18 Non-Toy Gifts for Children

Sometimes I come across articles that just make so much sense,  I have to share with everyone.   Looking for something to give your child, niece, nephew, grandchild or friend that will be appreciated for years to come?  Check out these ideas from Rachel from Nourishing Minimalism.   As I looked through the list, I found many that I have given before but have forgotten about since.   Last year my daughter gave me a subscription to one of my favorite magazines.  What a nice reminder of her gift as I receive a new publication every month!  She gave me other gifts that were probably more expensive, but to tell you the truth – I can’t remember what most of those gifts were.  Take a look through this list and see if you can find something that would make a nice gift for someone special.

  1. Classes. Music, dance, riding, drawing, classes are a great way to encourage children in their interests and let them know that you pay attention to them and what they enjoy.
  2. Memberships. Zoo, science museum, children’s museum, YMCA membership, etc. These are particularly great for family gifts! Many young families want to enjoy day outings, but affording them can be a challenge, so give them the gift of a yearly membership.
  3. Subscriptions. Kids enjoy getting things int he mail. Why not encourage their reading by getting them a magazine subscription for something they are interested in!
  4. Events. Movie tickets, tickets to a play, concert or sports event are really exciting! Having an event to look forward to makes the rest of life more enjoyable.
  5. Activities. Mini golf, bowling, skating rink. These are so much fun! And a big part of the fun is going together. Children love spending time with the adults in their lives, they want to see you enjoying your time as well as enjoying them.
  6. Recipe and Ingredients. Kids love cooking with their parents. Baking something special or cooking dinner is an ideal time to spend together and learn life skills. Print out a recipe, purchase all the ingredients and set a date for cooking together.
  7. Crafting Date. Our daughter loves making crafts. I do to, I really do enjoy the creative aspect. But I rarely take time out to do it with her. These crafting dates mean the world to our creative little girl. Keep a basket of craft supplies and get out a book for inspiration. We like this book.
  8. Arts and Craft supplies. If your craft box is running low, stock up a little on things you need. Add in something fun the kids haven’t used before. A gift of art and craft supplies often brings on the imagination and kids can’t wait to get to work!
  9. Coupons. An envelope of coupons that they can “spend” at any time: I’ll do one chore- no questions asked, movie and popcorn night, you pick the movie!, 1:1 game of cards or basketball (whatever the child’s interest is in), sit and read a book with me, Stay up 1/2 hour past bedtime
  10. Restaurant Gift Card. Dinner, ice cream, coffee, cupcake- whatever suits their fancy! Give them the freedom of inviting whoever they wish: it may be mom or dad, it may be a grandparent, aunt or even teacher that they would like to spend more time with.
  11. Dress Up Clothes. These do need to be limited, but  2 dresses and couple play silks can get hours and hours of play!
  12. Books. We get a lot of books from the library, but there are some that I just can’t find there, or it takes us longer to read through. We have read through the entire Little House series, Narnia and are working our way through Shel Silverstein’s books. Be sure to pass the books on when you are done, so they don’t clutter up your home.
  13. Clothes. When kids only have a certain amount of clothes, they often enjoy getting clothes. Make it a point to get something that fits their style. That may mean western clothes, super-hero, fancy dresses, etc.
  14. Snacks. If your child is a foodie, they will love this! Some homemade granola or cookies made just for them, is a special treat!
  15. Outdoor Supplies. If you are an outdoorsy family, giving kids their own fishing tackle or gardening equipment can be a big deal. It’s also something that gets left on the shelf in the garage, so you always know right where to find it.
  16. Telling Time. The average child these days doesn’t know how to read analog, or finds it takes too long to think about it, so they search for a digital watch. Getting them a cool watch makes them want to be able to tell time on it. Boys, girls, and even teenagers can be excited about this.
  17. Games and Puzzles. Games and puzzles are great activities for when kids have to be indoors. It’s a good practice to have individual quiet times during the day, and having a puzzle to sit and work on by themselves helps brain development and problem solving skills. Games teach a lot too! My kids talk about how they passed geography, just because we played Risk when they were little. Monopoly and PayDay have been popular and help cement math skills. Memory games are great for younger children.
  18. Calendar. Many children like to know what is going on, what day it is, how many days until ____. These kids are the ones that want to know what the plan is for the day, in what order things will happen, what time friends are expected over, etc. They struggle with spur-of-the-moment and can be frustrating if you are a spontaneous parent. But celebrate it! These children have many strengths and make our world run smoother. :-) Embrace their inner schedule and get them their own calendar. They can write down their own classes, appointments, play dates, etc. And if they ask you, send them to their calendar so they can get used to being in control of their own schedule. You can even schedule “spontaneous days”, so they know that something different will happen that day. Trust me, it will help them enjoy the spontaneous outings!

