Travel Tips For Canada

Canada is a great vacation destination and has a lot to offer its visitors such as majestic mountains, beautiful winding roads, lush green forests, wildlife and multicultural cities. I traveled to Canada last year in December using my Canadian air miles, my trip was amazing. Here I want to share with you some important travel tips to Canada.

1 – Purchase A Good Travel Guide: When you are traveling to some foreign country, it’s always a god idea to carry a travel guide. Canada is also a no exception, if you don’t want to buy a travel guide there are always many good travel tips and guides present online which you can print.

You can find some good travel guides for Canada on top web pages like Fodor’s, Lonely Planet or Rough guides. A good thing about travel guides is that it provides you with an insight about the destination, like where to go, what to eat and drink, things to do and see, where to shop etc. Investing in a travel guide is not bad and it only helps you in knowing the place better.

2 – Always Consider The Climate: Before you pack your bags for Canada, don’t forget to consider the season you are traveling in. If you are heading for the Maritime Provinces then you must know that they tend to be more humid than the other provinces in the west. In Nova Scotia, Halifax, you can expect to experience weather that is temperate in summers and freezing in winters.

If you are staying in the mountainous areas of Canada, then you can expect to see a lot of diversion in the climate. Keep yourself layered up if you are staying in this region. On the other hand, areas like Victoria and Vancouver are more temperate and don’t usually see too much freezing temperature.

3 – Plan To Cross The Border: Traveling to Canada is not that easy anymore like it once used to be. The new restrictions have made it difficult to cross the borders, the documents needed for traveling to Canada are always changing from time to time. So it’s best that you check the documents and verify that you don’t need anything extra before you head for Canada.

4 – Know The Currency: Another important tip for traveling to Canada is that you should know the importance of comprehending the currency before you leave. Canada uses Canadian dollars, though you can also use US dollars. It is always wise to carry a traveler’s check in Canadian currency since they can be accepted anywhere.

5 – Tips On Tipping: Also remember when you are giving tip in Canada you need to know how the Canadians take gratitude. Tips are not included in the restaurant bills and a standard tip for good service is $12 to $15.

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Travel Tips

We know of one married couple where both are travel consultants. They often joked that they should write a book called “Wedding Three Days a Week” because they only saw each other from Thursday night to Sunday night most weeks. Of course, they take a big vacation with all the frequent flier miles and hotel points, and there’s no one left at home to manage the household while the others eat at the restaurant every night and come home expecting all the work done.

Like many others, they have learned how to be comfortable on the road so that their travel schedules are a source of new experiences and great stories instead of a hardship. If you learn how to be comfortable in your environment, you’ll do better work and last longer in this demanding field.

There are two types of consulting roles, from a travel schedule perspective. One type of consultant is the real Road Warrior who is in a different city each week, often visiting two or three different clients and staying only a couple of days each place. The other type travels to the same destination every week to work on a long-term engagement over several months. Which type of travel schedule you end up with depends as much on your personality as on your skill set.

No matter which type of travel schedule you have, there are some seemingly small things you can do to make yourself significantly more comfortable on the road.

Enroll in every frequent flier and hotel points program you can. The biggest perks in business travel come when you get a free family vacation later. All those trips to Pittsburgh might buy you a trip to Honolulu or Prague or wherever your heart leads you.

Whenever possible, use the same airline and hotel chain for every city. This helps you rack up the points faster, and it also establishes a level of comfort and familiarity for you from the moment you arrive in the city. Not every Marriott is exactly like every other Marriott, but there are enough similarities between them that you will begin to feel at home quickly.

Packing for Travel

Develop a routine for packing. Make a checklist that includes everything that you know you’ll need for any trip, including items like toothbrush and cell-phone charger. Go over the checklist every single time you pack a suitcase.

If you don’t follow this advice, you will eventually end up spending $200 on a “charge everything” device and using a hotel toothbrush that will rip your gums out.

