Seasonal

Holiday Tipping Guide: Who to Tip and How Much

It’s the season for sharing and giving, as well as receiving. So it’s definitely time to think about what to tip to all the folks in your life who provide you their services. It is a considerate gesture to show your appreciation for all they did for you this past year. Many people are often unsure how much to give, so we’ve put together this guide to help you out. And considering how tough the past couple of years have been—especially for those in the service and health industries we all relied on so, so much—”it is really worth thinking about how much you can give,” says Lizzie Post, co-president of the Emily Post Institute, great-great-granddaughter of the firm’s founder, and co-author of Higher Etiquette.

Factors to Consider:
  • Your budget—if this year was tough for you financially, don’t feel obligated to go beyond your limitations.
  • If you are short on cash, consider a homemade gift (everyone loves cookies and fudge!), or a heartfelt note of thanks and appreciation. Post says it’s okay to acknowledge in your note that your finances this year made it impossible to give a tip, and that it is not a reflection on their service.
  • The length of time you’ve received service from this person, and the quality and frequency of the service. You wouldn’t need to give an extra holiday tip to the new hairdresser you’ve only seen a couple of times this year; but if it’s someone you’ve been going to for years, you definitely should.
  • Whatever you tip, whether it’s money or a homemade gift, be sure to add a short note. Kind words will always make an impact.
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Gifting Experiences Instead of Stuff

One thing most of us have realized during the pandemic: we could all do with (and did with) less STUFF. What is “stuff,” exactly? Stuff is, “matter, material, articles, or activities of a specified or indeterminate kind that are being referred to, indicated, or implied.” For the purposes of this article we are referring to all the stuff that fills your home and your life that you don’t really use, need, want, or even remember—but you have, simply because you do. Gifts you feel bad getting rid of, items of some sentimental value, things you used to use, items you’ve put away and forgotten. Which is why we’ve got a list of gift ideas which are experiences, instead of more stuff. Gifts that won’t take up room on a shelf, on a counter, in a desk, or in the garage. Happy shopping!

Escape RoomsConundrum in Redmond has real life and virtual reality escape rooms, as well as axe-throwing and an outdoor adventure game. Bellevue’s Reality Break Escapes has escape rooms, parties, and portable escapes. Puzzle Break offers a big selection of virtual escape rooms available online for up to 6 players; 7+ players can do their virtual team-building experience with no limit to the number of players.

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10 Simple Things to be Grateful For

It’s been a life-changing couple of years for all of us, hasn’t it? We can’t think of a single person who was not affected by the pandemic in some way or another. It seems we’ve all had to make changes, reprioritize, adjust, pivot, and sometimes, just deal with it. One of the things that has truly helped us through this challenging time is gratitude. Merriam-Webster states that gratitude means, “a feeling of appreciation or thanks : the state of being grateful : thankfulness.” Being grateful is grounding and mindful. It can uplift and energize. It can even be spiritual or religious. There really isn’t a single negative thing about feeling gratitude, is there?

Here are 10 simple things to be grateful for.

1.  Health

Even if your health isn’t perfect—your awful allergies, your achy back—there are probably more things working properly that you can feel thankful for.

2.  Family and friends

Whether you have a circle of three or thirty, each of these people make our lives better. They give us love and they let us love them.

3.  A roof over your head

Having a place to call home is a wonderful thing. An apartment, a cabin, a mansion, an RV—if it gives you sanctuary and a warm, safe place to sleep, it’s home.

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Back-to-School Organization Ideas for an A+ School Year

You’ve downloaded the school supply lists and bought everything your kiddos will need (and likely more!). High-five, parents! To get this school year off to a sweet start, get their school items organized and systems set up ahead of time. The first week of school will be less chaotic and more streamlined when everyone knows where everything is located and where items are to be deposited, taken from, and found.

A Place for Backpacks

Use wall hooks in the entryway or mudroom to store these items—make sure they are secure enough to hold heavy backpacks. Best location is the kids’ first point of entry and last point of exit! Don’t let them get in the habit of just leaving their backpacks all over the house. One, it cuts down on floor clutter; two, it lessens the chances of school stuff getting lost or misplaced. Once they get home, encourage them to empty their backpacks of lunch and homework items. When leaving for school, it will be the reverse order.

Lunch Bags

These should also not be strewn all over the house. Nobody wants to find a half-filled silicone sandwich bag two weeks later in the back of the closet! Once they empty their backpacks, have a spot in the kitchen for them to deposit their lunch bags so everything can be emptied, washed, and readied for the next day.

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Turning Your Home Into a Self-Care Sanctuary

Self-care is so important right now. It’s only mid-January and for Pacific Northwesterners, we know that means a few more months of cold, wet greydom. Understandably, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is much more common in our hemisphere. Where can you get self-care if your budget is limited or you aren’t feeling ready to go to the gym or spa, or to travel? The answer is closer than you think: Home. This infographic has 15 easy ways to turn your home into a self-care sanctuary. Print it out and let it to inspire you to create a home that is conducive to self-care.

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What to Declutter After the Holidays

Hello, January! The holiday stuff has been put away (or has it?), the amount of baking and cooking has returned to normal, and everyone is back to work and school. There are plenty of decluttering opportunities post-holiday, so pick a weekend, do a little work to clear out your home, and start the year off with an energetic bang! We’ve got some terrific ideas on what to declutter and refresh.

