Review Category : GalTime

How To Wear Blue Eyeshadow

From the spring 2013 runways to the red carpet, blue eyeshadow is having a major moment.

We’re 100% with you – it can seem scary putting blue on your peepers. The good news? This hot hue is totally wearable, whether you’re a blonde, redhead, or brunette. Celebrity Makeup Artist Laura Dillon says the key is following a few simple guidelines:

  • NEVER match your eyeshadow to your eye color. You want to make a statement, not get lost in the crowd.
  • ALWAYS keep your cheeks and lips on the lighter side. Redheads should stick with peachy/coral hues, blondes should think shades of sheer pink, and brunettes should reach for neutral tones, light pinks, or mauves.
  • ALWAYS use an eyelid primer. Since blue is a primary color, it can easily take on a different hue once its applied to bare skin. (For example, blue on reddish skin tends to turn purple.) A primer will prevent that from happening, not mention increase staying power.
  • ALWAYS use two different makeup brushes when you apply blue eyshadow. Dillon recommends an eye shading brush for the lid and a blending brush for the crease. Be sure to clean them often.
  • ALWAYS take an eyeshadow’s texture into consideration. Dillon says this can make or break a look. Younger looking eyes are plumper and smoother, so they’ll always be able to pull off vibrant and shimmery colors. More mature gals should reach for matte tones and subdued blues, which won’t draw as much attention to fine lines or look dated.
  • ALWAYS remember that matte shades tend to work best in the crease and up to the brow, esepcially if you’re working shimmer on the lids.  Dillon says too much shimmer gives an “overly blended” appearance.

RELATED The Ultimate Mascara Guide

(Top: M.A.C 217 Blending Brush, $23; Bottom: M.A.C 239 Eye Shader Brush, $25)

Now that you know the rules, it’s time to break out your makeup brushes. Here are three different looks to try…

Look #1 – Luxe Liner:

  1. Apply gel liner to the upper lashline (and along the lower one, if you’re up for it). Feeling crazy? Flick the line up and out when you reach the outer corner for a “winged” look.
  2. Using a smudge brush, trace/diffuse the line with your favorite blue shadow.
  3. Apply black or navy blue mascara. Voila!

(Try: M.A.C Fluidline in Waveline, $16; Smasbox Jet Set Waterproof Eye Liner in Teal, $22)

Look #2 – Simple Blue Smoke:

  1. Apply a medium to dark shade of blue to the lid. Lighter colors won’t work as well. You want drama!
  2. Apply a neutral shade through the crease (think taupe or beige), using a stiff/dry brush. Ideally, this color should be darker than your natural skin tone, but lighter than your lid color. The goal is to soften the line between the lid and the crease so the colors blend seamlessly.
  3. Apply a lighter shade (think cream or champage) from crease to brow using the same softening technique. Avoid frosty or shimmery colors, since they look dated.
  4. To enhance the look, apply a deep blue liner to the upper and lower lashes using a smudge brush.
  5. Finally, swipe on your favorite mascara in black or navy blue.

RELATED Eyelash Dehydration: Yes, It Can Happen!

(Try: Urban Decay Eyeshadow in Haight and Verve, $18; Stila Smudge Stick Waterproof Eye Liner in Bluefin, $20; Rimmel London Glam’Eyes Quad Shadow in Smokey Blue, $5.99; Maybelline EyeStudio Color Explosion Luminizing Eyeshadow, Blue Blowout, $10.49)

(Try: Urban Decay Naked Basics Matte Palette, $27)

Look #3 – Smokin’ Hot 

  1. Apply a vibrant or deep blue eyeshadow to the entire lid.
  2. Apply a neutral shade through the crease, using the softening technique described above.
  1. Apply dark brown or black shadow from the outer corner of the eyelid into the crease. Blend, blend, blend.
  2. Apply a highlighter from crease to brow.
  3. Finish off the look with black or navy mascara.

(Try: CARGO Color Palette in Vienna, $30; Yves Saint Laurent ‘Pure Chromatics’ Wet & Dry Eyeshadow Palette in #11, $55, L’Oreal Colour Riche Eye Shadow Quad in Love To Hate Me, $7.95, Flower Shadow Play Eye Shadow Quad in Blue Lagoons, $9.98)

With 13 years of experience in the fashion and beauty industry, Laura Dillon admits she is a true artist to her core. After transitioning from fashion design to a successful career as a Bumble and Bumble trained hairstylist and later as a color educator for Aveda, it only came natural for her to pick up her brush and paint faces. She has worked on a variety of famous faces, inclduing Nicole Richie and Cyntha Nixon, and has done editorial work in glossies like Improper Bostonian and Self Magazine. Laura Dillon is with Team Artist Representative, Inc. 