  1. Always assume you will have to carry your luggage yourself. If you aren’t sure you will need it, don’t take it. You can always buy one there. (Don’t accept engagements in locations that don’t have stores.)
  2. Pack something comfortable to wear in your hotel room and clothes you can wear to work out.
  3. Plan to sleep in something you don’t mind being seen wearing in public. In the event of a fire, hotels will evacuate two floors above and two floors below, even if it’s just a small fire in a trash basket. That’s what that loudspeaker above the bed is for.
  4. All luggage looks alike. Make your bag easy to spot on the carousel and less likely to be stolen with a few strategically placed strips of duct tape or a big pink bow.
  5. The military knows that rolled clothing does not wrinkle. Don’t fold it, roll it. Turn jackets inside out, fold the collar up and press one shoulder inside the other.
  6. Think about what you pack from the perspective of Customs and Airport Security. For example, many airlines will not allow you to carry steel-tipped darts in your carry-on luggage. (Yes, one of us learned this the hard way. Not the one you think.) Carry all medication in the original packages, particularly prescription medication.
  7. Purchase two of everything you use daily, like cosmetics, razors, toothbrush, etc. Leave one set at home. Pack toiletries once and leave them packed. This way, you don’t have to worry that you forgot something essential and will not notice until the middle of the night in a strange hotel room. When you run out of something on the road, replace it. (This is easier if you use common brands that are sold nationally.)

After only a few weeks of travel, you’ll know exactly what you need to pack and what you don’t.

Hotel Living

If you are traveling to the same city every week, pick a hotel that you are comfortable in and make friends with the people at the front desk and in Housekeeping. If you can commit to a certain number of weeks, they might even give you a break on the room rate, which is also good for your customer.

Once you’ve tried two or three different rooms in different parts of the hotel, you’ll begin to identify specific things you like or dislike. Within a few weeks, you’ll probably have a favorite room. Don’t be afraid to ask for it every week. Staying in the same room every week can increase your sense of comfort and it’s easier to remember what room you are in. Every one of us has been frustrated at least once by trying to open a hotel room door, only to realize that the key doesn’t work because this is the room we were in last week, and we have no idea what room we have been assigned this week.

If you followed our instructions for packing and bought duplicates of all your toiletries and travel needs, you can check a suitcase with the bellman over the weekend instead of carrying it home with you. Leave your laundry with a dry cleaner over the weekend and come back on Monday to a fresh wardrobe without carrying a bag with you to the airport. That’s freedom!

Make friends with the people who have control of the food. If you are eating all your meals off the Room Service menu, you will soon get bored with the choices. Encourage the person who answers the Room Service line to give you suggestions.

When Christine was working in one city where it wasn’t considered safe to leave the hotel and wander around at night, she called the Room Service number one night and said, in the most pitiful voice she could muster, “I’m hungry and nothing on the menu looks good tonight. Help me!”

The Room Service voice laughed and said, “Miss Lambden, don’t you worry. After all these months, I know what you like. Let me surprise you.”

In addition to the best steak and the freshest salad ever served by Room Service, the waiter brought a glass of red wine and said, “The chef said to tell you that he knows you don’t like red wine, but this is special. Try it with the steak. Alternate one bite of steak with one sip of wine.”

She still talks about that steak. After that night, she never had to look at the Room Service menu again. When she called, she would say, “Maybe a fish tonight?” or “I’m in the mood for something chocolate.”

Remember, if you are tired of the hotel menu, just imagine how the chef feels.

Since you can’t eat all the time, here are some other ways to fill an evening in a hotel room:

  1. Call your mother.
  2. Read.
  3. Go to a movie.
  4. College libraries are often open late. Learn something.
  5. Work out. Remember the Freshman Fifteen in college? The life of a consultant includes too many meals in restaurants and too few long walks in the park.

If you exercise at home, try to exercise the same way when you are traveling. Find out if it’s safe to walk/run outside near the hotel. This is also a great way to find the neighborhood restaurants and pubs that the travel books don’t know about.

If you exercise in a gym at home, stay in a hotel with a gym and use it. If there is no gym available in the hotel, remember that many national chains have memberships that allow you to work out in any city. Like national hotel and restaurant chains, gyms are a great way to find familiar surroundings in an unfamiliar place.

Exploring new cities is a great way to get exercise and enjoy your time on the road. See the sights. Shop. Ask the people at the hotel and at work what you should be sure to see while you are in town.

