It is that time of year again when you have to put on that thinking cap and start figuring out what everyone wants for the holidays. With gadgets and gizmos galore lining the store shelves, we thought it would be nice to showcase some gift ideas that were not just for the techies.
We bought a couple of sets of these for different friends for different reasons. One is a die hard hockey fan, who has a lot to say about the sport but has never played it. We also got the set for a buddy who (from the US) who claims to hate hockey. Shame shame.
There are quite a few single ladies in our clic who just can’t seem to find the right guy. We joke that their aim is off, and hopefully with the recurve bow and arrow they can improve it. Like we said, hope.
Our nosiest friend got the only fishing pole this year. We award this gift to the girl who tries to fish around for the most information. Maybe some quiet time on Lake Joseph will make her start contemplating her own future instead of worrying about everyone else.
Tennis rackets were couple gifts. There are a few in our group who have reached that always bickering stage in a relationship. Having tennis rackets should help them throw a harmless ball to one another instead of hurtful barbs.
Only one couple in our group of friends got the gift of a Frisbee. Not being cheap, just going to show them that as far as we see it, they already have it all.
This is just a fun and creative tradition that we started a few years ago, but it may give you some ideas on how to think outside of the box with your friends for the holidays, and get them a gift that shows you pay attention.
Finding a place where you and your partner can feel comfortable for a weekend is not always easy. While the laws are working in our favor, sometimes public opinion is not. There is nothing worse than having big romantic weekend plans ruined by bigotry and hate. To avoid that, try planning your time away from it all at one of these spots:
Bed and Breakfast
There are quaint bed a breakfast inns all over Canada. A bed and breakfast is more intimate than a hotel, although you do miss out on some of the luxury. But if you and your partner want to feel welcome at your lodgings and still enjoy some great sightseeing try the Seaton Dream in Toronto. Owned by a gay couple, this beautiful gem is located right in the heart of the city, giving you access to the bustling night life. You get a piping hot breakfast every morning, plus a private in suite bathroom, safe and wifi. If this sounds about right for you give them a call and make your reservation.
The international popularity of Niagra Falls makes it an ideal spot to go and not worry about any glaring stares. You will find plenty of opportunities to do the tourist thing down by the falls, but make sure to check out the new and improved casinos (on the Canadian side of course). The hotel rooms are all top of the line with all the perks you want in a luxury hotel, and the casinos fully loaded with slot machines, craps and black jack tables. You also get selections of 5 star restaurants and a fantastic night club scene to take advantage of.
If you want something more toned down, try one of the dozens of camping sites in Canada. You will need to purchase gear like a sleeping bag and large camping tent, but the tranquility will be worth it. And the nice thing about camping is you can be as secluded as you want or join in with other campers. If this is something you have never tried before though, you may want the first time to be with a larger group of friends. You do need to learn how to pitch a tent, make a campfire and cook your meals on a camping stove.
Unless you had lived together before the wedding, combining two different households to make one that is comfortable for both halves of a couple is a challenge. Throw in the ton of wedding gifts you just received and you are looking at trying to combine almost three households worth of stuff into one.
Don’t let how you decorate your first home together be the basis for the first marital fight. Instead make it a recipe of compromise, patience and of course tolerance in order to create a home environment that you can both be happy with.
Whose Furniture do You Choose?
This is one of the larger hurdles and the first that should be sorted out. Otherwise you are going to end up with a house full of furniture and no room to make it a home. Pick those pieces that have the least amount of wear and that are able to fit with both of your styles.
When confronted with that one piece that one of you must keep, while the other hates it, this is where compromise comes in. At some point you are going to want something that your husband or wife hates too. Gently remind them of your deep loathing for their favorite armchair in your living room and you will likely get your way.
Your Design Elements
When you are trying to choose among your pictures and bric a brac, it is always a good idea to start from scratch as much as possible. These are items that are inexpensive to replace in most cases and can be those elements that the two of you choose together. Keep the items that are dear to you, but get rid of things that have no value to you personally.
Take the time to go shopping with your spouse and find decorative items that you both love. Especially in the bedroom, you are going to want to create a warm and romantic environment. This can be done using soft colors and design elements that serve two purposes, like candles and essential oil diffusers. Candles work at creating romantic lighting, while an essential oil diffuser will constantly fill the air with a pleasant aroma. You can choose essential oils that are floral, herb or fruit scented. There is enough of a variety in essential oils that you and your mate are sure to be able to find one that you both like.
