Category Archives: Gift Ideas

Holiday Stress Tips

Celebrate Definition Button by Stuart Miles at Freedigitalphotos.netStress Reducing and Organizing Tips for the Holiday Season

Do you find yourself not looking forward to some holidays?  Do you wish you had more time?  Do the holidays overwhelm you?  We have tips to help you get more organize, reduce your stress, and connect to a more joyous season.  Tune into for your tips, click here for the radio link.

And isn't the holiday season about JOY in the first place?  There are many things that can derail us at the end of the year, finances and over spending, shopping, 'Keeping up with the Jone's', the weather, long lines, weight gain, traveling, and even feeling obligated to attend social parties for work, family or the community.

Plan ahead to change how your holiday season will go.  Click here for another article planning for the holidays.  Make a list now to help you prepare for next year.

Click on the recording below to listen now.

Did you know that the thing that stresses most people out - the top of the list is......

They have to pretend to be happy.

Step #1  What is your wish list for celebrating the holidays?  Do you find yourself disappointed when the holidays don't turn out like you want?

True story.... my husband and kids had no idea about my expectations for Mother's Day.  So they never quit turned out like I wanted.  I expected breakfast in bed and that never crossed his mind and the kids were very little.  Once I shared my expectations, he was happy to meet my expectation.  I'm sure many of you can relate.

Your partner was raised by different people with a different view of life.  If you never share your expectations or wishes, they wont know because most people are not great mind readers.

Make a clear decision about what you want.  It does take away a lot of stress.  Decide how you will spend your time and resources.

Step #2 Evaluate last year.  What did you LOVE and what did you just hate?  What new traditions do you want to create or what did you dread?  I use a Christmas notebook to help plan and evaluate.

Step #3 Why do you want to change?  What do you want to change?  What is 1 small change that you can do to bring a lot more peace and happiness?KISS

Step #4 KISS Keep it simple and keep it special.  If you learn the KISS rule, it is like a magic wand to help you transform the holidays.  KISS = Keep It Simple and Special.

Step #5 Plan ahead and budget. It will help you spend less and you'll be able to clearly see where you need to cut back.  A budget really makes a difference especially if you plan ahead and save.  Setting aside money each money to celebrate holidays, special occasions and birthdays helps with the shock of it all at once and it makes it easier to follow your plans.

We even provide a service at our store to help shoppers - especially grandparents.  You provide a budget and a list of people your shopping for and we stay in your budget and pick out wonderful gifts items for you.  For many this helps with planning and budgeting.

Our absolutely favorite budget tool is called YNAB, You Need A Budget. Click here for a link with a discount if you want, or try a free trial.  I consider myself to be good at budgeting, and I absolutely love this software.

Step #6 Prioritize.  What is most important to you?  When your planning and budgeting, it is important to know what is most important.  Who is most important for spending your time and resources with?
holiday shopper with gifts caminoel by freedigitalphotos.netStep #7 Enjoy each and everyday now that you have a plan.  Don't forget that during the December holidays and many other celebrations, JOY is the reason we are celebrating.

Step #8 Take care of your health.  After Halloween there is a noticeable rise in sickness.  One reason for that is all the extra candy and junk food.  So don't completely step away from all your good habits.  Enjoy the celebrations, but don't make it a season of just eating terribly.  Try to maintain some good habits and you'll enjoy the holidays more.  There is nothing worse than feeling sick when everyone is getting together for a celebration.

Follow the simple basics.

  • Drink your water.
  • Keep eating the good, healthy foods.
  • If you want the treats, counter balance that with your healthy balanced meals.
  • Keep exercising.  It boosts moods and helps improve your immune system.  Walking has a tranquilizing effect on the brain and can help with anxiety and sleep.
  • Get your rest.  It is normal to want to sleep longer in the winter, that is the natural rhythm of the body.
  • Laugh and have fun.
  • Check out our boards on Pinterest.  We have saved some healthy dessert ideas.
  • Take your vitamins and use essential oils to help prevent sickness.  For sure take your vitamins all winter.
  • Boost your mood with Vitamin D from sunlight or take a supplement if needed.  Our favorite is Cod Liver Oil with Butter oil.
  • Avoid over-eating.  Make smaller meals, prepare your favorites over several days instead of trying to eat it all in 1 day.

