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As Texas plunged into single digits with multiple days of a windchill below freezing, millions found themselves stranded with no power or water. Living along the Gulf Coast we have weathered hurricanes and endured power outages for much longer periods, but somehow this seemed different. Maybe for those of us close to the shoreline it was the unusual sight of snow we experienced as opposed to the natural disasters we usually face that arrive with rain, wind, and sweltering heat.

Our son and daughter (in law) were finally able to take a long-overdue honeymoon to St. Lucia in December. Cecelia interned one summer for a travel agent so naturally called the company to book their trip. What an incredible experience they had, and I was reminded WHY using a travel agent is worth the expense. Fees range depending on the service, but most charge between $300-350 to plan a vacation somewhere in the Caribbean Islands. 

Q: I will be a new mom soon, and I have been preparing for life “after” a newborn. There is a lot of information on raising babies, and how dads can support mom, but I cannot find much on how moms can support dads. A lot of my mental preparation has been around my marriage. Specific questions: How do I preserve my marriage? How do we embrace the changes? How do I maintain my husband as a priority when we have a tiny human demanding everything? How can I help my husband bond with our new child?

Want to set your children up for success? Then look no further than the habits of successful people you know, whether that be in the corporate world, media, or within your own circle of friends. Experts agree that there are certain common traits all successful people possess. This is great news because it means we can emulate those leaders that have come before us. 

How can you tell if someone will be successful? When I was in high school, they still had a category for a graduating senior titled: Voted Most Likely to Succeed. How, at 18-years-old, could classmates look at someone and say, “Yeah, I think they will be the most successful person in our graduating class.”

Many of us grew up learning multitasking was a hallmark of a productive person. While sounding good in theory, this practice has proven to be incorrect. Studies now reveal that multitasking is nothing more than switching back and forth between tasks and it lowers our productivity. Below are 5 points that deal with the facts behind project hopping and the lack of performance that occurs when we allow seemingly innocuous interruptions to occur in daily life.

The way my husband structures his day is different from how I organize mine, but there is one thing we both do. We start with a morning routine. I make coffee, read the news while eating my breakfast, and then dive into an hour of bible study. Once I finish, I pull out my journal and plan my day. About 2 years ago I discovered an organizational method that resonated with me.

Remember as children, during holidays, we would spend what seemed like hours creating homemade craft projects for our parents? It might be a paper Christmas snowflake sprinkled with glitter or a cutout heart for Valentine’s Day. We would address it: To: Mom or To: Dad. We would sign our name, and this become the gift we gave our parents. The act of giving is how we should view all letters, especially a thank you note. We may not be cutting out cute hearts, but when we take time to put pen to paper and share a little of ourselves with someone else, we are giving a part of our heart to another.  

People give to make you feel loved and remembered. Sometimes gifts are given out of obligation, but mostly they are presented to honor a special relationship or occasion. No matter the reason, we need to know how to show our appreciation. Here are my 7 tips to become a gracious gift receiver.  

Table manners seem to be the area in which I receive most of my questions, but it is introductions that have people the most baffled. After I explain the correct way to conduct an introduction, I often get that starry-eyed stare that tells me, “I really don’t understand what you just said.” To help all of us, I have broken down the process into a simple format. Before I proceed, let me say this. Do not let a lack of confidence in handling an introduction keep you from DOING an introduction.

I recently bumped into a friend at the store, and as we began talking, she expressed how she struggles with the holidays. When January rolls around, she feels like she somehow “missed out.” I understand this feeling because I, too, have often felt this way. Life was so busy with the preparation of celebration, that I missed the joy that awaited each of us this time of year.

Have you ever seen someone walk into a party that looked scared to death, unsure of themselves, and then watched them slink off to an obscure corner? Their body language screaming, “I wish I was anywhere but here!” Entering a room full of people that you do not know can be intimidating. I get that. Yet, your entrance is important in displaying overall confidence and portraying a strong image.

Giving a party, of any type, requires a great deal of work. If you have been fortunate enough to be included in a festive soiree, it is nice to arrive with a gift for the hostess. The typical present will cost between $15-$30, but there are less expensive things you can find at the local discount store.