We know one consultant who managed, in one year, to see Niagara Falls (working in Buffalo), the Arch in St. Louis, the Napa Valley wine country, six shows on Broadway, and Fort Lauderdale during Spring Break.

Did you know that Kansas City is the City of Fountains? In the winter, the city slowly freezes some of the fountains so you see frozen ice where water flows in the summer. Just beautiful.

Did you know that you can visit the Budweiser Clydesdales at Grant’s Farm in St. Louis? If you think they are fun to watch on Super Bowl commercials, just imagine how magnificent they are up close.

These opportunities may not present themselves again. Don’t spend every evening in your hotel room.

Every city has something unique to offer and the people who live there will be happy to help you discover what is wonderful about their hometown.

Single Life on the Road

The constant-travel lifestyle is often more appealing to single people who do not have a family at home waiting for them each week. For these consultants, the only challenge is finding a way to maintain a home when you aren’t there during the week.

Here are some tips:

  1. Ask a friend or neighbor to pick up your mail once or twice during the week.
  2. Install automatic light timers in your house. Install motion sensor lights outside. This makes it look like someone is home and protects your stuff. (It also makes bats and possums find another yard to live in, but that might just be an Austin thing.)
  3. Hide valuables. Burglars know all about looking in the freezer for your jewelry, but would they think to look in that bag of potting soil in the garage? Hint: Tell someone you trust where you hid them…you’ll remember all the great spots you considered, and you’ll forget the one you picked.
  4. Splurge a little with all that money you are making as a consultant and hire a maid service to come in and clean your house while you are gone. If you have a lawn, hire a yard service, too. The last thing you are going to feel like doing when you finally get home is housework, and you’ll be happier in this job if you don’t feel that you are neglecting chores.
  5. If possible, have a trusted house-sitter stay in your house. Then you won’t have to worry at all.

In addition to maintaining your house, a single person on the road has to maintain a social life. When you are out of town all week, it’s easy to find yourself excluded from your friends’ conversations about plans for the weekend. You have to work harder to maintain those friendships at home, especially if you are also forming new friendships in the city where you are working.

It’s not totally unheard of for consultants assigned to the same client week after week to form friendships, or even romantic attachments, in the city where they work. Having bonds with people all over the country can be a huge advantage professionally because your network is expanded to include all of their colleagues, as well.

Don’t date someone in the client company. This can get messy. (Yeah, we know. Your situation is different. You’ll handle it like grownups. We’d like to believe this, but in our experience it rarely works out that way. Even so, this is still good advice for everyone else.)

Married With Children

Life on the road is harder for those who have a family at home. You miss them and you feel guilty about leaving them behind, and even more guilty when you’re having fun without them.

The same tourist attractions that enliven a single person’s travel can make you miss your family even more. You find yourself thinking, “The kids would love this,” or “Niagara Falls by myself? I don’t think so!”

Here are some tips for making travel easier when you miss your family:

  1. Write long letters saying all the stuff you would have said if you were at home. Buy a fax machine for the house so you can send them before you go to bed and the family can read them with breakfast. (We know. Email works just as well. Except it doesn’t. Handwritten letters mean more. They just do.)
  2. Give the hotel’s fax number to your family or set up a personal e-fax number. Encourage letters from home. Also drawings and report cards and anything else that will make you feel closer. Almost all children could benefit from the occasional writing exercise, and most of them already know how to operate a computer.
  3. Buy a small digital camera or use your cell phone to take pictures and make a “Day in the Life” slide show for the kids. Take pictures of your day from the time you wake up to the time you prepare for bed – pictures of your hotel room, your breakfast plate, your cubicle and co-workers, the bookstore you stop at after work, the restaurants you like – everything! (Trust us, they’ll love it.)

Driving in Strange (translation: “New To You”) Places

Weather conditions and driver courtesy rules vary from city to city. In some cities, driving is a brutal competition, and it’s considered rude or suicidal to slow down for a yellow light. Someone will honk at you or run into you. In others, you’ll get dirty looks if you don’t yield and let a waiting car merge in front of you. On most country roads, failure to wave at passing drivers marks you as an outsider.