Step #9 Wrap up and repeat.  Get rid of clutter and broken decorations.  Make notes of what went well.  Start the plan for next year.

Ideas and Tips

  • Hand out non-candy surprises for Halloween.
  • Before Trick or Treating or other Celebrations involving lots of desserts eat well.
  • Bring your own dessert to events.
  • Make sure you have had your protein needs met before a gathering, you'll have less cravings.
  • Brink a good cup of herbal tea to drink at events or bring tea bags with your choice of sweetener like stevia.
  • Spend more time away from technology, the phone, email and Facebook.  Spend time with real people enjoying the sights, smells and sounds of the holidays and special celebrations.
  • Use citrus essential oils or others that you enjoy to boost your mood.

Do less and enJOY more.

Kally and Mark for webDon't forget to laugh and have a good time.

If you want more tips and stories, tune into the radio show.

Enjoy your holidays and your celebrations.

Mark and Kally

Photo credits:  Stuart Miles, caminoel at Freedigitalphotos.nes

Meaningful and Easy Gift Giving

IMG_6381
Our son Trevor getting a picture of a tiger. He loves tigers. A tiger picture was not on his wish list - but you can see he loved this gift.

The challenge……Give the best gift ever, again for your loved ones and friends.

Gift Giving, do you ever feel that challenge?  I know I used to.  And then I started to get heart-felt gifts from my mother-in-law, and they meant a lot. She gave my daughter some cheap costume jewelry that belonged to her mother.  When I turned 40 years old, she gave me 40, $1 bills.  She bought her favorite game when she was a child and gave it to my son.   That really got me thinking about what the perfect gift is.  She found a card from Mark’s grandmother (who passed away when he was 22 years old) and framed it for him; it even had a long note handwritten to him.

Give fewer gift items.  I know most kids want electronic toys right now.  Give them a gift that is not electronic.  Studies have shown that it is not so healthy for them when they spend more than 2 or 3 hours a day using electronics. Moderation is definitely needed.  Plan ahead and starting thinking about the person you want to give a gift to.  It is a little harder under pressure to find that perfect gift.

Here is what the perfect gift is not:

IMG_6360
She loves crazy fashion. No she didn't have these on her list either - but absolutely loved them.
  • It is not cheap toys that break the next day.
  • It is not always an electronic game or electronic toy.
  • It isn't always something on their list, sometimes especially with kids they don't know what they want.  And they might be pleasantly surprised with one of your ideas.  Others only want, what they want.

Here are some meaningful gift ideas:

  • Gifts that share a part of you with another family member. One year I gave my daughter my jewelry box from when I was a girl.  You can include a new piece of jewelry or an heirloom.

    IMG_6291
    This was not on her wish list, she had not even considered it. But the idea of doing an at home spa day really was exciting - I love that look on her face.
  • A book that was your favorite from your childhood.
  • A favorite toy from your childhood, and the memory that goes with it.
  • Something to stimulate a new interest or hobby.
  • A gift that leads to more learning and exploration is the gift that keeps giving.
  • A craft with a note to complete the project together.
  • Art supplies; a drawing easel, paper, markets, paints, etc.
  • A family gift with a coupon for game dates. Great for kids or friends.
  • Family favorite recipes in a book. You can include tools to prepare the item, or you can include a ready-made meal or dessert from one of the recipes.
  • Family photo album for your kids of all ages, or your parents. We went on a trip away from our kids for 2 weeks, so I made a small photo album for my 2 youngest kids. I took pictures of ourselves and the kids and included other pictures from the past few years.  I didn’t realize what a treasured gift that was.  Now even 10 years later, it is still a worn favorite treasure.  The best part…my youngest was only 2 years old, but she knows why she has it and she still values it.