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Reasons To Keep Your Relationship Status A Secret

by Kelly Rouba for GalTime.com

You know that euphoria that fills you up when you first start dating someone? That fun and excitement of entering a new relationship that makes us want to shout it from the rooftops for all to hear? That feels really good. But sometimes, sharing the news widely isn’t a good idea. Sometimes, we should keep the rooftop-shouting only within range of our closest friends — at least for a little while — before we broadcast it online.

Carlee, of New Jersey, kept her relationships status quiet when she got back together with her ex-boyfriend.

“When I broke up with him, I hid my relationship status so I didn’t have to deal with people asking me what happened. I kept it hidden even after we got back together a couple months later, until I was sure things were okay between us and so people wouldn’t interfere in our relationship,” Carlee said. “Now that we’ve been back together for a while, it’s unhidden again.”

April, of New Jersey, understands Carlee’s quietness, which is why her Facebook status always indicates she is in a relationship even though she is currently single.

“I also want to avoid people asking questions like ‘what happened’ or just knowing information I may still be sensitive to,” April says, adding that she also keeps that status for safety purposes. “I don’t want unnecessary people sending me inappropriate messages or text messages.”

Relationship expert and dating consultant Stacie Ikka says displaying your true relationship status on Facebook isn’t necessarily a bad idea, but there are instances when it’s smart to hold off on announcing who you are dating or if you are involved with someone at all to your online circles.

Here’s when she says it’s best to keep your relationship status quiet.

1. IF YOU GET A LOT OF UNWANTED POKES, WINKS AND INVITATIONS

Some people see a “single” status on Facebook as an invitation to be in contact, overtly flirt or even harass someone. If you are getting invitations that make you uncomfortable, consider leaving your relationship status blank.

“If you are single and not necessarily looking to use Facebook as a dating site and simply selected that status because you thought that all fields in your profile needed to be filled out–BEWARE!,” Ikka says. Sometimes other singles, and even people who are in relationships already, prey on women who announce that they are on the market.

2. IF YOU DON’T WANT OTHER PEOPLE TO INTERFERE IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP OR ROMANTIC BUSINESS

“For a relationship to develop between two people in a way that leads to a healthy future, it is often best that the details and status of that relationship be contained among the two people involved—and the select few they choose to confide in,” Ikka advises.

This also goes for those who are entering a new relationship.

“Moving from a casual to a committed relationship can often be tricky,” Ikka offers, “and opening up that relationship to an online audience, which is presumably broader than one’s immediate social circle, opens the relationship up to commentary—some of which could be damaging, especially if the relationship is new.”

Consider keeping your status quiet for a certain amount of time or until the two of you feel secure in this new arrangement. Like Carlee, you may also want to consider updating your status at that point without sharing it widely through your newsfeed.

3. IF YOU WANT TO EASE SOME OF THE PRESSURE

“If the couple has not discussed how or whether they are going to ‘announce’ their union on Facebook, and one party goes ahead and changes their status, it might make the other party feel uncomfortable or put unnecessary pressure on that person,” Ikka says. “Even if it was a joint decision, it exposes the relationship to scrutiny, observations, and involvement that is not necessarily appropriate during the early phases of a relationship, where the focus should really be on whether attraction, compatibility, common values, and shared interests will survive the long-term.”

4. IF YOU WANT AN EASIER BREAKUP

Splitting up can be more complicated if a thousand of your Facebook friends can see your status.

“Breakups are painful in the best of times,” reminds Ikka. And changing a status from “in a relationship” to “single” or even “it’s complicated” can draw attention right in the middle of that pain. ”Even if that attention comes in the form of support and sympathy to an already difficult, personal, and emotional experience.”

5. IF YOU’RE FED UP WITH JUDGMENT ABOUT YOUR LOVE LIFE

Facebook is not your diary or a private conversation with your best friend. It’s a loudspeaker to every one of your coworkers, high-school frenemies, mom’s friends, and siblings you are connected with on the social network. Not all of them may get the situation, or you.

“If you are the type of Facebook user who updates your relationship status on a regular basis and that status is changing with a frequency that others may deem abnormal, you are opening yourself up to judgment, ridicule, and the potential for losing credibility amongst your Facebook network,” Ikka says bluntly. “So, if you are sensitive to other people’s opinions, think carefully before changing your relationship status and ask yourself why you’re doing it.”

6. IF YOU OFTEN GIVE IN TO PEER PRESSURE

In many relationships, Ikka says, one person is more guarded about their personal life and details. The other person may be more forthcoming and therefore have no issue with listing their relationship status online.

“It’s not uncommon in these circumstances for the more private individual to feel pressure to change their status for fear of not appearing loyal or committed to their partner or the relationship,” Ikka notes.

