all, Don’t Panic

    Take a deep breath, light a scented candle, relax and smile. T’is not the season to get mired in panic, anxiety, guilt and hassle. T’is the season to express our fondness and caring for our family and friends.

Source by Casey Van Bronkhorst

Wondering about a second Date? Do These Things and You Will not – How to Get a Second Date!

For most daters, one of the main reasons of the first date is to get to the second, third, and fourth date, etc etc. I'm sure you know how the script ends. Sometimes it's harder to think about all the things you want to say or do on your first date, however, if you want to ensure that you never have a second date, do these things.

Show up late for your first date … and do not call to inform your date
It's inevitable that at one time or another you're going to be running late for a date. This is more appropriate if you live in a larger metropolitan city like New York or LA where traffic is notoriously bad. Running late for a date is a possibility that most people understand. However, you'll find very few people understanding of your being late to a date and not calling to inform them that you're going to be late. Usually nothing starts a date off worse, or ends a date quicker than arriving late without calling. 10-15 minute is the acceptable 'fashionably late' time period. Anything over that warrants a call.

Arriving with no plans for the evening
"I thought we would be spontaneous tonight." Let's not and say we did! That's what your date will be thinking the whole time while they're steaming about how ill prepared you are for the evening. It's not unreasonable for your date to have the expectation that you planned the evening. After all you're the one who asked them out on a date. It's usually a good idea to make sure you have a properly planned evening for the date and not leave things to chance at the last minute. At the last minute you'll often find that restaurant had no available reservations, the movie times did not match, and the ticket to the event has already been sold out.

Trying to advance to 'coupledom' to quickly
It's just a first date, not a binding agreement to a lifelong of activities and matching clothes. There's no sense in talking about all the things you can do together as a couple because you've yet to spend enough time together to decide if you want another date, let alone if coupledom is right for you. Just like you have to learn to crawl before you walk, and walk before you run, you have to learn to go on a successful amount of dates before you can begin to talk about being a couple … or sharing food. It's still me and you … not we and us.

Talking or comparing your date to your ex's
Nothing will get the ire of your date more than if you compare them to your previous relationships. Behind that polite laugh and fake smile is a cold veneer just hiring you'll compare them to your ex again so they have permission to rip out your tongue with your fork. Angerside, lamenting about your ex is in poor taste and poor judgment. There is a reason why you call them your ex and in its best to keep that part of your life in the past and enjoy the person in front of you. Even if they do not laugh at your jokes like your ex did!

Making your date the butt of every joke

Everyone likes a good laugh, but not necessarily at their own expense … all the time. If you're the type of person that enjoys telling a joke or two, remember the object of a joke is to have your date laughing with you and not about you. So it's always good to make fun of yourself first, before you attempt to make fun of your date.

Forgetting your date's name

There's certainly nothing wrong with informing your date that you had an enjoyable evening with them … and there's nothing wrong with thank Sue and Steve for a great date; as long as, Sue and Steve are your dates names. In your busy dating schedule it's possible to confuse the Wednesday date with the Friday one or vice versa. Certainly if you've had too much to drink, alcohol could have played a part. For whatever the reason, forgetting your dates name is a great way to leave an impression. A 'definitely not ever again' impression. Word association has been known to help the name remembering impaired.

No call no-show

Of all the dating faux pas you can do, this one is the grand daddy of them all. The ultimate classless thing that you can do to ensure that you will not get a second date is to pull a no call no-show before the date. Everyone should operate under a certain level of dating courtesy (or decency some would say) to inform your date if you're unable to make it for whatever reason. The only thing that should precede you from calling your date to inform them is that you will not be there an emergency, accident or death of you or a loved one. Nemo the goldfish which floating on the fish tank does not count. In the instance your death, your date will certainly have to forgive you for that.

Source by Obi Williams

Can You Really Travel for FREE?

There are very important reasons why the Travel Industry is looking for reliable Travel Coordinators. One of the major reasons is ‘International Travel Safety’ has become a major concern.

The Travel Industry has long since provided a way to help Americans Travel more safely. Again, this is an ancient old method of travel. Even the wagon trains traveling west were not exempt from this method.