You’ll also find other great ideas on other topics too!  Check it out at nourishingminimalism.com.

25 Ways To Be A Quiet Hero

  1. Hold the door for the Mom pushing a stroller and kids trailing behind
  2. Listen (and close your phone, iPad, laptop and all other electronics)
  3. Join in the search the next time someone loses their keys
  4. Speak up when you see a bully in action (there are a few in every office)
  5. Rearrange your meetings to meet your significant other for lunch
  6. Clear your schedule to see your child’s sports/music/assembly
  7. You see someone fumbling for change in the checkout line and you have it, give it to them
  8. Pay for the meal of the person behind you.
  9. Smile at someone homeless on the street and say hello instead of averting your eyes
  10. Don’t give the homeless person a dollar, buy them a meal instead
  11. Volunteer your time
  12. Raise money for a charity that matters to you and is close to your heart
  13. Be a Secret Santa for a family that needs help this holiday season
  14. Offer to babysit when your neighbor needs to run out to the market
  15. Give to donors choose.org and help entire classrooms have what they need to learn
  16. Deliver dinner to someone in your community, church, or social group that just had a baby
  17. Fill in for your colleague at work when they’re feeling sick or need to go to an appointment
  18. Offer to help when you see someone struggling
  19. Pick up milk on the way home so your family can have cereal for breakfast
  20. Help promote someone’s book or program on Social Media
  21. Stick around for after school sports to lend a hand
  22. Get groceries for your sick neighbor – you’re headed to the store anyway
  23. When you see a child at an event who looks lost, help them instead of assuming someone else will
  24. Give blood
  25. What will you do today?

Article by Alli Polin.  Alli helps people and organizations make the leap to a more powerful and purposeful future. Her philosophy? Change starts with just one step but you don’t have to take it alone.
To read this complete article and other articles by Alli, click here >

Where did the Boogeyman come from?

Every country has a long, rich tradition of invoking supernatural threats in order to keep kids in line. Maybe parents save it for a last resort, but when they can’t get their kids to behave there is a certain terrifying monster who can. He has many names and takes on different forms (and even genders), but every culture on Earth knows him: the shadowy, elusive, diabolical entity who feasts on a strict diet of naughty children. He may be evil incarnate, but he also has an uneasy alliance with desperate parents who can’t get their kids to bed on time. We know him as the boogeyman, but it turns out that every culture has a name for this figure who goes bump in the night. Parents around the world agree: fear is an excellent motivator.



AKA: Bogeyman, Bogieman, Boogie Man, Bogy, Bugbear

Other known whereabouts: English-speaking countries

A shadowy, amorphous ghost who hides in dark places in order to frighten unsuspecting victims. He’s more of a nuisance than a danger, and his power is easily neutralized by bright light. His name probably originates from Middle English “bugge”, meaning “something frightening”.



Other known whereabouts: Belgium, Germany

The “buck riders” are ghost thieves who ride flying goats. They were a legend created by actual bands of thieves in the 18th century to intimidate and terrorize local farming communities.



AKA: Bütze, Buhmann, Mummelmann, Popelmann

Other known whereabouts: Netherlands, Scandinavia

A faceless goblin or ghost shrouded in a cloak. He hides in dark corners, under the bed or in the closet, and attacks children who stay up past their bedtime. His name either comes from Middle German “bôtzen” (to make a racket) or “verbutzen” (to conceal or disguise).

Sack Man


AKA: Hombre del Saco, Hombre del Costal, Homem do Saco, El Roba-chicos

Other known whereabouts: most of southern Europe and Latin America

An ugly, gaunt man who kidnaps naughty children in broad daylight and carries them away in a sack. Depending on regional variants, he either sells the children or eats them. In some cultures a figure like Sack Man works as Saint Nicholas’ evil sidekick.

Baba Yaga


AKA: Baba Roga, Złota Baba, Ježibaba, gorska maika

Other known whereabouts: Slavic countries

A witch with a deep and powerful connection to the forest. She lives in a hut that stands on giant chicken legs, rides around in a flying mortar and carries a giant pestle. Ambivalent towards humans, she is just as likely to help you as eat you. “Baba” (Баба) translates as “woman” while “yaga” may derive from the Proto-Slavic word for serpent, but sounds similar to Polish “jędza” (witch), Serbo-Croatian “jeza” (horror) and Old Church Slavonic “jęza” (disease).