Resentment can build, she says, and the private person may let that spill over into real-life interactions with their partner.

“It’s usually a sign of bigger problems,” Ikka adds.

Avoid this friction by discussing what works best for both of you, even if that means the more open person lists a status and is understanding if the more private partner doesn’t.

7. IF YOU DON’T WANT TO HEAR FROM A NOSY OR AGGRESSIVE EX

Want to nix any opportunity for your ex to get back in touch, troll around your profile or hunt for more infomation about your new relationship? Then consider keeping your status set at a lower volume.

Showing you’re in a relationship can be an invitation for exes to peer into your current love life, Ikka says.

“Although nosy exes always have their offline ways of determining your relationship status, putting your relationship status on Facebook — especially if you are naming the person you’re in the relationship with — only encourages ‘stalker’-type behavior and may prompt them to attempt to sabotage or disrupt your new relationship,” she warns.

Those who are in the process of divorcing may also want to avoid displaying their relationship status, especially if they’ve begun seeing someone new.

“If you are in the process of a separation or a divorce, it might not be a good idea to draw attention to your relationship status for the benefit of any children involved, especially if they are on Facebook, and to protect yourself throughout any court proceedings.”

8. IF YOU HAVE OVERBEARING PARENTS

Have parents who are anxious for you to get married or just be partnered up?

Stating that you are in a relationship could give your “parents false hope, further fodder for offline marital pressure, and render them an even greater annoyance as well as promote unnecessary involvement in your personal life,” Ikka warns. Keep in mind, “even if they’re not on Facebook, they will find out…and FAST!”

9. IF YOU’RE NOT UP FOR EXPLAINING COMPLICATED CIRCUMSTANCES

Although it might be tempting to select the “it’s complicated’ relationship status, Ikka advises against it.

Why?

“You are professing to the Facebook world that you are in relationship that is not completely fulfilling you and that you are settling,” she explains. “We all know you deserve better than that – even if you don’t believe it yourself. Again, you are opening yourself up to unnecessary judgment, loss of credibility, perhaps pity, and vulnerability. All relationships have their complications, but if you’re with the right partner, then your status would simply read ‘In a Relationship.’ Anyone who’s ever been in a relationship understands that things are not always perfect and, at times, may be complicated.”

10. IF YOU DON’T THINK OPEN RELATIONSHIPS HAVE TO BE AN OPEN BOOK

“While in this day and age, society may be more accepting of alternate forms of relationships, like polyamorous, bisexual, transgender, homosexual, etc., this is another category that leaves you wide open to judgment,” Ikka cautions. “People will naturally jump to conclusions. For example, they may believe you have commitment issues or that you are promiscuous or whatever else this status conjures up in their imaginative minds.”

You don’t have to be responsible for other people’s concerns, criticisms or even their assumptions. But if you have a tendency to get wrapped up in them or if you would rather put your kind of relationship up for public scrutiny, then consider educating and informing others about in ways outside of social networks.

11. IF YOUR PROFILE IS FOR PROFESSIONAL USE

Facebook, for many folks, is a professional networking tool, an avenue for job-hunting or a way to stay in touch with clients.  Many companies also use Facebook to check up on their employees or to survey someone’s social presence before a job interview.

“If you are using Facebook for business purposes or suspect your personal information could get back to your employers or associates, then you may want to keep your page purely professional, this includes keeping your relationship status hidden,” Ikka advises.

Have you opted to keep your relationship status quiet? Why? How did that work out for you — and your partner?

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Why Sporting Events Make Great Dates

by Suzanne Casamento for GalTime.com

With the exception of baseball, I am not a big sports fan. But I am a big fan of attending a sporting event as a date. Sporting events can give you great insights into who you’re dating and what to expect from them — and what to expect when you’re with them outside of the stadium, away from the field and when a ref is not around.

What His Ticket Tells You

Your education about your date begins before he even leaves the house. Is your date a season-ticket holder? If so, this guy is serious. Season-ticket holders fork over big cash to attend games, which means that he has prioritized his budget and his schedule to be there. If you plan on dating an NFL season-ticket holder (and let’s not assume just yet that you will be sitting in the seat next to him at every game), you might want to join an afternoon book club or sign up for hot yoga on Sundays next fall. Or maybe you can master the sport and get invited to a game or two. But whatever you do, don’t expect him to stop going to games so he can hang out with you. It’s not going to happen and if you push for it, he’s going to resent you.

Now that you have your ticket info, the next thing you need to know is how your guy tailgates. Does he keep a beer funnel in his trunk and pull it out once he parks in Section C with all his old frat buddies? Or does he visit his butcher on game day and select rib eyes for the two of you and the friends you’ll be meeting?