No matter where you are, these tips will help lessen the impact of driving during your travels:

  1. Get a map when you arrive. If you know where you are going, you are much less likely to end up in the wrong place.
  2. If you rear-end a car on the freeway, your first move should be to hang up the phone. Better yet, go hands-free when you are driving. Best of all, hang up and drive.
  3. Rent your car from the same agency every week and be extra nice. Usually, the same agents are on duty every Monday morning, so eventually they’ll know you and may offer you the cool convertible or the Jag for a week at no extra charge.
  4. Not every state or city has a “right on red” law. Check with the car rental agency or look for a “No right on red” sign before you assume it’s legal in any intersection where you are.
  5. If you are stopped for speeding, running a red light, driving the wrong way, or, worst of all, hitting something, be very polite to everyone involved. Of course, this is true when you aren’t traveling, too, but you have a better chance of making your meeting or flight if you deal with the situation nicely.

In New York or Boston (or London or Beijing), take a cab or public transportation. Some warnings say “Don’t try this at home.” With regard to driving in these places, the rule is “Don’t try this on the road.” In other words, ask someone at your destination or consult a travel guide to find out whether it’s advisable to drive yourself around.

If you are facing your first winter in a snowy climate, ask someone to teach you how to drive in icy conditions before the first blizzard. You may feel foolish, and they will definitely laugh at you, but the first time you feel your car start to slide, you’ll be glad you did.

For us, just saying “I’m from Texas” is often enough to have our clients offer free driving lessons, icy conditions or not.

Air Travel Tips

Since 9/11, keeping track of the rules for air travel and getting through Security checkpoints has become more of a challenge, but the airlines have made a sincere effort to help.

Every airline and airport website has information about security requirements and how much time will be required to get to your gate. Experienced travelers quickly learn to avoid the busiest times of the day and week. In fact, we don’t know a single traveling consulting who would consider flying on the day before Thanksgiving under any circumstances.

Airport websites will also give you information about other amenities that are available in the terminals. For instance, did you know that the Hong Kong airport has showers and rooms where you can take a nap? After a long flight across the Pacific ocean, a shower is a wonderful way to spend your three-hour layover between connecting flights.

The airport in Portland, Oregon, has a great mall. You can get all your Christmas shopping done between flights and have the items you bought shipped home. Oh, and did we mention that Oregon doesn’t have sales tax?

The San Francisco airport has twenty different museum galleries that rotate art, culture and science exhibitions on a regular schedule. At SFO, you can’t avoid being entertained and educated while you travel.

Here are some other tips for making air travel easier:

  1. When you make your reservations, ask for a seat near the front of the plane. Airlines assign seats back-to-front and families traveling with children tend to plan further ahead than business travelers, so the shrieking three year-olds are usually in the back of the plane.
  2. Always request the Exit Row. Children aren’t permitted, and you get more legroom.
  3. Wear earplugs or invest in some good noise-canceling headphones if you plan to sleep. People talk louder on airplanes.
  4. Planes have only 3% humidity, so you get dehydrated quickly. Carry a bottle of water on board. (This will also keep your feet from swelling.) To keep costs and carryon weight low, carry an empty bottle and ask the flight attendant to fill it for you. On international flights, there is usually a water fountain available for passengers to serve themselves.
  5. When they say, “Limit two carry-on bags,” assume they really mean it and be prepared to check everything but your purse, briefcase and laptop. A good alternative if you are in a hurry is to “gate check” your bags. Especially with smaller commuter flights, this means you get your bags immediately when you get off the plane with no stop at baggage claim.
  6. Pay attention to the safety speech every once in a while. Like washing your car to make it rain, it’s just good karma. We’ve asked, and yes, most flight attendants feel just as silly giving the speech as you do listening to it, but the fact that no one is listening just makes their job harder.
  7. To prevent a stiff neck from sleeping on a plane, ask the flight attendant for a blanket, roll it up and wrap it around your neck before you fall asleep. Your head won’t roll from side-to-side, you won’t snore and you won’t look nearly as ridiculous as those people drooling on their neighbor’s shoulder. They make C-shaped pillows that do this, but that’s just one more thing to carry with you. We prefer to travel light.

