Graduation Gift Idea – 18 Things I Wish I Had Known at 18

- - Graduation, Kids

Goodbye childhood. Hello adulthood. This is what my oldest niece Shakira is experiencing as she gets ready to graduate from high school. She’s excited about adulthood because to her it means freedom to do whatever she wants. But like most 18-year olds, she hasn’t really thought about the responsibilities that come with that freedom.

words of wisdom bookAs her aunt, I thought I would take the opportunity to impart some life lessons that I’ve personally found to be helpful in living a full and happy life. But Shakira doesn’t want to listen to a lecture from me. Blah. Blah. Blah. Even if she did listen, she could easily forget everything I told her the next day.

I needed to deliver my nuggets of wisdom in a fun and memorable way and something that would make a cool graduation gift.

I created a custom photo book called “18 Things I Wish I Had Known at 18.” I picked out a black and white template from Shutterfly.com that matched my niece’s sense of taste and style.

In the book I listed my top 18 life lessons and paired them with photos of Shakira, Shakira and me together, and group family photos. I arranged the photos in chronological older starting with her baby photos.

Here are the 18 life lessons or words of wisdom I put together:

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25 Ways to Pay It Forward| Random Acts of Kindness

The idea behind “pay it forward” is that everyone can make a difference in the life of someone else. When you pay it forward, you make an effort to positively impact a person’s life through a random act of kindness and love.

laundry detergent in laundromat

Leave a container of laundry detergent at a laundromat with a note saying, “Feel free to use!”

Last week, I wrote about my friend Erin who wanted to inspire 34 pay it forward random acts of kindness in celebration of her 34th birthday. In case you were inspired to do the same thing, I thought I’d share with you some ideas of what you could do.

  • Buy a movie ticket for the person behind you in line
  • Send a card to someone in the military overseas
  • Put something you no longer need on Craigslist.org for free
  • Tape a bag of microwaveable popcorn to a Redbox machine with a note saying “Enjoy some popcorn with your movie!”
  • Drop off a toy or game at a children’s hospital
  • Buy a lottery ticket and give it to a stranger
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Time is the Best Gift of All

Time is the best gift of all. When I was 21, my 16-year old brother and I were on our way to the gym when we decided to visit our deaf  grandparents. I asked them if they would like to go and exercise too.

Grandparents-Time-Best-Gift-of-All-gift-idea-sunburst-gifts

Walter & Julia Cleaver in the 1970s.

They had no workout clothes so when Granddaddy came out in Grandma’s baby blue shorts, sleeveless undershirt, black socks and black street shoes, my brother did not want to take them. When we arrived at the club, the walk from the parking lot was the longest walk ever for my humiliated brother.

Entering the gym, we had to fill out guest forms for them. Putting their birth dates of 1896 and 1902  raised eye-brows. We wanted to take our grandparents to the exercise room on our own, but the club insisted a trainer take them for their first visit. When the big, muscular trainer came in, he was shocked at the age of his clients – ages 77 and 71.

Grandma’s trainer soon had her doing sit-ups and leg lifts, riding a stationary bike, and relaxing in the sauna. We finally made it to the pool.

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Random Acts of Kindness for Your Own or Someone Else’s Birthday

When my friend Erin turned 34 years old, she posted the following message on Facebook:

pay it forward popcorn taped to Redbox machine

Pay It Forward Idea – Tape a package of microwaveable popcorn to a Redbox machine along with a note!

Friends and family – I am on a quest to complete 34 random acts of kindness today in honor of my birthday… will you help? Pretty please!?

It can be as simple as buying the order of the person in the drive through behind you, helping someone load their groceries in the car or taping quarters to the candy machines at the mall. It can be done at anytime and anywhere!

And if you wouldn’t mind sharing with me (send me a text, give me a call, post it on my Facebook wall), I would love nothing else on my birthday than to hear about all the nice things being done for others! I am starting today with volunteering at the Oklahoma City Regional Food Bank until noon if anyone would like to come and join!

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Kleenex Tissue Flower Bouquet for a Sick Friend

Flower vases – we have them stashed everywhere in our kitchen just taking up space. We occasionally – more like never – use them for flowers but mostly they sit hidden with no future and collecting dust!

Here’s a gift idea for your round or square vases. Colorful vases work really well. For plain clear vases, I like to bedazzle them with rhinestones!Kleenex.flower.bouquet.gift.idea.sunburst.gifts

Use your imagination when decorating. Try all one color or multicolor. Create a heart shape or place them at random. Rhinestones and glue are all you need. It’s easy peasy as Princess Diana likes to say!

Purchase facial tissues in the small square box, pull them out all at once, and place them in the glass vase. Take a single tissue from the center and pull it up. The tissues are also available in different colors too!