Group Travel

Agencies are looking for Travel Addicts; I mean Coordinators all the time. I guess you are wondering why a Travel Agency would be looking for Travel Coordinators? Most people would say that would be the job of a Travel Agent. Wrong! Most Travel Agents do not travel that often. They are busy booking travel for their clients. They loose money every time they leave their office or computer. Its the Travel Coordinators that travel often.

Travel addicts are the people who arrange their life to accommodate last minute travel. Travel addicts usually will pay the rent or mortgage, however the 401K or any savings or investment of any kind is subject to finance travel at any given time.

A Group Travel Coordinator would have the following attributes: commitment, loves travel, likes people, have confidence in marketing themselves and their travel destination, can give attention to detail, love to coordinate, and can use common sense, then you qualify to Travel FREE.

This opportunity works out best when you start out as a hobby and turn it into a part-time job then a full-time business. It is not necessary to re-invent the wheel – do what others have done before you. I know one retired man who started out selling an exotic travel party in the Caribbean each year. Word of mouth took over, because people really enjoyed themselves, and now he does not have to work a 9 to 5 job. The commission from booking 300 to 500 people a year into a 5 star resort on the islands each year, pays off BIG.

I suppose you are wondering how a Travel Coordinator just starting out travels FREE? Easy, when you book 6 people or 15 people or what ever number the Travel whole seller sets; one person goes FREE.

Example: Say you have 9 people that want to go to China. You have a mark-up of 15% on the wholesale price, plus you get one free hotel and air if 6 people sign-up. Your mother and father, sister and cousin, your girlfriend and her husband want to go and the lady at the church wants to go. And when another lady at the church found out from the Pastor that Mrs. J was going, so she decided to go. (Your husband said if he wants to see China he will go to Chinatown!) So you now have 8 people, 9 counting yourself. You get one free travel pass and you can decided to lower your package price at the last minute because you did not need the extra 15% mark-up, or you can keep it for any emergency during the trip or you can use it to market your next trip. It’s up to you!

Travel Coordinator Trivia. If you can see a problem already with the above travel group, then you truly understand Group Travel. Think about how you would handle the above situation BEFORE a problem occurs.

Source by Cassandra A. Ingraham

Last Minute Holidays Are Always Fun

Last minute holidays are always the most successful and energizing ones. We live in a world where planning is critical due to our hectic schedules and lives, but once or twice a year we get to go on direct holidays where relaxation, fun, recharging our batteries is what we do all the time.
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Whenever we plan our holidays, usually something will come up, like a last minute project, or a last minute business trip, or some kind of a family event, problems with the kids or the wife, stuff like that can totally ruin the will to go on vacation.

As last minute holidays are always unplanned we do not have time to worry about details, details can be really bugging and can take up a lot of our time, so we will feel the need to allocate time to plan details as well. Some people over do it. So it is not advisable to pay attention to details. Just let loose for once. After all, that is all what last minute holidays are all about.

That is all, vacations in general, are all about. No worries, no cell phones, no responsibilities, no one to bother us, just relaxing in the hot summer sun, or the fresh mountain air, climbing hills, discovering territories, visiting history sites, visiting other countries, capitals, remote places or villages , experiencing other cultures.

These are the stuff we do on last minute holidays which will recharge out batteries for sure, and we will be able to continue our hectic daily lives back at home when our vacation is done. When it comes to the vacations season, and most of the time of the rest of the year, many travel companies have special offers for so called direct holidays.

If you are thinking about where to go on your vacation you should really check out one of these offers that come in special packages with special prices for airline tickets, special prices at the hotel in the place you choose to stay in and so on. When you ask for help at such a travel agency, you should leave some notes about what places you want to visit and for how long you want to stay in one place, so they can get in touch with the local hotels and airline companies, and depending on how earlier you plan your trip you will be able to get discounts and special offers.

So that is the opposite of the last minute holidays, when you carefully plan it and save some money. However, planning is boring and monotony is killing the life out of people, so last minute holidays will always be pleasant. It all depends on what kind of a person you are, but even if you are very taken take a chance and let yourself lose on last minute holidays for once.