Travel Tips for Cruise

Do you have plans to go on a cruise? Well if this is your first time, you may not be so sure what to expect. Having a few tips to help you out can really help you. So, here are some important cruise ship travel tips to keep in mind when you cruise.

Tip #1 – Have a Carry On Bag – The first one of cruise travel tips that you’ll need to remember if you’re going on a cruise is to make sure that you have a carry on bag. Once you get on the ship, you’ll want to visit your cabin but you can’t expect your baggage to show up for awhile. So, it’s a good idea to have a carry on that has some clothes and a few essential toiletries on hand.

Tip #2 – Get a Map of the Ship – Cruise ships are huge. You don’t want to get lost and a map can definitely be a huge help to you. Make sure you have the map and take a bit to look it over so that you’ll be able to more easily get around the ship.

Tip #3 – Walk to Where You’re Going – When you are going to dinner or you are going to a show on board, you may want to walk wherever you are going. You’ll find that the elevators are probably going to be full and often many people are trying to wait for an elevator and they may not be in a great mood. So, just go ahead and take a stroll and get a bit of exercise walking to wherever you need to go.

Tip #4 – Keep the Noise Down at Night – If you are out late at night, make sure that you keep the noise down. You don’t want to go around slamming the doors of your cabin, since it can wake many people around you up. So, have some courtesy and shut your doors as quietly as possible to avoid encounters with grumpy cruise mates.

Tip #5 – Avoid Wearing Expensive Jewelry – When you are on a cruise ship, don’t go around wearing your most expensive jewelry so everyone can see it. Of course there will be some formal dinners where you will want to look great, but leave the most expensive jewelry at home. You may become the victim or a thief if you go around flaunting expensive jewelry.

Tip #6 – Tip Generously, is the last one of the cruise travel tips listed here; When you are out there on a cruise, make sure that you tip generously whenever possible. Most of the people on the ship make very little money except for by your tips. So, make sure that you are kind enough and generous to give a great tip.

Finally, make your cruise travel memorable and all that you want it to be by doing a lot of planning before you travel.

Money Saving Travel Tips

Many families find it difficult to earn money for vacations, with prices rising for almost everything these days. But vacations don’t have to be expensive. There are plenty of money-saving travel tips to be found to save the average traveler money.

Regardless of age or income, everyone can benefit from money saving travel tips. Whether aiming for a four-star, week-long vacation or a weekend getaway, there are travel tips that can save you money to be found with a little searching. These tips can save you money on everything from hotels, to airfare, to food.

Money Saving Travel Tips For Lodging

One of the best money saving travel tips for saving money on lodging is compare prices. Prices for hotel rooms can vary greatly, even if the hotels are located close to each other. If booking a hotel room online, check several different sites for the same hotel rooms. Chances are the price on one site will be lower than the prices on other sites. Another way to save is with a Travel Membership.

Another tip for saving on lodging is” try to be flexible”. For example, in Hilton Head, a hotel room with an ocean view is more than twice as much per night than the hotel room with all of the same amenities but without an ocean view directly across the street. If you are intending to spend your vacation days on the beach, an ocean view may not be necessary and that extra money could be spent towards something else. With a little research, money saving travel tips can save you quite a bit of money over the length of your vacation.

Money Saving Travel Tips For Dining

One of the biggest expenses of any vacation is food. With some money saving travel tips and a little prior planning, you can minimize the amount that you will pay for dining. The first tip is to research restaurants in the area before leaving on vacation. This way you know what types of restaurants are in the area and the price ranges for these restaurants. Many people on vacation walk into a restaurant that they have never been in before and pay a much higher price than they intended to spend for the meal. By choosing which restaurants you will eat in before you leave for the trip, you will eliminate the possibility of sticker shock when you see the menu.

One of the most overlooked money saving travel tips for dining is to request from the city you are planning to travel to, a guide to the local restaurants. Many of these guides include money saving coupons to restaurants in the area to entice you into eating there. Whether the coupon is for 10% off or 50% off, they are still saving you money you would have had to spend anyway. By doing a little research and learning some money saving travel tips, a vacation does not have to be as expensive as expected.

