Archives for November 2013

Surviving the Holidays


You can't do things differently until you see things differently.

My Thanksgiving Holiday

With the holidays knocking at your door, most of us will get a chance to enjoy a much needed break.  The reality for me is as much as playing hard for the holidays sound good, my family can be hard work.  Despite the desire to spend quality time being grateful, some old wounds can and frequently do rear their ugly head during the holidays.  This can transform the holiday feast you’ve waited all year for into the holiday feast you can’t wait to leave.  No matter if it’s a moaning mother-in-law, crabby cousin, or disappointed dad trouble can strike fast when everyone is altogether. 

The great news is, if you’re like me you’ve spent the whole year working!  Now this may not sound like good news… but with all the time you spend working on your professional career it presents a great opportunity to put some time into working on your relationships.  The holidays are a good time to start as the mood has already been set (people are feeling grateful, full, relaxed and maybe a little bit buzzed).  Here are some things I like to keep in mind when preparing for the holidays.

  • Open the doors of communication.  At my house everyone goes around and shares what they are grateful for.  Usually we share the standard responses of family, health and happiness.  Make your declaration have a real impact by sharing with your friends and family individually why you are grateful to have them in your life.  Yes this should include everyone.  Even if they are not your favorite person, a challenging relationship stands to teach you something about life and yourself which you can be grateful for.
  • Step out of your norm.  Its way to easy in getting caught in a trap of repetition during the holidays.  Just as we eat the same things, we can get stuck treating people the same way year after year.  Mixing things up, even a little bit can help take a relationship in a whole new direction.  If you always jet to watch the game after dinner, spend a couple of minutes helping with the clean-up, sit next to a different member of the family and engage them in conversation.  Don’t miss out on the huge opportunity you are presented not only express your thanks for things you have but to change the things you, and those around you, are missing.
  • Find ways to take the feel good moments of the holidays with you throughout the year.  The holidays always bring out the warm and fuzzy feelings but why should they just stop there.  Remembering the things you love about your family in the good times can bridge some gaps when things are going sour.  This year I am setting out cards for each family member and inviting everyone to write something special in their card.  Whether it’s a card or a picture or any reminder of the love we all could use a reminder of the holidays in the hectic whirlwind we call life.

3 Steps to Christmas Shopping

Winter Holiday Art MarketI love most things about Christmas, the festivities, time with family, food, drinks and definitely the presents.  I really take pride in gift giving and try to make sure I am picking out a present for someone that represents how I see and feel them.  As I have a pretty unique set of friends and family this can get pretty difficult.   Finding a one of a kind gift can be difficult and the crowds and haggling in the malls can the thought of shopping a dreadful one.  In order to keep both my finances and sanity in check I use a three step process to prepare for gifting to the special people on my holiday list.

  1. Make a list and check it twice.  No, the approach is not just for Santa Clause.  Start making a list of people you think you want to buy a present for.  Once you have a list you can give yourself an estimate on how much you want to spend as a maximum and divide it per person or pin point a budget for everyone individually.  Make sure to keep the list somewhere you will have easy access to it and can follow up on it as things pop into your mind.  If you hate writing you may even think about doing a voice memo to remind yourself of people you may have forgotten.  The energy you put into it keeps you from overspending or winding up minus one for a present for someone special on your list.
  2. Focus on things people really love.  It is so easy to stop by the store and get gift cards for everyone on your list.  Perhaps this is a way to get people what they want, but it also can be a way to shift the time and energy of buying something to the person you are gifting (not such a nice present).  Especially if the budget is low putting some energy into finding something nice for someone can have a lot more value than the monetary value of what you are buying.  For an eclectic aunt a funky pair of earrings may exactly express her style and be a lot better of a presentation than the $25 Best Buy card you purchased with the same amount.  Worst case scenario, just ask – What would you get yourself for $25 for example.  At least someone knows you care about the things they like and getting them a nice present.
  3. Do a little pre-planning for shopping.  Let’s face it, once you wait until the last minute you probably feel they should be happy for whatever they find wrapped under the present from you.  Putting time in the front in can really eliminate frustration on the back end.  I like to take the less beaten path when it comes to gift giving to catch some real bargains and some unique presents.  The Winter Holiday Art Market, for instance, has a great selection of unique gifts from local artisans.  The prices are usually great, the experience is a lot of fun, and they are sure not to find your gift staring at them in the line at Marshalls.

It’s not an official step, but most importantly, DON’T FORGET TO HAVE FUN!!! By adding a good mix of friends, relaxation, and probably a couple of cocktails the gifting process does not have to be a nightmare!

To find out more about the Winter Holiday Art Market check out:


Play Hard Playbook Home – Budgeting (2 of 3)

Play Hard Playbook Home follows me as I go through my own home renovations.  Despite being a real estate veteran, I face the constant challenges of renovating an old home.  This is Part 2 on the series on budgeting and includes information for planning your budgeting goals and setting up a simple budget.

Play Hard Playbook Home – Budgeting (1 of 3)

The budgeting series delivers three sections exploring introductions to budgeting, creating a basic budget, and more advance budgeting tips for renovation projects.

Play Hard Play Book Home Introduction

Follow along with me as I go through the ups and downs of my home renovations.