Ways to Look Younger in 2017 – Part 1

As the world turns a year older and we celebrate the New Year we are reminded that we, too, will get older this year. Perhaps the best way to think of age is not turning older but getting riper and wiser with time. But that doesn’t mean you have to look older. In fact, when it comes to our looks, age can truly be just a number. This week we’re sharing 10 ways to look younger in 2017 so you can start your year with vibrancy and vitality.

Ways to Look Younger in 2017 – Part 1Wear the Right Attitude

Satchel Paige once said, “Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” Having a good attitude, enjoying life and acting youthful will help keep you young and make you appear younger at the same time. Smiling is one of the easiest ways to drop years from your face because a smile is the sign of happiness, positivity and life. Let your sunny disposition overshadow your true age for a look good, feel good appearance.

Take Care of your Skin

Being our most outward bodily organ, skin often shows the first obvious signs of aging. To help defy your age with younger-looking skin, use an exfoliating cleanser to help shed dead skin cells and encourage new, fresh cells to the surface. This will also create a rosier appearance. Wear sunscreen to protect against sun damage and moisturize day and night. Truly eliminating fine lines and wrinkles without cosmetic surgery may not be possible but you can plump your skin cells with natural oils.

Eat for Youthfulness

Antioxidant rich foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains can help strengthen and protect cells to keep you looking and feeling younger. Dark green, red, orange and yellow foods are especially potent in nutrients that support healthy blood flow and fight against cellular oxidation. Oily fish like salmon, fatty tuna and sardines and some nuts contain essential fatty acids that encourage the production of collagen and elastin in skin cells, help keep your organs functioning properly, and improve cognition. Fruits like grapes and berries contain sorbitol that help you retain moisture. And drink plenty of water to keep your entire system flushed and rejuvenated.

Step up your Style

Dressing like a frumpy grandma will make you look like one. Break out of your comfort zone and step up your style in 2017. Shop for sophisticated, trendy looks that are age-appropriate and make you feel great about yourself.  You don’t have to revamp your entire wardrobe, but purchase a few pieces that can sharpen your outfits such as blazers, heeled boots or a versatile day-to-night dress. Of course a uplifting bra will also improve your youthful look too!

Focus on Hands and Feet

Often neglected hands and feet let the cat out of the bag about your age even if you’re on top of everything else. Keep your hands and feet moisturized and groomed with self or professional manicures and pedicures. Studies show painting your nails and wearing rings make you appear younger too.

Stick around later this week to get more tips on ways to look younger in 2017!

Sources: Prevention, Allure and Reader’s Digest


New Year’s Resolutions for Women – Part 2

As 2017 is just days away we’re continuing our series on New Year’s resolutions for women. Earlier this week we talked about health, fitness, nutrition and wellness. Today we’re focusing on your financial and career goals, giving back, family and friends, and other resolutions that round out your busy life.

New Year’s Resolutions for Women – Part 2

Financial & Career

This New Year will be the one when you take charge of your career and finances. Keep these goals in mind as you plan your resolutions:

  • Review your finances monthly to have a better pulse on how you’re spending money. Create a budget to keep yourself on track and talk to a financial advisor about smart strategies for saving and investing your money.
  • Take the extra 5 minutes to clip coupons or search for them online. You can save big bucks by taking advantage of discounts that most retailers offer regularly.
  • Be bold at work and contribute in new ways to show your innovative and smart ideas. Chances are this new you will pay off with recognition and compensation in the long run.
  • Ask for what you want at work, whether it’s a raise, additional benefits, a chance to travel more or the opportunity to work from home. The worst that can happen is you are turned down but the best result may be getting exactly what you want.
  • Use all of our paid time off and sick days. You’ve earned them so use them. If you’re not actually sick or taking a vacation, have a mental health day or make your own stay-cation adventure.

