Holiday Challenge: gifts for the kids’ teachers

  • By Deborah Brooks
  • 04 Oct, 2013
I went right to the source for some direction!

The Retired Teacher:

“Seriously, my favorite gifts were the things kids made for me themselves. Still, a few other good ideas were candles, cozy throws, and things for the beach or pool, like towels, bags, outdoor candles, outdoor beverage sets, etc. I loved getting any kinds of plants or flowers.

You can never go wrong with chocolate. Coffee mugs and tea sets are nice, but nothing with the apple theme please! I grew to hate the sight of apple mugs, apple bells, apple pins, etc.

Nice pen sets are great. I would advise against jewelry, scarves, and things like that. If the teacher doesn’t like them, she has to wear them anyway – kids expect it. Cooking gadgets and cookbooks are fun, and so are gift certificates to restaurants.

Don’t forget, say no to apples!”

The New Teacher:

“That’s a tough one. Perhaps the gift basket things? I got a lovely one a few years ago from a parent of one of my students. To be honest, I eventually regifted it, but it was still lovely.

Maybe holiday placemats, candle holders, napkin rings, etc..? A place setting for four might be nice too.

The one I got had cute mugs, cookies, and tea, but the wrapping was lovely, and I really appreciated it.”

So we’ve asked the experts, but I have a thought of my own.

If the classroom has a “room mother” – some parent representative for the class – small sums of money could be collected from the classmates to purchase a single gift certificate for a spa or restaurant for the teacher. It would probably be much more useful than dozens of smaller gifts from each student each year.
By Deborah Brooks 10 Feb, 2017
Good morning friends of the world. Though I’m currently buried in the blizzard conditions of Northeast, Pennsylvania, today is a new day and a great day for change.
This time of year it is common for magazines to be packed with articles on ‘organizational tips.’ They will display beautiful living spaces decorated in trendy colors, with pretty baskets, flowers, knick-knacks and various other décor. They will tell you to purge, urging you to spend money and buy new things.
Who doesn’t want to improve their home? Of course we all do. Being a home decore professional, owning my own furniture store and contrary to practical business 101, I’m telling you in good faith this mentality is all wrong.
I’m writing to tell you that purchasing more décor and adding to the clutter should not be your last step. Instead, start with never going to bed with a messy kitchen. Second, everyone makes their beds in the morning. Step three, hang up your bath towels. And lastly, put those dirty clothes in the hamper.
Follow these few simple steps and you’ll find yourself more content and maybe even finding your home deserving of a spotlight in Better Homes and Garden.
By Deborah Brooks 04 Oct, 2013
I went right to the source for some direction!

The Retired Teacher:

“Seriously, my favorite gifts were the things kids made for me themselves. Still, a few other good ideas were candles, cozy throws, and things for the beach or pool, like towels, bags, outdoor candles, outdoor beverage sets, etc. I loved getting any kinds of plants or flowers.

You can never go wrong with chocolate. Coffee mugs and tea sets are nice, but nothing with the apple theme please! I grew to hate the sight of apple mugs, apple bells, apple pins, etc.

Nice pen sets are great. I would advise against jewelry, scarves, and things like that. If the teacher doesn’t like them, she has to wear them anyway – kids expect it. Cooking gadgets and cookbooks are fun, and so are gift certificates to restaurants.

Don’t forget, say no to apples!”

The New Teacher:

“That’s a tough one. Perhaps the gift basket things? I got a lovely one a few years ago from a parent of one of my students. To be honest, I eventually regifted it, but it was still lovely.

Maybe holiday placemats, candle holders, napkin rings, etc..? A place setting for four might be nice too.

The one I got had cute mugs, cookies, and tea, but the wrapping was lovely, and I really appreciated it.”

So we’ve asked the experts, but I have a thought of my own.

If the classroom has a “room mother” – some parent representative for the class – small sums of money could be collected from the classmates to purchase a single gift certificate for a spa or restaurant for the teacher. It would probably be much more useful than dozens of smaller gifts from each student each year.
By Deborah Brooks 04 Oct, 2013
DYI wrapping paper is a great project for when it is still warm enough to paint outside. It keeps your kids busy and gets some Christmas preparation out of the way. Bonus: you also get to save money!

1. Unroll some packing paper, easel paper, or any other inexpensive plain paper you can find.

2. Fill paper plates with red and green paint; give your child sponges, toilet paper tubes, brushes, or simply their hands and feet and let them go crazy!

