Perfect Gifts for People Who Have Everything

All of us have those people in our lives who seem to have everything. Ties? They've got hundreds. Candles? Watches? Books? Good smelling lotions? They already have so many, they had a rummage sale last summer to sell all the extras. Even gift cards seem silly in these situations. To make matters worse, with the ever-growing health-consciousness in America we can not just fall back on the huge box of chocolates. For the holidays this year, I found the perfect solution: down feather beds! Five of the dearest people in my life got feather beds, and one down comforter and down pillows. All of them were rushed!

Down bedding makes wonderful gifts for several reasons. First, they are gifts that you know will not be stuffed in a closet somewhere and forgotten about. The hardest part is simply putting the feather bed on the bed. Once that is done, all the recipient has to do is crawl between the sheets! My favorite gifts are the ones that I can use for years and remind me of the person who has it to me. For example, a coffee mug tree has been on my kitchen counter since the day I received it from my aunt. I love it because it saves space, displays my favorite mugs and reminds me of her every time I have my morning coffee! What better way to show someone you love them, than by giving them something they can sink into each night and drift to dreamland thinking of you?

Second, feather beds truly improve quality of sleep when sleeping on one. By providing extra loft, the feathers take the pressure off your body and let you sleep longer in one position without having to toss and turn. With improved technology, down filled beds and comforters no longer come with a host of allergens attached either. Down used to be an impossible potential for allergy sufferers. Now, manufacturers have found ways of removing the allergens completely. Some of them even wash the feathers up to 800 times! (I have allergies myself and have never had a problem with either my feather bed or down pillows.) For the health-conscious people in your life, this is perfect. Forget the chocolates, bring on the feather beds and some high quality Z's!

Third, feather beds are one of those things that most people will not buy for themselves. It's not a necessity, so those on your gift list are not going to make room in a budget for it. On the other hand, I have never met someone who does not want a feather bed . What a joy to watch your loved one tear off the wrapping and open something he / she has always wanted, but never had! And it is not just adults who love them- my best friend bought one for his 11 year old son for Christmas this year and he squealed with delight almost as much as he did when opening the Dsi he was being asking for all year!

Birthdays, Christmas, Valentine's Day, any time you want to show someone you care is the perfect time to get a perfect gift for that someone who has everything!

The Benefits of Non-Profit Branding

To the uninitiated, branding is synonymous to the image of a logo. Yet, branding is much more than a logo. What then, is branding? “Branding is endowing products and services with the power of a brand” (Kotler & Keller, 2015). One can clearly tell from this definition that branding is much more than a logo, a website or a brochure.

In times past, non-profits adopted the concept of branding mainly for fundraising purposes. Today, branding has evolved beyond fundraising purposes and offers the following benefits:

1). Builds Trust

An effective branding strategy that communicates the impact of a non-profits work engenders trust. By sharing its’ activities and progress, people become aware of the role the non-profit plays in its’ community. With the trust earned, a non-profit can easily garner support for its’ causes.

2). Advocacy / Expanded Support Base

Once people become aware of a non-profits’ work, it becomes easier for them to connect with its’ brand. Consequently, they not only become loyal adherents of the non-profit but they also become its’ advocates. This can serve the non-profit in many ways. For instance, success stories shared on a non-profit’s social media page can be re-posted by loyal adherents and shared with their friends. Such activities have the power of expanding a non-profit’s support base since a wider audience is reached through the act of sharing.

3). Increased Funding Opportunities

A strong brand improves the rate of success of a non-profits’ funding endeavors. By creating a positive brand image, it becomes easier to engage favorably with funders and stakeholders alike.

4). Facilitates Partnership Formation

A strong brand makes it easier for a non-profit to forge meaningful partnerships. The ability to collaborate with other organizations enhances a non-profits ability to implement projects that have a wider reach/scope. This in turn creates a favorable perception for the non-profit and influences its’ fund-raising potential.

5). Reflects a Non-Profit’s Identity

According to Nathalie Kylander & Christopher Stone (Spring 2012 Blogpost), a ” brand embodies the identity of the organization, encapsulating its mission, values, and distinctive activities”. In essence, a thoughtfully planned and executed brand image will convey the ideals of a non-profit to its’ constituents and the general public in an effective manner. It will aid in reflecting the unique value proposition of a non-profit while differentiating it from other entities.

Thus, its’ constituents and the general public will be in a position to familiarize themselves with the vision of the non-profit while keeping track of its’ achievements. As a result, the process of nurturing relationships with supporters(such as volunteers) and sympathizers to its’ cause while entrenching its’ position will be greatly improved.

It is essential for a non-profit to develop a compelling and consistent brand since it engenders trust among its’ audience, expands its’ support base, increases its’ funding opportunities, facilitates its’ ability to forge partnerships and reflects its identity.

References:

Kotler & Keller: Marketing Management (2015), American Marketing Association (AMA)

Nathalie Kylander & Christopher Stone (Spring 2012). The Role of Brand in the Non – Profit Sector[Blogpost]. Retrieved from https://ssir.org/articles/entry/the_role_of_brand_in_the_nonprofit_sector#bio-footer

7 Questions to Ask Before Booking A DJ For Your Wedding

Scouting for an amazing disc jockey (DJ) for your wedding is not a stroll in the park since there are many things to put into consideration. However, before booking that DJ, he must be able to provide appropriate answers to the following questions in order to prove his competence.

