Shopping for Gifts on a Budget

Holiday shopping is seldom easy. Whether you're just hopping around department stores or just surfing the net, the limitless choices made available by advertisers can actually be more of a detriment for someone who is in a real hurry. This can be quite problematic if you're on a budget and have such a long shopping list. Time constraints do not really provide you the benefit of thoroughly comparing every item in each store in an effort to find yourself the best bargain. One who has been shopping for hours can quite easily succumb to the pressure and end up buying gifts beyond a planned budget.

If you're in this very familiar predicament, all is not lost. When shopping for holiday gifts it sometimes makes more sense to look for items that are simple yet meaningful. While a sophisticated electronic gadget could certainly get a friend excited, simple inexpensive gifts like personalized mugs or engraved pens may just elicit the same amount of appreciation.

Nothing is perhaps more appropriate than a gift that actually captures the holiday spirit. As holidays bring sentimental moments, you'd want to give something you would be remembered for. Embroidered pillows and blankets would be good choices. Collectibles like cd's and personalized caps should also do the trick. Listed below are some gift items worth considering:

• shirt of a home team

• cross stitching kit

• bottle of a local wine

• personalized notepad

• stationary

• photo album

• memo holders

• tool kits

• Carpentry kits

• versatile pocket knife

While you'll certainly be shaved with praises by giving a fancy cellphone or notebook, it sometimes makes more sense to go for something more practical yet thoughtful. You do not really have to dent your budget to please a friend. People tend to get appreciated more for the amount of effort that they've performed in looking for that meaningful gift that touches the heart. Whether it's Christmas, Thanksgiving, or a major school reunion, there's really no reason to panic. All it takes is just a little imagination and a touch of creativity.

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55 Creative Entertainment Ideas For Your Next Event Or Meeting

1. Hire a comedian who can poke some fun at your CEO, do an impersonation of him, or even make a light of your industry as a whole.

2. Hire a magician that can incorporated your sales message into his magic, or cut your CEO or receptionist in half. He might even be able to vanish the CEO, much to the delight of the employees.

3. Book a vocal improvement group to take requests and spin them into a funny performance.

4. Have a musician write a song about your company and play it at the event.

5. Hire a celebrity impersonator to come to the event and sign autographs and take pictures with guests.

6. Book a caricature artist to draw personalized sketches of each employee at the company. These are fun souvenirs as well.

7. Book a digital caricature artist who composes his or her photos digitally on a computer right in front of your eyes. They can even personalize the backdrop to reflect the company
or event. This is a great souvenir for the guests to take home.

8. Book a balloon artist that makes the life size figures such as Disney characters, scenery like palm trees, huge company logos, and more. The balloon artist can do these figures with everyone watching making it an experience to watch the balloons being put together.

9. How about a strolling juggler who can mingle through the cocktail hour.

10. Book a stilt walker to make a big announcement for your company at an annual conference or meeting. It is a fun and guaranteed way to get everyone's attention.

11. A clown is a great option for events with children or families. There are also evil clowns for events with no kids or around Halloween.

12. Book a palm reader to make psychic predictions about the future of the company or to tell people's fortunes.

13. Hire a reality TV star to interact with guests. They are far less money than big time Hollywood celebrities.

14. Book a tribute band to play the songs of an artist that is popular among the guests.

15. An a cappella group can perform on stage or stroll through the event during a cocktail hour or dinner.

16. Hire a symphony orchestra to play at the event. You will need to consider space requirements for this type of an act.

17. You could have a mime act out a corporate message to employees or event customers.

18. Book a DJ to play only requested songs or songs from a certain era such as the 80's

19. Break dancers can be lots of fun. They are generally young, hip, and add a sense of youth to an event.

20. How about a mariachi band for some festive music.

21. A steel drum band can be a nice addition to a high end gala event.

22. Booking a fire eater can be a great way to kick off the launch of a hot new product or service.

23. Carolers can be nice addition to any holiday event.

24. A living statement can be a great idea for almost any event. Make sure you ask for a living statement that matches closely to the theme of your event or meeting.

25. Booking a cirque act is a great idea when the event needs something remarkable or to get a buzz going. Make sure you can accommodate for the space some of the cirque acts require.

26. A snake charmer is a unique way break up a meeting or attract a crowd at an event.

27. Hire a mentalist to read the minds of the guests. This is creative way that the performer can interact with the audience.

28. How about an ice sculptor who can sculpt the company logo or a corporate message live while people watch it being carved.