Giving Back

Helping others is a wonderful New Year’s resolution for women. Give what you can in the form of tangible donations or the gift of your time and energy. Here are some ideas:

  • Volunteer on a regular basis doing something you love. Work with pets, nature, kids or seniors volunteering in a way that helps others and is satisfying to you as well.
  • Mentor a student at a local school by offering extra assistance or supportive social interactions. Or at work you can mentor junior employees to help them succeed in their career.
  • Donate items you don’t need to those who are less fortunate. Spend time early in the year purging gently used things so others can enjoy them.
  • Pay it forward with random acts of kindness. Start by smiling, holding doors open and generally being kind to others. Throw in some fun anonymous acts of kindness too, such as paying for the coffee of the person behind you in line or helping a mom with several kids carry packages to her car.

Friends, Family, Home & Fashion

Rounding out our suggestions for New Year’s resolutions for women we’re focusing on those nearest and dearest to you, as well as your home and fashion.

  • Prioritize the people who matter most in your life and treat them the best. That includes doing nice things for your family, respecting your parents and children, calling friends on their birthdays and judging everyone less.
  • Take a vacation with your favorite people so you can reconnect and make new memories together.
  • Steer away from relationships that are toxic. Spend your time with people who you care about and who care about you in return.
  • Also avoid drama whenever possible. This may mean holding back sometimes but peaceful relationships are much more satisfying and productive.
  • Work on organizing your home with one small project every day. Spend 15 minutes tackling some form of organization daily. Also work to keep things organized by putting everything back where it belongs.
  • Upgrade your wardrobe with a few items – like a new bra – that make you feel amazing. You are your best you when you feel confident and put together.

We wish you a wonderful 2017 filled with everything your heart desires. Happy New Year!

Sources: Bustle, WebMD and Care2

New Year’s Resolutions for Women – Part 1

It’s that time of year again…that time when we’re all reflecting on the year gone by and making New Year’s resolutions for the year to come. Being introspective comes naturally for some and is difficult for others but it’s important for all. Making changes for self-improvement is essential to getting the most out of life. This week we’re sharing New Year’s resolutions for women to help inspire your goals for 2017.

New Year’s Resolutions for Women – Part 1

Nutrition, Fitness & Health

Our first category is one that most of us already include on our New Year’s resolutions for women. Vowing to become healthier by eating better and exercising is too broad and easily broken just a few weeks into the New Year. We have specific suggestions that will help you achieve your nutrition, fitness and health goals:

  • Schedule routine check-ups and follow your doctor’s advice. Discovering a health issue is only half the battle. Work with your doctor to resolve any problems right away.
  • Eat whole foods rather than processed foods. It’s easier to grab packaged snacks on-the-go but aim for whole foods instead such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains and light dairy products.
  • Ensure you’re getting enough calcium. While it’s true that calcium storage stops in your 20s, you still need around three servings a day to keep your bones strong. It is estimated that 50% of women over 50 will have some form of osteoporosis.
  • Enjoy food and indulge occasionally but do eat in moderation. Work to find balance between temptations and deprivation. Cutting out complete food groups – such as carbohydrates – is usually not sustainable and often unhealthy.
  • Learn a new recipe every month to add to your repertoire. This will keep things interesting in your kitchen and introduce new favorites to meal times.
  • Eat healthy fats every day. Essential fats that come from fish like salmon, nuts like walnuts, or fruits and veggies like avocados are good for every aspect of your body.
  • Challenge your view of exercise by trying new workouts and incorporating more activity into your day. Make a list of workouts you want to try and mark them off throughout the year. Also use your time wisely by moving more when you have a few free moments. Every little bit counts!

