Despite the hectic time of year, I always like to take a step back and look at all of the accomplishments, hits and misses I achieved throughout the year. While 2011 started out a bit shaky in terms of the economy, there have been marked improvements in many segments in the U.S., and we can only hope for more improvements in 2012.
Travel is a significant indicator on our economy, and I can say this with great certainty; people are traveling. There was a decline from 2008 - 2010 in both leisure and business travel; however, there have been significant upticks in both sectors to show that 2011 was a great year for the travel professional, and if the market analyst are correct - 2012 should be even better!
I have talked to a significant amount of travel professionals throughout the course of the year, and most have stated they have had modest to substantial increases in their 2011 travel bookings, and are optimistic about 2012 (I should throw in there, cautiously optimistic).
Next year is going to be amped up to another level for me, as I'll be launching two new websites as well as working on some of my own personal goals. There are going to be some changes here too, so make sure to swing through at the beginning of January when I unveil some exciting additions/changes that will be taking place here at Chicks That Trip - Lobby Bar Confessions.
Enjoy the remainder of 2011 and I look forward to writing more interesting and informative pieces in 2012!
It's officially the holiday season and let me tell you, I can tell. I have received numerous inquiries from my friends (specifically from the male persuasion), seeking suggestions on what to give as gifts to their loved ones. Gift giving is typically a very personal experience (barring those horrible white elephant types of events that a lot of companies hold); so when I receive these requests, I do provide multiple suggestions, but I also attempt to put the onus back on them to come up with their own personal gift - something from the heart, or at least that shows they put some thought into the purchase. With that being said, I am a cold, hard cash person...but that is frowned upon by most people, so I refrain from suggesting that too often.
One of my most favorite gifts was a coupon book that an ex-boyfriend gave me. It was to be redeemed for various tasks to be performed and redeemed by using the hand made coupons. In addition, one of my really close girlfriends gave me the same gift a few years ago. Hers wasn't hand made (the booklet was purchased at a store); it included a lot of funny and useful coupons like, picking you up from the airport, or an all expense paid girlfriends' night out.
In that same vain, if you have friends who have children, or rarely get to go out, offer to babysit gratis one evening for them. Or, if you are feeling really generous, you may offer to take care of their children overnight or for a long weekend. Trust me, this gift could mean more to someone than any item you pick up at Macy's.
If you are a person who can cook (I've done this before for a few of my girlfriends), offer to prepare a meal for them to wow their girlfriend/boyfriend or a new suitor. A few of my girlfriends have asked me to do this for them so that they could have a home cooked meal for a beau they were trying to impress. Or, it doesn't have to be a date, you can offer to prepare a meal a month (or other designated length of time) for a friend or family member that may be short on time. They will appreciate the gesture, and all it will cost you is some time (since they will provide the food).
Tickets to a museum or movie are always great stocking stuffer gifts.
Kidnapping a friend, family member or spouse for a day excursion is always a fun idea. Pack a picnic lunch and take them to the park, beach, lake or the mountains.
Put together a photo collage from a trip that you've taken with friends or family. It will not only be a thoughtful gift, but the memories will be forever captured in a lovely scrap book, poster or frame.
During the holidays, cooking exchanges abound because they are time to get together with friends, but you also obtain varied types of cookies and baked goods that you can package up and give as gifts. The cost of flour, sugar, butter, milk, eggs and extracts are a nominal price to pay for gifts that will provide a much needed sugar rush in this time of year. And for our diabetic and dieting friends, there are a bevy of recipes that are just as delicious as their original recipes!
Spa gift certificates are my favorite. Wherever you or the recipient live, you are bound to be able to locate wonderful spas in their area. If you are at a loss on where to locate a spa, try http://www.spafinders.com/.
During these shaky economic times, for those individuals that wear perfume and cologne, this is the best time (next to Mother's Day & Father's Day) to purchase gift sets. You get a few extras like lotions and bath gels for the same price you would pay for just the bottle of perfume/cologne. Also, since a lot of us have been cutting back recently, this will be a welcomed gift by those who are running low on their favorite fragrance.
Plan an extravagant night out. Car services have significantly reduced their hourly rates, so you can hire a sleek Town Car and be delivered to your restaurant and club(s) of choice without the worries of driving. You are free to indulge in your favorite restaurant; sip on a delicious adult beverage, and relax at your favorite jazz bar, or dance the night away - whatever your heart desires.
Awww, you knew it was coming. The gift of travel. Plan a weekend, week or longer vacation. When you work with a travel professional, they can assist you in coming up with a spectacular vacation package to present as the ultimate gift. Imagine sweeping your loved one away on a weekend filled with culinary bites and wine beyond compare, in the luscious Napa Wine Country. Or, perhaps you want to partake of a bottle of Veuve Cliquot while sitting at a nondescript restaurant on one of the intimate streets of Paris. And for the more adventurous set; perhaps a ski vacation to Switzerland where you can ski by day and cuddle at night by a roaring fire, ensconced at a cozy inn by the mountains.
I can go on all day, but perhaps some of these ideas can assist in your quest to find the "perfect" gift for your friends and family.
Enjoy your holidays and try to stay stress free!
*photo used from: http://christmasstockimages.com/free/decorations/slides/xmas_decorations_and_tinsel.jpg