Who Invented the Cell Phone & the Remarkable History of It

Most of us have them; previous generations like to tell us how well they got along without them; but millions of us can hardly remember living life without them! The cell phone is, perhaps, one of the most influential developments in technology to the mass consumer in the last 50 years. The luxury of having a fully functional computer and communication device that fits in your pocket is undeniably convenient, and it’s made all of our lives easier (even grandma’s as she checks up on the tennis scores, the weather, and her grandchildren on social media).

While most of us use them everyday, many of us perhaps do not know the extent of their humble beginnings, and how the modern-day cell phone came to exist. Well, that’s exactly what we are going to discuss in this post.

Who Invented the Cell Phone

As most of us are aware, the first telephone was invented by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876; and he could not have imagined that his already remarkable invention would be the foundation upon which one of the most competitive and evolving industries would be built.

In the early 1900s, a man named Reginald Fessenden (a brilliant Canadian who was the founding father of radio communications) made the first voice transmission, via radio waves, across the Atlantic Ocean. This limited but exciting leap in technology would serve as the inspiration for the modern, wireless communication we take for granted today!

Almost half a century later (1947), an engineer named William Rae Young suggested that if radio broadcast towers were arranged into the shape of a hexagon, they could potentially support a wireless telephone network!

Not too long after that, a company called Bell Laboratories (known today as AT&T) offered their customers “Radio Telephones”. Whilst exciting to think about, the technology was very limited. The prehistoric network was unable to handle more than a handful of calls at a time, which meant that customers often had to wait for other conversations to end before being able to make their own calls. Not to mention, this ‘portable’ telephone weighed a jaw-dropping 80 lbs! Certainly not the convenient, hand-held super computers we are accustomed to today.

In the swinging 60s, two engineers working for Bell Laboratories (AT&T) named Richard H Frenkiel & Joel S Engel, were in charge of developing the tech to support and surpass William Young’s original cellular network concept. However, while Bell Labs was patiently awaiting permission to move forward with their design from the FCC, a man named Martin Cooper (an executive with rival company: Motorola) beat them to the punch in the early seventies.

The person who invented the cell phone was Martin Cooper and was in charge of the team that designed the great grandpa of cell phones. The device which most of us recognize from 80s movies and television. It was called the DynaTAC 8000x, and was released by Motorola in 1983. It cost $4000, and this “portable device” was a not-so-convenient 9 inches long, and weighed almost as much as a toaster! (2.5 lbs, to be exact). Hefty, but definitely better than an 80-lb behemoth!

As one final jab between competitors, one of the first cellular calls from the person who invented the cell phone, Martin Cooper, made on this ground-breaking device was to rival, Joel Engel (one of the engineers from Bell Laboratories) for some good-natured heckling- Harsh!

Cell phones continued to evolve through the next few decades by leaps and bounds, and more and more consumers realized the benefit of owning one of these little mobile phones! Let’s delve now into a few of the more major cell phone advancements, and the popular releases, over the past 3 decades!

The Evolution of the Cell Phone

Motorola’s initial DynaTAC 8000x was the modern cell phones ancient ancestor, and for a couple of decades, Motorola and Nokia would become the titans of the cellular market, producing mobile phones with almost constant advancements in technology. Here are some of the milestone devices that have lead to where we are today.

The Motorola International 3200 was released in 1992 with an 8 hour battery life, and was a great deal more compact than its predecessor. This size alteration would be just the beginning of cellular companies striving for sleeker and sleeker designs throughout the years.

In 1993, a company called Bellsouth released the IBM Simon Personal Communicator, which was the first PDA device to incorporate mobile communication capabilities! It also had a touch-screen! Sadly, the device’s battery life was barely an hour. But, hey, that’s still a LOT of tech crammed into such a tiny machine!

Motorola came back with another innovator in the form of their StarTAC! Released in 1996, this was the first mobile flip phone ever, and it was one of the first phones with a digital display screen! Talk about compact and futuristic!

In the same year, the Nokia 8110 arrived on the scene with its eye-catching curves! This uniquely designed phone (called the ‘banana phone’) was made famous by being used in the Matrix movie!

1996 seemed to be a big year for cell phone tech, and the 9000i Communicator was Nokia’s very first smartphone. It sported a CPU from Intel 386, clamshell design, a full keyboard, digital display, and was the first phone capable of sending short SMS messages (AKA, texting had been born!)

In 1999, the Nokia 7110 was released as the first mobile phone with a WEB BROWSER! That’s right, the power of the internet was not just at our fingertips… but could be kept in our pockets!

While this next phone was mostly sold in Europe, the Benefon ESC that was also released in 1999, and it was the first phone with GPS integration! For those of us who are directionally challenged, we thank you, Benefon!

Samsung made a name for itself in the cell phone industry by releasing it’s SPH-M100 Uproar. This fellow ‘99 mobile was the first cell phone to be MP3 compatible! Nothing like being able to listen to your favorite ‘90s hits and call your BFF all on the same device.

In 2001, the Nokia 5510 countered Samsung with their full QWERTY keyboard and 64MB capacity for music! Our taste for multi-featured devices was becoming clear, and the industry was listening.

The Ericsson T39 was released in 2001. Sporting a compact design and one of the fastest web browsing capabilities. It was also the first mobile phone with Bluetooth!

In 2002, the Nokia 7650 (featured in the film: Minority Report) and the Sanyo SCP-5300 were not just stylish little phones, but also the very first phones with a built-in camera! They might have been a lot more challenging back then, but the Selfie-craze could now commence! Capturing moments with your friends and family no longer needed to be missed because the big, clunky camera was forgotten at home!