The important thing about the design of your new home is that one half of you does not feel overshadowed by the other. This is a house that you are going to be starting your lives together in, and should reflect that by reflecting both of your tastes.
With the holidays’ right around the corner, thoughts turn to intimate parties at home, where you and your spouse can celebrate the season with your favorite people. For some, the idea of having such a large mix of people you care about under one roof is challenging. Yet with the right attitude, the right food, and of course the right booze, your holiday party can be a smash.
The Guest List
This is probably the most difficult part in planning your get together. You have work friends, gym friends, old friends and family. How do you choose who gets the invite and who doesn’t? The only group I would eliminate from that list is family, unless of course on of your siblings or a cousin is a part of your normal social group. Other than that, mom, dad and even grandma time should be spent on the actually holiday, not at a bash with your friends.
It is however you and your spouse’s job to make introductions and pair people who you think may get along. This is actually something you can discuss before the party while getting your home ready. If someone needs to man the kitchen, take turns and work the room to ensure that everyone is feeling comfortable.
Steer clear of controversial topics. This will help in keeping your party free from conflict. Now is the time to talk about the new car you are hoping to find under the tree, not heavy political issues.
Your next big decision is big sit down dinner affair, or finger foods and appetizers passed around the room. I like the finger food idea for large groups and save the sit down for smaller parties. You can break out the Fry Daddy you got as a wedding gift and make everything from bite sized egg rolls to juicy chicken tenders. A deep fryer is a quick cook method that will allow you to spend more time out with the guests.
For a formal affair, think something that needs to roast, such as a leg of lamb or prime rib. For sides pick items that you can prepare ahead of time and just heat up either in the oven or the microwave. This keeps you from having to spend the entire first half of your party inside the kitchen.
It is inevitable that you are going to be serving alcohol at your party. First of all, please do so responsibly. Make sure that all of your guests have a safe way of getting home if they are unable to drive themselves.
The most important rule is to have fun. If you are getting too worked up over the planning then bring it down a notch. Your friends want to spend time with you too, so plan your holiday party to make sure that happens.
Every relationship needs to be nourished. One way to do this is by finding a new common interest that you can partake in together. For many couples this is hard to do, but with the internet available it can be made easier. There are a large number of affordable online classes available allowing a couple to browse through all of the options until one sparks both their interest.
If you are looking for a new hobby for you and your partner, check out these innovative online classes that are completely different from anything you have ever done together before:
There is so much more to making a house a home then what color curtains to hang. An online interior design class is usually very low pressure, with the focus being on what you can do in your home to make it yours. These types of classes will show you everything from kitchen appliance placement ideas, to how to choose the right type of paint for your walls.
If you and your partner are at odds at how your home should be designed, take this class together to learn the fundamentals. You may learn that his choice in wall color is actually a good one for creating a tranquil environment, while your partner will finally see that your love of throw pillows is a good thing.
Online Singing Lessons
This is a fun way to improve on a hobby that you and your partner may already have. What amateur doesn’t want to learn how to sing better, even if it is just for the shower. Read some reviews of online singing lessons to eliminate the embarrassment of having to learn to sing in front of a group plus they give you a great opportunity to spend some quality time with your significant other and learn to sing like your favorite musical celebrities.
With a camera on every mobile device you own, isn’t it about time that you learned how to take great pictures with it. Online photography classes will start with the very basics of photography before teaching you about techniques to capture a great shot. Since you and your partner are probably taking dozens of pictures a week, why not impress your friends and family with some that look as if a professional photographer shot them.
Once you and your partner start looking, you are going to be amazed at the number of different online classes available. With the internet, college is no longer just math and English classes. Instead, you can learn about anything that is of interest to both you and your better half.
As the rest of the world is finally catching on, and more and more gay and lesbian couples are taking the plunge into marriage you may find yourself needing to buy a wedding gift. You know your friends, and what they like, and you also know a china gravy boat isn’t right for all of them.