Source by Relakh Smith

7 Do-It-Yourself Last-Minute Halloween Costume Ideas

Halloween is nearing, and if you still haven’t thought of costumes for the upcoming scare-fest, you might be wracking your brains for ideas that can’t be beat. Unfortunately, many of us are really busy. As much as we would like to focus on Halloween costume hunting, there’s such a thing as real life, and we all have to attend to work, chores, and errands. So when your kids come knocking at your bedroom door begging to get a Halloween costume on the morning of October 31st, you know you’re in for it.

Fortunately, you don’t have to worry too much, as there are literally hundreds of Halloween costume ideas that you can DIY for yourself or your kids on a short notice. What’s great is that you don’t even have to break the bank doing it. Here are a few ideas.

1 – The Athlete

Surely you have someone in your family who has played ball. You don’t have to be the star quarterback or the pointguard. You just have to look the part. If your kids are into sports, then why not suggest that they go out trick or treating as a team-complete in their athletic uniforms. This also goes for cheerleading attires.

2 – The Ghost

You’ve seen it in the cartoons, so why not try it in real life. Get an old white sheet and cut out eye holes. You’re a ghost! The getup is not complete without moans and groans, so practice your moaning and groaning before midnight. You can add chains for that tormented soul effect.

3 – Ninja

Get a ski mask and wear an all-black attire. If you have a toy sword (or maybe even a decorative sword), then wear it on your belt. Now what makes you a ninja is not only your attire. Try to move stealthily around all day. Move against walls and don’t get caught in plain sight of people. When you cross the lawn, don’t walk. Tumble!

4 – Mad Scientist

Wear an old white lab coat and eyeglasses. For effect, mess up your hair and set it with mousse or gel. Bring test tubes and beakers wherever you go. Think of Dr. Emmet Brown from Back to the Future. Now that’s a crazy costume idea.

5 – The Backwards Person

Wear your clothes all backwards. Wear your shirt and pants backwards, complete with belt and necktie. You can even wear sunglasses or eyeglasses at the back of your head for effect.

6 – The Corpse

Wear your best formal attire. Make it so formal it would seem you’ve come straight out of the coffin. Now apply very pale makeup and wear very dark lipstick. Apply thick, black eye shadow. To complete the effect, act the part. Walk slowly-as if you haven’t used your joints for decades.

If you haven’t got the time, don’t sweat it. You can rummage around your closet and maybe you’ll find something that will look scary or novel enough to be your Halloween costume. If you can find an outfit from the 80’s, now that’s something to scream about:

7 – The 80’s Guy or Gal

Sure, the 80’s are making a comeback. But the 2010’s 80’s are different from the real thing. Maybe you still have some leftovers from the past few decades sitting at the bottom of your closet. Wear skinny jeans and a white T-shirt with rolled-up sleeves. Wear high-cut sneakers. Get yourself a thick headband and try to wear your hair as if you had a mullet. If you have long hair, you can curl it like crazy. Bring along a big boombox on your shoulder to complete the effect. Now, that’s scary!

Source by Shauna Milton

Getting Cheap Flights for Your Vacation

Houston is a lively and a fun city to be in for any kind of vacation or break. The city has great green landscapes and parks and the architecture is simply breathtaking. Art lovers as well as nature lovers will find the city quite impressive which will leave them with good memories for the longest time.

Everyone wants the best rates when traveling to any destination and Houston is no exception. If you need to get to this city without having to stretch your finances too hard, you can choose to get assistance from the various travel consultants. Most of the consultants are well experienced and are dedicated to getting you very good offers and rates for your vacation. You can also search through the internet to see the price ranges offered by the airlines flying to the region to get the very best out of the many different airlines that service the region. Leading airlines have a tendency of offering very good ticket rates and typically have discounts and other good offers.

The spring and fall months attract a greater majority of people compared to summer months. This is due to the months of October and November have favorable weather conditions compared to the humid conditions of summer. Most people therefore prefer the warm conditions to the more humid ones. If you are looking for cheap flights, you can choose to travel during the off peak months when everyone else is staying away from the region because of the weather.