2003 was the year the infamously popular Blackberry was released! It’s first iteration was the Quark 6210, and it had optimized the integration of PDA and Phone compatibility. Before the iPhone, Blackberries were the devices everyone wanted! You were quite the hot-shot if you pulled one of these out of your pocket!

A couple of popular 2000s phones most of us might recall, especially if you were a teenager at the time, were the Motorola Razors and the LG Chocolates! These phones were sleek, attractive and pretty reliable. The Razor had multiple iterations, one of which was released later on with metal parts, which made it even more durable.

And now, we have arrived… the beginning of what modern consumers would recognize as the smartphone. The company and the device that pretty much everyone has heard of. That’s right, it’s 2007, and the first Apple iPhone was released. With a touchscreen display, 128Mb of RAM, 4GB of internal storage, MP3 compatibility (of course), and more… what most consider the Alpha and Omega of mobile communication devices was born. If only Martin Cooper- let alone Alexander Graham Bell– could have imagined what the modest dream of long-distance communication would become. Only a year later, in 2008, Apple would release a new iteration of its device, called the iPhone 3G. This smartphone won acclaim and popularity thanks to its introduction of the “APP STORE”!

A couple of years later, in 2010, Samsung would release its Galaxy S. A fantastic device with 16GB or storage, 0.3 megapixel camera, and the Android OS, developed by Google! As most of us know, the next decade would be dominated by Samsung and Apple when it came to the cell phone market; and devices like the Google Pixel would begin to gain modest traction and popularity due to its fantastic hardware, storage, and camera.

All the while, companies like Motorola and Nokia, once the behemoths of the industry, had faded in popularity.

Back to the Present and Into the Future

The potential of the mobile phone is one that continues to grow and advance at a record pace. Our modern tastes continue to favor sleek designs, while we’re beginning to distance ourselves from compact sizes. Where once it was “the smaller the better”, in a bit of an ironic twist, consumers have now begun to prefer a nice large screen, as our desire to view and record media becomes a highly desired feature in our devices.

Many of us are now able to conduct most of our daily business in the palm of our hand; whether it be sending business emails, buying movie tickets, recording videos for vlogs, or even blogging, itself! The humble beginning of the mobile phone was a technological advancement that has improved our day to day lives, and we can only imagine what the future holds.

Fun Indoor Activity for Kids on Hot Summer Days | Simple, Cheap and Quick Idea | African Safari

The temperature is rising, the heat index is well over a 100 and the kids cannot go outside.  But of course since they can’t be outside on a hot summer day they are board and have some extra energy to burn.  I encountered that same problem not too long ago so we came up with a cool idea that kept the kids busy all day.  The cool thing is that the idea below can also be used outdoors once the temperature decreases.

Create an Indoor Safari to Beat the Heat

First, set the tone.  While you are setting up the ‘safari’ have the kids watch a background video about the animals found in Africa.  A good example is below. Its only 5 minutes long but it’s a nice overview.

Next provide the kids with a copy of these blank coloring sheets and have them color them in.  They can color one or all depending on level and time.

https://www.firstpalette.com/pdf/safarianimals.pdf

Print out a few more animals (in color if you can), multiple copies if you wish.

https://www.firstpalette.com/pdf/safarianimals-color.pdf

https://www.firstpalette.com/pdf/safarianimals2-color.pdf

While the kids are coloring the blanks ones, cut out and hide these animals around the house.  Hide them all over (behind doors, on chairs, behind cereal boxes on the counter, etc) and be creative.  I generally hide them where they are visible to the kids and tell them that they are not in drawers, cabinets or under couches.  This rule does help out.  Try not to let the kids see where you hide them and keep a count of the number you hid so you can make sure they find them all before they move on. 

After the kids finish coloring the sheets from earlier cut them and hide those as well.  The kids love when they find the one(s) that they worked on earlier. 

Let’s Go on a Safari

Once everything is hidden, tell the kids they need to ‘document’ the animals in the desert.  This is the part that can vary and the sky is the limit to how you proceed.  When I do this I give the kids a notepad so when they find the animals they can write down their name.  You can also have them document where they found it.  If you printed multiple copies of the same animal you can have them tally the number of each species they found also.

If the kids have a digital camera have them take pictures to document the animal ‘habitat’. It also serves as a way for the kids to find the animal again should they need it.  If they do not have a cheap digital camera I highly recommend them getting one.  You can grab one for fewer than 40 bucks.  It’s truly amazing what they can do even at a young age with a camera.

If the kids are old enough they can even create a map of the house with the location that each animal was found.  After they find all of them you can have the animals ‘migrate’ to different parts of the house and the kids can document their locations.  I typically do this 3-4 times.  The kids are that excited about it!

Before you send them on their way you can have them gather all of their ‘tools’ into a bag or backpack.  It adds to the excitement of what they are about to embark on.  Some tools they can bring if they have are binoculars, bug nets, hats, cameras, books, pens, compasses, etc.

Once the kids are done you can have them research each animal they found or you can show them videos about each unique animal.   

Have Fun and Stay Cool

If it’s too hot to be outside play into the theme of the heat by pretending to be on an African Safari while letting the kids imagination take them to an exciting place.   Let the kids have some fun, learn a few things and stay cool all while pretending to be someplace hot.  Once the weather cools you can easily adapt this to outside to make it even more realistic. Enjoy!

