New On The Blog

A toast may be offered in any setting and made to an individual or a group. Increase your confidence at your next social gathering by learning the ins and outs of this ancient tradition. Toasting to someone’s health or honor goes back to biblical times and can be found in most cultures including the Egyptians, Greeks, and Persians.

We could spend hours diving into every aspect of table do’s and don’ts, but I want to give you my top 13 tips that will help you navigate any social or business gathering with confidence.

When God knitted together our precious children before they were even born, I am convinced he also wove in their personalities, gifts, and a love language! The concept of “love languages” is that each of us expresses and receives love in a unique way. The five love languages identified by Gary Chapman in his bestselling book are: Touch, Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Quality Time, and Gifts.

When God knitted together our precious children before they were even born, I am convinced he also wove in their personalities, gifts, and a love language! The concept of “love languages” is that each of us expresses and receives love in a unique way. The five love languages identified by Gary Chapman in his bestselling book are: Touch, Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Quality Time, and Gifts.

Vacations are back on the calendar, and many people are crossing the country through our friendly skies. I thought a refresher on airport and plane travel might do us all a little good.

I heard the most interesting ad the other day. There is a company that offers private-type flights for the commercial world. They describe themselves as a “hop on jet service.” On their website it states, “The convenience of private air but at commercial prices.” I looked them up, and there was one flight from Dallas to Houston for only $99!

“Conflict is part of every marriage. Thirty-seven percent of newlyweds admit to being more critical of their mates after marriage. And 30 percent report an increase in arguments. Whether you argue does not determine the health of your marriage. Far more important than how often you argue is how you argue.

With Father’s Day coming soon, you and your family will be celebrating one of the most important men in your life- Dad. As a child, he was your hero, your protector, and your solid rock. Now that you are older, you admire him for all that he has done for you and you still look to him for advice and wisdom. Picking out the perfect gift for Dad is not easy!

School is almost out for summer! Many of us want to gift our child’s teacher something special at the end of the year for all the love, kindness, and patience they have poured out on our little ones. Being a teacher is not easy, and they are so deserving of our gratitude especially after this wild 20/21 school year! Some common go-to gifts you might have thought of are bath and body products, Starbucks gift cards and mugs, but below are some additional gift ideas your child’s teacher will be touched to receive:

School is almost out for summer! Many of us want to gift our child’s teacher something special at the end of the year for all the love, kindness, and patience they have poured out on our little ones. Being a teacher is not easy, and they are so deserving of our gratitude especially after this wild 20/21 school year! Some common go-to gifts you might have thought of are bath and body products, Starbucks gift cards and mugs, but below are some additional gift ideas your child’s teacher will be touched to receive:

Graduation is a pivotal point in a young person’s life. It is the beginning of a season of responsibility, coming of age, and independence. As these twenty-somethings are about to discover the meaning of “adulting,” here are some gift ideas that will no doubt be a blessing in your college grad’s new life.

If some of you are thinking, “I believe I have read this letter before,” you would be correct. Our son and daughter (in law) had a beautiful wedding ceremony planned for April of 2020. As with thousands around the country, they had to postpone the big event, but chose to hold a private covenant ceremony in our backyard. Well, we are finally celebrating their wedding vows, and it was on my heart to re-post the letter I wrote to my son last year. Some things have changed (he is now 25, not 24 as the letter states), but I hope you enjoy!

 I heard the most interesting ad the other day. There is a company that offers private-type flights for the commercial world. They describe themselves as a “hop on jet service.” On their website it states, “The convenience of private air but at commercial prices.” I looked them up, and there was one flight from Dallas to Houston for only $99! 

“We read a lot of articles and books about how to get through the engagement process, but no one ever talked to us about what it would be like the first year of our marriage. I wish we had known what to expect,” said one of the couples my husband and I mentor. This is a common comment, and if you find yourself having similar feelings, do not fret! You are not alone. The first year of marriage is fabulous, but it can also be difficult. Two people learning to become one does not happen overnight.

We all like to think we have good manners in marriage, but with the people that are closest to us, we can sometimes find ourselves slipping a bit. As stated by Cindy Grosso of the Charleston School of Protocol, manners are not about a bunch of rules. Manners are the outward manifestation of the condition of our heart. If we have a heart that loves, honors, respects, and cherishes our spouse, then these traits will show in how we behave.

Society is opening and people are resuming long overdue vacations. This is great news! I recently posted some tips on making your travels successful, but let’s focus on dos and don’ts of traveling with friends.

