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Saturday, December 23, 2017

Last Minute Gift Ideas for Him, Her or Them

Don't want to deal with the crowds and traffic of these final days of Christmas shopping? Check out these last minute gift ideas for everyone on your list.


(Not the usual) Gift Cards Options:

I love giving gift cards that people can do instead of buy. Here are some of my go-to’s.
  • Fitness Center
  • Bowling Alley
  • Skating Rink
  • Amusement Park
  • Museum
  • Zoo
  • Laser Tag
  • Miniature Golf
  • Skydiving
  • Ziplining
  • River Rafting
  • Local Tourist Activities
Check out these websites for more great ideas:
http://www.cloud9living.com/
http://www.giftcards.com/gcgf/best-experiential-giftcards


Rentals

Did you know you can rent wives? I’m not saying that they are an appropriate holiday gift, just letting you know that you can rent just about everything -- camping gear, textbooks, even garden space. Rent a Kayak or canoe
  • Rent a Bike
  • Rent Snow Skis
  • Rent Jet Skis
In addition to what’s listed here, check out these options:
http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/money/advice/g2210/renting-things-461009/?


Lessons

You can give lessons for anything from business courses to life skills – for any age! Cooking
  • Quilting
  • Fly Fishing
  • Dancing
  • Gymnastics
  • Art – painting or drawing
  • Art – photography
  • Classes at Community Centers
  • Classes at Senior Centers
  • Classes at Colleges or Trade Centers
Check out these websites for ideas and shop local when you can.
http://takelessons.com/gift
https://coursehorse.com/gift-card


Tickets

A concert or sports tournament may be months away but that doesn’t mean that a pair of tickets tucked inside a stocking won’t be appreciated on Christmas morning. You can give tickets to see a superstar, a favorite team, or a movie or production at a local theater.
  • Movies
  • Theatre
  • Music Concert
  • Home & Garden or Trade Specific Show


Personal Care Services

Look past the typical massage for a gift and think about all the other personal care services options. I’ve given more than a few Mani/pedi gift cards and can’t tell you how much she (and he!) loved the gift!
  • Fitness Trainer
  • Mani/Pedi
  • Makeup Artist
  • Personal Stylist/Shopper
  • Eyelash extensions
  • Salon Services


Home Services

Just about everyone can appreciate help with household tasks in some way or another. And the services can be tailored to their needs -- weekly, monthly or by the project.
  • Housekeeping
  • Gardening
  • Lawn Care Services
  • Snow Removal Services
  • Painters
  • Decorators
  • Errand Running/Delivery Service
  • Transportation Services (taxi services, senior travel)
  • Computer Geek Services


Tours

Check your local tourism office for what tours are available in your area. You might also find events like Wine Tasting Dinners or Beer Samplings.
  • Food Tours
  • Haunted House Tours
  • Walking Tours
  • Historical Tours
  • Garden Tours
  • Brewery Tours


“Of the Month” Gifts

Retailers are getting more and more creative with these packaged goodies delivered monthly to recipient’s door. This gift will keep on coming throughout the year.
  • Fruit
  • Wine
  • Cheese
  • Crafts
  • Pajamas
  • Meals (one time only, weekly, and monthly plans)
Here you'll find plenty of other options:
http://www.amazingclubs.com/


Travel or Vacation Gifts

Giving a get-away experience is ideal for people that aren’t tied down. Search out destination hotels or inns that offer more than just a convenient place to eat and sleep
This site has some great tips:
http://gadling.com/2009/12/04/10-ways-to-give-the-gift-of-travel/


Baskets

There are plenty of websites out there that offer packaged gift baskets. But often you’re paying more for the packaging than what is in the basket. Make your own basket to stretch your budget and really personalize your gift.
For example, use organizing containers, 5-gallon buckets, tool bags, or reusable shopping bags as containers. Need some inspiration? Check here:
https://www.pinterest.com/explore/homemade-gift-baskets/
  • Dinner Basket (i.e. Italian: Pasta, Sauce, and Wine)
  • Snack Baskets (snack bars, fruit snacks, specialty chips & dips, great for families with kids)
  • Beauty Basket (personal care items for men or women)
  • Picnic Basket (decorative paper plates, napkins, plastic glasses/cups)
  • Office Basket (pens, post-its, notepad, calendar)
  • Date Night Basket (Restaurant gift card & Babysitter money)
  • Outdoorsman’s Basket (nifty gadgets like flashlights, sporks, cool tools, bungee cords, tiedowns)
  • Pet Basket (Pet toy & treats)
  • Gardener’s Basket (Seeds, garden tools, garden  gloves, hand cream)
  • Men’s Car Care Basket (Car Cleaning supplies and drive-thru Car Wash Tokens)
  • Sweet Lover’s Gourmet Food Basket (specialty cookies, candies, hot chocolate & cider mixes)
  • Wine Lover’s Basket (wine, glasses, wine opener, cheese & crackers)
  • Family Night Basket (game, popcorn, beverage, candy)
  • Ice Cream Lover’s Basket (Sundae toppings, nuts, sprinkles, ice cream gift certificate)
Here are some unique gifts to inspire your baskets:
http://www.uncommongoods.com/gifts
https://odditymall.com/


Homemade Gifts

Who doesn’t like a homemade gift? The list of possibilities is endless. But don’t overload your schedule with time-consuming projects. Do consider these if you have young children that can help with the activity.
  • Frozen Cookie Dough (rolled in parchment paper with decorative bows)
  • Frozen Meal
  • Soup/Chili ingredients in a bag or jar
  • Bath Salts
http://www.countryliving.com/diy-crafts/tips/g645/crafty-christmas-presents-ideas/?slide=1
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/19/45-diy-gift-ideas_n_4442662.html
There you have it. Now grab a cup of coffee, sit down and your computer and purchase something that is sure to surprise and delight your loved one on Christmas morning.
Be sure to visit www.AlexisHartz.com throughout the year. You’re bound to find something that will make your life easier and more fulfilling.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Gingerbread House Season

I'm a Gingerbread Master and it's gingerbread house season so I'm  perusing the internet for ideas and came across these real-life gingerbread houses in Martha's Vineyard.




