Tag Archives: holidays

What Makes the Perfect Gift? Probably Not What You Think.

Lately, I’ve been shopping for holiday gifts, which raises questions. What makes a good gift? Is it better to surprise people, or to shop from a list they provide? Should I spend hours searching for just the right gift?

If you’ve asked yourself these kinds of questions, John Tierney wrote an interesting New York Times article, The Perfect Gift? It’s the One They Asked For.

He looked at the research, and it turns out:

  1. Focus on long-term enjoyment, not short-term drama. Recipients enjoy a gift more when it’s something they can really use, not something that’s a sensational reveal.
  2. It’s better to buy lots of people the same good present than to give everyone individual gifts that aren’t as good. We tend to think we need to give unique gifts, but recipients don’t care much about that.
  3. Re-gift without shame. Studies show that most people aren’t offended when their gifts are re-gifted.
  4. Take suggestions. If people tell you what they’d like as a gift, buy them what they’ve asked for instead of a surprise. (In my family, we’re all expected to write long lists for ourselves, to make gift-giving easier for each other.)
  5. If you give a gift card, make it as general as possible. The more specific it is, the less likely it is to be redeemed.  People like flexibility.
  6. Gift-recipients enjoy a gift if it’s something they like, no matter how much time or effort went into its purchase. For gift-givers, however, putting time and effort into a gift makes them feel closer to the recipient. Pouring a lot of energy into buying a gift is something that is nice for the giver, not as much for the recipient.

Bonus tips from me:

  1. Items that are personalized seem more special, and these days, it’s easy to order personalized notepads, journals, mugs, sticky notes, etc.
  2. Think about The Five Love Languages. If your language is “Receiving Gifts,” remember that for other people, gift exchanges aren’t as meaningful as they are for you; try not to be hurt or angry if people don’t take the same time or effort that you do. And if the recipient of your gift speaks the language of “Receiving Gifts,” remember that to such a person, gifts have tremendous importance as expressions of love, so take gift-giving seriously.

A Little Happier: During the Busy Holidays, Create Time for Quiet and Rest.

During the busy holiday season, when we’re spending a lot of time with family and friends, it can be particularly important to find ways to get some restorative silence and calm.

Have you learned any great hacks for getting some quiet over the holidays?

Check out LOFT.com — it’s a great go-to spot to pull together modern,  feminine outfits for all your holiday adventures.

Want to get in touch? I love hearing from listeners:

 

Happier listening!

Podcast 92: Leave Something Unsaid, an Interview with Manoush Zomorodi, and a Retroactive Demerit.

It’s time for the next installment of  Happier with Gretchen Rubin.

Update: In episode 75, two listeners asked how to help their Rebel sweethearts land a job, and one reported back — job secured! Which is terrific.

Side note: If you’re going to give one of my books as a holiday gift, and you’d like to request a personalized, signed bookplate or signature card to make the present more special, request it here — U.S. and Canada only, sorry, mailing costs.

Try This at Home: Leave something unsaid.

Just to be clear — we’re not saying that we should never have important, difficult, uncomfortable conversations, but rather that we’re happier when we mindfully choose the time and place to have that discussion.

Happiness Hack: If it’s important to someone that you eat a lot when you’re eating at this person’s house, take a tiny first portion so you can take “seconds.”

Interview: Manoush Zomorodi, the host and managing editor of the terrific podcast Note to Self — “the tech show about being human.”

We talk about the Abstainer/Moderator split. Again. And the Four Tendencies framework — the quiz is here, if you want to find out if you’re an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel.

Manoush’s Try This at Home is to single-task.

Gretchen’s Demerit: I give myself a retroactive demerit for emailing people over the weekend, without hesitation, for the past few decades. Lesson learned. I now use “Delay Delivery.”

Elizabeth’s Gold Star: Elizabeth’s weight-training trainer pushed her to do 200 pounds even though it was a tough morning.

If you want easy instructions about how to rate or review the podcast, look here.

Remember,  I’m doing weekly live videos on my Facebook Page to continue the conversation from the podcast — usually on Tuesdays at 3:00 pm ET. To join the conversation, check the schedule.

As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors

Check out Smith and Noble, the solution for beautiful window treatments. Go to smithandnoble.com/happier for 25% off window treatments and a free in-home design consultation.

Also check out Texture. Get access to all your favorite magazines — including back issues and bonus video content — in one super-convenient place. Try the app Texture for free by going to Texture.com/happier.

And check out Olive and Cocoa. Surprise someone you love with a meaningful gift today. Go to OliveandCocoa.com/happier to see gift options specifically chosen for our listeners — and for a limited time, you’ll get 10% off your purchase.

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1pixHappier with Gretchen Rubin - Podcast #92

We love hearing from listeners:

 

To sign up for my free monthly newsletter, text me at 66866 and enter the word (surprise) “happier.“ Or click here.

If you enjoyed the podcast, please tell your friends and give us a rating or review. Click here to tell your friends on Twitter.

Listeners really respect the views of other listeners, so your response helps people find good material. (Not sure how to review? Instructions here; scroll to the bottom.)

How to Subscribe

If you’re like me (until recently) you’re intrigued by podcasts, but you don’t know how to listen or subscribe. It’s very easy, really. Really.  To listen to more than one episode, and to have it all in a handier way, on your phone or tablet, it’s better to subscribe. Really, it’s easy.

Want to know what to expect from other episodes of the podcast, when you listen to the award-winning Happier with Gretchen Rubin?” We talk about how to build happier habits into everyday life, as we draw from cutting-edge science, ancient wisdom, lessons from pop culture—and our own experiences (and mistakes).  We’re sisters, so we don’t let each other get away with much.