Benefits of Kids Singing in Choirs and Benefits of Choral Singing for Adults

The enjoyment of music is a lifelong pleasure. Whether you’re a singer, instrumentalist, or simply a person who relishes moments of blissful listening, music can provide enriching experiences throughout your life.

Many children and adults participate in group musical activities for a variety of reasons. Amateur musicians join musical groups to relieve stress, to delight in the good company of other music-lovers, to maintain a high level of mental activity, and to continue a lifelong music-learning process. Participants derive these and other benefits through rehearsing and performing in groups. Whereas some might play instruments, other music lovers prefer to sing in groups with others. The opportunities and benefits are numerous.

How Singing in Choirs Benefits Children

Music is a language unto itself, but the area of the brain that is active in music perception is closely related to the area involved in language learning. Therefore, music and language are related from infancy. When children sing in a choir, you add the language component of learning and memorizing word to songs, thus creating a unique educational opportunity for children.

Here are some further benefits for children who sing in choirs:

  • Teamwork – Singing in a choir involves teamwork. Children learn to contribute their best efforts as members of the group.
  • Self-discipline – Rehearsing and performing require dedication and self-discipline. These qualities can be transferred to other areas of children’s lives, such as schoolwork and sports.
  • Focused attention – Children learn to listen in a focused way during choir rehearsals, and they develop the ability to maintain attention toward their goals.
  • Self-confidence – Performing in front of audiences can be frightening at first. But children who sing in choirs learn self-confidence and begin to feel more comfortable in public situations.
  • Music learning – Progressive musicianship is a benefit of singing in choirs. Children in singing groups gradually increase their knowledge and abilities to read music notation and to comprehend music concepts.

How Singing in Choirs Benefits Adults

For many adults, choral singing is a pleasant and rewarding pastime that is savored over a lifetime. Community choirs, church choirs, college choirs that welcome local citizens, and local symphony choirs all provide opportunities for adults to gather and sing together.

The numerous ways in which choral singing benefits children are also applicable to adults. From the adult perspective, singing in choirs can promote well-being in several ways:

  • Social – Because it involves teamwork, singing in a choir provides a great opportunity to make friends and become a valued member of a group. Adult choirs typically include members of varying ages with various careers, interests, and personalities. Singing in a choir is a fun way to meet people and develop rewarding relationships.
  • Artistic – Through choral singing, adults are introduced to exhilarating music handed down by great composers throughout history. Or, perhaps, they perform in a pop-music choir that specializes in lighter fare. Whatever the choral genre might be, singers in choirs combine their individual efforts to achieve artistic excellence together.
  • Love of language and poetry – In many cases, songs are poems set to music. By singing in choirs, adults can indulge their love of beautiful words, thoughts, and ideas set to music. This component of choral singing is a meaningful source of inspiration for many adult singers.
  • Amateurs Welcome! – For most local choirs, you don’t need to be a talented singer or have the ability to read music. Many amateur singers follow the music without really knowing how to read the notes. As for vocal quality, most local choirs welcome anyone who makes a “joyful noise” and brings a willing spirit.

Singing in choirs can benefit children and adults in ways too numerous to mention here. You might start in childhood, or you might pick up this hobby as an adult. It’s never too late to join a choir and experience the fun of making music while you make friends.

Why Professional Development for Teachers Matters

As humans, one thing that we learn from our very first job is that we truly don’t know half of what we think we do when it comes to people, interactions and change. The age of our first job does make a bit of difference in the amount of learning but the unknown still lingers as we  assimilate.  Whether it is a babysitting job, a lifeguard, or even a cashier, the art of developing into a professional is a skill that defines itself with the company it sets in.

When we shift to adulthood, schooling has given us a few more tools in developing relationships key to job success. We learn what manipulation looks like, the role of leadership, and how collaboration feels with peers above and below our own age. We may even have home structures that strengthen this skill as we jump into workforces that carry a heavier load and larger pay grade.

Regardless of age, education, and career, each day of experience provides an opportunity for learning. Perfect days could be better, and mistakes prove that improvement is necessary. We may not always be the boss, but we understand the functions and roles of bosses while we question interactions between employers and employees. Our brain is relentlessly taking information in and shaping our actions and reactions. We are constantly developing as professionals.

Careers and Learning

In almost any job, training serves as a springboard to independence in the workplace. This comes in different shapes and sizes and promotes a proactive success plan for each person joining the team. In teaching, some adults have a field experience like student teaching, where they get to practice the techniques and skills attained with a mentor. Doctors go through residencies, while internships support other professional tracks. Even restaurants partner servers to watch and learn from one another so that customers experience consistency in delivery. After we have mastered training, residency or student teaching, we are sent on our way to fly, but we are developing professionals.

Workshops, Workshops, Workshops!

The learning has only begun for the teacher, as they can count on workshops and professional development sessions for the rest of their teaching career. The learning never stops, there is always a new fad in education, a cool trick or some initiative that the principal is implementing to develop the culture of the school. A teacher’s brain is being challenged and transformed year after year and for some, this can be really overwhelming. Just when the teacher has developed one piece of their classroom puzzle, another dial is turned for advancement in another feature.

What is Meaningful and What is Overload?