Once you arrive, does he toss you a beer in a can or does he introduce you to his friends, pour you a glass of cabernet and ask you to help him man the grill? The way he parties can say a lot about a guy. Does he know how to eat and drink like a gentleman or is he a grown up trying to relive his college years? And which do you prefer?

What His Cheering (and Jeering) Reveals

Inside the stadium, does your date play well with others? Does he give the stink eye to people rooting for the opposite team or is he cordial to the other fans seated around you?

How does he treat you during the event? Does he ask if you’re hot or cold? Hungry? Thirsty? Does he involve you in the game with comments like, “Did you see that?!” If he treats you well and considers you in a scenario in which he’s most likely seriously distracted, that’s a good sign that he’ll consider you all the time.

Is He A Big Loser?

Finally, how does he handle a loss? Some sports fanatics slip into serious depression after their team tanks. Some guys can’t speak to anyone for hours. They may be depressed for days. Take note of his reaction when his team loses. If he goes dark and moody, ask yourself if you can handle bouts of misery for days on end.

And don’t forget to enjoy the game. You don’t have to be a pro to have a good time watching guys shoot baskets or slap hockey pucks. A high-energy crowd plus an action packed game is a formula for a winning date!

What great sports event dates have you had?

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How To Rock Faux Fur

by Jessica Conway, Associate Producer for GalTime

Whether you’re debating buying into the trend or you’re a seasoned faux fur collector, these fuzzy pieces are the perfect fashion statement this winter! We asked Michelle Williamson, Style Editor for New York Girl Style, for the 411 on faux fur.

What are the hottest faux fur accessories this season? If you’re just opening up to the trend, vests and scarves are a super easy way to incorporate faux fur into any wardrobe. These two styles are quite popular and can be worn many ways – you can throw them on with jeans or over a black mini. We’re also seeing a lot of hats, both hunter caps and ’50s toque-type style hats are in! (Below: C Wonder Faux Fur Vest, $109.99)

How can you wear these styles without looking like you’re ready for the North Pole? The trick is to not overdo it. It’s lofty, so layering a faux fur piece over sleek shapes and fabrics creates a nice juxtaposition of textures. Don’t be afraid to toss a furry vest over a denim jacket or another woven fabric. Faux fur scarves look great peeking out from the neckline of a double breasted jacket. (Below: Forever 21 Faux Fur Scarf, $12.80)

Which colors and styles should readers look for? Natural colors and patterns like leopard are always classic, but there are also some fun faux patterns to play with – so don’t be afraid to try stripes, zig zags, chevrons. Graphic black and white really make a statement when paired with an all black outfit. When venturing into colors not found in nature, tread carefully by making sure that the quality is there so it doesn’t read cheap. That being said, jewel tones are a nice alternative! (Below: Michael Stars Pop Accent Trapper Hat, $38)

Is it best to save these accessories for outside? Vests and scarves can easily be worn indoors if they’re not insanely bulky. If it restricts your movement, it’s probably best to keep it for outdoor wear. Faux fur hats look out of place when worn indoors, but they’re perfect for hitting the streets on a chilly day!

What is the best way to store faux fur in the off-season? Gently use a soft-bristled brush to clean faux fur items. If they are meant to be left hanging, use a padded hanger and don’t put it in a plastic garment bag. Store the piece in a dark, dry place where it won’t get exposed to excessive heat.

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5 Beauty No-No’s

by Sasha Beauty Blogger for GalTime.com

We tend to focus on the must-dos when it comes to our daily beauty regimen, but what about the no-nos? With our ever-increasing busy schedules, it’s no wonder bad habits end up working their way into our beauty routines. (Note to self: stop going to bed with makeup on…oh, and wearing waaaay-expired makeup!)

So with the New Year (aka New Beauty Resolutions) right around the corner, we decided to proactively embrace the whole out with the bad old, in with the new formula. Here are five bad habits to break, STAT…and some no-nonsense tips to help break ‘em:

Not cleaning your makeup brushes: After cleaning your house from top to bottom, cleaning your makeup brushes probably isn’t a top priority. But bacteria (and even mold) can form in a brushes fibers and then transfer to your skin (which means bad news and can lead to skin and eye infections).

Problem solver: A spray-on sanitizer. These timesaving germ-killers instantly sanitize and remove residue and build-up. A good rule of thumb: clean your regularly-used brushes once per week. One to try: Clinique Makeup Brush Cleanser ($14)

Wearing makeup that expired when J-Lo and Ben Affleck were a couple: We get it. You paid darn good money for that mega-expensive mascara, but makeup products can collect bacteria (think mini Petri dishes) over time, and ingredients eventually separate or just stop working properly.