29. Acrobats provide a purely addition to an event.

30. Singing waiters are an a cappella group dressed as formal waiters. This catches guests off guard and is an offbeat way to infuse entertainment into the dining experience.

31. Ballroom dancers can be popular with all the dance themed TV shows like Dancing with the Stars and others.

32. A barbershop quartert is an a cappella group where all the members wear red and white costumes, similar to that of a barbershop pole. This has a nostalgic feel to it.

33. Dueling pianos are a fantastic way to get the audience involved with nonstop entertainment

34. You could have your employees put on the entertainment by having a talent show and getting everyone in the company involved including the CEO. You will want to record this so everyone can watch it later on, or you may even want to send them all home with a copy, or mail it to them afterwards. You could also post them on YouTube for all to comment on.

35. A marching band can be an official way to introduce somebody special at the event. It can also be a way of showing that the company does not take themselves too seriously if they book a fun themed marching band.

36. Book the 60 second novelist. He comes with his own table and a manual typewriter and requests guests a few questions to get a sense of who they are, and he types out a short life story in one minute. He even binds it so guests can take it home. The story is funny, imaginative and true. This is a fun way to get people to open up and share their stories and get to know each other.

37. Face painters are a neat way to entertain the youngger kids.

38. A choir can be a nice way to make a grandiose statement.

39. How about an opera singer for a classy event or gala.

40. A graffiti artist that can create a painting of someone or something with a large crowd watching. Some artists do this type of thing super fast, making it intriguing to watch.

41. Book hula dancers to mingle on the dance floor with guests.

42. How about Polynesian dancers to inject a unique culture into the event.

43. A ventriloquist can be a great entertainment choice that can play well for kids or adults depending on the performer.

44. Hire a dynamic storyteller who can weave a message about the goal of the event or meeting.

45. An escape artist is a dramatic way to convey messages such as, escaping or breaking free of limiting beliefs and constraints. This can be a nice way to motivate employees to achieve a goal.

46. ​​Booking a hypnotist can provide a serious element or a comedic one.

47. A rapper could perform a comedic rap specifically written about the company. Some rappers can even improvise this on the spot.

48. A puppeteer is another option for youngger children to keep them entertained.

49. Hire a sword swallower to attract the crowd or if it fits into the theme.

50. You can always hire a real Hollywood celebrity to attract the attention and buzz you need or try booking a couple of smaller celebrities to make better use of your funds and get more celebrity drawing power.

51. You might want to book a political impersonator that is popular such as Sarah Palin or Barack Obama.

52. A harpist can add a light musical touch without loud music. This would be nice for a laid back, high end atmosphere.

53. How about having multiple celebrity tribute artists on stage performing a bunch of hits songs from the various artists they impersonate.

54. Have a stage where different executives from the company do karaoke for a variety of songs.

55. Finally, the best way to guarantee a creative entertainment experience is to have the performer or performers customize their actions to your event or meeting. This creates a memorable experience guests are sure to remember for a long time.

The American Jobs Act, Unemployment Discrimination and Employment Brand

Online recruiting organizations: Are you ready to stop hiding from candidates? You should be. Your brand depends on it.

With The American Job Act currently before Congress, employers would be subject to EEOC discrimination claims if they fail to hire an unemployed candidate based on the fact that they are not currently employed. The notion was hatched as a backlash against the perception that employers do not want to hire unemployed workers.

That’s a specific law with a specific target, but if you peel the layers back, it’s the first salvo fired out of frustration from a country full of candidates that are tired of being treated badly by the people, systems and processes that have grown up around recruiting in the last 10 years.

I get it. Recruiting organizations are under siege by way too many qualified candidates for the positions they have. More importantly, they’re under siege by way too many completely UNqualified candidates.

While not considering candidates that are unemployed may cut your candidate pool down to a manageable size, it’s not smart from a branding standpoint. Unless your employment brand is cold and cutthroat, you should embrace all candidates. You should treat them with respect and you should engage as many of them as possible.

Everyone wants a fair shot. That’s just part of being human. And when sweeping generalizations like “we don’t consider unemployed candidates” take hold, or faceless applicant tracking systems process bits and bytes and spit out rejection emails (often delayed to appear like the candidate was considered by a human), then the appearance of a fair shot disappears.

Candidates are customers. Candidates are voters. Candidates are individuals capable of expressing their frustration to large numbers of other individuals through social networking.

Here is and actual tweet I came across the day after writing this article: “@jimcramer FYI you herd it here first, Taleo is keeping the unemployed… unemployed.”