Mental & Emotional Wellbeing

You may or may not be at a point in your life when you can put your own needs ahead of others but you can still be good to yourself. Self-care and being kind to yourself support your mental and emotional wellbeing. Work on these goals in the New Year:

  • Complement yourself every day on something you’ve done well. The way you talk to yourself carries through to how you feel about yourself, how you display confidence and how you treat others.
  • Adopt body positivity and stop caring so much about how you look or others’ ideals of beauty. Let your inner beauty shine through and love the body you have.
  • Manage your stress before it becomes overwhelming and all-consuming. Find methods of stress-relief and relaxation that work for your lifestyle and interests. Stress factors into many health conditions so nip it to avoid long-term ramifications.
  • Continue to read and learn all the time. You may be an adult but you don’t know it all. Pick up something new to read that wouldn’t normally be on your tablet or take a class to learn a new skill and broaden your horizons in exciting ways.
  • Improve your attitude. Studies show being a more positive and grateful person has benefits for your health. Plus, people will like you more and you’ll feel better about yourself too. This includes comments you make online as well.

Later this week we’ll share part 2 of our series on New Year’s resolutions for women. Stick around and join us on Facebook to share your resolutions for 2017.

Sources: Bustle, WebMD and Care2

Finding Peace in Holiday Chaos

The Holiday Season – It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, right? But so many people feel stress to get everything done, pressure to be perfect in front of family and friends, and anxiety over what may go wrong that they lose sight of the joy the season is meant to deliver. Today we’re offering tips on finding peace in holiday chaos so you can enjoy your holiday.

Finding Peace in Holiday ChaosIn the words of fashion designer Donna Karan, “It’s all about finding the calm in the chaos.” Often chaos is uncontrollable, especially chaos that stems from others. So finding peace in holiday chaos is more about how we handle ourselves than anything else. The words and actions of friends, family members and complete strangers are out of our control. Even the behavior of our own children can be out of our control. When someone says or does something rude, abrasive, hurtful or annoying, we each have a choice: maintain the calm or fuel the fire. If you decide to maintain the calm internally, you’re on your way to a more peaceful holiday.

One way to preserve inner peace is knowing that we are the only ones who control our emotions. If you tend to be affected by others, especially during this more stressful time of year, you have a few options. First, avoid the situations that you know will be most sensitive and volatile. That doesn’t mean you should not attend gatherings, but you can try not to engage in controversial topics or limit contact with those who are most troubling to you. If you do encounter nastiness, use your inner strength to take the high road and pull through respectfully by counting to five before speaking.  Also, understand that others may be feeling the stress of the holidays too so have compassion for their feelings rather than jumping to judgment.

We can help ourselves find peace in holiday chaos with some steps that are within our control. Managing your time, being prepared and not waiting until the last minute can alleviate some anxiety over the holidays. This applies to shopping, cooking, cleaning your home for gatherings and thinking through how to keep your children happy and occupied.

For some, staying sane this holiday season may be as simple as saying “no” to demands on your time so that you don’t overextend yourself. When we’re spread too thin, everything suffers and we may become part of the chaos. It’s OK to decline sometimes for the sake of your own enjoyment.  Also, focus on the important things you need to do to prepare for your holidays without being distracted by extraneous things that can be handled at another time or that will negatively drain your energy and your spirit.

Additionally, finding peace in holiday chaos means you need to take care of yourself as well. Many people feel they should be happy and are so busy finding ways to achieve happiness they end up being miserable. Think about the things that truly make you happy and focus on doing some or all of those things during your holiday. Perhaps this is partaking in a relaxing hobby or giving yourself a gift. Happiness is highly personal and stems from what is important to you, not others. Also, avoid the grumpiness by ensuring you take care of basic needs too, like eating healthily, sleeping, exercise and whatever else makes you whole.

Remember, your goal should be to create a fun, loving and inclusive holiday where you can connect with those you love to celebrate the season. You probably cannot change the chaos but finding peace in holiday chaos is well within your control. Embrace your inner calm and make this holiday season the most wonderful time of the year!

Healthy Holiday Reminders

Healthy Holiday RemindersStaying healthy during the holiday season should be a top priority. Not only will it make your holiday festivities more enjoyable, you’ll also enter the New Year in the best and brightest way. Today we’re sharing healthy holiday reminders to keep you on your game for a joyous holiday season.

