DIY Christmas Gifts

DIY Christmas Gifts

Some years I go crazy with the gifts during Christmas, and end up with a lot of debt in the new year, but this year is different. I love my friends and family so so much, but my “love language” is definitely spending time with my loved ones or spending time making them something they will truly enjoy, rather than just giving them random useless things because “it’s the thought that counts.”

I thought I would share some tips for gifts you can make for your friends and family that they will love, as well as some that are budget friendly!

  1. A Statement-A-Day Jar: This year for B’s birthday I made him a jar filled with 365 notes that included different sayings, things I loved about him, things I wanted to do with him, and memories or funny anecdotes we shared throughout the past year. This really is such a great gift idea, because they will have something to open every single day until the next year.
    •  What you’ll need: 
      • 1 large jar (I recommend this 64oz. jar for the size)
      • Ribbon (I used this to put at the top of the jar so it looked “finished;” you may have this laying around your house, or you can pick up from the 99c store)
      • Gift Bag (A gift bag is easier to wrap the jar with, than wrapping paper, but you can do either; you can pick this up from the 99c store)
      • Tissue Paper (I use this to fill the gift bag with; you can pick this up from the 99c store)
      • Stationary Paper (I chose this Christmas one, but they have so many other decorative papers online or at Joann Crafts or Michael’s)
      • Pen (I love these felt tipped pens with different colors, but a regular pen or Sharpie works just fine too!)
      • Scissors (I cut the paper into strips 1″ x 3″, so you will get 12 strips for every sheet of the 6″ x 6″ paper I linked above)
      • Time! This project took me several hours, making sure I had enough topics to write down as well as counting and re-counting the papers to make sure I had 365
  2. Hand Made Photo Album: I made this gift for my parents a few years ago for Christmas and it was so simple and appreciated! We all have our phones attached to our hips, which means we always have our cameras with us at all times, THEREFORE, you probably already have a ton of candid photos of your family and friends. To make this album, I took scrapbooking cardstock, printed out my favorite photos of them and glued them on the pages. I secured the album with ribbon and it was so simple. 
    • What you’ll need: 
      • Scrapbooking paper or Craft Paper (This will make up the pages of your book.) 
      • Glue-stick or Washi Tape (to hold images down; if using washi tape, I recommend sticking the corners down on a diagonal, or taping only the top and bottom with smaller strips.)
      • Photo paper & printer (or you could have this printed at a photo developer like CVS or online)
      • Hole puncher (use this to punch three holes in the side of the paper and thread with twine or ribbon to create a binding.)
      • Ribbon or Twine (to secure the book together, I’ve linked thin satin ribbon, because that’s what I prefer, but you could use curling ribbon instead (it just needs to be small enough to fit through the punched holes.)
      • Scissors (to cut photos out)
      • Sharpie (to write words, or make designs around the photos)
  3. Personalized gift cards: When I was younger, I obviously couldn’t work, which meant I didn’t have a lot of money to spend on gifts, but I could gift “acts of service.” An act of service is a practical gift that enables the recipient to basically get time back for themselves. (and who doesn’t need more time?!) Since this gift is really up to you, I am going to list a few things you could “gift” your friends and family. However, in making these certificates, you could either create them on your computer using Photoshop or Word, online through a program called Canva, or by hand on nice cardstock.
    • Some examples could be: 
      • Washing their car
      • At home manicure/pedicure
      • Picking up their mail, groceries, dry cleaning, etc.
      • Running errands for them
      • Walking their dog
      • Bathing their dog
      • Pet-sitting
      • Cooking a nice dinner for them
      • Their sober chauffeur for the evening, instead of Uber
      • If you have experience: Wardrobe Styling, home organization, makeup application, hair styling/blowout
      • If you are knowledgable on a subject they are interested in, you could give them a 1 on 1 lesson
      • The list could really go on and on…

I hope these few ideas gave you a little DIY gift inspiration this year, especially if you’re short on time! Let me know what DIY or low budget gifts you have planned this year!! 

4 Tips for Maintaining a Work/Life Balance

4 Tips for Maintaining a Work/Life Balance

Whether you work from home, at an office, or as the CEO of a multi-million dollar company, maintaining a work/life balance is always a difficult issue we deal with. When you’re at work, you’re worrying about your home life, and when you’re at home, you’re feeling guilty for not working. 

I decided to make a list of a few tips to help you more easily maintain a work/home life balance.