Can the amount of professional development be too much for teachers crafting their field? Some teachers argue yes, that they just want to get better at the specific things that they are trying to do in their own classrooms. They believe that the tools and training are too much with the responsibility already consuming them in their own land of lesson delivery.  Teachers who have been in the field for a while may enjoy learning information that they attain in professional development because they have been out of school for some time.  The professinoal development models new ideas and enhances a strong foundation that the teacher has been sculpting. On the other hand, teachers who have twenty (or more) years of experience may truly need fresh information since education has made so many changes in the last two decades with the digital implosion of the one-to-one classroom.  Just like the variety of teachers in the building, the variety of professional development offerings make implementation and growth a problem-solving exercise for district leaders. This is when a one-size-fits-all approach can have negative repercussions.  Nonetheless, like any job, in order to be our best version, we have to be open to development and discovery.

Time to Redefine Professional Development

Just as education and curriculum spiral in and out of new reform, the idea of promoting new learning must spiral and change for its audience. Teachers know some of what they don’t know, and teachers will spend more time engaging in the information that they think they can use to become better teachers. With that, the idea of workshops, professional development, and learning platforms must deepen as well.  The coined term differentiation, where teachers are expected to employ unique ways of teaching and engagement for all of the different learners in their classroom should also mirror what professional development they are participating in a teacher-learners.

We are always developing professionals, no matter the field. Babysitters learn how to respond to different children through experience and time. Restaurant servers master the craft of communication, and doctors read and explore technology to cure patients each and every day. Professional Development does matter, but it can come in different sizes, shapes, deliveries, and options. Workshops can be a one-stop shop, but they don’t have to be. Teachers need to find comfort that learning never stops and that the newest trend shared at a staff meeting is simply that, something to be shared to help us be the best version of our teacher self that we can be.

3 Hot Alternatives to Cancun this Winter (and Always)

Looking to break the routine? Change scenery? Escape the winter? Check out these Cancun alternatives! There, you’ll find a handful of best kept secret fishing villages, which are secluded paradise in disguise. Why Cancun alternatives? Because even a paradise like Cancun can become boring with repetition. So what are these alternatives? They’re San Crisanto, Sisal, or Isla Holbox. When your family insist on Cancun, tell them the truth:

Last year 2.8 million travelers visited Cancun, more than 14.5% increase than the previous year. The visitors keep coming. But, do you want to escape to more of the same? A vacation is meant to be a time to relax, not a time to get stuck in airports, check in and out of hotels, and busy packing and unpacking.

Do you want to learn more about budget-friendly, less-travelled destinations travel destinations other than Cancun?

Wouldn’t you like to enjoy quality time with your family away from all your duties?

Do you want to explore the low key gems of Yucatan?

Here’re three hot alternatives to the too touristy Cancun:

San Crisanto

San Crisanto is a quick 52 km drive away from the east of Progreso. You’ll find this eco-travel sleepy fishing town tucked away along the Emerald Coast. While there’s not a lot to do here, the 50-pesos tour in 850 hectares of mangroves alone is a great value and worth the visit.

A small boat will take you through the mangroves where 137 species of wild animals will greet you. Culminating with a sweet swim with the tarpon fish in the crystalline Cenote water.

It’s a perfect marriage between man-made canals and nature’s wildlife.

This is a shortcut to the sublime where you connect with nature directly. The area survived a couple of hurricanes before, and was rebuilt, the locals had to rebuild the mangroves by hand. They dug 11 km of canals to rejoin the 15 sinotes around the area so the mangroves live. And the UN recognized the effort to conserve biodiversity.

Other activities to enjoy in San Crisanto: birdwatching, the beaches, and the Annual Coconut Festival. The coconut grove as the indigenous peoples people call it is truly one of the last places of its kind. It’s as close as you can get to a breakaway-secluded-virgin-paradise-beach.

It’s here where artists, writers, and entrepreneurs get their breaking through ideas, or not. The point is: if you want to go off the grid and stay connected at the same time, this is where you want to be.

This is a life at bare minimum, and although it’s harsh, it also enlightening. When that sort of living tickles your fancy, and you want to see how Adam and Eve lived their lives, San Crisanto is for you.

On a more optimistic note, there’re tons of cabanas and rentals with varying degrees of luxury. But, you better bring your own essentials.

After all, if you haven’t cooked your own food under the palms of the San Crisanto beach, have you ever lived your life?

Sisal

A quite, retreat town west of Progreso, Sisal is your next adventure.

You’ll fall in love with the most secluded beach, which looks exactly like the one in your dreams. There, you’ll revel in long hours of meditation and yoga by the ocean. Sisal is a viable alternative to Cancun because it’s a lesser-known travel destination. What else will you enjoy in Sisal? Kayaking, flamingo watching, and biking.

The village has a small population. However, many expats are coming and going, and the expat community is growing. It’s a perfect blend between a perfect getaway and connect with civilization. So you won’t be left out.

If you want to really make the most out of your trip, you need to stay at the best place in town, Las Hamacas. Whether you’re a small family, or a cluster of families travelling and living together, this is the place to be.

It’s like a modern village inspired by traditional Mexican aesthetics. The architecture is a blend of modern strokes, and authentic Mexican bling. It gives you a euphoric experience just living in that place. Not to mention, the huge swimming pool, the breathtaking beachfront complex and ocean view, and comfy beds. And if you have sharp eyes, the brilliant craftsmanship.

Sisal can easily become your second home if you fall in love with it. And there’s no reason why you shouldn’t.

Considering the vibe of a Mexican town by the ocean, the small population, and the memories associated with the sea.

Once upon a time, Sisal was the main port of the Yucatan. But today, it is clean, quiet, and inviting. Just a small Mexican town by the ocean. Home to flamingos, clear water, and colorful buildings.

It’s the perfect alternative to Cancun when you’re looking for a balanced environment for your fam.