3. Rinse away the mess with the hose and a little soap.


Tada! You now have gorgeous, home-made Christmas wrapping paper and happy children too!
By Deborah Brooks 17 Sep, 2013
It’s hard to believe it is only 100 Days until Christmas.

Although the leaves are just starting to reveal their Autumn glory, it’s not too early to begin planning for the holiday season.

Here are few reasons to plan ahead:

  1.  It saves money.
  2.  It saves time.
  3.  It alleviates holiday stress.


Check back often for ideas to make your life easier during the Christmas season.
Christmas Cards
Christmas Cookies
Decorations
Wrapping
Shopping
Decorating your home
Center pieces
mantle
Party planning
Decorating the tree
Stockings
Christmas lights
Tables
Tips for cleaning
By Deborah Brooks 20 Aug, 2013
You’re never prepared when a devastating fire sweeps through your life.

It happened to us a few months ago, destroying our beautiful store, Ambience Furniture & Fine Gifts.

But alas, we have since re-opened, better than ever!

Still, the things I learned through the aftermath of the fire are worth sharing.

Let me begin my letting you know that we went through a complete renovation of our building just three years ago. All of the required inspections were done, and we were given a green light to occupy the building.

Despite our apparent thoroughness, it was a simple power strip made in China that sparked the blaze.

The fire marshal told my husband and I that it is never advisable to use an extension cord that is more than a year old. He went on to explain that his personal policy is to swap out his Chinese-made power strips once a year, at the same time also changing his smoke detector batteries.

Only use metal power strips in your house. Look for American made; they do exist.

Also, if you own a business, do not store your computer backup system there.

Most importantly, your insurance company is not going to take your word on what was actually in the building that was damaged by a fire.

Take pictures of your contents and what your building looks like. Any new items you bring in, or building improvements you make should be photographed and kept on file – outside of your space.

Save your receipts – also off site.

Oh, and another thing: when you’re buying insurance, kick in for the addition of “replacement value” coverage. It’s worth the extra money!!!

And be patient with your insurance company. The only thing these folks do quickly is request your monthly payment. Otherwise, be prepared to wait for a payout. And wait. And wait.

You never think this will happen to you but, it can. Being prepared is your wisest move. And of course, stay positive. Nothing is ever as awful as it may seem as first glance.
By Deborah Brooks 11 Mar, 2013
Many customers walk through our doors at Ambience Furniture & Fine Gifts and ask, “Does your house look as nice as this?”

I look around and think, “Dare I tell the truth?” Although I have always been “Type A” when it comes to my job, my personal space is much less organized than my elegant showroom.

We all live busy lives, and it is hard to keep track of it all. Have you ever had organization envy? Do you wonder how your friends keep it all together? Have you ever been embarrassed when someone unexpectedly stopped by your house or asked for a ride in your car?

If I am having company, I must say it is a marathon of cleaning, hiding, stuffing, and shoving. By the time my guests arrive, I am too exhausted to enjoy them. Then when they leave, I don’t have any idea where those things I hid, shoved, or stuffed are.

The world is full of “what-ifs,” so instead of worrying over mess and clutter, why not take…

The Timer Challenge!

I have developed a plan to organize my world, and yours. I hope you will join me in my journey so we can all have some harmony in our lives.

Why not grab a timer and give it a try?

In the morning, select an area in your house and set your timer for 10 minutes to pick up some clutter. Throw it out if you don’t need it, and make a pile to donate or take to a consignment shop.

Later, set your timer for 20 minutes to organize a drawer or closet.
Then, before or after dinner, set your timer for another 10 minutes to pick up more clutter.

Change is a difficult thing for anyone; just try switching your watch to your other wrist and see how that makes you feel.

Developing this new organizing routine is not going to happen overnight, but I promise you that in no time you will have sanity in your life. When you wake up in the morning or come home at night to a neater space, you will breathe a sigh of relief.

So, like Nike says: “Just do it!”

Set your timers, ladies and gents, three times a day to create your best Ambience and have sanity in your lives once and for all. In the past I would need all day, maybe two, to tackle organizing projects. I now give myself permission to only work on it for 20 minutes. This is not so daunting a task! And, should you choose to do so, adding two 10-minute periods of picking up clutter helps preserve your hard work.

Oh, one more thing! The key to the Timer Challenge is this: once you have your space organized, you always have to put the objects back in the same places.

Happy organizing!

Deb
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