Healthy Eating: The holiday time is one of indulgence for many. This year, before you go for a third helping or park yourself near the dessert table, keep these tips in mind:

  • Don’t go to a holiday party or meal hungry. Have a snack so you don’t overeat due to extreme hunger.
  • Try a few bites of anything you want but fill up on lean meats, fruits & vegetables and whole grains for protein and fiber.
  • Bring a healthy dish to share so you know you have at least one healthy option.
  • Don’t overdo it on desserts. Have a taste of one or two to satisfy your sweet tooth and know that you’ll have the opportunity for more sweets at the next holiday gathering.

Exercise Appropriately: It’s good for your body to maintain an exercise routine during the holiday season and not just to burn a few extra calories from holiday indulgences. Exercise is a wonderful stress reliever and can boost your immune system too. Help your physical and emotional health by working out.  However, don’t overcompensate for your eating by overdoing it in the gym. Keep your workouts appropriate for your fitness level.

Stress Less: It’s easy for holiday stress to get the best of us. With pressure to accomplish so much, make the holiday special for everyone and have fun yourself, you may diminish all of your efforts by being overwhelmed with it all. Avoid stress by being prepared, managing your time, making social connections, resting and finding ways to relax during the holiday season. Your happiness is just as important as anyone else’s so embrace your inner peace.

Wash More: ‘Tis the season for colds, flus and the spread of germs. Wash your hands often to avoid getting sick and be sure you encourage your kids to do the same. If you are traveling, be extra vigilant because public spaces like airplanes, airports, trains, buses and taxis harbor many pathogens.

Drive Safely: As with any time of year, don’t drink and drive and ensure you and your passengers always wear their seatbelts. If you are moving a car seat into a rental car, double check that it is installed properly. Also, don’t drive if weather conditions make roads hard to pass.

Stay Warm: Dress appropriately for the weather including hats, gloves and coats as necessary. Remember, the winter sun can be harsh on your skin so wear sunscreen if your face or other body parts will be exposed.

Fire Safety: If you plan to cozy up by a warm fire this holiday season, practice fire safety. Never leave your house or go to sleep with a fire burning and properly put out fires when you’re done with them. Never throw out hot coals or wood until they are completely cool. Also, don’t leave candles, the stove or oven unattended.

Give the Gift of Health: Set a healthy example for others by giving healthy gifts this year such as workout gear, a healthy cookbook, a fitness magazine subscription, a water filtering system or a basket of healthy snacks. Also, be a healthy role model for others during the holiday season.

We hope you have a warm and healthy holiday with our healthy holiday reminders! Wishing you all the best this season!

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Fitness and Wellness News

Creative Holiday Gift Wrapping

Giving gifts should be fun for both the receiver and the giver. Beyond the satisfaction of bringing joy to someone through gift-giving, wrapping presents can be an enjoyable creative outlet this time of year. If you just rolled your eyes at the thought of wrapping all of your holiday gifts, roll them back because we have creative holiday gift wrapping ideas that you and everyone on your gift list will love.

Use Recyclables: This is a timeless way to reuse newspaper, scrap paper or grocery bags and put them to good use. Each of these makes easy wrapping paper. Or try placing smaller items in toilet paper or paper towel rolls and wrapping them with tissue paper. Old shirts, curtains or sheets can also be used as cloth wrapping paper.

Gift Inside & Out: What’s better than getting a gift? Getting two gifts! Use part of your gift on the outside of your package as a double awesome bonus present and extra goody.  Examples include looping a tie, belt or jump rope around a gift box. For kids, a small stuffed animal is even better than a bow on the outside of a present, or create a construction paper road on the outside of the package and glue toy cars on it.  Another idea, wrap kitchen supplies in an oven mitt or apron.

Creative Holiday Gift WrappingAdd Nature: Bring a little nature into your creative holiday gift wrapping. Once your gift is wrapped, complete the look with a flower, twigs, pinecones, cinnamon sticks or whatever else inspires you from nature. The possibilities are endless.