Isla Holbox

The straight forward fact is: If you follow conventional travel wisdom and visit Cancun, you’ll miss out on many beautiful other places to enjoy your vacation. Places like Isla Holbox.

You’re about to learn all about one of the hottest alternatives to Cancun, it’s called Isla Holbox.

What do you need to know? 1) it’s one of the most romantic places on earth. 2) it’s part of the Yum Balam Nature Reserve. 3) One of the best islands in the Caribbean. Now, that you’ve covered the basics, there’re more basics to cover!

The best barefoot beach, Playa Holbox has a relaxing atmosphere with its smooth sand and translucent water. Whether you want to go in for a swim with your fam or enjoy the sunrise with your loved one, the beach is where to be.

During winter months, the beach has few people and you have it all for yourself. In addition to the 26-mile shoreline of the island. So there’s no excuse, you’ll have fun. Even just sitting by yourself and doing nothing is considered enjoyable here.

At any moment, you feel overwhelmed by the scenery around you, just hop into a golf cart taxi and leave. The island is pretty big with lots of hideouts and hidden pockets to explore. Don’t limit yourself to the beach.

If you fancy snorkeling with sea turtles, you must visit Cabo Catoche which is exactly between the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. A magical experience in a magical place. It’s a few hours away from Holbox. If you want to enjoy your trip to Holbox, don’t miss kayaking.

You’ll immensely enjoy kayaking along Playa Holbox and through the mangroves of Yum Balam Nature Reserve. One of the most popular activities. This is an experience of a lifetime, you’ll remember it for as long as you live and tell it to your grandchildren. You have to see for yourself, but the air is quiet, the mangroves trees embrace and intertwine in a lovely manner, and the still water is like an extended mirror reflecting the surroundings.

Lots of colorful and tropical birds are watching you sometimes lazily, and sometimes excitedly. Generally, it’s safe from alligators but expects surprise visits.

Conclusion

Be bold enough to break out of the touristy spots. Sometimes, the fairy-like places can be found after a wild boat ride in the Mexican mangroves.

Bring mosquito repellants with you, it doesn’t matter but brings them anyways. Make sure to stay hydrated as well.

Cancun is one of the most beautiful cities in Mexico and the world. But, with the more tourists pouring into the city, it’s becoming loud and crowded. Some travelers prefer it that way. To each his own. However, you prefer to own your time and take things slow. The provided alternatives will prove exciting.

Consider them starting points for your next adventure.

Away from the hustle and bustle of the big city, you can listen to your inner voice. That voice which inspired you to travel in the first place!

Accepting one version of the truth is lamer than settling in one place. Go, and write your own adventure.

All eyes are on you.

Best Teacher Gifts EVER!

Stumped on gift-giving ideas this holiday season?  Don’t be!  Check out one of these tried and true gift ideas for that special teacher in your child’s life.

Personalized Gifts

You really can’t go wrong with this idea.  Teachers love anything monogrammed.  Yup, that’s right.  You can monogram any item and your teacher is going to think you went an extra mile this holiday.  Some ideas would be a school spirit shirt in the appropriate school colors monogrammed with their special initials.  How about a baseball cap or beach towel that has that has their monogram?  While you are at it, throw in a personalized beach bag, sunglasses and sun block and you have yourself a great teacher gift.  The coolest personalized gift ever has to be a candle…NO! Not just any candle BUT a Yankee candle with a photograph of the teacher and student on it.  You can actually have a sticker made of the picture and stick it on the jar.  It’s personal and who doesn’t love a great smelling candle?

Gift Cards

Teachers love to eat.  Going out to restaurants can be a splurge to a teacher.  A gift card is a great way to get that special teacher in your kid’s life out of the house and out on the town. Take a minute and find out what the teacher in your life likes to eat.  Some gift cards are good for a chain of restaurants.  That works out even better because now they can have power over where they would like to dine.  Amazon is always another great option for a gift card.  Who doesn’t love shopping on Amazon and getting a special package at the door?   Your child’s teacher can buy anything from their groceries to reading a book on their kindle.  While you’re shopping down the gift card aisle, get them a gift card to the movies.  Nothing spells Holiday season like it.  Let’s face facts….movies are expensive.  Generally, teacher’s live on a budget and movies are luxuries.  Any denomination of gift cards will do!

Caffeine

I have never seen a teacher that wasn’t walking around holding a mug of coffee, tea, or some other caffeinated beverage.  Think about it.  They have long hours locked in a building with children of various ages and size.  They need all the caffeine they can get!  Some great ideas t keep the teacher in your life awake is a great mug stocked with kcups or loose coffee grounds.  If you want to get really fancy, you can go to Starbucks or Dunkin.  Really any coffee or teach will be appreciated by the teacher.  Ask your child…Does she see a Coke bottle on their desk instead?  Mountain Dew?  Believe me, they all have their weakness. 

I hope you will take the time to get your special teacher something unique this holiday season.  Take second to find out something about them…ask your children.  They will know!

Christmas, Oh Wow! You Shouldn’t Have….

All I want for Christmas is ___________.

Can you fill in the blank? Take a second to think of what you would like for Christmas this year. I’m sure you can list off a few wants and needs that come to mind. It’s relatively easy to think about what we want and need because these things are on our mind 365 days a year.

Here is where it gets tricky. Christmas is obviously a holiday that centers around gift giving. Giving gifts is one of the biggest challenges we face next to finding the ugliest sweater possible to wear on December 25th. Why is this? If we are honest with ourselves, we may find that choosing a gift presents a challenge when we don’t know the person we’re giving the gift to. We may know them, but do we really know them?