HAPPIER listening!

Podcast 91: Delete a Soul-Sucking App, and a Deep Dive into Happier 911 Songs

It’s time for the next installment of  Happier with Gretchen Rubin.

NOTE: This episode was recorded before Election Day 2016, which is why Elizabeth and I don’t mention it. The election has been unusually emotional and contentious. As with any milestone moment, it provides an opportunity for us to reflect about our own values, and how we can serve the highest ideals of our country and ourselves.

Update: Elizabeth and I discuss the site Longitude Books: Recommended Reading for Travelers, where you can find books related to your travels.

Try This at Home: Amy suggests “Delete or disable soul-sucking, productivity-depleting, creativity-sapping apps.”

If you want to hear the episode where Elizabeth and I discuss our “preciousssssss,” it’s episode 17.  We picked up this term from The Lord of the Rings. Whenever Gollum refers to the ring, he calls it “my precious.” “Losst it is, my precious, lost, lost! Curse us and crush us, my precious is lost!“ Want to see a ten-second clip of Gollum talking about his precious, from The Lord of the Rings movie The Two Towers? It’s here.

We talk about the Abstainer/Moderator distinction — you can read more here.

What app is your precioussss app?

Happiness Hack for the Holidays:  Make homemade place-cards.

Deep Dive into Happiness 911 Songs: To hear the Happiness 911 songs, the link is here, or you can search for “Happier 911” on Spotify. Currently more than 400 songs — that’s more than 26 hours of happy music.

Elizabeth’s  Demerit: Elizabeth hasn’t been going to the mindfulness class at her son’s school, even though she found it so helpful last year.

Gretchen’s Gold Star: Eleanor’s teacher took the time to send a positive progress notice.

If you want easy instructions about how to rate or review the podcast, look here.

Remember,  I’m doing weekly live videos on my Facebook Page to continue the conversation from the podcast — usually on Tuesdays at 3:00 pm ET. To join the conversation, check the schedule.

As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors

Sign up for The Great Courses Plus today and you’ll get a month of unlimited access to thousands of fascinating lectures taught by top professors and experts in their fields. Try it free for one month when  you sign up at www.thegreatcoursesplus.com/happier.

Also check out Stamps.com. Want to avoid trips to the post office, and buy and print official U.S. postage for any letter or package, right from your own computer and printer? Visit Stamps.com to sign up for a 4-week trial, plus a $110 bonus offer — just enter the promo code HAPPIER.

And check out Olive and Cocoa. Surprise someone you love with a meaningful gift today. Go to OliveandCocoa.com/happier to see gift options specifically chosen for our listeners — and for a limited time, you’ll get 10% off your purchase.

1pix

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1pixHappier with Gretchen Rubin - Podcast #91

We love hearing from listeners:

 

To sign up for my free monthly newsletter, text me at 66866 and enter the word (surprise) “happier.“ Or click here.

If you enjoyed the podcast, please tell your friends and give us a rating or review. Click here to tell your friends on Twitter.

Listeners really respect the views of other listeners, so your response helps people find good material. (Not sure how to review? Instructions here; scroll to the bottom.)

How to Subscribe

If you’re like me (until recently) you’re intrigued by podcasts, but you don’t know how to listen or subscribe. It’s very easy, really. Really.  To listen to more than one episode, and to have it all in a handier way, on your phone or tablet, it’s better to subscribe. Really, it’s easy.

Want to know what to expect from other episodes of the podcast, when you listen to the award-winning Happier with Gretchen Rubin?” We talk about how to build happier habits into everyday life, as we draw from cutting-edge science, ancient wisdom, lessons from pop culture—and our own experiences (and mistakes).  We’re sisters, so we don’t let each other get away with much.

HAPPIER listening!

I Forgot to Take My Own Advice.

Yesterday was Halloween.

In The Happiness Project, I write about celebrating “holiday breakfasts” — when, for minor holidays, I make breakfast fun for my family by putting holiday decorations  on the table and using theme colors (I dye the peanut butter black, dye the milk green, etc.). I keep it simple, so it doesn’t become a stressful obligation.

In the most recent episode of the Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast, my sister Elizabeth and I talked about the fun of holiday breakfasts, and I described my Halloween traditions.

One of the main themes of my happiness project is memory. Time is passing so quickly; I worry that I won’t remember this time of life, what it’s like to have children this age. My shorthand for this worry is The days are long, but the years are short (of everything I’ve ever written, my one-minute video, The Years Are Short, is the thing that resonates most with people).

Celebrating minor holidays is one way to make time stand out. Because this day was unusual, it’s more memorable.

Another theme of my happiness project is light-heartedness. Instead of marching around checking things off my to-do list all the time, I want to take time for silliness, for fun, for adventures.

Holiday breakfasts are fun, make time special, and are manageable.

But here’s the thing. I know all this — and yet yesterday morning, I completely forgot to celebrate the holiday breakfast! That morning, I realized that it was Halloween, but it never once occurred to me to set up the decorations.

After all that discussion — I just forgot.

I realized by mid-day, when my daughters were already at school, so I set everything up later.  But I’m still kicking myself. Breakfast is more fun than dinner! Sheesh.

But oh well. When Valentine’s Day rolls around, I bet I won’t forget again. And I still took photos, and we got to enjoy the skeleton plates and pumpkin heads.

As you can see in the photo, our dog Barnaby was very intrigued by the holiday breakfast dinner decorations.

After the podcast episode, many people sent me photos of their holiday breakfasts, and I’ve loved seeing them (plus I’m planning to steal some of the ideas).

Do you celebrate holiday breakfasts? Or do you do something similar to make time special — in a manageable way?