Obviously, not everyone is qualified. And every recruiter has tales of resume spammers and unqualified, unprepared candidates sucking their time. But the fact is, if you appear not to care about candidates, then your brand suffers. And now with an entire nation who is totally focused on getting people placed in jobs, delivering bad candidate experiences is asking for more Federal regulations governing how you interact with candidates.

There is a quietly growing awareness in the industry that candidate satisfaction matters. There is a faint notion growing that engaging candidates and trying to ensure that they are communicated with and treated with respect and reverence, will actually result in a more effective recruiting process.

There are tools available that allow organizations to engage candidates and solicit feedback throughout the recruiting process. Companies can now listen to how candidates feel about their recruiting process from beginning to end, track satisfaction and fine tune practices to make them as effective as possible.They sit on top of a company’s career site pages and asks candidates what they think, in real time and with appropriately times follow up surveys.

Without fail, candidates regularly comment “Thank you for asking my opinion.” So when I say treating candidates with respect helps your employment brand, I speak from experience. Your “Best Place to Work” badge is fine, but it just lays there. Asking a candidate what they think about how they’ve been treated? That shifts the earth a little bit and provides evidence that you have a great place to work.

Plus it provides a goldmine of ideas about how to better interact with candidates, tweak your career site and make your online recruiting efforts more effective for passive candidates. The one’s who already have jobs. The one’s you were targeting that got the White House involved in messing with your business in the first place.

Happiness Or Housework – Get Organized For Both!

If you are like most women with a family, you are still at work on your “free” time. Time off is not for rest or play, but for trudging up that steep hill of never-ending chores. Housework organization is necessary, but remember as Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project says, “The days are long but the years are short!”

How do we master the tricky balance of keeping our sanity while having a reasonably clean and organized home?

Delegate

Many working women, including “stay at home” Moms, still do more than their fair share of work. Think about this: if someone had to pay for that family maintenance work, the estimate runs upwards towards $100,000 yearly!

Want to see your time? Get some paper and divide the page into three columns. In the first column, list all of the weekly household tasks. In the next column, the approximate time it takes per week. In the third column, who’s doing it. Now add up everyone’s time, and get delegating!

Even young children can put clothes away, pick up after themselves and help with simple chores. My six year old granddaughter can run the vacuum through the high traffic areas. Encouraging kids in positive ways from a young age saves countless hours spent arguing later on! My Mother was always stressed over doing housework on her day off. I don’t blame her, but it didn’t help motivate me much!

Get Organized With The 4 B’s

Life Coach and author Martha Beck created a prioritizing tool called The 4 B’s: Bag It, Barter It, Better It and Batch It.

Bag It means ditching it!. If you’re dusting once a week, can you Bag It and do it twice monthly? Let go of what you can. People that truly love you don’t care about a little dust on your end-table.

Barter It means trading, including with money, to have someone else do it. Women often say they can’t afford a cleaning person, but regularly spend it on a casual dinner out. Feel guilty paying someone to do “your” work? Think of it as a priceless investment, giving precious time back to you and your family!

Better It means adding something pleasurable to something dreadful. Hate doing dishes? Better It by making a playlist that rocks your energy! Make it a game and count the songs it takes to empty the sink. “Better it” for your kids and Google “games to get your kids to do chores!”

Batch It means doing similar tasks all at once. Pick one hour for family “just do it” time. Shut down the electronics and don’t do anything else during that time. Make it fun, and set up rewards for everyone, including yourself. Rewards are powerful motivators and don’t have to be complex or expensive.

Organize In Baby Steps

Break big jobs into small steps and start with the smallest one. Give yourself permission to stop after completing the first step. Telling ourselves we only have to take one baby step relieves motivation-sapping mental stress, and we may end up inspired to keep going!

Little things add up. Stash natural cleaning wipes in the bathroom and wipe surfaces a few times a week after your bathroom routine. You’re already in there and it takes 60 seconds to wipe out a sink. When you walk through a room, pick up a few things. (See next.)

Get in the habit of putting things in one place, even if it’s just in piles. Assign specific areas for papers, mail, dirty clothes, coats and shoes. Even a little bit of organization saves huge amounts of time looking for lost items, reduces clutter, and makes cleaning more efficient; sorting one pile is easier than finding it all over the place on cleaning day.

Well begun is half done. (Mary Poppins had it right!) Pick one thing, and just get started! It’s never as painful a task as we think and it’s usually done before we know it. Find a balance, make it fun, get it done and go on to live your life!