Go Ribbon & Bow Crazy: Wrap a package in simple paper and then add lots of ribbons or bows. Alternatively you can use this method on a plain gift box and hot glue ribbons and bows all over it. This way the box can be reused.

Put the Kids to Work: Here’s a great way to get the kids involved and keep them occupied for awhile – wrap boxes in solid color paper and let your kids have a blast drawing, painting or stickering them. This is especially wonderful for grandparents, aunts and uncles who will appreciate your kids’ artwork.

Use the Scraps: Don’t you hate it when you have scraps left after wrapping that aren’t big enough for another present but are too big to throw away? Save those and use them as a pop of color on another package. Simply wrap your next package in a solid color and use a strip of scrap as an accent across the gift. If you have enough you can do two strips that intersect and then put a bow in the middle.

Gift the Box: If you’re not feeling inspired by creative holiday gift wrapping, keep it simple and useful by putting your holiday gifts in a container that the recipient can actually use such as a nice basket or decorative bin.

Print Your Own Paper: Have a special message for your gift recipient? Print your own paper to express your message. This is cute, creative and extremely personal.

Anything Goes: If you’re in a last-minute gift wrapping crisis, don’t fret. You can use simple art supplies and household items you probably have on hand. Pom-poms, bells and pipe cleaners can be fashioned into gift wrap decorations. Or try hole-punching construction paper or making a festive beveled edge strip from construction paper to paste onto a plain package. You can also cut out shapes such as hearts or snowflakes and either string them together or paste them directly onto your package. In your pantry look for bow tie pasta, wrapped candies or string popcorn for creative holiday gift wrapping accessories.

We hope these ideas for creative holiday gift wrapping inspire you to jazz up your holiday gifts this year. Happiest holidays to you and everyone on your gift list!

Holiday Hostess Gifts

Holiday Hostess GiftsIf you’ve ever hosted a holiday gathering you know how much work goes into planning and executing a fun and festive event. Besides saying “thank you,” thoughtful holiday hostess gifts are a wonderful way to show your gratitude for all the effort that went into the festivities. Today we’re sharing some fabulous ideas for holiday hostess gifts:

Culinary Hostess Gifts

Oils & Vinegars: These kitchen necessities make lovely holiday hostess gifts. Flavored olive oils, truffle oil or balsamic vinegar come in elegant sets for a reasonable price.

Tea & Honey: Help your hostess relax with a variety set of teas and a jar of local honey. Both tea and honey have natural health benefits that your hostess will surely appreciate.

Pastry or Chocolates: ‘Tis the season of delicious desserts. Your hostess may have slaved away in the kitchen making desserts for her holiday gathering so return the favor with sweat pastries or chocolates for only her to enjoy.

Cutting Board: Most kitchens have standard cutting boards but gifting a solid wood, bamboo or stone cutting board is both functional and chic as a serving platter.

Pitcher: Water pitchers are a staple for at-home parties and make a useful hostess gift. Look for one that matches the character of your hostess.

Seasonal Hostess Gifts

Ornament: Beautiful ornaments are classic holiday hostess gifts, especially if you know your hostess takes pride in her tree decoration. Again, find one that matches the personality and style of your hostess.

Plant: Seasonal plants such as poinsettias, holly, amaryllis or Christmas cacti are a wonderful way to honor your hostess and bring vibrant colors and life into her home.

Scarf: A stylish scarf to keep your hostess cozy is a warm thank you indeed. Take note of your hostess’ fashion sense before making your selection.

Decorative Dish: A bowl or platter that speaks to the season is a simple way to show your gratitude with holiday hostess gifts. These are easy to come by this time of year and something she can use a future holiday gatherings.

Evergreen Hostess Gifts

Picture Frame: A woman can never have too many picture frames, therefore they make excellent holiday hostess gifts. For a fancier look, go for a sterling silver frame or a handcrafted wooden frame.