You can also get lodging that comes with a fully equipped kitchen, so you can cook some of your own meals. Most places you vacation have a local grocery store or deli near by. This is a great way to save. On a romantic get away you can do breakfast in bed and be spoiled by your love. If you have the family with you, having a kitchen will save you a ton of money on food. Just make sure Mom gets a break from the kitchen. Remember, this is her vacation too.

How LED’s Are Changing The Holiday Season

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Every year, millions of cities, towns, villages, stores and homes get decorated for Christmas and the other holidays happening at this time of year. But did you realize that over the last decade there has been a seismic shift in how we decorate? It’s a change you might not have noticed, but is certainly affecting how we see the season nonetheless.

The change is happening due to the emergence, and new dominance of LED lighting. LED stands for light emitting diode. This technology has been around for decades, in fact, they were invented in the 1960’s and are now over 50 years old. However, it’s taken decades for them to get established as a real option for homes, businesses, governments and organizational use. This is mainly because the technology was expensive to produce when in its infancy. However, in the last decade or so, the initially high price of LED lights has come down substantially, making it comparable to other lighting sources. Thanks to this, and the many other advantages and benefits of LED lights, like space saving, energy saving, durability and customization, LED’s have finally earned their place in the lighting arena.

One place that these lights have come to dominate is holiday decorating. When you pass homes in your neighborhood that are lighted up with thousands of holiday lights, there’s a strong chance most of them, or even all of them are LED based lights. One big reason for the switch is that LED lights cost less to run than the old fashioned and traditional lights of yesteryear. Also, many people are finding that they need to replace those old lights, and the best options for resplacement are LED based lights.

The more advanced technology in LED lighting also allows for much more technical light displays. Instead of just having one color in a single bulb, there are lighting strings available that incorporate all of the lights in the string in every single bulb. This makes for a fantastic light show. Not only that, but the lights are much brighter, making the displays more vibrant than those traditional bulbs of yesteryear. The switch to LED’s for Christmas tree lights may also be saving lives. Did you know that LED’s are cool to the touch when on? You can’t say that for the old bulb style of light. This makes for a dramatically lessened fire hazard wherever you place the lights. LED’s save energy and might even be saving lives during the holidays!

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Xbox One – A Great Choice This Holiday Season

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Christmas, Christmas time is here. Time for toys and time for cheers! Yes, that’s right! Christmas is just a month away. We are no in November and we are starting the count down until we all get the great (or not so great) gifts that we have been wanting all year long. Hot on this list is game consoles.

With Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo all having next gen gaming consoles on the market, not to mention the slew of new twisty, bendy laptops and other gadgets, what is the best gaming platform?

I have always been a PlayStation man, however I did briefly own an Xbox 360 before the red ring of death got it. Then about 6 months ago, my PS3 blew up. What was a gamer to do? I did a lot of research. I found that the GPU, the unit that drives the graphics behind the 2 machines, PS4 and Xbox One, were both created by my favorite CPU/GPU creator, AMD. When AMD makes a chipset then you know it is built right. Therefore, that did not help me much in deciding.

The PlayStation 4 (PS4) does have a faster, higher grade of ram memory in it as it utilizes DDR5 and the Xbox One still uses the standard DDR4. Therefore, I was jumping at the bit to get my hands on the PS4. I am glad I did not, however.

I found a great bundle deal that had the Xbox One console, the Kinect camera, and a $60 game thrown in for the giggles. This bundle cost me $450 at Walmart and that was not during a sale such as Black Friday. That was the everyday bundle price at that time. Heck, without the game that system was running $499. By the way, Titanfall alone was worth buying the Xbox One when I did.

For starters, what may not be learned off the box the Xbox One comes with, is that the Xbox One is designed to use the cloud created by Microsoft called Azure. Being able to utilize this cloud (many, many different servers systems hooked up together) the Xbox One can harness the power of the servers it is connected to, giving the console the ability to be 4 times stronger than the hardware that is enclosed in this console. This was the icing on the cake for me.

Throw in that the Xbox One has both an HDMI out as well as HDMI in so that you can plug up your high def cable box to this console, so that you can control what you watch on TV through voice command and hand gestures, this console just gets more exciting! With a slew of Xbox One Apps now on the market for free, yes free, as of a couple months ago you no longer have to pay for a Gold Live account as you can now use the apps and play the games online for FREE!!