  1. DO NOT multi-task at work: Did you know you could finish the same amount of work in 30 hrs (or less) that normally takes you 40 hours to complete? This is because you are multi-tasking, which is not efficient long term. When you’re at work, focus on one task at a time, and complete it before moving onto the next.
    •  When you’re trying to focus on the task at hand, while having 30 tabs open on your browser, and checking your email, during a weekend conversation with your coworker, you aren’t able to complete the one most important task at hand, but instead, you feel like a chicken with it’s head cut off bouncing from one screen to the next, not knowing what you’re doing or why.
    • When each project has a deadline associated with it, do you usually focus only on that project until it’s complete? This will free up 10+hours in your week to spend with your friends or family. Maybe that helps put it into perspective?
  2. DO NOT multi-task at home: When you are home with friends or family,  don’t spend your quality time with them checking email or texting your coworkers about a project you could’ve discussed at work. Doing this makes your family feel like a second priority, and you won’t be able to get the time back that you wasted talking to a colleague about an “emergency” that we BOTH know is not a life or death situation (unless you’re a doctor, then please, take the call).
  3. DO set a “phone free” time: When you are with loved ones, set aside a time to be “phone free”. This allows you to be truly present with your partner and to enjoy the time you spend together without being distracted by irrelevant issues.
    • When B and I go out to date night, or spend time at home at night, we have a specific time where we leave our phones in the other room and are completely present with each other to give one another our full attention. This allows for each of you to share your day, laugh a bit (or a lot in our case) and really bond on a deeper level, everyday.
  4. DO use your vacation time: If you have a company that compensates you for vacation days (or even if you don’t) take a vacation with your partner. Whether you are taking a “staycation” together or actually getting out of town, take the time off work to disconnect with the trials and tribulations of office drama, and reconnect and rekindle that fun or intimacy you had when you first started dating.
    • This is when you want to engage in “phone free” time too. 

I hope this helps you more easily navigate a work/home life balance! If you have any tips or tricks you would like to share, please let us all know in the comments! 

-A

Nail Product Favorites

Nail Product Favorites

I have to say, I do love having my nails done at a salon, however, I do NOT love having to schedule an appointment into my already overbooked day. This is why I do my nails at home.

There are certain benefits to having your nails done at a salon vs. at home and there are also benefits and disadvantages to having Gel nails versus a regular manicure, so here is my list of pros and cons, as well as products I use regularly and recommend to EVERYONE!

Gel nails:

Pros:

  • EXTREMELY fast dry time
  • lasts 2 weeks +
  • looks shiny and fresh until you remove

Cons:

  • takes forever to remove your Gel polish
  • ruins your nails (scraping top layers of nail before Gel is applied, and removal is done with 100% acetone)
  • sometimes, it peels up at cuticles, or peeling up completely (this is super annoying when your hair gets caught in the peel up when you are washing your hair.)
  • have to keep the same color polish on until removal

Regular Manicure:

Pros:

  • keeps nails healthy (for the most part)
  • very easy to remove polish
  • does NOT hurt nails
  • can easily change colors as often as you want

Cons:

  • dry time takes FOREVER
  • usually peels or chips in under 1 week

Because I enjoy changing my nail color often, and I don’t like the Gel removal process, I do prefer doing my nails at home.

The products I HIGHLY recommend are:

  1. Nailtiques Formula 2 Base Coat: This is an amazing base coat for using on its own or under nail polish. I love using this product because it helps keep my nails from peeling, and if you do use Gel nail polish and are looking to stop for awhile, this product truly helps rejuvenate your nails and heal them. I use this under every polish I use, and even if I’m not wearing nail polish, this is ALWAYS on my nails. It actually dries super fast for a regular polish and truly heals your nails. I recommend this to EVERYONE I know! ESPECIALLY if you are coming off of Gel or Acrylic nails.
  2. Essie Gel Topcoat: This product claims to be a “Gel” polish, but without the necessary light curing. It says it must be used with the other Essie Gel Colors, but I have found that this topcoat works AMAZINGLY with any nail polish that you have. I use this topcoat with all of my regular nail polishes and it works SO WELL! It seriously lasts a week or more without chipping! (and I wash my hands and dishes like a crazy person, so this is speaking volumes!)
  3. So this is a recommendation rather than a necessity (the two above are NECESSITIES for doing your manicure at home): Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Pro Color: I highly recommend this nail polish. It lasts for over a week on average, and keeps your nails looking super shiny, as if you had Gel nails from a salon. I know her polishes are a bit pricey, but I think they are worth the money. My favorite colors are: “I’m My Own Hero” a dusty mauve creme, “Message in a Bottle,” a sheer holographic mauve shimmer, “Dirty Little Secret,” a sheer holographic greige shimmer and “Grey Day,” her icy cool grey collab with Jason Wu.
  4. If you’re looking for a fast drying topcoat, I HIGHLY recommend Out the Door Top Coat: I’ve tried other fast drying topcoats, such as Seche Vite and Butter London, which both work very well, but this one is my favorite. I’ve noticed that this particular topcoat seems to set the top layer much faster than the other quick dries do.

I hope these recommendations help you when you are deciding on which nail polishes to use during your home manicure!

If you have any polish recommendations that I need to try, please let me know in the comments below!