Problem solver: Replace mascaras after three months. Cream-based makeup (i.e. blush, foundation, foundation, and eye shadows) should be tossed after six months. Powders are the long-term players and can be kept up to two years. Lipsticks last around one year, but if you notice its texture starts to feel dry or cakey, replace it. Worried you won’t be able to keep track of purchase dates? Simply apply a mini index label to each piece along with the date you bought it (i.e. 11-15-12).

Pimple popping: That pimple might as well have a flashing neon arrow pointing to it, but unfortunately, popping that blemish can leave a major red mark for days and possible long-term scarring.

Problem solver: Try applying an ice cube for several seconds and repeat this a few times. The intense cold can help shrink the cyst (AKA white head). Then apply an acne spot treatment. One to try: Bliss No Zit Sherlock Spot Treatment ($18)

Forgetting the SPF: Make no mistake, beauty mavens, wearing proper sunscreen is the single most important beauty (and health) habit in the beauty commandments. (Thou shalt not forget to apply daily SPF!) Skipping sunscreen can cause brown spots, wrinkles, or the scariest of all: skin cancer.

Problem solver: If your moisturizer or foundation doesn’t contain proper SPF, go the quick n’ easy route: a spray-on SPF mist (and don’t forget about your hands, chest, and other exposed areas). One to try: L’Oreal Advanced Sunscreen Crystal Clear Mist SPF 30 ($10)

Overusing the Clarisonic: Hey, if exfoliating is good for the skin, then surely there’s no such thing as too much of it, right? Wrong. Electric face brushes ,or any exfoliating product, should really only be used 2-3 times per week, otherwise your “too-much-of-a-good-thing” approach might cause redness, dry patches, or dehydrated skin.

Problem solver: Make specific days (i.e. Mondays, Wednesdays, Saturdays) your planned exfoliation days, so you don’t fall into the over-exfoliation rut. And if you find you’ve over done it in the scrubbing department, step away from the exfoliants and use a heavy-duty moisturizer until your skin heals.

Here’s to kicking bad beauty habits and replacing them with face-saving ones that just might positively influence our bad fitness habits, too. (Okay, that second part may be a bit of a stretch but a girl can dream, can’t she?)

Are you guilty of any of these beauty no-nos, GalTimers? What’s your worst bad beauty habit? Share ‘em in the comments section below!

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Be A Bombshell On A Budget

by Mary Schwager, Consumer Watchdog for GalTime.com

Forget traveling from department store to department store in the hopes of snagging a great deal on beauty products. With a little creative thinking, budget beauty can be yours!

Just ask model Gina Elise who knows a thing or two about creating beautiful looks for less. When Gina first started Pin-Ups for Vets, a non-profit organization that creates and sells calendars of vintage inspired pretty-girl images with proceeds going to help raise money for veterans and military hospitals, she had to be very budget-conscious. Gina had to come up with creative, budget-friendly ways to obtain classic pin-up beauty. Gina would buy makeup from drug store chains, scour discount department stores and thrift stores for costumes and shoes, and even snag wigs from Halloween stores!

Wondering how you can become a bombshell on a budget? Check out Gina’s top 5 calendar girl secrets:

1. Take full advantage of your local Goodwill or Salvation Army thrift stores

Thrift stores contain treasures for anyone looking to conjure up their inner bombshell. Look for dresses that are below the knee (polka dots and floral patterns create an instant retro vibe). Hunt for fun belts to combine with dresses, as belted waists are essential for creating unstoppable pin-up curves. And of course, be on the lookout for pencil skirts. Keep your eye out for sexy platform and peep-toe shoes. Don’t forget to peruse your local outdoor flea markets for vintage jewelry, jeweled broaches, and replica bakelite jewelry.

2. Pay a visit to your local drug store

Thanks to bombshells like Adele, Lana Del Rey, Katy Perry and Dita Von Teese, the cat eye is back in style! My go-to liquid liner to create this look is Revlon’s Colorstay liquid eye pen in “Blackest Black.” The eye pen is perfect for first time cat-eye fans because it’s drip-proof. To enhance this look, grab some false eyelashes while you’re in the cosmetics aisle (Psst! Ardell makes self-adhesive lashes so you don’t have to mess around with glue). Finish off the look with red nail polish and red lipstick.

3. Do-It-Yourself Locks

Ladies, allow me to introduce to you the best thing since sliced bread: Wrap, Snap and Go Hair Rollers available from Sally Beauty Supply. For years, I’ve spent hours standing in front of my bathroom mirror with a curling iron rushing to get ready (and have the burns to prove it). Take the drama out of creating perfect curls with these hair rollers that will have you saying hello to gorgeous, bouncy curls without all the fuss.

To dress up any alluring hairstyle, purchase a flower from your local craft store to tuck behind one ear. You can also hot glue the flower to a comb or clip so it stays in place.