There are about four things to consider when picking out a gift and with this in mind you can ensure that your Christmas joy will spread to all.

The Gift: The gift is very important, yet knowing the receiver is more important. The gift does not have to be expensive, after all it’s the thought that counts. You can give money, buy a gift or do something nice. Do some investigating. Ask their friends and family about what they need. Do a bit of cyber stalking and see what kind of interests they have. Many of us leave virtual footprints online, so follow them until you arrive at your golden gift.

The Packaging: In recent years this trend has gained momentum. If you search for “unboxing videos” on youtube you’ll find many people removing the packaging from their gifts. Unboxing is an experience. It stimulates your mind before you even see the gift. The way the outside looks influences you more than you may realize. If you can afford it, try to make the unboxing experience one to remember.

The Delivery: Handle it with care. Always hand the gift to the person because that makes it more personal. The words you choose when giving the gift are very important. Don’t be verbose, but be lively when giving the gift. A smile goes a long way too, so use those pearly whites to your advantage.

The Moment: The second you hand the gift to the person is important as well. Some people like to be surprised and they enjoy the unexpected. Others like to build up suspense, knowing a gift is waiting for them but not being able to get it until a certain point. Know the person, and find the appropriate moment.

This moment only comes once a year so let’s recap all that we’ve learned. Think about the person now in order to find a gift. Package the gift with love and hand it to them with a smile. Set your timer and countdown to reach the perfect moment to offer your gift. Day by day as Christmas nears, think of a gift, and bring good cheers.

Budgeting For Christmas: 10 Money Saving Tips to Help your Wallet While Shopping

When it comes to Christmas shopping, the importance of careful budget planning cannot be under-estimated. Not everyone has the luxury to purchase every desire or meet the needs of their friends and family.

Due to tough economy, it has become extremely important to embark on budgeting for Christmas shopping. Besides setting out budget, sticking or strict adherence to it is also essential. This will prevent or discourage impulse buying tendencies which will not only hike the budget, but also result in stress and sad situation for you.

In case you have not started preparing for Christmas shopping, there is no need to panic as this article will educate, inform and enlighten you on the best money saving tips on your Christmas shopping. This will ultimately prevent budget blow-out over as well as the common hassles being experienced by people during Christmas.

Some people consider Christmas shopping as fun and exciting while to others, it is exhausting and stressful. This however depends on how one prepares for it. Those who consider it from the perspective of “a frightful event that must be done” will continue to find it a difficult task to accomplish. Alternatively, those that perceive Christmas shopping from the positive perspective will undoubtedly find it fun and exciting.

We live in a world of economic turmoil in which people are left with less money to spend for Christmas shopping. Hence, it is not uncommon to see a lot of people incorporating Christmas into their budget. There are several benefits that go with this. By incorporating Christmas into your budget, you will be able to control your finances during the festive period.

It is never too late to start budgeting for Christmas shopping. To be sincere, you can still get the best Christmas gifts for your friends and loved ones on budget, without even spending a fortune.

Here are some proven money saving tips to complete Christmas shopping within a meager budget limit:

Save Or Stash Money For Your Christmas Shopping

This is the first and foremost essential tip as far as Christmas budget is concerned. You could create special Christmas fund in banks and save money in it throughout the year. You can then withdraw your savings as Christmas approaches. Stashing away money outside your vicinity every week for this purpose is also desirable. You can continue with this until you save enough funds to cover your shopping budget. You would be surprised to see what you have gathered within a short time.

Low-Budget Christmas Shopping

This strategy involves purchasing Christmas gifts on low budget at a time when they are not expensive and hide them away. With this, you will worry less about money to shop at Christmas and enjoy the vacation season without stress and anxiety. Shopping for Christmas via this tip is really fun as you have sufficient time to search the market and purchase cheap items which may either be unavailable or become expensive as the Christmas shopping season begins.

Use Credit Cards Smartly

It is still required that you prioritize budgeting if you desire to do Christmas shopping via credit cards. In this case, you could prevent huge credit card bill by utilizing your credit card early. You will have the opportunity to evenly spread your Christmas shopping throughout the year and not just waiting till the twelfth month before embarking on your holiday shopping.

Make A Shopping List

Set your financial allocation for Christmas by making a list of the entire items you wish to purchase like gifts, food or decorations and who you are purchasing them for. Once you have purchased an item, cross it off your list. Setting your financial allocation for Christmas this way will help you to keep track of your purchases and ensure that everyone’s needs are catered for. Besides, this practical and rational strategy will prevent you from impulsive buying, overspending and procrastinating till the festive period.

Consider Shopping Wholesale

This strategy is suitable for those who have a long list of people to purchase gifts for. You can buy your toys and gifts wholesale. To make this easier, consider online purchase. A great advantage of this tip is that you get discount items for all your online purchases at the comfort of your home.

While shopping online, it is important to consider shopping on a secured site so as to protect your personal and credit card information.

Many online stores engage in sales and promotional offers. To discover them, browse through several merchandises and compare prices before making your offer.

Apart from offering discount items, several online stores offer various incentives like free shipping during Christmas vacation.

Start Shopping Early

To have a memorable Christmas, starting your shopping early is important. Apart from the benefits of saving money and less stress, you have more time to select the most suitable gift you desire. In addition, you will be able to plan better and enjoy attractive discounts from retailers.

Watch Out For Free Shipping And Delivery Offers

As Christmas approaches, there is usually increase in shipping and delivery services. This is why you should act earlier and avoid procrastination till the eleventh hour. Some stores offer free shipping services. Although, minimum purchase requirement will be brought to the barest minimum, you will still be able to spend within your budget and save huge amount with this opportunity.