    IMG_6326
    He is a builder and a book on Lego ideas was a spectacular gift. It wasn't on his wish list and he loved it more than the things he wanted. Rather than a new set of legos, this book helped open a new world of possibilities.
  • A plant for the garden like a new rose bush.
  • A gift that encourages a sport like skates or bike accessories.
  • Give a gift of music. CD’s, iTunes gift card, a musical instrument, music lessons or new music to play.
  • Puppets are a timeless gift. We sell a variety of puppets. It was a toy that was played with by my children from toddlers to adult.  We told stories with the puppets, they acted out plays with the puppets, they talked to the puppets and they talked back, and they entertained others.  It is a very interactive gift.
  • Give a membership to a zoo or museum. That actually was a past favorite of my children.
  • Give a gift certificate to a toy store and a shopping trip with it that includes lunch. Quality time and a quality gift that they get to pick out.
IMG_6417
He loves music and a piano keyboard belt really nailed a perfect gift for him. Also, not on his list.

Need some more ideas?  Check these 26 gift ideas out.

If you can’t or don’t have time to shop for your loved ones, we can do the shopping for you.  No matter the time of the year or the occasion, if you give us a budget and information on the person you’re shopping for, we’ll take care of it for you.  We will even gift wrap and ship if needed.  We have many happy customers that take advantage of this FREE service year after year.  We even remember who and what you got in previous years so we don’t re-give the same gift.

Come to Indigo Mountain for all your gift-giving needs.  We sell online and at our location on Main St. in Safford, AZ.  You can’t go wrong with a gift from a toy store!

Do you have some favorite tips?  Please share with a comment below.

Photo credits:  Keerati  at freedigitalphotos.net

Picking the Best Toys – Gifts for Children

Puppet Theater
With an infinite list, it seems, of choices to choose from; how do you pick the right gifts for children?  Today we'll discuss the pros and cons of electronics verses more traditional toys and gifts.  Check it out.

Play is very important in all aspects of your child's growth, and toys are really part of developmental learning.  It is rumored that Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, didn't let his kids play with iPads.   So tune in for an interesting discussion and learn about some ideal gifts for children.

When selecting from the overwhelming choices of toys in today's marketplace, we have some great tips. Look for toys that:

1. Foster learning and open-ended play. Toys that come with all the bells and whistles often fill in the blanks that your children's mind could be filling in and imagining.

2. Provide endless play.  Studies show that when a toy has particular functions, they will not be creative with it. Quality toys will grow with the child.

3. Will last forever (or at least one childhood). Flimsy plastic toys break. Kids can be rough and should be. Solid wood toys can last for decades.

4. Ditch the batteries and cords. Electronics have their place in our world, but it's not on the toy row. Quit ignoring all the studies and do your kids a favor, limit or completely eliminate electronics.

5. Don't worry about the gender. The giant wooden kitchen and dollhouse in our retail store are popular with both boys and girls. Boys eat in kitchens and live in houses, too. Girls like to construct and have a good sword fight occasionally.

6. Pick age appropriate. Don't rely on the government approved age stamped on the packaging, those are for safety, not playing.Art Easel

Here's some ideas for age appropriate toys:

Infants - safe stuffed toys, things they can reach for, shake, make noise, and stick in their mouth, unbreakable mirrors.

Toddlers - things to pretend with (dolls, telephones, puppets), things to create with (non-toxic washable crayons and markers), picture books.

Pre-School - things for problem solving, building, dress-up, musical instruments.

girl recieving gift Stuart Miles by freedigitalphotos.netMost importantly, parents need to spend time playing with their children. You can't sit down and bury your face in email or Facebook and expect your children to remain content playing with themselves without an electronic babysitter.

We opened our toy store and wellness center with a goal in mind, to help individuals and families life a more joy-filled passionate life with good health and vitality. We are toy experts and can help you find real toys that inspire creativity and imagination and are really quite fun.

Feel free to contact us for toy ideas, that is what we do. Our store is a virtual laboratory to observe children playing every day.

Kally and Mark for webWhat was or still is your favorite toy?

Do you have tips for getting your children off technology and playing with toys?

Let us know - we want to hear from you!

Have a wonderful holiday season.

Mark and Kally

Our latest episode on the Get Real! with Mark and Kally:  Picking the Right Toy for Your Children

Mother’s Day Ideas, Celebration & Gifts

Many people have mixed feelings on Mother's Day.  Some have passed on, others don't have a good relationship with their mother or don't even know who she is, and some have an amazing relationship with their mother.   What ever your situation, I hope you will keep reading for some Mother's Day Ideas.