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The First Christmas Stamp – A History of Holiday Postage

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Today Christmas stamps are sold by many countries during the holiday season and are used to add a little color and cheer to Christmas cards and letters. But how did this tradition start?

In December 1898, Canada issued a 2-cent stamp celebrating the introduction of imperial penny postage and inscribed with the words “XMAS 1898.” This stamp is usually regarded as the world’s first Christmas stamp, but it wasn’t actually released to celebrate the holidays. Instead, as legend goes, Postmaster William Mulock suggested to Queen Victoria that the stamp should be released in November “to honor the Prince” (meaning the Prince of Wales). But when the queen showed obvious displeasure with the idea and asked which prince he was referring to, Mulock quickly answered, “Why, the Prince of Peace, ma’am”. So when the stamp was issued in December, it bore not only the image of a world map, but also the words “XMAS 1898” at the bottom of the stamp.

It wasn’t until nearly 40 years later that another country issued a Christmas stamp. This time the country was Austria. In 1937, it issued two stamps billed as “Christmas Greeting Stamps,” but neither had a Christmas theme. One showed a zodiac sign and the other one depicted a rose. Brazil was next in line, issuing four semi-postal stamps in 1939, and Hungary followed suit with a semi-postal stamp in 1941. Semi-postal stamps are ones that are sold above the stamp’s value to raise money for a specific cause.

So it wasn’t until 1943 that Hungary issued the first Christmas-themed stamp that was sold specifically as a holiday stamp. Now many nations of the world issue postage stamps with a Christmas theme that are intended for use on seasonal mail.

The first Christmas stamp issued by the United States came was a 4-cent stamp issued in 1962. The green and red stamp featured a wreath, two candles, and the words “Christmas 1962”. The postal service anticipated a huge demand for the new stamp and ordered 350 million printed, the largest number ever produced up until that time for a special stamp. But it wasn’t enough. When the initial supply quickly ran out the Bureau of Engraving and Printing began working around the clock to print more. By the end of the season, one billion of the first Christmas stamps were printed and distributed.

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Neat & Simple Checklist to Simplify and Organize Sending Holiday Cards!

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Here’s a step-by-step checklist to simplify and make it easier to send those holiday cards on time.

1. SIMPLIFY / CUT BACK ON YOUR LIST

The most important reason for sending a card is how it will make people feel. With that in mind, go ahead and make some cuts. For example, keep only the following people on your card list:

  1. Family members and friends who send you cards and would feel hurt if you didn’t send a card.
  2. People who exchange updates with you every year.
  3. Older people you know don’t get a lot of cards, don’t have computers, and for whom receiving a card means a lot to them. As you get older, you start to lose friends and family. Receiving cards during the holidays can be a wonderful comfort.

2. START EARLY & PREPARE THE “INGREDIENTS”

Start a couple weeks before Thanksgiving if you can. Chunk out your tasks into manageable bites as shown below. During the weeks before Thanksgiving, strive to get 2 – 4 of these tasks done.

  1. Update your address book and mailing label lists & print out the labels (I recommend using a Word Template for address labels from Avery)
  2. Print out or gather your Return Address Labels.
  3. Buy Holiday Stamps from the post office online. They are usually available by Thanksgiving. If you order early you never have to worry about your local office running out.
  4. Make sure you have the right number of cards. Buy cards right after the holidays when they are on sale.
  5. If you send out photo cards, choose your photo & get them ordered.
  6. If you send a holiday newsletter, start outlining the things you want to include.
  7. If you send pictures inside a cards, choose one and get it duplicated.
  8. Write your Newsletter first draft.

3. PUT YOUR INGREDIENTS TOGETHER & MAIL. Week 1 after Thanksgiving do the next steps. You can do most of these while watching your favorite TV programs.

  1. Put Return Address Labels on all your envelopes. Try doing 20-50 cards at a time.
  2. Put Stamps on all your envelopes.

Week 2 after Thanksgiving do the next steps.

