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Blog :: 12-2019

Thinking Outside of the Box

Holiday Giving TipsLooking for new ways to give—or give back—this holiday season?

Here are three of our favorite ways to help others and bring new meaning to the holidays.

Pass along things you no longer need.

Does your home feel cluttered? Has your child outgrown a bunch of clothes this year? Is your linen closet overflowing with extra towels or blankets? Take a pass through your home and round up the things you no longer need. If the items are in good condition and fall into any of the following categories, they are very likely needed at your local homeless shelter:

  • Clothing (especially warm socks, gloves, coats, hats, and any item that can be worn as a layer)
  • Toiletries (such as shampoo, soap, lotion, feminine hygiene products, toothpaste, new toothbrushes, hairbrushes, and razors)
  • Blankets and towels
  • Diapers and baby wipes

Make a financial donation in someone’s honor.

Need a thoughtful gift for a friend or loved one who already has everything? Instead of a physical object, make a donation in their name. Whether it’s Heifer International, the ASPCA, or the Red Cross, there are numerous organizations out there that will do something useful with your donation. If you want to check into an organization before giving money, you can look them up on Give.org.

Give a few hours of your time.

There are plenty of ways to help people out, just by showing up and spending some time. Here are some ways to do that:

  • Serve food at a soup kitchen.
  • Bring some treats or cards to a local nursing home and visit with residents who may not get other visitors over the holidays. (Remember to call ahead to schedule your visit.)
  • Bring a warm meal to an elderly neighbor.
  • Lend an ear to someone who is having a hard time. Whether it’s a close friend, a neighbor, or a colleague, there is probably someone in your life who is going grieving a loss or going through something else difficult. Invite that person over for coffee or a meal, and let them know you are there for them if they would like to talk.

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It's the Time of the Season for … Hygge

Cozy reading nook on couch with lamp and bookshelvesEight Tips for Adding Warmth and Coziness to Your Home

With Thanksgiving behind us and a fresh blanket of snow on the ground here in the Pioneer Valley, it feels like time to settle in by the fire, curl up with a good book, pour a cup of tea and luxuriate in the coziness of home. The Danish call this feeling of coziness hygge (pronounced h(y)oo), which the Oxford Dictionary defines as “a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.”

There are parts of our homes that tend to spark feelings of coziness naturally; A breakfast nook with the morning sun slanting in, a comfy couch with a blanket draped over the back, or any spot near a fireplace. If your home contains these things, congratulations—hygge slam dunk! But if not, never fear. There are plenty of other ways to infuse your house with a feeling of warmth and comfort this winter.

Boost your home’s coziness factor by adding any of these elements:

  1. Rugs. Not only are they kind to your feet on chilly winter mornings, rugs can really soften the vibe of a room and create defined and inviting areas within a larger space.
  2. Blankets and throws. They’re great for warmth, of course, but also for adding a touch of softness to more modern, angular furniture.
  3. Pillows. Well…what’s cozier than a pillow?
  4. Plants, flowers, or fruit. Anything organic, really—even a piece of beautiful driftwood—will bring softness and a sense of comfort to a room.
  5. Texture. Whether achieved through fabrics, prints, or objects with different surfaces, texture can make a space feel more inviting.  
  6. Books. Stacks of them. Preferably somewhere near an overstuffed chair and a reading lamp.
  7. Soft, warm light. So break out those candles, fairy lights, or Edison bulbs for an instant feeling of warmth and comfort.
  8. Good smells. Whether its from bread baking in the oven or a woodsy-scented candle, the right smell will trigger a sense of “home” like nothing else.