4. Use You-Tube!

There are so many incredible makeup and hair tutorials on You Tube to choose from! Type in key words like “1940s hairstyle” or “1940s makeup” to get started. The wonderful thing about watching online tutorials is that you have the ability to do your hair/makeup right along with the tutorial, pausing, stopping and starting as needed!

5. Free hair and makeup? Yes, please!

Give your local cosmetology school a call; their students often need hair and faces to practice on! This is a great way to get pampered while helping students perfect their skills under the watchful eye of experienced instructors.

 

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Teaching Kids To Write Thank You Notes

by Michele Borba, Ed.D., Parenting Pro for GalTime.com

Did you know that writing a “thank you” note is a simple, proven way to boost your child’s gratitude? That’s what researchers from the University of  California at Davis and Southern Methodist University found. Researchers also discovered that being thankful might be the key to raising  your child’s happiness and well-being.

For the past ten years, two professors, Robert Emmons and Michael McCollugh, have examined data of several hundred people who were involved in  their  simple gratitude experiments. One ten-week study asked a group to write down five things in a journal they were grateful for that happened in the last week  for four days a week.

A second group listed ways they were better off than others as a way to appreciate their blessings. The psychologists then looked at the medical and  psychological tests of each participant prior to the study, and then again ten weeks later. Those simple gratitude exercises made those participants  feel 24 percent happier.

But that’s not all: the students were also more optimistic about the future, felt better about their lives, slept better, felt healthier and less stressed,  were less materialistic and more likely to help others. And those results were not hard to achieve.

Best yet, you can help your child reap some of those results just by encouraging them to write thank yous.

While most of us agree that writing “thank you” cards is a habit of gratitude we should encourage, getting many kids to actually write them – without the  whines and complaints — is often a problem.

So here are a few fun (and a bit sneaky) tricks to getting your kids to write those notes for this year’s batch of  holidays presents.

8 Tips to Get Kids Into the Habit of Writing Thank Yous

Set expectations for gratitude. Be clear and upfront this year. Any present–regardless of the price or size–deserves a “thank you” card. If your kids hear those expectations now, they’ll be less likely to put up a battle later. Parents who raise grateful kids don’t do so by accident.

Keep reminding! Keep in mind that kids may need constant reminders. “Did you remember to thank Jeff’s mom?” And don’t overlook the slips: “You can call to thank her when you get home.”

Enforce the “Write then play” rule. Implement one simple family rule: “You must write the thank you note first, and then you may use the gift.” Believe me, that mandate speeds up the writing process.

Set age appropriate guidelines. A young child can dictate his comments and only needs to sign his name. School age kids should use this rule from The Etiquette and Leadership Institute at Athens, Georgia: “The total number of sentences in a thank you note should be half the child’s age.” So a ten-year-old should be expected to write a minimum of five complete sentences; a six-year-old should write just three sentences.

Turn on kids’ creative juices. Another way to get kids more involved in the “thank you” writing process is to ask them to come up with their own unique way of thanking Grandma. A few creative “thank you” card ideas for kids might include:

  • Making a video just for that person that expresses appreciation.
  • Taking a photo of the child wearing or using the gift. The developed four-by-six inch print makes an instant postcard; the child just writes a brief note on the back and addresses and mails it. Tweens and teens can take a photo from their cell phone and send it to Grandma (along with a thoughtful message).
  • Writing the thank you on a piece of card stock and then cut it into a few pieces like a jigsaw puzzle.
  • Spelling out the thank you use M&M’s or alphabet cereal glued on a piece of cardboard.
  • Picking a flower and press it flat for a few days between wax paper arranged inside a heavy book. Once the flower is pressed send it inside a heavy piece of folded paper with a note.

Help imagine the emotion behind the gesture. A hard lesson for kids to learn is that they’re really thanking the person not for the gift but the thoughtfulness behind it. “Grandma thought a lot about what to give you this year.” “Mark went to five stores to try to find what would make you happiest.” Keep reinforcing the thought that went into the purchase.

Be the example. One final tip: Remember, your kids are watching your example. So don’t forget to write thank you notes yourself! Have you written your thank yous?

Thank your kids. What about thanking your kids? Don’t overlook your kids’ daily thoughtful deeds. Just be sure to tell them what they did that you appreciate so that they are more likely to copy your example and send their own “appreciation messages” to others.

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8 Great Winter Dates

by Kelly Rouba, Writer for GalTime.com

Date ideas that will melt your heart

As the weather gets colder and the nights get longer, it’s tempting to just stay inside and cuddle up with your partner under a warm blanket while watching a good movie. And while alone time is always nice (and necessary), don’t let the winter weather stop you from getting out with your special someone and creating memories that will last a lifetime.