1. Are you a full-time DJ?

It is important for you to know that the DJ you want to hire is not just a one-dimensional part timer who may not owe enough time to the job. He must be involved on a full-time basis with quality experience that cuts across various events. He must be a true performer that can handle tough audiences without stress and satisfy them.

2. How do you treat song requests?

You should engage a DJ that understands how to strike a balance between couple's song requests and those of the guests so that both parties are adequately satisfied.

3. How do you customize the music experience for each couple?

He should be able to provide a soundtrack for your wedding which is dependent on your taste, style and vision for the day. He should be able to willingly accept your must-play and do-not-play lists because you are supposed to be in control of the music that will be played on that day.

4. Can I hear some samples of mixing and blending of different tracks?

He should be able to blend between songs harmoniously to the point that you may not even be aware of it. There should not be artless silence between songs as this will make your party to be boring.

5. What sound equipment do you work with? Do you have back-up?

The equipment that a DJ makes use of is as important as musical instruments. His turntable, microphone, mixer, computer, etc., must be up-to-date in order to reel out the best mix for your party. It is also important to have back-up equipment to guard against unforeseen circumstances.

6. How do you get the crowd pumped?

DJs have a lot of baits to encourage guests to take on the dance floor. You can request for a video of past performances in order to gauge the skills of the DJ you want to hire in entertaining guests.

7. Why should I choose you as my wedding DJ?

Providing a satisfactory answer to this question will go a long way to prove that you are about to hire a competent DJ. He should be able to tell you what makes him unique in the industry and this will assist you in making a vital decision that will make your wedding successful.

Cooking Utensils: the Truth Behind the Hype

Using the most suitable cooking utensils can make the difference between a wonderfully planned gastronomic banquet and an awkwardly made excuse-for-food. Or so the celebrity chefs who are sponsored by the major kitchenware companies would have us believe. The question we novice chefs have to ask is, ‘Do the correct tools genuinely make all the difference?’ ‘Does the way you chop, slice, dice and dish out your meat and two veg physically affect the flavour?’

Okay, granted, if you lack the appropriate utensils, it may be tricky to drain your pasta without picking up a couple of third degree burns, and you might find those curly radishes to top your salad bowl difficult to pull off, but is there really an optimal shape and size for food intended for the human mouth? To get a short answer to this question, we need to take a look at Chinese cuisine.

Chinese recipes emphasize the importance of presentation. Eating is a sensory experience. If the food looks, smells and even sounds good (think of sizzling woks wheeled to your table in a good restaurant) we’re salivating even before the first morsel gets anywhere near our mouths. Chinese chefs have long understood that your senses are connected. Your senses all lead to the same place – your brain. And it’s your brain that makes the final assessment. As innumerable sponsored-up-to-their-eyeballs master chefs will fall over each other to inform you, the way you prepare your veggies and present your dishes will have an enormous affect on the way your meal will taste The other definitive feature of Chinese cooking is the way the vegetables and meat are cut. There are strict rules concerning the size and shape of the food on the plate. Each dish should be easy to handle – it should invite you to pick it up… but then again you’ll have to use chopsticks.

Cooking utensils, it would seem, really can transform a mundane meal into a feast… if you know how to use them. Owning the appropriate set of knives to chop and cut, nip and tuck, is one thing; owning the skills to use them is another. However, to develop your technique, you need to own the utensils in the first place. You have to start somewhere, and leafing through a kitchenware brochure at the behest of some celebrity chef or other is as good a place to start as any – the best place to start is from the recipe. After all, the recipe is what you are interested in, and what you and your family is going to end up eating.

What makes a cook into a master chef? The salient factor is their ability to shower their creations with loving care and attention, as anyone who has read an Isabelle Allende novel will testify. Once you have your tools and skills, the possibilities for experimentation and gastronomic exploration are boundless. And you can bet there is a specially designed set of cooking utensils to cope with any culinary creation you might dream up. For the majority of us, one appliance can be adapted to manage a diverse range kitchen tasks, but for the experts there is a specific tool for each and every kitchen task.

This apparently trivial distinction between the two ways of thinking about cooking can have a profound affect on your meals. Take an onion, for example. According to the experts, it should be sliced a particular way to enhance the flavour, although, as we have learnt from the Chinese, the visual result is at least as big a factor in determining how the food will taste. Viewed in this way, slicing the onion ‘after the book’ becomes as important as, say, the amount of oil you add to the pan. It would seem that using the right kitchen utensil in the chef’s domain is imperative. In short, prepping your ingredients by following someone’s mealtime master plan can transform the appearance and flavour of the final dish. Get this right and you are no longer a cook. You are a chef

Selecting The Best Utensil

Selecting the right set of cooking utensils is dependent on the content of each individual recipe. Suggestions for cooking utensils are very often presented within the cooking book or online recipe page and, traditionally, they are accompanied by clear instructions to enable you to choose the right utensil for the right job. Cooking utensils, it would seem, do have a central role to play. Your family is certain to enjoy the excellence of your cooking if it is prepared with skill and loving care, but if not, they may reach for an entirely different set of utensils.

There are many companies that produce fine cooking utensils, but on balance, it is better to start from the recipe book and build up a collection of what you need as needs arise before you start leafing through the pages of glossy catalogues.