Mother's Day was originally celebrated in 1908 to honor mothers and motherhood. 

We all have a mother - someone that gave birth to us.  And sometimes that is all she was capable of doing at the time.  In those cases, be grateful for the gift of life from our birth mother.  

Happy Mother's Day

To all mothers and in honor of motherhood. 

It is said that love heals and gratitude teaches the lesson.  We can choose to live life in pain or live life abundantly in love.  It is our choice, no matter where we come from or how we got here.  The quality of our life is OUR responsibility and not our mother's.  They may control some aspects of our life, and they can influence us for sure.  But, we choose from our heart how we will live.  

Whether you are religious or not, the following sentiment can be found in many teachings.

"As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he."

In your heart find love and gratitude for whatever your mother was able to do for you and for the very ideal of motherhood.  We all express love in the only way we know how.

Disappointment comes because of what we believe should have happened.  Disappointment is an emotional response to expectation.   When you drop the expectations and the woulda, coulda, shoulda; you are able to be grateful just for what you have.  

][Kally with her Mother, Sister, Grandmother and son, Daniel]

I have many mother figures in my own life.  The woman who gave birth to me and raised me; my step-mother; teachers in church; the mothers of my friends; my 2 wonderful grandmothers; aunts and my mother-in-law.  They have honored me with their examples and love. 

Here are some Mother's Day Ideas

  • Write yourself a letter of gratitude for all the mothers in your life and share your feelings about motherhood.  Tuck this away and add to it each year or record in a journal.
  • Write your children a note about being their mother and how honored you are.Photo thanks to freedigitalphotos Stuart Miles
  • Send the mothers in your life a letter of love and gratitude.
  • If your mother has passed on, you can still write her a letter and keep it for yourself.
  • If you don't know your mother, write a note of appreciate and keep it for yourself.
  • Journal about what motherhood means to you.
  • Create a memory jar and fill it with memories of your mother to give her.
  • Create a memory jar and fill if with your memories of being a mother for your family to enjoy all year.   Put some favorite quotes in as well.
  • Make a coupon book for your mom.  You can give her one whether you live at home or not.  I know my mother-in-law appreciates the time taken to help around the house, clean up her computer, teach her how to better use her computer, time just to visit in person or over the phone and she really likes to make us meals so taking the time to visit means a lot to her.
  • Get a nice journal book for your mom, leave it blank or add your thoughts.  In the front section share your feelings.  You can also put your memories on a half a page, and leave the other half blank for your mom to fill in her thoughts of those memories.
  • Give questions to answer in a journal book or on strips of paper in a jar.  Here are 20 excellent ideas.
  • Give your mom a list of things you learned from her and/or her favorite sayings (whether or not your mom is living, it is a nice keepsake).
  • List out why she is special (whether or not your mom is living).
  • A beautiful tea cup with some nice teas.  You also give her a coupon to enjoy tea with your mom.  You can include a decorative tea strainer or a nice tea pot.
  • Do you have a garden, giver her some garden treats.
  • You can plan ahead for next year, but I planted yellow roses for my mom - her favorite to give her roses on Mother's Day.
  • Rather than cut flowers, give her a potted plan or a flowering plant like orchids.
  • Does your mom love to read?  Books are wonderful treat.
  • Share your personal hopes & dreams, desires, and goals.  After all she raised you and might be interested.
  • Essential oils for a wonderful scent or for healing uses.  Need some ideas, contact us at Indigo Mountain and we can help you.
  • Help mom with a big project.
  • Salt Lamps
  • Natural Facial Care Kit
  • Spa Kit
  • Nikken magnets
  • Nikken water filtration system
  • Foot soaking bath and accessories
  • A fun little project making picture magnets or Instragram Magnets

You don't have to spend money on your mother for her to be appreciated.  If you need some ideas and quotes, check out this site.