However, you can still enjoy your vacation during the peak months and not pay too much for your ticket by conducting the right kind of research and getting all your facts right. It is always advisable to make early reservations to get the best offer available or register with travel companies which will give you alerts every time something interesting coming up.

Houston has a lot to offer not just to the visitors and tourists traveling to marvel in its glory but also for business people and the locals who know how important the city is to the whole of the United States. Never let high ticket rates change your mind about visiting the region since you can still enjoy the very best of the city without spending too much.

Source by Harley Heller

Cheap Summer Vacations

People, as a whole, need a break. Traveling is one of the favorite ways to unwind and relax. One of the busiest and most popular times to travel is during the summer months, when the children and the college students (and even some adults) get their biggest break. Good spots to travel to and explore are historic landmarks, beaches, water theme parks and/or exotic locales.

Think you can’t afford a nice weekend getaway or a nice dream vacation? Think again. If you know what you really want in a vacation and have good planning, you can have a summer adventure that won’t ruin your budget. If you know how and where to look, travel prices, according to some experts, can be pretty economical.

Some predictable summer vacations have been cruises. Some popular cruise destinations have been to the Caribbean, Mexico and Europe, Florida and Las Vegas. One growing trend is that people tend to want to travel closer to home and less overseas. There is also a rise in people booking their vacations at the last minute, making last-minute bargains harder and harder to find. More and more people can find the best deals at the best times thanks to the Internet. And more and more people are thinking smart and ahead by scheduling vacations in advance. It’s not unreasonable to start planning for a trip or cruise a year ahead. If going through a travel agency to book your vacation or cruise, many travel agencies have the option to pay for your vacation or cruise by monthly payments instead of a lump sum.

Consider taking a trip within the United States and make it a road trip at that. There are bed and breakfasts, camping resorts and hotels with great rates that can help you explore your own fantastic country. It is surprising, but many people call hotels for reservations and ask for a rate for a specific date and don’t get the lowest rate. The rate that is given is usually not the lowest rate. You must ask specifically for the lowest rate in order to get it. Being flexible is important when scheduling vacations and cruises. If the rate for your specific travel date is not available, having a second set of dates and even a third set can help people get the discounted rate they want. One hotel that you want to stay at may not have a room available. That hotel may be partnered with another hotel in the same area that can give you a room instead. This is where being flexible comes in handy.

Before you get there, find out as much as you can about your travel destination. If you have pets and children, find a place where they can be accommodated. An all night party place may not be the best spot if want a quiet place for two. This is where the Internet can come in handy. The Internet is a great tool to create the perfect vacation for you and your love ones.

Source by Michael Russell

Discount Airline Tickets – How Can You Save Money on Your Next Flight?

You may be surprised to find out that discount airline tickets are not that hard to come by at all. Whether you want to book your flight far in advance or at the last minute, you can find some good deals. Keep in mind that some deals are limited, so if you're presented with a good offer, you should take it before it expires. The only problem with last minute tickets though is that they are sold as is, meaning you can not get a refund.

The advantage of booking as far in advance as you possibly can is that you may be able to get a discount voucher later on if the price of your ticket goes down. Many people do not know this, but it does happen all the time. You can either get a voucher to use on your next flight or part of your payment refunded to you.

Another way to get discount airline tickets is to bid on them at sites such as Priceline. You can choose your own price, put it forward, and wait to see if any travel agencies and airline companies will agree to your price. Do not be too cheap, now, or your offer will end up being rejected. If it's restored, you'll have to wait a couple of days before you can try again.

You can also check out websites like Travelocity and Expedia. Many times airlines will offer cheap tickets through them. Just fill out some information, such as your location, destination, and travel dates and you'll receive some free quotes. If you're willing to take a flight that has a stop or two, you can save some money. While nonstop flights are the most convenient, you probably will not find any discount airline tickets for them.

Source by Nadav Snir

What is the Average Reading Speed and the Best Rate of Reading?

The average reading speed of a child in primary school is around 200 words per minute (wpm). By the time we reach adulthood, it hasn’t improved very much, as, on average, most adults read at a rate of about 200 – 250 wpm. While comprehension at this rate is considered reasonable, at 250 wpm it will be difficult to read large amounts of information in a short period of time.