A monster with a body composed of different animal parts, eyes that are blobs of flaming spit and a coat made from the clothes of the children it’s eaten.


South Africa

Water sprites who do the bidding of evil wizards. They can become invisible by drinking water and cause all sorts of mischief. You can protect yourself from them whilst you sleep by placing a brick beneath each leg of your bed, but banishing them for good will require the help of a witch doctor.



A man-eating giant with large, protruding fangs. Although he loves the taste of children he can be reasoned with and today enjoys an annual tribute feast in exchange for not eating local kids.

Wewe Gombel


The vengeful spirit of a woman whose broken heart drove her to suicide. Unlike the usual boogeymen, she kidnaps children to save them from bad parents! She lovingly cares for them in her nest atop a palm tree, refusing to return them until their parents repent for their abusive or neglectful ways.


Oga Peninsula, Japan

These ogres go from door to door on New Year’s Eve, looking for children who have misbehaved that year. They are more than happy to unburden parents by taking away children who are lazy, insolent or simply cry too much. Their name comes from their famous refrain – なもみコ剝げたかよ “Namomi ko hagetaka yo?” (“Blisters healed yet?”) – meant to insult people who lazily sit by the fire all day.

The Jersey Devil

New Jersey, USA

AKA: The Leeds Devil

A dragon-like creature with a strange amalgam of animal parts and a blood-curdling scream. According to legend, it was the 13th child of the terribly unlucky “Mother Leeds” in 1735. Ever since, it has been terrorizing those foolhardy enough to venture into the pine barrens at night.

La Llorona


The ghost of a woman who drowned her children in order to be with a man who ultimately spurned her. Destitute, she drowned herself – but she’s barred from entering heaven until she finds her children. At night, she wanders along the riverbanks looking for them, crying “¡Ay mis hijos!” (“oh my children!”) and snatching any child she mistakes for her own. Like the Irish Banshee, hearing her cry is considered a death omen. Her name is derived from the Spanish “llorar” (to weep).

Tata Duende


A small, bearded goblin with no thumbs and backwards feet who is said to be the guardian of the forest and animals. Parents warn their children that if they stay outside after dark or wander into the jungle, Tata Duende will get them. His name translates to “Papa Goblin”.



A man with incredibly long legs who walks around towns at midnight to catch and eat anyone who is still outside. His name is a contraction of the French “maître” (master) and “minuit” (midnight).



AKA: Coca, Cucuy

A famous Brazilian lullaby warns children to go to sleep or else a Cuca, a crocodile woman, will get them. She is a variation on the Portuguese “Coca”.

Written by John-Erik Jordan.   John-Erik is a native of Los Angeles, California. He studied film and sculpture at The Cooper Union in New York and worked as a video editor in LA before turning his attention to writing. Since moving to Berlin in 2009 he’s written for PLAYBerlin, the Hebbel-am-Ufer and various online publications. He’s been writing about languages for Babbel since 2014.  Reprint from Babbel

Source for Free Photos In One Place

As a web and graphic designer, I always have the need for good high quality photos to use as a background or to compliment an article.  Even though I shoot many of my own photos or have purchased image discs,  sometimes I need something that just isn’t in my library.  One of the sources I’ve found helpful is Pexels.

Pexels offers a growing library of high quality photos and all of them are free. No license is required whether you use it for personal or commercial application.  All photos have to meet their requirements to keep their visitors from running into copyright issues.  I suggest you review their license agreement (click License at top right) for an overview if you have any questions or concerns.  Also, they offer a weekly newsletter and will email you some high quality photos.

Their website offers search capability. For example, I needed a photo of a dog; Did a quick search and it rendered a dozen photos.   You can follow Pexels on Facebook or Twitter, but I found their website and newsletter to be the most resourceful.

Most Downloaded Android & iPhone Apps

I recently came across a list of the top free android and iphone apps.  I found the list to be somewhat ‘speculative’ since it was based on writers bias and interest.  Instead, I thought the most popular might best be gauged by how many times the apps are downloaded. This way, the recommendations could be based more on word of mouth from actual users.

Digging deeper, I found a link that offers the top most downloaded android and iphone apps.  You can search by today, last 7 days, and last 30 days.   It also includes new entries, those moving up and moving down.   Almost all of the apps are free.  Another option offered by appszoom is lists of games, applications, best and free.