Consider Inexpensive Gifts

Many people presume that to win the heart of their recipients, they must send across expensive gift items. This is not true. There are numerous inexpensive gift ideas that will still do the magic. Items like magazines, personalized gift boxes, jewelries, household items, computer accessories like U.S.B, memory cards, flash drive, etc can work wonders.

In addition, you can also consider items like gift cards, which can be delivered via emails, rather than embarking on tangible items. You will be amazed to see how much you have saved in shipping and delivery charges.

Look For Coupons

This is an interesting aspect of online shopping. Look out for coupon codes as you embark on online purchase of your products. To search coupon for any given store, type the “name of the store + coupon” as keyword in search engine. Remember to input the coupon code during checkout. There is usually a huge difference, both in price and net savings before and after using the code.

Consider Using Annual Bonus

Many employers offer their employees bonus check as Christmas approaches. Such money can be utilized for Christmas shopping the advantage of this strategy is that the normal monthly charges will not be altered. However, a challenge with this method is that since this incentive is usually given few days to Christmas, employees may experience stress and difficulty in rushing to get the best gifts for friends and family, due to limited time.

Another disadvantage of this tip is that it is unrealistic as many employees may be disappointed by their employers who usually try to cut costs to enable them survive the unfavorable economic condition.

Note:

  • While shopping for Christmas, it is highly important to consider what your recipient like and will appreciate. This will require considerable amount of time and effort.
  • Remember that the tendency to get frustrated may occur along the line, especially when you know what your recipient loves for Christmas and it is not within your budget. Notwithstanding, avoid shopping for a less quality item because in most cases, your recipient may never use them. The best thing is to find an alternative item within your budget.
  • Should you exceed your budget, ensure that there are genuine reasons for doing so. For instance, under-estimating the cost of an item. However, spending within your budget is the best practice. If you find this beyond your control, suspend Christmas shopping and reevaluate your finances for the best Christmas gifts.

In conclusion

By implementing the tips discussed in this article into your shopping routine, you will find Christmas shopping on a budget, extremely easy, enjoyable, less stressful and efficient.   

Teacher Tips For Keeping Your Kids Busy This Holiday Season

Keeping kids busy during the holidays can be exhausting.  What do you do?  Where do you go? Who do you see?  It’s the dilemma most parents feel.  What do I do with my kids?  Well, here are a few ideas to keep you warm this winter season.

Natural World

Children love going to the beach.  Depending on where you live in the south, one can be there in a matter of minutes.  It’s generally free if you pack a lunch and know where to park.  If you live up north, why not check out the local park after it snows.  The children gather and play for hours.  Some local parks allow sledding and snow shoeing on trails.   If there is no snow for you to frolic in, try a brisk hike with your children. Again, the best part is that it’s virtually free!  Pack a thermos of hot chocolate and you managed to spend the day.  If all else fails, turn to your local public library.  Some offer puppet shows for kids and book clubs where if kids read a certain number of books they get a reward.  Kids are reading and expanding their vocabularies. Again, all is free! How do you beat that?

Cheap but Exciting Ideas

Do you have some money to spend?  Why not check out the local museum.  Sometimes it’s worth traveling to a nearby town to enjoy it.  The children’s museum is a great idea for all.  An entrance fee is required but the children get hours of fun.  There are demonstrations and hands on activities.  Kids get a chance to learn something new while having fun.  Most of the activities are included with the price of admission into the museum.  Did I mention your children are learning?  

Cooking

If you don’t get stressed out by a mess, have the kids bake a sweet treat of some sort.  Kids love measuring and stirring and mixing.  Your child can research a recipe that seems doable.  Go shopping together and discuss the prices of the products as you scan the grocery aisle. Baking is a great activity because it involves both reading and math.  It takes hours to do and let’s be honest…everyone loves to eat the sweet treat when it’s finished.  Just make sure you have your child clean up after themselves when they’re finished!

Help Others in Need

If you’re still short on ideas this winter season, why not volunteer with your child at a local soup kitchen.  The lessons your child will learn are invaluable.  If you have a teen, they may need volunteer hours for scholarships anyways.  If you have a younger child, gather up old clothing that can be donated.  Go with your child to make the donation at a local Goodwill.  It’s a great way to model compassion and empathy to your child while still getting a tax write-off!  Win-Win!! 

Keeping kids busy this winter break can be overwhelming and expensive. It doesn’t have to be.  See if you can use one of these ideas this winter season to keep your kids busy and yourself sane.

Innovative Ideas for Christmas Gifts | For All Budgets

Christmas is always a time to wish good things for those we love. It is time to think about gifts for parents, boyfriend, friend, aunt, cousin, wife, or husband.

 It is always hard to think of a present that the person likes. Let us innovate in the gift.

 We selected the best gift ideas.

 Massage and Day Spa

Who would not want to spend a day relaxing their bodies and their minds?

 Look for the spas in your city that offer the service and buy the “relax coupon” for the lucky one.

Nothing is better than relaxing and forgetting the problems of everyday life. Spending a day at a spa is one of the best ways to do that especially alongside someone you love.  A Day Spa is a great alternative for those who want to innovate and enjoy a different program.

Parachute jump

What about gifting someone you love a parachute jump.

 We bet it will be such a surprise.

A plant

You may not even be connected with nature, but many people love to obtain plants. Especially the plants which will live for a long time by taking care of them and not those bouquets that last 3 days. It is a great decoration item. It will always make people remember you.