 

1. Boundaries: When traveling with others, set guidelines, boundaries, and expectations before leaving town. If you know you and your husband want one night to yourselves, express this up front. If a quiet breakfast in bed is necessary to start your day, see if this fits with the group’s schedule. 

  • Lisa Lou

7 Ways to Save on Gifts this Holiday Season




Does this blog seem early? Did you know we only have 10 weeks before we move into December? It is time to start planning!


1. Decide how much you can spend. If you have a $500 budget and 10 people you need to give gifts, then you can only spend $50 a person. If some of these people are couples, combine their money and buy one gift worth $100 they will both enjoy. A $100 gift certificate to their favorite special restaurant? Great idea! Do not feel pressured to spend more than your budget. Maybe it is time you cut down on who you give gifts to. Do you have a large family: aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, 10 nieces and nephews? Where does it end?!? There comes a point you need to rein in the gifts. Communicate early in the fall if you decide it is time to decrease the quantity of gifts, reduce the amount you will spend on a gift (maybe you agree each family member cannot spend more than $30), or if you plan on discontinuing gifts all together. This way others have time to digest the news, and you avoid that guilty feeling when the person says, “Ohhhh, I already purchased your gift!” Be firm in your decisions. If someone complains or tries to guilt you into giving “just one more time,” politely say no. Putting boundaries around your family budget is important for the health of your financial situation. By the way, you might be surprised how many family members sigh in relief, because they have felt the same way!


2. Instead of a physical gift, create coupons for your TIME. A coupon to wash mom’s car, to organize dad’s tools, or to give your cousin a homemade manicure. What about treating your sister and brother-in-law to a romantic, homecooked meal followed by free babysitting so they can enjoy a night on the town? There is no end to the creative options you have.


3. One way to increase your holiday spending allowance is to adjust your yearly budget. Look at areas you can cut to have a little extra money during this month. Do you normally eat out two nights a week? Tell yourself in October and November you will not go to a restaurant. Use the extra savings to increase your gift giving. There are always ways to reduce your spending, but you might need to get creative, and you will also need to practice a little self-discipline and self-sacrificing.


4. Did you know Christmas and Hanukkah come every December? Surprise! The holidays should not sneak up on you. They occur the same month every year. If you are organized, and plan ahead, you can find little jobs throughout the fall to earn extra cash. This could be as extreme as taking a second job, or you can focus on odd tasks people need help with during this busy season: dog walking, baby-sitting, yard work, gift wrapping, helping serve at private parties. These are just a few ideas.


5. Do you have old gift cards lying around you never used? Did you know you can sell them? Why not gather these up, cash them in, and increase your holiday budget? Here are two sites you can research: https://www.cardpool.com/ ; https://www.raise.com/ .


6. Save money on expensive wrapping paper. This can kill your budget! If you have children, a fun way to wrap gifts is to use their artwork. I used butcher paper when our son was young (you can also use the inside of paper grocery bags). I rolled the paper on the floor, and our son would draw whatever was on his mind. It is a great art project, and parents and grandparents love receiving homemade gifts from the children. (You can also choose to wrap the gift and then let your child showcase his artistic side. Whichever is easiest.) Tie the presents with natural twine you can find at the craft store, and you are set.


7. Never discount re-gifting! There are some rules you need to follow, though. Re-gifting does not mean giving junky gifts you received that you did not like. If you did not like it, the odds are other people will not either. Proper re-gifting means utilizing what you already have that you know will bring happiness to someone else. After all, the reason we give is to show our love and affection for someone else. So, make sure it is something the receiver will enjoy. Were you given two copies of a book by an author your sister loves? Then this would be a good re-gift for your sister. Whatever you give should be new and in its original box. You should not give away a gift that someone spent time and love giving to you. Example, no matter what my husband gives me, I would never re-gift it! This holds true with family heirlooms. Hang onto these, no matter what you might think of the item, because you have been entrusted with a piece of family history. Do not re-gift within the same circle of friends, and make sure you re-wrap the gift. You should treat your re-gift with as much love as you would something you purchased with your own money.


Remember when it comes to gifts, you are dealing with one of the 5 Love Languages. If a person’s highest love language is receiving gifts, you will need to be creative to avoid making them feel you are withholding your love. For the person whom gifts rank high on the love scale, remember it is not about the physical item as much as it is about what the gift means (the time you spent creating the gift, the thoughtfulness you invested). To learn more about the love languages, I highly recommend you read Gary Chapman’s books and review his other resources.


Above all else, remember why we celebrate this time of year. Do not let the commercialism of the season override the true meaning. It is in your control to keep the priorities of your family in check. Happy giving!


Together with you,

Lisa Lou