Since it’s updated almost daily, this is one link that I’ll be visiting over and over again!

Check out the most downloaded Android Apps here >

Check out the most downloaded iPhone Apps here >

Article written by Bruce Kullberg.  You may publish or reprint this article as long as you include the following:
© Bruce Kullberg, KullbergDesigns.com

What the Font is it?

Ever have a client want you to use a specific font?  Or just want to know what a font is for future reference?  So you end up spending hours looking and searching through your font database?  There are a few services available that can take the guess work out of this task.

WhatFontis.com – Simply submit the image with the font you are looking for.   You can either upload an image of the font in jpeg, gif or png format, or enter a link to the URL with the image.   Once you’ve completed this step, choose how you want to browse through the 285,000 fonts they have stored on their service.  If it doesn’t find an exact match, they offer up to 100 alternatives.   WhatFontis.com offers a video  with an overview of their service, and is free.

WhatTheFont – You can either upload an image or provide a URL to  the image, and WhatTheFont will try to find the closest matches in their database.  Another option is to let their ‘cloak-draped font enthusiasts’ lend a hand in the WhatTheFont Forum.  Another cool option is the WhatTheFont mobile app.  Sign up for their iPhone app (updated Android app coming soon) , then snap a picture of the font you want identified, submit and wait for an answer. They offer other services including selling fonts or submit your own creation for sale.

Identifont – Since its launch in November 2000 Identifont has become the largest independent directory of digital fonts on the Internet.  It uses advanced applications in AI and research, and was developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.  It provides a range of features to help you locate fonts or find information about fonts by appearance, name, similarity, picture, designers and publishers.  You can create a personal Fontset of fonts for future reference.  The tools page features a collection of utilities to help you find fonts for specific applications, or identify fonts with particular features.   You can find free fonts to download, too. Great resource for any designer or publisher.

As a designer, these are several excellent resources you’ll want to include in your tool box.  Hope you find them helpful, too!

Article written by Bruce Kullberg.  You may publish or reprint this article as long as you include the following:
© Bruce Kullberg, KullbergDesigns.com

Why You Can’t Expect Instant Results With Social Media Marketing

Just like a garden that must be nurtured one plant at a time, you need to nurture your relationships with your community, one person at a time.

So start using social media for all the right reasons –

• For genuinely listening to your customers

• For conducting research on their needs

• For answering customer queries

• For providing great customer support

• For sharing remarkable content

• For offering exclusive deals and discounts

• For creating brand advocates

To read the complete article to better understand these suggestions, click here >

Beyond Price: Personalization and the New Face of Customer Service

Consumers have been increasingly vocal about their desire for more information to inform their purchase choices. However, they are also dissatisfied with traditional in-store service and are seeking out expert advice online—and not just from friends and family.

To offer a complete and satisfying customer experience, retailers need to leverage the increasing power of online brand advocates to create uniquely personalized experiences for their shoppers. Leaving customers to navigate traditional product information and read customer reviews on their own means leaving sales on the table.

In this newest eBook from FierceRetail, we’ll show retailers how to create a more personalized customer experience that can increase sales and drive revenue for your business.

Chapters include:

  • The Omnichannel Shopper
  • The New Review: Input Drives Conversion
  • The Rise of Brand Advocates
  • In-Store Connectivity
  • Case Study: Home Furnishings

This eBook is available for download as a PDF and is designed to be read on your computer or tablet. We recommend using Adobe for an optimal reading experience. Completion of a short form is required to download the eBook.   Read more >


10 Social Media Etiquette Tips

1. Don’t Mix Business and Pleasure

Some public figures get paid to post outrageous or inspiring things on their social media accounts, but mere mortals don’t have this privilege. If your job requires you to maintain a social media account with your name on it, don’t use it to talk about where you’re going clubbing tonight, or to share photos of your new puppy. Keep separate accounts for this type of engagement. If the handles of your personal and business accounts are similar, clearly indicate which account is which in the about section. To soften the blow of questionable content, attach a disclaimer, such as “All views expressed are my own,” to your personal Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Keep in mind that your professional concerns should always outweigh your personal ones. For instance, if you’ve been tapped for a promotion at work, but haven’t been cleared to discuss it publicly, resist the urge to share the news on your personal social media accounts.

2. Use Caution Posting and Tagging Photos

You probably don’t appreciate it when your friends tag you in unflattering or candid photos, so why put them in the same position? If you’re posting a group photo, ask permission before tagging your friends, or post the photo with the caption “Tag yourself” to encourage others to take the initiative. Also, make sure your profile pictures, especially on business-focused social sites such as LinkedIn, are professional. Crisp, high-resolution head shots work best.