“[Women] should make time for winter dates because it gives their partner a chance to show off his or her romantic side, more so than just walking down the beach on a summer day or having a picnic in the park during the spring. Winter dates scream romance!” says Tierra Fields of New Jersey.

As far as romantic winter dates go, Fields says nothing beats a good old -fashioned carriage ride. Some towns also offer festive trolley rides during the holidays, which is a nice way to see the sights while enjoying each other’s company.

Dating expert and founder of the match site Sitting In A Tree, Stacie Ikka says that there are many wintertime activities that can make for memorable dates and that couples should take full advantage of those opportunities.

“Any opportunity to date is a good opportunity to date, weather conditions notwithstanding,” she says. “If you’re using cold temperatures as a reason not to get out there, what other excuses are you making and what other self-imposed obstacles are you creating for reaching the love you so richly deserve?”

So if you and your partner are ready to get out of the house but still aren’t sure what to do, try one (or more…or all!) of Ikka’s 8 best suggestions for heart-warming winter dates.

Go ice skating

Even if you can’t make it to the famed Rockefeller Center to ice skate, hitting a local rink can be just as fun. Holding hands as you skate around the ice and then sharing a cup of hot chocolate to warm up afterwards makes for a nice afternoon or evening out.

Visit a gourmet coffee shop and order a personalized concoction for each other

“My boyfriend used to do this all the time and while it drove the baristas a little crazy, it was a simple adventure and indulgence for us,” Ikka said, recalling, “He would go up and order while I waited at a table or in the car, come back proudly holding a coffee cup, and I’d—on cue—ask, ‘So, what’d we get this time?’ I can only imagine it would be that much more fun with someone you don’t know as well.” As an added bonus, some coffee shops have nice fireplaces to snuggle up by while sipping your special drink. (Be sure to be mindful of personal preferences and allergies when ordering!)

Hit the hills on a tobogan or sled

If weather conditions permit, going sledding or tobogganing is the perfect way to establish physical contact without crossing too many personal boundaries. It is also great exercise, and it may take the damper out of an otherwise bleak winter afternoon. Plus, it is way more exciting than the typical “coffee date!”

Build a snowman

Sound silly? Consider that  there’s something about reliving childhood activities that tends to conjure up feelings of nostalgia, comfort, playfulness, and warmth—all of which go a long way in alleviating dating fatigue or dread. If you find yourself having too much fun and don’t want the date to end, consider grabbing some soup afterwards to warm up and carry on some good conversation.

Visit a bakery and then spread some holiday cheer

My favorite date begins with stopping at your local bakery or coffee shop to purchase some hot chocolate and donuts to give away. Before doing so, set a reasonable budget (perhaps $20 between the two of you). Then step outside to whatever Winter Wonderland awaits you and share your goodies with strangers, the homeless, neighboring retailers, or whoever you know is in need. It’s a great way to observe your date’s social skills, and it’s a relatively selfless, pay-it-forward endeavor. This activity also takes some of the pressure and focus off of you and your date so you’re not stuck staring at each other across the table!

Cook together

Assuming it’s a blustery winter day and going outside just isn’t an option, try picking out some new or unusual recipes and then make them together. There’s nothing like enjoying good comfort food on a cold winter’s night, and then snuggling up in front of a movie to digest.

Recreate your first (or pivotal) date, if you met during the winter

If your partner planned it the first time, perhaps you can plan it the second time. Be sure to add a few touches that demonstrate how the relationship has grown or how that first date was so instrumental in allowing the relationship to evolve.

Volunteer together at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter

This activity not only allows you both to give back to your community, but you’re doing a good deed while getting to spend time with each other. It’s a win-win.

Keep in mind, this list just scratches the surface. There are endless possibilities when it comes to planning a winter date. Just don’t let them slip by!

 

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Easy Ways To Recycle Last Year’s Christmas Cards

by Katie Myers, Design Diva for GalTime.com

Ever feel like the Grinch when throwing away last year’s pile of holiday greeting cards? I know I sure do! To combat this Grinch-y feeling I’ve come up with a few creative ways to reuse and recycle these gorgeous holiday greeting cards.

If you’re in the mood to spread some cheer this holiday season just like Santa, pour yourself a nice steaming cup of hot cinnamon chocolate, and try making these simple Holi-DIY projects at home!

Make a Wine Bottle Tag. Festive parties are in full swing this time of year and bringing a gift is always a polite (and much appreciated) gesture to thank the host. Since a bottle of champagne or wine tends to be one of the most popular gifts, it’s a good idea to include a tag so the host can remember which gift was yours.

Step 1: Use a pencil to trace an outline in the shape (squares, circles, and stars work well) that you’d like your wine tag.

Step 2: Cut along the outline that you traced.