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Make Someone the Star of a Book | Personalized Custom Books

Everyone likes to see their name in print. From children to grown adults. It makes us feel special when we become the star of a book. It turns an ordinary book into a keepsake.

I personalized a book for my son Aiden that tells the story that my love for him is forever and unconditional. It’s like what we say in my family, “I will love you for eternity +1.”

Personalized Custom Book Gift IdeaMy favorite part of the book reads:

Aiden,
I love you as BIG
as a great lion’s roar,
and as deep as the ocean,
I love you much more.

And I love the message this sends about loving him even when he has misbehaved.

Aiden,
I love you when you’re nice,
and when you’re cranky too.
I love you without liking
the naughty things you do.

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What Do You Get Your Best Friend When Her Mother Dies? | Condolence Gift

- - Condolence

My best friend Leslie’s mother died two years ago. Not just died – but died unexpectedly.

No last goodbye.

No final “I love you.”

It sucked, it was unfair, and I felt her pain. My father was murdered when I was seven years old and we lived in the Philippines. When I said goodbye to my mother to move to the United States with my grandparents, I didn’t know she would die of cancer before I had the chance to ever see her again.

condolence gift idea for best friend when mother dies

Click on the photo to see it enlarged

I’ve known Leslie since the fourth grade and her mother, Tina, loved me like her own daughter. She clothed me; she fed me; she came to my school activities.

She taught me about selfless giving and so many other things about life… (In junior high, she bought Leslie and I a copy of Playgirl. That sure answered a lot of our teenage girl questions!)

I wanted Leslie to know I shared her loss because I loved Tina too. I also wanted to show Leslie that her mother lives on through her because they share many of the same qualities. More than anything, both of them were known to go the distance (like Timbuktu far) in helping anyone in need.

But what condolence gift would convey my emotions and sentiments? Flowers weren’t going to do the job.

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Hand Prints on Canvas Best Friends Gift Idea

I am blessed to have life long friends. It’s a trait I copied from my mom. She attended the Oklahoma School for the Deaf and stayed in contact with many of her friends throughout her lifetime. While growing up, I watched her write and receive mail from her friends from all across America.

Hand Prints on Canvas Best Friends Gift IdeaI moved to Oklahoma from Texas on my 12th birthday. Mother enrolled us in school and instructed us to “go and make lots of best friends.” We did and she encouraged us to stay in contact with our old friends in Texas. I am forever grateful for her wisdom in keeping and making new friends. You can never have too many!

Nancy is my Oldest BFF (Best Friend Forever)! We met in second grade and have known each other for 54 years. WOW! That’s a long time. We have been exchanging birthday gifts for most of those years.

This year, I came up with the idea to have our hand prints together on a canvas. One problem – I live in Oklahoma and she lives in Texas. Continue Reading

Throwback Thursday | Framed Vintage Girl Scout Badge

I am long time volunteer of Girl Scouts because I love its mission of building girls of courage, confidence and character. I am also a member of Girl Scouts – Western Oklahoma’s young professionals group, GS Cornerstone.

framed vintage Girl Scout Hospitality Badge GiftIt has become tradition that each year a board member of the organization hosts GS Cornerstone in their home. I helped plan our most recent event, and I was put in charge of the thank you gift.

I definitely wanted it to be Girl Scout related. But what to give our hostess – a very accomplished woman who seemed to have it all?

I brainstormed with Queen Darlene and we came up with the idea of giving her a vintage Girl Scout Hostess Badge. After all, she will have met the requirements after graciously opening her home to all of us!

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Thoughtful Business Appreciation Gift – Calendar

- - Business, Host, Thank You

Appreciation. The dictionary defines appreciation as gratitude and thankful recognition. Recently my boss was selected to be on a national executive committee and yet I was the one being recognized. What a wonderful surprise when an envelope arrived at the office for ME! It truly made my day!

My counterpart in the national organization in Washington, D.C. sent me a lovely See America and our National Parks calendar as an appreciation gift.

In all of my working years, I have never received a gift from an organization that my boss served on so this was quite a memorable surprise. The note was very thoughtful too!

Darlene,Appreciation-Gift-Calendar-gift-idea-sunburst-gifts
Just a token in advance of my appreciation for our work together in the coming year with Dennis on NCSHA’s Executive Committee.

Best,
Cary

A thoughtful business appreciation gift for work I had yet to do. Now, that is unique!

This is going to be one of those “pass it forward” ideas to use not only within my own work place, but with others who work in other organizations when I want to show my appreciation for their help – whether in advance or afterwards!

Thank you, Cary! Your thoughtful, heartful gift of appreciation is the best!

We must stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.  – John F. Kennedy