Holiday Items

If you actually haven’t put these away yet, here is your chance to declutter these used-once-a-year goods. The bonus is you can declutter while you are putting them away. I do this every year, and it always makes the holiday storage boxes a bit roomier even if I’ve bought a few more decorative items. Start with the lights: get rid of any strings that don’t light up or have worn, brittle, or frayed cords. Next, give each decorative piece 30-seconds of your time. Does it have worn or broken parts, or faded or chipped spots? Do you still love it? Does it still have meaning for you? Does it seem outdated or out of place? Your answers to these questions will let you decide if you are keeping or donating the item. I usually donate my still-usable items to someone in my neighborhood or city Facebook Group—there are a lot of people out there who are happy to use your holiday items. Finally, take down all those sweet holiday cards and recycle them, or send them to St. Jude’s Ranch for Children for their recycled card program.

Winter Wear

We still have almost three months left of winter weather, and now is an appropriate time to declutter your outerwear and accessories. Bring out all the winter wear for everyone in your household. Go through each item for each person—hats, scarves, coats, gloves, long underwear, socks, boots, etc. Check items for tears or untreatable stains, for fit and comfort, and for style and desirability. If you have two items that are almost identical in style, material, and purpose, consider keeping only one. Donate coats in good condition to One Warm Coat, which has several locations around Puget Sound.

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Meaningful, Mindful Gift Ideas for This Holiday Season

It’s been a challenging year for most of us, and I think I speak for everyone when I say that 2021 can’t come soon enough! We’ve dealt with lockdowns and quarantine, working and schooling remotely, sourdough starters and jigsaw puzzles. There’s also video conferencing fatigue, canceled travel plans, and too much takeout. How do we close out the year in a relevant way that helps us stay connected with and supportive of loved ones? With the December holidays just around the corner, we’ve been thinking about gifts for friends and family that will help do just that. Here are some ideas for meaningful, mindful gifts for this holiday season.

Self Care – Think about the recipient’s idea of self care, and put together a package as unique as they are. Is it interior decor magazines and chai tea? Yoga and facials? Red wine and chocolate? Long walks and audio books? Self care—any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health—is different for each person, so tailor your gifts accordingly.

Gift Cards to Local Businesses – Gift cards to local “mom & pop” shops and restaurants are a terrific way to give a gift while supporting a small business that needs the customers. No matter where your special person lives, there are surely fabulous places they love to patronize.

A Fun and Unique Subscription – How about a monthly succulent, date night, or Japanese snacks box? CrateJoy and My Subscription Addiction have amazing lists of fun, imaginative, and unique subscriptions for everyone on your list. A year of surprises would be fantastic for anyone!

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Ideas for This Year’s Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and this year is decidedly different. If you are not taking part in a traditional gathering, there are still so many wonderful ways to celebrate. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because, unlike Valentine’s Day, Halloween, and Christmas, it has not been fully commercialized. The day is all about being grateful. There is always, always something to be grateful for! So brew up some pumpkin spice chai and read on for some ideas on what to do this Thanksgiving Day.

Get Movin’

Take a simple walk around your neighborhood and enjoy the Autumn air and colors. Find a great hike—the trails won’t be crowded today! Walk or bike one of the Seattle’s areas 15 best city trails—how lucky are we to live in such a gorgeous part of the world! If you really want to break a sweat, do a Thanksgiving race. There are several races that have implemented COVID-safety precautions. Seattle has a Turkey Trot with waved starts, Woodinville has a Virtual Turkey Trot, and Issaquah is offering neighborhood-focused Turkey Trots.

Reconnect

Use this day to get in touch with family or friends you haven’t heard from in awhile. Give them a call; who doesn’t love to see their phone light up with a familiar name instead of “Scam Likely”? Write or type out letters/emails if that suits your communication style better—put the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade (virtual this year) on the telly to get you into the spirit.

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Fall Decluttering: What To Get Rid Of

It’s probably safe to say most people are spending a lot more time at home these days! With Fall coming and the cooler, wetter weather on the horizon, there is even more indoor time to be had. While we’re all looking forward to pumpkin spice lattés, new Netflix shows, and the start of the holiday season, we should also take the opportunity to get rid of stuff. “Stuff” is an excellent catch-all term for items that just seem to accumulate over time and overstay their use and need. I look at the start of every season as a perfect time to clear out certain spaces around the house. These are awesome mini projects that should take no more than 1-2 hours each. Do one or two for a few weekends, and by Halloween you’ll have accomplished quite a lot!

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Hiking in the Time of Coronavirus

Washington Trails Association
June 2020

Recreating responsibly as lands reopen

Here are the six tips to help you make the best decision for how to get outside right now. Making temporary changes to how you hike right now will help keep everyone healthier. Of course, if you’re sick, please stay home and take care of yourself. We hope you recover quickly.

RECREATE RESPONSIBLY

Know Before You Go: Use WTA’s Hiking Guide to plan your outing. Pick a couple backup trails in case your first pick is crowded.

The Hiking Guide and sidebar here include closures. If the area is closed, don’t go.

Plan Ahead: Head for lesser-traveled trails, and have a couple of alternates in mind if your first-choice is crowded. If your alternates are also packed, use WTA’s Trailblazer app to find another trailhead near you. Be sure to notify whoever you left your hiking itinerary with of the change.

Bring include hand sanitizer and a face covering. Wear it while passing other hikers; covering your face protects other folks from any particles you may be breathing out.

Pack a lunch and any extra treats you will want on the way there and back.

 

Read the entire article at Washington Trails Association.

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