Coffee Table Book: Books are always in fashion and a nice coffee table book is something every hostess would love. Give her one of your own favorites and inscribe it as a personal touch.

Monogrammed Hand Towels, Stationary or Notepad: This hostess gift takes a little more forethought to find or order but monogrammed gifts are always a great choice. Hand towels, stationary and notepads are also useful at any time of year.

Candle, Diffuser, Essential Oils or Incense: Natural fragrances will make your hostess’ home warm and inviting. Any of these options are delicious as holiday hostess gifts.

Disposable Placemats: Here’s a creative idea – disposable placemats will help your hostess throw her next gathering with flair and a little less clean-up. You can find this unique idea at some boutique gift shops or online.

Make sure your hostess knows your gratitude with these ideas for holiday hostess gifts!

Sources: Real Simple and Elle

8 Sophisticated Braids for Adult Women

8 Sophisticated Braids for Adult WomenBraids for adult women can be a classic look. Braids are feminine and add texture and elegance to longer hair. From everyday styles to dressed-up dos, we’re taking a look at eight sophisticated braids for adult women.

French Braid: This traditional braid is a great way to keep you hair out of your face without resorting to the average ponytail. French braids keep your hair looking neat and can also cover up a bad hair day by tucking in lackluster strands. If you’re not up-to-speed on how to do a French braid, look online for tutorials that can teach you how to do it on yourself.

Workout Braid: If you have really long hair, you may find it easier during workouts to keep your ponytail together with a braid. This do simply entails making a ponytail and then braiding your strands. Tie it off at the bottom or loop it back through your top ponytail band to shorten the length.

Braided Bun: When you just can’t be bothered with your hair all day, create a braided bun. This is a super look for work because your hair will be “out of sight, out of mind” and you’ll look very sophisticated. You can easily make a braided bun by braiding your ponytail and then wrapping the braid around in a bun. Secure it with bobby pins and your hair is set for the day.

Braided Bun Band: Similar to the braided bun, this hairstyle takes a traditional bun and uses a braided strand to surround it. This technique takes a little more skill but looks awesome for daytime or nighttime.

Braid Into Bun: Another way to incorporate your braid into a neat or messy bun is to sweep the beginnings of a French braid from the top of your head to one or both sides, meeting a bun in the back. This braid into bun is interesting and adds a new dynamic to your regular bun.

Braided Wreath: For an elegant earthy look made popular by many celebrities, go with the braided wreath. This do crowns your head with a circular braid and acts almost like a natural headband.  It may take some time to perfect but it’s a gorgeous look for special occasions.

Side Braid: For longer hair, go flirty and feminine with a wispy side braid. Simply gather your hair to one side and braid your mane starting at the neck and draping down your shoulder. This is a good look if you like to build volume at the hairline but still want your hair out of your face.

Half-Up Meet-in-the-Middle Braid: This youthful look can still be sophisticated and keep your hair out of your eyes. Collect strands starting at your temples and braid them until they meet in the middle in the back of your head. Clip them off and let the rest blend into your hair. This is a beautiful look to show off silky hair while incorporating a cool braid.

If you miss hairdos from your youth, return to the look with these ideas for sophisticated braids for adult women.

Brilliant Uses for Baking Soda

Healthy lifestyles are more then just what you eat and how much you exercise. Being healthy extends to every area of our lives, including cleaning products, deodorizers, personal care products and much more. Today we’re looking at the brilliant uses of baking soda as a natural and healthier alternative to many traditional products.

Brilliant Uses for Baking SodaCleaning with Baking Soda

Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) makes a fantastic cleaning agent because it neutralizes and buffers to balance the pH of just about everything. It is a completely natural substance so it’s a wonderful alternative to harsh chemical-laden cleaning products. Plus, baking soda is sold in a fine powder that helps it penetrate and dissolve quickly and effectively.

Baking soda cleans a variety of surfaces like kitchen and bathroom counters, floors, ovens, microwaves, furniture, cars, bathtubs, and sinks. It can clean dishes, sponges and hair brushes, polish silver, and sanitize coffee pots. You can add baking soda to your laundry detergent to maximize its cleaning capacity and keep clothes looking brighter too.