The rules change for your business page, where a logo or representative image might be appropriate. If professional concerns lead you to maintain an anonymous Facebook or Twitter page, feel free to be more creative with images. Just don’t anything truly offensive – it’s still possible to deduce the owner of an anonymous page.

3. Be Self-Centered in Small Doses

Even if you understand you’re not the center of the universe, your social media presence could be singing a different tune. Before you post, tweet, or share anything, think about how others might interpret it – will it be perceived as insightful and informative, or crass and boring? This is particularly important if you depend on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and other tools to market your professional side.

The 4-1-1 rule, which was developed for Twitter, but can be applied to other platforms, is a good template for engagement. The idea is that every time you post something that’s “all about you,” you share at least four pieces of content written by someone else.

4. Understand That Your Sense of Humor Isn’t Universal

Unless you’re sending a private message, your social media posts reach well beyond your friends and family members. What flies in the locker room or frat house might not be kosher in a setting where people from different backgrounds congregate. This doesn’t mean you can’t use well-placed humor in your posts – just make sure it’s appropriate.

5. Don’t Be Reactive

Celebrity Twitter wars are fun to watch, but avoid getting sucked into your own social media arguments. From behind a screen, a fight’s consequences seem less immediate, and many people are willing to go toe-to-toe online in ways they’d never dream of doing face-to-face. If you hash things out on social media, your words and actions can be saved and dredged up down the line.

There are many ways to start a social media spat, from personally responding to a politically tinged Facebook post, to publicly calling someone out for wrongdoing. No matter how the fight starts, the results aren’t constructive. In addition to alienating your adversary and his or her associates, you could develop a reputation as a hot head. And if you’re a senior employee, such as a VP or public relations specialist, your employer could take action against you, even if the dispute has nothing to do with your job.

6. Avoid Over-Sharing

Your social media feeds shouldn’t read like an inner monologue. Occasionally sharing what your cat’s up to or how awesome dinner was last night is fine. But over-sharing – as in posting your cereal choice every morning – is the quickest way to lose your friends and followers. Even if you don’t use your accounts for professional purposes, your social presence is a big part of your personal brand. You want your brand to be interesting, engaging, and representative of your best characteristics. You don’t want to dilute it with scads of irrelevant posts.

7. Build a Legacy for the Future

It’s standard for employers and educational institutions to vet candidates’ social media activity before granting an interview or accepting an application, so be sure that your accounts don’t jeopardize your chances. Ramp up the privacy settings on your personal accounts so your posts aren’t visible to non-contacts. Remove and un-tag morally or legally questionable photos. Find and delete any disparaging comments you’ve made about previous employers or colleagues. Make sure your LinkedIn profile has an updated resume, and begin engaging with relevant professional groups.

Think past the next status update – your social media presence contains years of information about you, and your exposure increases with the digitization of society. If you want to use social media to say and share what you please, consider creating semi-anonymous accounts under a pseudonym, such as nickname, misspelling, or inversion of your full name.

8. Don’t Misrepresent Yourself

Dishonesty can have serious personal and professional consequences, even on social media. It might feel easy to misrepresent yourself when you’re hiding behind a screen, but even a seemingly innocent embellishment on your LinkedIn profile, such as inventing a more impressive title at a previous job, could get you canned. Using social media to take credit for the achievements of your coworkers is also a no-no.

9. Don’t Drink and Tweet

If you’re impaired in any way – lack of sleep, jet lag, or one too many drinks – you’re more likely to break the rules of social media etiquette. If you’d feel unsafe behind the wheel, wait to engage online until you’re in a better frame of mind. Similarly, if your first instinct after a hard day at work or a fight with your partner is to vent digitally, resist the temptation. You’re liable to say something that could damage your personal or professional reputation.

10. Understand Each Platform’s Best Practices

Some social media etiquette principles are broadly applicable, and many are extensions of offline courtesy. But others, such as what to include in direct messages on Twitter, and when or with whom to connect on LinkedIn, are platform-specific. Before you become an active user of a new social media platform, read up on its best practices. And since these practices can change as new features emerge, study up each month to stay current.

Brian Martucci
Brian Martucci is a freelance journalist and branding consultant who loves to provide practical personal finance advice for regular people. When he’s not writing about frugal living, long-term investing, or consumer-friendly financial products, he’s probably out exploring a new trail or sampling a novel cuisine.

For complete article, click here >