Trip

Who does not like to travel, Plan a trip, but keep it a secret. On Christmas write on a paper something like “worth the trip” and give it to your partner. This is a sweet way to show that the gift will come at some point. Then, just put the trip into practice.

Going on vacation is always a gift that the recipient likes. Get out of the routine, know places, and discover experiences and new gastronomy. Who can say no to that?

 In addition, the multitude of tourist options and advantages.

So that it can be an adaptable gift to all kinds of tastes, ages, and even price, from going with the children to Disneyland Paris to taking a regional train or an economic plane that takes you to know the cozy cold of London.

But, undoubtedly, summer destinations are one of the favorite gifts in December, when we only dream of being on a warm beach at 30 degrees by the sea. Many destinations meet expectations like cruises on the Mediterranean, the Greek Islands, and the Caribbean.

A dinner coupon

Does your friend like food? Depending on the level of intimacy, you have with the person, how about gifting her/him a dinner party. With so many good restaurants emerging in the current gastronomy, you will have multiple options to choose the ideal restaurant.

Smart video doorbell

An unconventional gift will enable the recipient to watch who knocking the door through a phone application.

If your boyfriend or girlfriend has the habit of looking through the magic eye every time before opening the door, this will be a good gift.

Pocket charger

The newer the mobile phone, the faster its battery unloads. Those cell phones, whose charge lasted almost a week. Only they did not have the myriad functions of the current devices, so help your recipient friend by giving him a pocket charger to avoid troubles when he needs the cell phone. Prices vary according to the brand and the capacity of each device, so it is best to search.

Noise Canceling Earphone

This was the best invention of the last few years! Your friend will admire it that he will not be irritated with car sounds, people talking loudly, children crying and people listening to bad music.

Mini iron

It is a utilitarian gift. Especially for those who need to be always perfect. It does not need much space and lightweight so much.

Compact umbrella

A compact umbrella is a useful gift for anyone. Nothing more frustrating than getting stuck at home or at the hotel because of the rain and nothing worse than holding an umbrella in hand because it does not fit in the bag.

Tea

Tea has become widespread in many stores with thousands of options and combinations. Many of them come in very glamorous and catchy packaging.  Choose the preferred flavor of your recipient with a mug; it will be an admirable gift.

Beauty products

We are fortunate to be surrounded the whole time by interesting, strong and very special women. Aunts, grandmothers, and friends

 Giving them gifts is just another way to remind those loved ones how important they are in our lives. This affection, of course, can also be translated into beauty care like Facial care products

Every woman likes to look in the mirror and feel young and beautiful.  Of course, that requires some care, especially for those who are already mothers.

Choose a good facial cream is able to moisturize and nourish the skin, prevent wrinkles, attenuate the signs of aging, protect skin from the sun, reduce acne and give an appearance bright and healthy to the woman’s face. It will be a fantastic gift.

Customize something

Giving something personalized is always a great idea. Including the name of the person makes the gift have more value that is meaningful.

 For example:

 You can give your friend a team shirt with his name on the back or personalized mug.

Basket with everything the person likes

How about preparing a basket with everything he likes? Put his favorite food, a DVD of the band he likes, the drink he likes the most, etc. Why not? Put a little of everything in a nice basket.

Weird clothes

We know that almost everyone goes to the mall when it comes to buying clothes, but the most fashionistas love an outmoded piece found in thrift stores. Often they will be a unique item in the world and that is the grace of the thing.

So, if you are going to give someone who fits these requirements you can find a suitable piece easily.

Original gifts that attract attention

Lately, there are many gifts that are highly original, either because of their structure or their usefulness. These types of gifts are ideal when you have serious doubts about what to give.  They are unique and specialized products that can surprise the recipient. They can be gifts for Christmas or another event such as a birthday.

 For example a kit to surprise your partner that contains chocolate, petals, and cards with romantic sentences.

Postcard

Christmas season, the beginning of the year, there are a lot of events that make us think about our life, moments that fill us with joy, fun, and nostalgia. For this reason, giving a postcard or canvas with Christmas phrases is a beautiful alternative, as well as suitable for all budgets.

There are great varieties of options that can let your imagination go and write what comes out of your soul such as phrases of friendship, joy, peace, or motivation.

Monogram of photos

You can use this idea to decorate the room on Christmas. You can use the initials, complete names and words that you want to create. You need a big wooden letter that you can buy in larger furniture stores, photos, liquid glue, and brush. By applying and coating, attach the photos to a wooden letter and let it dry. After a while, the letter is ready for use.

Waterproof trousers with pockets

Pants with waterproof nylon fabrics filled with pockets can be really useful gifts for friends who like traveling. Because Waterproof trousers do not dirty much, easy to wash, dry fast and can be used in the snow, on the trail, at the airport or anywhere else.

Toys for children

Those who live Christmas and receive presents in a more intense way are children.

The toy has a fundamental role in the child’s development.

 For example, the colored pieces that make it possible to assemble different things, wooden blocks to build castles, puzzle, memory game, and coloring kits, puppets that light up, a cart to make cotton candy, and games with objects and their names.

In addition, musical instruments

Playing with musical instruments can be more fun than any other toy, the child forms beautiful music. He can immediately feel happy when others praise him. When receiving a musical instrument as a gift the child will also gain the opportunity to play, have fun, socialize, stimulate his perception and the senses such as touch, hearing, and training his concentration.

We hope the options we have listed help you choose the best gifts for everyone on your list