Deodorizing with Baking Soda

Those neutralizing and buffering powers of baking soda work wonders for odors as well. That’s why many people keep baking soda in their refrigerators to absorb some of the acidic scents that perforate the small space. Baking soda also helps freshen clothes, especially the particularly foul items like smelly sports gear or dirty cloth diapers. In addition, you can use it to quash the smell of trashcans, recycling bins, sink drains, carpets, shoes, car interiors, and stuffed toys.

Personal Care with Baking Soda

Looking good the natural way is better for your body. Baking soda can help you look fabulous in many ways with DIY beauty products or enhancing your existing products. Baking soda is a superb cleanser when you make a paste by simply adding water. Or create an exfoliant by including sugar granules as well. Add baking soda to hand soap or shampoo to intensify their cleansing properties or pour some in your bath when you need to get extra squeaky clean. You can also make your own toothpaste and deodorant using baking soda.

Other Uses of Baking Soda

When you have inflamed skin from dryness, bites, scratches or sores, baking soda can help you heal faster and keep the area protected from infection. Baking soda works wonders on drains if your sink or tub is clogged. Or keep some by the stovetop in case of a grease fire because it can subdue flames as it gives off carbon dioxide. Additionally, clean fruits and veggies with baking soda to remove germs and pesticides before eating.

Baking soda is a miraculous natural cleanser, deodorizer, and beauty enhancer, among other things. Try this natural solution in your healthy home.

Source: Care2

International Volunteer Day

International Volunteer DayThis Monday, December 5 is International Volunteer Day. On this day designated by the United Nations Volunteer Program people from around the globe celebrate volunteerism for the vast contributions volunteering can make at every level of society.  The goal is to mobilize volunteers and connect organizations to willing volunteer participants. Private and governmental organizations are involved to increase interest and efforts in volunteerism.

Before International Volunteer Day comes and goes, we want to highlight some of the fantastic ways you can volunteer this season. Whether it’s on the designated awareness day or any other day in December or beyond, volunteering can make a big impact in your community and beyond.

There are endless causes that are worth your attention, time and energy but it is unrealistic to support them all. The first step is selecting a few volunteer areas that align with your passions and values. Consider what matters most or hits closest to home for you. Volunteer areas range from specific health issues, homelessness and hunger, to environmental causes, domestic violence and educational initiatives, to name a few. Even within these subsets there are a variety of volunteer opportunities where you can assist. Look for ones that are feasible for you.

With a focus on International Volunteer Day and giving back in honor of the holiday season, making a pledge to volunteer weekly or monthly is an excellent goal. While it’s lovely to devote time just during the holiday season to bring cheer to people in need or support a cause, help is needed year round. Use this time to commit yourself to making a difference.

Traditional methods of volunteering are always great. Planting trees, cleaning up parks and recreational areas, serving food at soup kitchens, delivering meals to the elderly or disabled people, sorting items at a women’s shelter, and collecting canned goods and toiletries for food banks are among the many ways you and your family can volunteer.

Another terrific way to volunteer is to draw on your own talents and expertise to help educate, inform and bring happiness to others. Look for needs in your community or online that match your skills. Perhaps an organization needs a newsletter or grant writer to help raise awareness or funds for their cause. Many schools that cater to low-income students offer afterschool programs where students can continue learning outside their core subjects, such as gardening, painting, dance or creative writing. Community centers may need assistance working with non-native speakers teaching English, computer skills or other important proficiencies that will help them get jobs.

Volunteering should be a rewarding experience for you. Whether you’re filling a direct need or creating an opportunity that draws on your own skills, whether it’s one day or a regular commitment, volunteering makes a difference in our world. Take part in International Volunteer Day by dedicating yourself to one or many volunteer opportunities in the near future.

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Make the Most of Time Spent in your Car
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