Here is a list of some creative and thoughtful wedding gifts that will show you really put some thought into finding just the right item:
A Spa Package
Once the honeymoon is over and real life sets in the happy couple may just need a little unwind time together. An all day pass to a luxury spa is perfect for this. Make sure that they have access to all the amenities so that they can pick and choose their own favorite way to relax.
Marriage Certificate Frame
The happy couple waited a long time for that piece of paper, and will probably love to show it off prominently in their home. Don’t just go for a basic platinum frame, have it customized with the names and date of the ceremony. Another nice touch is to find a frame for two, and add a photo of their first kiss as Mr. and Mr. or Mrs. and Mrs. to the other side.
I know that some of you are shaking your heads at this one, but a pet is a great wedding gift for many couples. Think about where they live and their lifestyle. For some apartment dwellers a cat may be the best choice, but if they own a home a puppy is in order. Go the extra mile and set up for them to have a wireless dog fence installed around their property. This way you are taking away some of the work in owning their wedding present. A good option is the Havahart II.
One note about a puppy present: While you may want to go all out and spend hundreds on a pure bred doggie, it is even nicer if you rescue one from an animal shelter. These dogs may not be award winning, but they will still win the hearts of your friends.
Prints for décor are pretty mainstream, but if you can find a way to customize a print that will be a big surprise. Celebrate the milestones in their relationship such as the day they met or the day they got engaged and include personal details (not too personal). This is a great way to show that you have been rooting for their relationship since day one.
If you are used to just giving cash as a wedding gift kick it up a notch with gift cards. Not just one big ticket gift card but a bunch of smaller ones for those little things. Think coffee, ice cream, the bakery. Places that they stop by everyday.
No matter who is getting married a wedding is a big event. The whole piece to the china set is dated and shows very little thought. Like we needed with same sex marriage, it is time to start thinking outside of the box and getting unique wedding gifts.
Unlike other countries, Canada has recognized same sex marriages as legally binding arrangements since 2005. They were the fourth country in the world to adopt this legislation, after the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain.
A lot of straight people wonder who does the proposing with a same sex couple, as this role is typically one left to the man. But let’s be real here, unless the proposal is being made for the Hollywood big screen, marriage is something a couple talks about in length before an official proposal is made. With a same sex proposal both partners usually gift the other an engagement, or promise, ring to solidify the proposal. This exchange of rings is usually done privately in a romantic setting.
Once the engagement is official, friends and family are let in on the plans and the happy couple can begin making their wedding plans. An official engagement party is often in order and serves as a precursor to getting both sides of the families together and getting to know one another. Hiring an engagement photographer at this time is a beautiful way to commemorate the event and let everyone know of your commitment to one another. Your best bet for easy and high quality photography is to go through a site like www.yycweddingphotography.ca.
This is another area where tradition must be tossed aside in place of practicality. It is the social norm for the family of the bride to take on the cost of a wedding but with a same sex marriage ceremony those norms need to be re-examined. What works best for most couples is a division of the expenses. This is especially helpful if one partner is expecting more guests than the other. This type of arrangement will require a lot of compromise, which will serve as a good practice run for what married life is going to be like.
As a couple, you can choose to plan the ceremony in whatever way feels most comfortable for you and your partner. If you like the idea of being walked down the aisle, go for it. Or walk down the aisle together, or not at all. You have the right to plan the event any way that feels right to you. This is a big day for both of you and should be remembered as a joyous one, not one fraught with anxiety over details that in the end don’t really mean much for your marriage.
The wedding is the easy part it is the actual marriage that takes the most work. If you plan your wedding to be as stress free as possible and learn to work together you are taking full advantage of an opportunity to build a strong foundation for your marriage.
Unlike in previous decades, today’s celebrities are more expressive about their sexual orientation.
Legendary heart throb Cary Grant lived in secrecy with his long-time boyfriend for 12 years, afraid of what it would do to his career if it became known to the public that he was gay. Today, celebrities are free to share with their fans the loves of their lives, rightfully without any shame or embarrassment.
One of the successful female singers and songwriters in history, Melissa Etheridge has sold over 27 million records around the globe. Winner of both Grammy and Emmy awards, this outspoken artist is also known for her advocacy of gay rights and has spoken out openly in defense of same gender marriage, particularly in California. Not surprising, as she chose to come out about her own sexual orientation and ongoing relationship with another female at the 1993 inaugural ball of former president Bill Clinton.
