How Entrepreneurs Can Get More Time Out of Their Holidays

How do you find the right gift for the holidays?How do you find the right gift for the holidays?

I love the holidays, it’s my favorite time of the year.  I thought I would share three of my favorite tips to help you enjoy the holidays. I know you’re busy so let’s get started.

The first tip is to create and use multiple lists. I’ve found that I can get more out of my time because I prepare lists to help me keep on track what I still need to do over the holidays. I have at least three lists going at any time. The three lists are: one for things to do, one for meetings I must attend, and one for gifts. These different lists help me stay organized and get the most out of my holidays. The meetings list makes it quick and easy for me to not overschedule myself during the holidays.

I start my lists throughout the year so I am able to find unique gifts for the important people on my lists. I enjoy shopping, but not at the big retail stores.  I look at specialty book shops and antique stores.  My gift list for the holidays also includes space below each name so I can brainstorm with the people I know to get good gift ideas for family and friends.

On the professional gift side since so many clients have so many different rules on what I can and cannot give them, I work with Tricia to bake cookies. Actually, after the first or second round she chases me out of the kitchen. This gives me more time to find better gifts for her. We both win!

I remember one year we baked over 60 dozen cookies for clients and employees for the holidays together. We put them in metal tins and gift bags and I was on my way delivering them to the many different locations. I had such a great time and my clients seemed to enjoy the break from their busy days. So what can you whip up for holiday giving?

The second tip is to take your employees to lunch.  Not so hard today when I have a small team, but when I had a very large organization, I made it a habit to take complete teams out at the same time. By the end of the holidays, I must have gained 20 pounds. Sharing a meal is great way for team members to get to know each other better. By doing it at lunch, it allows them to spend more time with their families and friends after work. I think my largest lunch was 20 people, and we had a great time.  For many members of the team, it was the first time they got to meet in person.  I even bought a Santa cap, gift certificates, and gag gifts to make sure people knew to leave their seriousness back in their offices.

The third tip is I help my nonprofits help me by getting gifts from them.  There are so many great nonprofits doing many things over the holidays. It’s always easy to find people who are willing to wrap my presents and get a great donation. If you are looking for furry family members, consider adopting from an animal shelter over the holidays, a new animal can make a great gift of love for you and your family.

The fourth bonus tip is I love to put the largest bill in the bell ringers’ kettle. It’s amazing how many bigger bills go into kettle after you put in a first large bill in.  People are very generous and competitive.  If you don’t believe me, try it. Put a twenty, fifty, or hundred dollar bill in and circle back around before you leave. I will bet you several more have materialized. It doesn’t matter where I’ve done it. It always works. People love to give!

Finally, people who serve us work crazy hours during the holidays. I spent almost six years in retail businesses and it can be stressful.  These people deal with all kinds of people and spend significant time away from their families over the holidays. Consider doing something Tricia shared with me, when we first got married. TIP BIG!!

When we get great service or when one of the servers is having a bad day, we give a great tip. Sometimes when we sneak off for ice cream or a special dinner, our tip may be bigger than the bill. You can’t imagine how great you feel when you make someone’s day around the holidays, it’s magical.  I also make it a habit of over tipping, not because I’m generous, but because how great it makes me feel. Try it out; you will soon be doing the same thing.

So, now you have several ideas on how to get more out of your holidays. Next week, I share several trends that can help you expand and grow in 2015. See you here next week.

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