Seven Unique and Meaningful Holiday Ideas

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How do you feel when you see people walking aimlessly through the mall once Thanksgiving is over, trying to pick out presents for people when they have no clue what they like or need? Those gifts often end up as useless dust collectors after the magical season is over.

This year, I decided to think of holiday giving in a new way and give to others (and myself) in a more thoughtful way. For me, this means staying away from the crowded shopping malls, instead, give my business to local merchants or make things at home. Yes, I love making things with my hands. It brings me great joy to share things I’ve made. I also make sure not to forget people and animals who need a helping hand. They deserve to feel good too.

Here are a few of my favorite things I love to do and to give during the holiday season:

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Cranberry Crackle Tart
I made this delicious tart because I wanted to take cranberries (so good for you) further than just making the traditional cranberries we eat at Thanksgiving. I was so pleased with the flavor, sweetness combined with a touch of tartness, and the festive look of the white meringue. I brought  these beautiful tarts to several gatherings. You’ll love keeping this recipe as a go-to favorite because it requires minimal ingredients. Everyone will think it came from a French pastry shop! Get your recipe here.

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Lemon Water Kit
I’ve gotten into the habit of drinking warm lemon water every morning instead of coffee. Lemon turns your water into an alkaline state and drinking it is good for cleansing your digestive system. I feel so much better when I start the day out with a large cup of hot water with ½ lemon and a few drops of natural honey. I decided to put a kit together to give as a gift. A clear, glass handled cup, lemon squeezer and half a dozen lemons go into this gift set.

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How to Rock a Selfie Photo Shoot by Vivien McMaster
Do you notice when it comes to picture-taking time, most people get self-conscious and say, “Oh no, please leave me out. I don’t like to have my picture taken?” And we find ourselves in this situation more with the accessibility of iPhones which are snapping photos all around us, everywhere we go. Most of us are self-conscious because we keep telling ourselves we’re not attractive enough to be in photos. When I found this on-line Selfie class given by Vivien McMaster, I decided to take it. Yes, this class is about self-portrait photography but it’s so much more. Vivien will teach you by helping to identify special gifts you have to offer to the world. I am planning to give this class as a gift to my special friend who is filled with beauty inside-out but feels self-conscious about her photo image. I can hardly wait to see her blossom! Click here to learn more.

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Holiday Gift Tags, So Simple to Make!
It just takes a little imagination and a desire to make these sophisticated tags. I enjoy making my own tags because they it add a personal touch to the gifts I give to others. Not only are they fun to make, it makes me feel good that I’m not spending money buying commercially made tags.
All it takes is a few simple punches, baker’s twine and a roll of washi tape. I cut my tags 2 1/2” x 8” and fold them in half. While I’m at it, I make some a tad bit larger and use them as note cards. They make nice thank you cards. All you want to say is just a short note of appreciation right? Once I get going on these tags, I can’t stop. I make many groupings of tags designed for different seasons.

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How to Behave so Your Dog Behaves    by: Dr. Sophia Yin
“I learned that every pet needs a human who can lead. Not like a boss, but like a partner in a dance—someone who gives clear signals, rewards desirable behavior as it occurs, removes rewards for inappropriate behavior immediately, and sticks to the plan consistently until the new, good behavior is a habit.”   -Sophia Yin”

I can guarantee that this is the best animal training book I have ever found. If you don’t believe me, ask my dog Max. Dr. Yin’s training method is so simple and sensible, just follow it and you will see a remarkable difference in your relationship with your dog in only two weeks! Just close your eyes and imagine you and Fido dancing like a pair of pro dancers. It is a great feeling when this kind of bond can be established between you and Fido. Thank you Dr. Sophia Yin! Look for this fantastic book at your local bookstore or Dr. Sophia Yin’s website. (Sadly, Dr. Sophia Yin passed away two months ago. A huge loss to the veterinary community and to us who love our pets. I am deeply saddened but thankful that she gave us so much while she was alive and will continue to do so for the years to come.)

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Home-Made Organic Cinnamon-Maple Granola
I’m addicted to eating things I make in my own kitchen. Why? One simple reason… because I know exactly what’s in them. I fell in love with granolas when I found this recipe on Garden for the House. Kevin Lee Jacobs does a superb job with giving clear directions on his hand selected recipes. I love many of his recipes and love trying them out. Once you make this to-die-for recipe, put the granola into glass canning jars and tie the neck with a colorful ribbon … and don’t forget to add your hand-made tag to make your gift look like a million dollars.

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Give a Helping Hand
Who said you have to be wealthy to donate? Did you know that 80% of the active philanthropists in this world are middle and low income folks?

Every person who steps up to organize a give back to our society event is part of a powerful movement in social giving.

It doesn’t have to be in a grand way, just do what you can. Let me give you a little idea. Why not hold a small gathering of friends and family during this joyous season? Let them know ahead of time you want them to help you raise money for a cause which you are passionate about. Make it a fun and special evening and share the reason why you want to help animals, children or an underserved population. You will be surprised at how people will open up their wallets to help your cause. Remember, no gift is too small and it’s an incredible feeling to know you are making a difference in creating a better world. You can check out the Holiday with a Heart event we gave at my hair salon, Studio 904 to raise money for Pasado’s Safe Haven, Precious Life Animal Sanctuary and Ginger’s Pet Rescue.

Please let me know if you try any of these things. I’d love to hear your ideas too!

Comments

Tamara Turner
Reply

Hi, Kay (or Keiko),

I finally got signed up for your blog. Loved the January post about your childhood memories of New Year’s in Japan. Also, am sending the December post on Dr. Yin to my neighbor who has a very wiggly Labrador pup. (This dog has been to three obedience classes and still jumps up on people it likes.)

I don’t know where you find the time for all your projects plus work, but keep it coming. Wishes for a wonder New Year for you!

KayHirai
Reply

Tamara,
I’m glad you found my posts helpful. Tell your neighbor to follow Dr. Yin’s book completely. Like I said, She will see a difference in her dog within two weeks.

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