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My 10 Favorite Hostess Gifts

Giving a party, of any type, requires a great deal of work. If you have been fortunate enough to be included in a festive soiree, it is nice to arrive with a gift for the hostess. The typical present will cost between $15-$30, but there are less expensive things you can find at the local discount store. I love the challenge of putting together a nice basket of goodies for pennies on the dollar. When trying to figure out what you should bring, keep in mind what type of party you are attending. Is it a formal dinner? A backyard BBQ? Also, know the likes and dislikes of your hostess. If she is allergic to flowers, you probably will not arrive with a bouquet in hand. If the party is being given in your honor, then you should probably err on the side of something a little nicer.

I like to give items that can be consumed in some fashion (and this does not just mean oral consumption). This way I have not taken up precious space in her home with something she might or might not enjoy. Here is a list of some of my favorite hostess gifts.


Yes, I know, this is what everyone seems to say, but, if you have a hostess that enjoys great wine, it really is nice to give. Put some thought into the selection. Maybe the two of you tried a new chardonnay at a local restaurant, and you both loved it. Purchase a bottle of this with a note attached saying how much you treasure your friendship. If she enjoys vacationing in a certain region or country, see if you can purchase a bottle from that area. If you do not wish to bring wine, bring an elegant wine stopper to add to her collection.


Food can be nice to bring, but make sure it is the right type of food. If the hostess has invited you over for dinner, showing up with a platter of appetizers would not be the best choice. She has worked hard on her menu and might feel obligated to serve what you brought. Yet, the added addition might mess up the food choices she has planned. Instead, bring something for her to enjoy later, or maybe something that has meaning to you. I love giving a small bottle of our favorite home-made steak rub. It is unique and shows I took time to give something made by hand. Or stir up a batch of your favorite pasta sauce. You can tie a raffia bow around the lid and attach a wooden serving spoon.

One of the more enjoyable gifts I have received was a basket filled with Graham crackers, a bag of marshmallows and 8 Hershey bars. It was my own little s’mores kit! Memorable and delicious. If you decide to bring food, let the hostess know this is a special treat to be enjoyed after the party. By doing this you are saying, “I brought food, but I do not expect you to serve this during the party.”


A box of notecards or a journal makes a wonderful gift. Maybe purchase a gratitude book where she can keep track of moments and people she is grateful for. Add to the beauty of the journal by writing on the first page how much you appreciate her. Attach a pretty pen and you have a memorable gift.

Paper Guest Towels

I never have enough of these, so this is a favorite item I enjoy giving. You do not even have to wrap these. Just tie a festive bow and attach your greeting card.


Beautiful hand soaps are a favorite for many. A bottle of pump foam goes great in the kitchen or powder room.

Christmas Ornament

I love presenting a beautiful ornament during the holidays, but only if I know my hostess has an eclectic tree. Giving a hanging football with the name of her favorite college team probably does not work when her tree is decorated with crystal balls. Of course, ornaments can be collected and used in other ways. So, as with everything else, know your audience.


A candle is always a well-received gift. If the hostess has a certain brand she enjoys, then treat her to her favorite fragrance. Candles are a great item you can stack up on during the after-Christmas sales. Most stores will mark down their seasonal merchandise from 50-75% off.

Reading Material

If your hostess is a reader, purchase the newest release from her favorite author, or bring a gift card to the local bookstore. A stack of her favorite magazines would be fun or a subscription for an audible book app are two other ideas.


This could go under the food category, but it makes a wonderful gift, so I listed it separately. Purchase a fun mug and a bag of her favorite flavored coffee. This can be done with tea, too. There are wonderful little pots that come with a single teacup on top. Wrap this in cellophane, add a bow and include her favorite tea leaves.


I enjoy giving board games, if I know this is something my hostess and her family enjoy. A nice deck of cards with the family’s initials printed on the front is very memorable.

Many of the above items I have found for $10 or less at my local discount store. A hostess gift does not need to be expensive, but it should be memorable and show you have taken time to think about the recipient. This is your way of showing her that she is appreciated and valued for gifting YOU an evening of celebration.

Together with you,

Lisa Lou

Get rid of the noise in your life. Join Lisa Lou and receive commonsense, faith-based advice for the modern woman.

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