Okay, first off, must RAVE about Jennifer Echols' cover. How cool is that?!
Second, I had the chance to meet romantic comedy author Aimee Friedman last week in New York. Not only is she a doll (funny and SMART, too!), she gave me an autographed copy of her book SOUTH BEACH. Isn't that the COOLEST gift?! (Thanks, Aimee!)
With the holiday season fast approaching, now's the time *you're* starting to worry about what gifts to choose for family, friends, or your boyfriend/girlfriend. If you want to stay away from buying a half-dozen scarves and figuring out what color to give to whom—especially knowing that they won't wear them anyway—consider doing something that's truly giving this year: helping others. Try these suggestions and you'll not only make your friends and family happy, you'll improve your world.
1) Give a friend a card letting them know that in their honor, you're helping out a soldier. Care packages can be sent to soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan via AnySoldier.com. Also, the U.S Postal Service offers a program where you can buy phone cards which will be given to soldiers, allowing them to phone home. Just ask about the program at any post office.
2) If your parents are agreeable, invite friends to a holiday time "hospital" party at your place. Call a local hospital's information desk ahead of time and ask them what type of items they need for care packages for staff and/or patients who are stuck in the hospital over the holidays. Ask guests to each bring an item or two from the list. Put on a tv show or movie with a hospital theme, order in pizza, and spend the evening enjoying each other's company as you make up care packages. No hospital nearby? Consider baking or buying goodies for emergency personnel such as your local firefighters, emergency dispatchers, and/or police officers who are stuck at work and away from their families.
3) Make a donation to Heifer International, where even a small donation can be used to make a permanent difference to families with limited access to food and shelter. Check the organization out here, at Heifer.org.. When you donate in honor of a friend, that friend will receive a card letting them know that a family in need has received a gift. Who doesn't want to know that they're responsible for helping a family in need get food, shelter, or access to education?
4) Low on funds? Consider making up cards to give your family and friends offering them something they really want: your time and skills. If you can sew and a friend can't, volunteer to fix a torn hem or replace buttons on her fave top. Tell your parents you'll help them with chores that aren't on your usual list of chores. Offer to drive a friend without a car to do her holiday shopping. Babysit for free so a parent can get their errands done. Be creative, and make sure you actually follow through on your promise!