Certain individuals claim to read at speeds of 10 000 wpm or even 25 000 wpm and say they are still able to understand all they have read. Even though rates like this may be achieved by these exceptional individuals, a speed of 1000 – 1200 wpm is the rate at which contestants read at the World Championship speed reading competitions. Therefore, if your average reading speed comes anywhere near this rate, you can consider yourself doing fantastically well. Do not feel that you need to reach championship levels in order to achieve your learning and reading goals. It is up to each and every individual to decide how far to push the speed limits!

For a person interested in increasing his abilities, a goal of 500 – 800 wpm is an excellent target. At this rate it is possible to get through large quantities of work in a short time and maintain a comprehension level of about 75% or more. This is an excellent level of comprehension and probably more than adequate for any of your required purposes. Compare this to the average reading rate of adults (200 – 250 wpm), where their comprehension level is only half or slightly more of the material they have read.

800 – 1000 wpm would be an outstanding achievement. In order to have reached this level, an individual may have invested in an excellent speed reading course and practiced speed drills. Believe it or not, comprehension at this level is also outstanding, reaching levels of 100% or very close to 100%.

Results of 100 – 200 wpm is considered a basic reading rate. In adult terms this is a below average speed, but for children between the ages of 6 and 12, it may be considered as average. Only low levels of comprehension are achieved at this rate. An adult who reads at this pace will be amazed at what some of the simple techniques will do for his reading speed. Reading at any pace below 100 wpm will probably be read by someone who is still learning to read or perhaps by someone who is reading in a second or third language. At this rate comprehension will be difficult.

Source by James McNair

5 Tips For Traveling With Children

Family vacations are an essential part of living today, and can create wonderful memories that you can cherish for a lifetime. There are a few simple steps that parents can take to make sure everyone is safe and happy while traveling. Going on vacation with children can be a test of patience and attentiveness for parents, which many may find daunting. However, the good news is that just by taking these few simple tips, it can make everything much less stressful and leave you to relax and enjoy your family vacation.

Tip 1 – Pack Right

Depending on their age, children should pack or help pack some of their own things. You may even suggest them what type of clothes (preferably comfortable and loose) they should be carrying. Very useful for everyone in the family are pants that become shorts when the bottom parts zips off. You may think that you need everything but if you are really crunched for space, do not pack anything that you can buy at your destination. Do bring some hand wipes, tissues, books, hard candies, paper and gum, marks, and a surprise toy for each child in a carry on bag.

Tip 2 – Protect Your Family's Health

Bring along any medications your family requires, make sure they are well labeled and in their original containers. If you are traveling out of the country, check with the public health authorities if you need to get additional vaccines. They will recommend you the necessary vaccines, depending on where you are traveling to and for what duration. Make sure to get Travel Insurance, no one expects an accident to happen, what if your family is at the beach enjoying your Caribbean vacation and your child cuts his foot open on a rock or you suddenly have an appendicitis attack?

Tip 3 – Arrive Early at the Airport

Plan your arrival at the airport in such a way that you have plenty of check-in time. This will avoid last minute delays and take away a lot of stress, especially with today tighter security checks. Also, arriving early will allow your family to ensure you have seats together, allow time to purchase any last minute items, and give your little ones time to adjust to new surroundings.

Tip 4 – Select Seating Carefully

First row in the economy class are best coach seats to fly with children, as you get a lot of leg room. This is essential as you may need to stretch or walk around with the children if they get cranky during the travel. If you are unable to book seats in the first row, place the children between two responsible adults, away from the aisle. Young children should not sit in an aisle seat. The carts used for meals service take up almost the whole aisle, and a small child could get hurt. Sitting near the galley and lavatory can also be convenient, especially if you want a bottle warmed or will be making frequent trips to the bathroom.

Tip 5 – Keep Them Occupied

Wondering how to keep kids calm and busy on the flight? First off, pacifiers, gum, and bottles will decrease air pressure on the children's ears. To keep a child interested during a long flight, bring his favorite toys and some new toys to spark their interest. Older children will love to have books, hand held game players or MP3 players to keep them busy.

Source by Jolana Klobouk