Click here to learn more about this unique neighborhood!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Hiking Pinnacle Mountain (or, a lesson in Time Management)


Location: Little Rock, Arkansas

Target Attraction: Pinnacle Mountain

On my way from the airport to the hotel I asked my Uber driver,”What’s the best tourist attraction in Little Rock?”

He piped up right away, "Pinnacle Mountain! It's the highest peak in the state, right next to the river. There's a great hiking trail to the top, not too strenuous either."  (Hmm, what's the "not too strenuous either" part about. Do I look old to you sonny?)

The next morning I googled "things to see in Little Rock" and Pinnacle Mountain State Park topped the list. A good hike is a rare find on any city attraction list and with two recommendations I planned my outing for Sunday prior my 3pm work start time.

Shoulda… set my alarm.

Normally I don't sleep past 6:30 am but this Sunday morning I roll over in my bed, grab my phone from the bedside table and do a double take when I check the time. NINE FoRTY Zeven? I haven't slept that late in years!

Woulda…had a leisurely breakfast.

But, keeping my 3pm deadline in mind I do a few yoga stretches, dressed and popped into the car a quick 30 minutes later with a plan to grab a coffee to go on the way.


Coulda…skipped the Starbucks stop.

The closest Starbucks is inside the Target store down the street where I need to return some items so I decide to kill two birds with one stone.

Shoulda…skipped the returns.

There’s a line at the Returns Counter. And, when it’s my turn I decide to exchange instead of just return. Now, in order to stay on schedule, I have to beeline through the store to grab the size I need. Silly me gets side-tracked looking at 10 other items on my way between the counter and the new shirt. Back to the Return Counter 15 minutes later.

Woulda…loved a Starbuck’s Protein box.

I got hooked on these perfect to-go snacks in Philadelphia, but they don't sell them here. Oh forget it, I really don't want the coffee and I'm sure I can pick up a water at a gas station on the way.

Now it's noon. I have 2.5 hours to get out to the park, hike, and return to the hotel in time for my work shift. I'm still committed.

The drive out to the park traverses quaint suburbs as it winds into the Pinnacle Peak Valley where the obviously wealthy Little Rock-ians live. Massive mansions border the Parkway, even one oversized horse farm that I'd expect to see in Lexington, not Arkansas.

Thirty minutes later I enter the park where a lush forest canopy blankets the road. It looks and feels like the gentle backwoods of North Carolina. I'm really excited to get out and hike, but first, a stop at the Information Center.

Shoulda…gotten a trail map online.

The Center’s volunteer offers me a trail map and describes the two routes up the mountain. She focuses on the gently ascending east side that is an 800-vertical foot climb but I ask her about the west side trail which looks a tad bit longer.

She warns, "They're both about the same distance, but the west one is a strenuous hike through boulder fields. You're climbing over rocks almost the entire time."

I know she’s trying to discourage me, but, she couldn't have excited this Colorado girl more! I haven't been through a boulder field in years!

But by the time I get the trail map and make it to the trailhead I’ve used up another precious 15 minutes. Now I’m down to 90 minutes of free time. I climb out of the car and look up at the rather extravagant trailhead marker.

Woulda…taken the easy route if I didn’t feel like that was the “old person’s route”.


TWO HOURS for a mile and a half hike? Hah! I know I can do it in half that. I start my brisk walk up the trail but soon am entranced by the quiet green forest, the gentle breeze through the trees, and cautiously stepping through the rough rock trail. I remind myself with every step, "It's the journey, not the destination that matters."


Within minutes I reach a dead end. I look around. Not a trail marker in site. Not even in 360 degrees of sight. I retrace my steps, still no markers. I continue to retrace my steps. Still no marker.

Coulda…made it to the top if I was willing to stretch my limits.

I continue backtracking to the main trail where I have a decision to make. I’m now down to an hour of time and while the trail is not strenuous for me, it is challenging my coordination. (I can trip on flat ground!)

I surrender and head toward the trailhead. I’m disappointed, knowing that I’m missing a surely spectacular view at the top.


Shoulda...managed my time for success, especially when it’s my own I’m spending.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

'Tis the Season: HallowThanksmas


Sunday I celebrated a solstice of sorts. Twelve weeks until Christmas. The glorious season of HallowThanksmas is upon us. 

In addition to the usual slurry of advertisements to over spend and over eat, this year we’ll participate in an important election. I’ll experience the birth of another grandchild and take a trip to Spain. Halloween. Thanksgiving. Christmas.  It’s going to be quite a season.
Image_of_Prime_Rib_Dinner
My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. I love that a day (and usually an entire weekend) is set aside to give thanks in our country. In our family we gather at my ex-laws home to celebrate with a prime rib dinner.


Yup, prime rib with the ex-husband and his wife and the rest of the clan. The die-hard turkey eaters could really balk at the menu alone. But that’s not our priority on this day. Being able to set aside our differences and sit around the table together is. Just like every other family we have our fair share of family disharmony, but we choose not to let it interrupt our Giving-Thanks day. Being grateful for what we have takes precedence over holding fast to our differences.