Ricky Martin, former member of the ’80’s boy band Menudo, shocked fans when he admitted to being gay in 2010. In a heart felt letter on his website, the father of twin boys talked of freeing himself as he announced to the world that he had been living a lie. Although he is best known for his pop sensations, Ricky Martin is also the founder of a successful child advocacy program which fights for the rights of children all over the world. Today he is sharing his life with his longtime partner and their children.
A native of Louisiana, Ellen Degeneres began her climb to fame as a comedian who worked the nightclub scene for most of the early ‘80’s. As her fame grew she landed a few supporting roles in prime time television before hitting it big with Ellen, which ran on ABC from 1994 to 1998. It was here that she made T.V. history by being the first show to have its main character announce that they were gay not long after she herself made that admission in a televised interview with Oprah Winfrey. Today Ellen is a highly successful host of her own television talk show as well as an advocate for a number of important causes, including The U.S. Humane Society. Ellen and her wife Portia de Rossi have been candid about their relationship for years.
Neil Patrick Harris
A rarity in Hollywood, this one time child star has continued his climb to fame with a successful career in television. While most will remember him for his role as womanizer Barry Stinson on the hit T.V. show How I Met Your Mother, this Tony award winning actor started his television career in 1989 playing a child doctor. Considered to be one of the most influential faces in Hollywood, Neil Patrick Harris came out in 2006 by announcing that he was proud to be a content gay man who was living his life to the fullest. He still does, with his partner of 8 years and their twin toddlers.
As a lead actor in the highly successful The Big Bang Theory, Jim Parsons has been both delighting and annoying fans since 2007. Before that he had played a few recurring roles on other popular T.V. series but got the majority of his acting experience in on and off Broadway productions. In a true testament to the way in which Hollywood now considers its growing gay community, Jim was outed with little concern to his fans by The New York Times in 2012. To this his only comment is on how his relationship with his longtime partner is a boring one, but one of love.
The shift in American’s reactions to their beloved celebrities’ love lives has changed dramatically, even in just the last 20 years. As we see more celebrities being open and frank about their same gender relationships, other gay and lesbian Americans are encouraged to open up about their own sexuality and live with pride with the person they are in love with.
For decades, the United States and its citizens have made combatting all types of discrimination a priority, both within its own borders and all around the world. This is not limited to race struggles, but also crosses over into encouraging tolerance for those of different genders and sexual orientation. As a country which was founded on the basis of religious tolerance, it has evolved into one that embraces the differences among people and encourages them to feel free to express those differences.
While religious tolerance was the reason behind the development of the United States, acceptance and equal rights did not immediately greet certain groups, particularly women and African Americans. Yet even here, the open mind of the American people prevailed. Equal rights were granted for all as a more modern society began to understand that differences in gender and skin color had nothing to do with a person’s intelligence or right to live in the same way as other Americans were privileged to.
While these shifts in attitude took place decades ago, the struggle for acceptance of the gay and lesbian community of the United States has taken longer to achieve. Yet now we are seeing an acceptance to what some refer to as an alternative lifestyle across every religious group, ethnicity and political affiliation rising dramatically. Most promising is the younger generations rising acceptance of same gender unions as this is a pre-indication of what the future holds for the United States and its commitment to give equal rights to every one of its citizens.
Earlier in 2014, USA Today reported on the results of a survey that showed that since the legalization of same gender marriage in Massachusetts State ten years ago, the tolerance for this type of legislation has increased dramatically. What is most telling from the results of this survey is the amount of change that took place in a positive direction in such a short period of time. Rarely in history will you find a topic where such a large number of people will reverse their original opinion on what is considered to be a very controversial topic.
This increase in tolerance towards people from all walks of life is evidenced by the countries reactions to unfolding events around the country. While prejudices among certain groups towards people they deem different are obvious, the overall unacceptance of these types of attitudes by the American people shines through. Long gone are the days when a young gay man could be fired for his sexual preferences without there being a huge backlash of very public opinion.
While there has been a great improvement in the attitude of the American people towards what we can call minorities, there is still room for more. The use of the word tolerance itself is evidence of this as in a perfect society there would be no need for tolerance. Instead, coming across someone of a different sexual orientation, or skin color or even gender would just be a normal part of everyday life that wasn’t thought about twice.