  1. Put Recipient Address Labels on the cards
  2. Do your final edit, then print and fold your holiday Newsletters (if you have one) and put them inside the cards.
  3. Put each card with it’s stamped and addressed envelope.
  4. Divide your stamped, addressed cards into sets of 5 – 10 cards each.
  5. Write personal notes and sign your cards. Each day work on a set of cards. Get a plastic bag to carry cards with you. Anytime you have to wait somewhere, like at a doctor’s office. If you really don’t want to spend time on personal notes, you can order pre-printed cards. If you do that, you can just skip this step.
  6. Mail the set of cards.

Do a set each day or two and even if you have 100 cards, you’ll have them all personalized and sent in 7 -10 days. If you have more cards than 100, go back to Step One and Simplify. Or start a week or 2 earlier. Wishing you Happy & Healthy Holidays!

© 2006 Ariane Benefit, M.S.Ed

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Why Is Holiday Decorating Good For You?

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December gives us the perfect excuse to pamper ourselves with holiday cheer. No matter which holiday tradition you celebrate, decorating your home is good for you. Psychologists report that change, planning, and entertainment make people happy. Change your environment for the holidays and plan to entertain yourself as well as guests.

Holiday decorations change stagnant rooms. When your accessories and mementos stay in the same place day after day, you soon get used to them and no longer notice your treasure in the same old location. Moving things around and adding holiday decorations to your spaces makes everything feel new again.

You increase your happiness when you decorate your home for the holidays, if you take out the stress. When you make a huge production out of decorating your home for the holidays, you can easily become overwhelmed and turn a happy event into a stress-filled ordeal. Balance, the key to happiness, will help you keep holiday decorating FUN. Don’t take on too much. It doesn’t take a lot of decorations to instill holiday cheer!

Have you ever noticed that when you plan a party that the actual planning makes you happy? Psychologists say that’s because people love to daydream and plan. An added bonus, the more time you take to plan a party, the more organized the event, and the better the result.

Guests love to come to a home decked out in holiday splendor. The festive air created with candles, decorations, and music provides the backdrop for happy interactions. It’s hard for someone to not be happy when they enter a home in celebration mood.

Take some time for yourself and enjoy your holiday decorating. Pamper yourself and your guests.

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Holiday Events – Entertainment Options Matter

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Everybody has been to the office party where Sally has a little too much to drink and ends up sitting on the boss’s lap while his wife watches in horror. And nobody wants to repeat that event. In fact, many professionals will avoid attending office parties because of the opportunity for such embarrassing events to happen.

But the office party doesn’t have to become a horrifying and embarrassing experience for anyone. Here are a few fun options that don’t include over imbibing in the spirits of the season:

1 – Present a Dance and Cover Band Challenge

Hire two bands, schedule them to play two sets, and have the attendees decide which band is the best. You’ll want to do this event early in the season with plenty of dance time, food and tables for conversational discussions among the different teams. And selected teams who are designed to confer over the dance bands to determine who is the best band. By encouraging your teams to work together on their selection based on several factors, you’ll be growing team efforts, and building relationships,while keeping them focused on a specific project.

End of the night, the best band gets a repeat performance at another party later in the season. Much like the Winter Formal and Prom, the first one is a practice run for the Grand Event.

2 – Motivational Speaker or Comedian

Stand up comedy can bring a whole different spectrum to the Holiday Event, if your crowd wants to be entertained, rather than participate in the entertainment. Nothing is better than a Tony Robinson event to move your team off-center, grow some team-building spirit, and walk away from a fun event exploding with energy and desire to move through the season making more effort to achieve greater goals. And even the most driven motivational speaker can offer solid comedic hilarity to an evening out.

3 – Impersonators Roaming the Room

Didn’t you ever want to dine with Elvis Presley? What about a dance with Taylor Swift? Can you imagine sitting at the same table as Marilyn Monroe? Or how about just a chat with Abraham Lincoln over current political challenges? Sometimes the most exotic forms of entertainment can be the least staged, and still the most well planned events.

And nobody does gratitude better than Elvis, “Thank you, Thank you. Thank you, very much.”

Building your team through events where entertainment, connection, and relationships mix can be fun, successful, and well-structured. Don’t look now, but Elvis is in the room!

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