Step 3: Punch a hole in the top of the card.

Step 4: Write your message using a marker.

Step 5: Loop a piece of twine or ribbon around your card and tie it to the bottle. (Le Box Boutique Twine, $5.50)

Create Ornaments for the Christmas Tree! Pulling out the box of holiday ornaments and adorning the tree is a beloved annual tradition for many families. In addition to admiring pieces from the past few years, turn old cards from friends and family into new sentimental reminders on your tree. When creating the ornaments, try to use colors or winter scenes that match the rest of your tree.

*Follow the steps described above, but tie card onto a Christmas tree.

 

Create Wine Markers. You know how it is – you’re in the middle of a party and you set your glass down in the midst of a great conversation. Then, after you’ve finished chatting you go to grab your glass and can’t remember which one is yours! This doesn’t have to happen to guests at your holiday party as long as you take just a few minutes to create wine markers. Make sure each glass showcases a different scene or color scheme.

*Follow the steps described above, but tie card onto a champagne or wine glass.

 

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10 Rules For Couple Gifts

by Johanna Lyman, The JOY Professor for GalTime

Do you love the season but not the shopping?

I love the holidays, but I’m not a fan of buying gifts. I’m one of those rare women who don’t like to shop. I agonize over buying the perfect gift, but I’m not great with paying attention to details, so I never know what the perfect gift might be. This year, I decided to think outside the gift-giving box and come up with my best tips for making it all easier.

1. Be blunt when you talk to your Santa. If there’s something special you want from your man, ask for it directly. I know, I know, it’s uncomfortable to ask for what you want. But don’t you think you deserve it? Your man is not a mind reader, even if he loves you beyond all reason. He won’t think you’re being pushy if you give him a few ideas, in fact he’ll love you for it. Trust me on this one.

2. Splurge on yourself. Give yourself the gift of a makeover or splurge on an outfit that makes you feel like a million bucks. The holidays can be a difficult time for people with self-esteem issues (in other words, most of us). One way to keep from getting the holiday blues is to do something that tell you “I’m worth it.” Because it’s true: you are worth it.

3. Your time and talents and donations count as gifts. Another great way to get happy during the holidays is to give the gift of your time, talents and treasures to those in need. Donate toys to the Marines, pick a couple of tags off a Christmas tree at the bank and buy the requested item for a needy child, and/or volunteer with your sweetie at the local soup kitchen. Maybe Christmas, as the Grinch discovered, isn’t about “things, after all.” Short on time? Make a donation to the local food bank so families in need can have a happy holiday meal.

4. Give him something he loves even if you don’t love it. Now onto some actual gift ideas. If your man is into video games, go to a gaming store and ask the sales associate what the most popular new games are then buy one of those for him. I know you probably hate his Xbox, but that’s not the point. The gift is for him, not you. He’ll love you even more for getting him a game when he knows you’re not a fan of gaming.

5. Help him cheer on his team. If he’s into watching professional sports, get him tickets to the next home game. If those are too pricey, opt for an officially sanctioned jersey. The non-sanctioned jerseys and t-shirts are usually pretty cheesy and he’ll love you for knowing the difference, especially if you don’t care about his team.

6. Turn TV into a great gift. Does he have a favorite television series, or is he a history buff? There are plenty of boxed DVD sets that make great gifts. The History of World War II in an 8-DVD set will keep him entertained for hours. The side benefit of this gift is that while he’s watching the DVDs, you can have a guilt-free girls’ night out.

7. Spice it up with a gift you’ll both enjoy. If you want to get him something you’ll both enjoy, opt for a weekend getaway. Inside the gift box, include some lingerie for yourself, with details of the trip folded on top. Remember, this is a gift for him. If you’re going to enjoy it as well, it’s nice to make it special for him.

8. Turn up the volume. For music lovers, there are plenty of options. Satellite radio for his car, a boxed CD/DVD set of his favorite band complete with never before seen live concert footage, or even an iTunes gift card. Concert tickets are a great idea too; get him two and tell him to take his buddy. Then you can have another guilt-free girls’ night out.

9. Skip the chore-related gifts. Whatever you do, do not buy him something that you want. Also, do not buy him a tool that he needs to complete a project you want him to work on. That’s selfish and transparent; it’s like him buying you a vacuum cleaner.

10. Stay focused on the two of you. You may have noticed that only one of my gift suggestions was something that you would enjoy together. There are two reasons for that. First of all, gifts are supposed to be for the receiver, not the giver. Second, as important as it is to spend quality time together, it’s equally important to spend time apart. That’s why getting him a gift that gives you time to yourself or time with your girlfriends is a double win. Healthy relationships develop between healthy individuals, and knowing how to spend time alone is one way to cultivate being a healthy individual.

Happy shopping! 

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