Five Easy Ways to Be a Secret Santa This Holiday Season

santa-clip-art-3.gifReceiving and giving gifts around the holidays to friends and family is insanely routine. It’s a pleasure for many, and a dreaded chore for others. For me, its definitely the latter. But think about how different you feel when you get a gift from someone totally unexpected during the most random time of year. I know that I am more likely to remember when a friend bought me lunch for $20 in April than when I get a new $100 sweater from someone in December. If you are like me, there is fun in finding ways to make memorable moments for people even if you don’t know them. Since the holiday season is supposed to be about fun and giving, I have identified a few ways that you can accomplish both by being a Secret Santa to the public without breaking the bank.
1) Pay the toll for the car behind you when you are traveling assuming that you are in the cash only lane. I mean it really sucks to have to deal with traffic during the holiday season. Can you imagine how happy you made that person behind by forking over $5 for the toll. (may not want to do this on the George Washington Bridge where its like $17 to $100 now to get over)
2) Pay for a large cup of coffee at Dunkin Donuts (or Starbucks or Coffee Bean or McDonalds or wherever you get your caffeine fix) for someone when you leave. Don’t worry, the person behind the counter won’t think you are crazy and more often than not they will follow your instructions. If they don’t, then shame on them.
3) Pay for two drinks (alcoholic or non) next time you are sitting down at a restaurant. Make sure the server does not identify you to the recipient of the drinks and do not stare at them while they are consuming them!
4) Pay for two tickets to the movies next time you are standing in line at one of the mega movie complexes. Hopefully you can find an independent small movie theater but sadly, those seem to exist anymore. You can accomplish the same thing by buying two bags of popcorn which will cost you less. (probably not a lot less) But I find the food concession lines at these theaters to be unbearably long and slow so you may not want to put yourself through the aggravation. Again, don’t stand around waiting to see if the recipient of the tickets knows its you that bought them.
5) Pay for someone’s breakfast at the diner. (best to take a look at the prices on the menu first just to make sure the diner doesn’t think Emeril Lagasse is working in the back) But is there a better way to start off someone’s day than having them be told that their meal is free?
If for some reason these Secret Santa suggestions don’t fit your style, then go and find a way to make a difference in someone’s life where it really counts. Donate to a food bank, visit a soup kitchen, give away some toys or buy a meal for a homeless person on the street. Make the holiday season mean something more than just a routine gift exchange. Only corporate America benefits from that.

Important Small Business Advice from Jen Groover and Avon

images.jpegThis past week, I participated in the second of three lunchtime twitter chats with serial entrepreneur and author, Jen Groover. Jen is the creator of the wildly successful Butler Bag and is a motivational speaker who works closely with Avon to inspire small business owners to pursue their passion no matter the obstacles.
In her latest Twitter conversation with small business owners, Jen talked about how we can earn an income on our own terms and asked what we feared most being small business owners as well as what we loved about taking that leap of faith to start a business. Here were some of my responses to Jen’s questions and I have to say, it’s given me a lot of clarity on what I need to accomplish in 2015 to take my business to the next level.
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After celebrating with co-workers this year at our annual holiday dinner, we talked about the clients we loved as well as those we would never want to work with again. The most interesting thing that we found was the choice of our favorite client was overwhelmingly unanimous. While she didn’t pay us the most, she was the most appreciative of our efforts and referred new projects to us, so working with her was an absolute dream and if given the opportunity, I would absolutely work with her again.
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The one thing I absolutely hate as a business owner are the finances. I hate having to chase after clients for money. I hate having to keep track of bills. I hate that we waste money when we hire consultants who do not deliver on what we had initially asked of them. But most of all, I hate worrying about taxes. In 2015, I vow to do things differently and the first thing I will be doing is consulting with a Virtual CFO who can take a look at my business and advise me on how to manage our finances, hire the right people and most importantly, grow and prosper.
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My third and final business resolution is to avoid crazy clients at all costs. You know the type. At first, they seem incredibly enthusiastic and while they seem to have unrealistic expectations, you believe that with your experience and ingenuity, you will find a way to make them happy. Even if they are happy for a moment, the next day they will eviscerate you if you do something that’s doesn’t meet their expectations. No matter how much money they may have for a campaign, life is too short to work with crazy people who are unrealistic and overly demanding. Slow and steady wins the race, which means that in the new year, I will search for clients who are reasonable, kind and appreciative of our efforts.
And now for some great advice from Jen Groover…
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Avon Brand Ambassador-thumb-237x229-5200.jpgAs we approach the New Year, it’s time to really focus on what’s important as business owners. And with the help of Avon and Jen Groover, there’s still time to get focused, embrace your fears and do what you love!
Join us for the final installment of the Avon entrepreneur twitter chat series with Jen Groover on Wednesday, January 21 (12:30-1pm ET) where Jen offers advice on creating professional fulfillment. Make sure you follow @jengroover and use the hashtag #MyAvonStory to participate. You can RSVP to the Twitter chat by emailing AvonRSVP@bm.com. If you RSVP and attend the Twitter event, you’ll be entered for a chance to win an Avon product bundle.
Disclosure: As a paid Blogger Ambassador for Avon, I will be discussing many aspects of Avon’s brand; from the entrepreneurial side, to career, to beauty tips, Avon staples, and more in a series of posts. The opinions in these articles are mine and are not indicative of the brand.