Being a mom can be challenging at best.  From giving birth, diapers and feeding, sleepless nights; to the joys and sorrows of motherhood.  Many feel that the job of a mom is not important, yet I feel that it is the most important job on the planet.  It is often a thankless job.  We help shape brilliant minds and then wipe their behinds all in the same act.  It is a job I struggled with as I looked for myself under the diapers and toys.  It is a job I have come to love more than any as I now see my children growing up and starting their own lives and I not ready for that.  I love and appreciate hand prints and dirty clothes all over the floor.  I cherish each and every moment of being a mom.  Of all the jobs I have held in the workplace and even owning my own business; the calling of motherhood is the most challenging and the most rewarding.  I wasn't prepared to be a mother, I don't know who is.  I had ideas of what that would be like.  Then when my oldest son 25 years ago was placed in my arms, everything changed.  I knew that I would happily die for this small creature and I would love him forever.  Each time I brought a new baby into this world, I felt the same.  

I love all 7 of my children and many more that I have mothered along the way from here to the moon and beyond - until infinity.  Kally Efros

M-O-T-H-E-R

"M" is for the million things she gave me,
"O" means only that she's growing old,
"T" is for the tears she shed to save me,
"H" is for her heart of purest gold;
"E" is for her eyes, with love-light shining,
"R" means right, and right she'll always be,

Put them all together, they spell "MOTHER,"
A word that means the world to me.
--Howard Johnson (c. 1915)

Photo by freedigitalphotos Stuart Miles

Other photos are the property of Kally Efros

Plan Ahead for Holiday Stress Relief Tips, Holiday Stress Management, Christmas Gift Ideas

A recent Mattel survey finds that parents experience holiday stress and will spend a full business day Christmas shopping for each child.   Are you still recovering from over spending last Christmas or holiday season?   Are you looking for ways to avoid holiday stress?   We've got some great holiday stress relief tips for you to help you find your way to a more joyful and relaxed holiday season.  

There was a time I had my holiday and Christmas shopping done in October, and holiday cards with pictures were sent to friends and family.  Then life got busier and then I couldn't remember what I had bought and where I put it.  Every year seemed to get a little bit worse.  Seriously, I moved once and found Christmas presents that I never gave - they were hidden and I forgot about them.

So here is what I've learned over the years.

  1. Have a Christmas budget.  Start saving all year.  If you earn some extra cash that you want to use for Christmas, add it to this fund.  I set up a savings account just for holidays and birthdays.  Check out this link for a Holiday Planner.  It is awesome.  If you don't have a holiday budget, no worries - start now.  What can you contribute for September through December.   Don't go into debt to pay for Christmas and don't use January funds to pay off December holiday spending.  Do what you can now to cover your holiday spending.   Seriously this really helps holiday stress management.
    • Avoid overspending during the holidays.  This will cut down on the stress and you will enjoy the season so much more.  When all is said and done the amount of money spent on holiday preparations and gifts pale in comparison to the joy of spending time together.  
  2. Plan Ahead - this will save you time and money.  When you shop intentionally, you save money.  Waiting until the last minute you will buy what you can get your hands on and impulsively.  Another great way to help you with managing your holiday stress.
  3. Make lists.  Write down all the people you want to shop for.  And guess what?  There are apps for this and spreadsheets and so many tools out there to help you get more organized for Christmas.  You don't have to re-invent the wheel.  Your lists should include who you want to shop for, what you want to get done during the holidays, and how you want to celebrate.
  4. Gifts - If you start now thinking of ideas you'll have a better chance at getting the right gifts.  Many retailers put things on sale now.  Watch what people say and are interested for clues as to what to get them.  Write it down - generate ideas.  Talk to their friends.  You'll be amazed at what a little observation will tell you.  If you find that perfect gift - don't wait until December to get it.   Carry your list around with you and write down your ideas.  You never know where that great Christmas gift idea will come from.
    • When planning for this holiday season, you'll naturally generate ideas for next year.  And on December 26th you can start shopping then.
    • Themed gift ideas are nice ideas too.  For example if they have an interest in art, then each gift can have something in common.  
    • Also themed from year to year.  I once won a bet with my father that I could solve a Rubik's Cube in less than 10 minutes.  Well that was the fall.  Guess what I got for Christmas that year - that's right another Rubik's Cube variation.  And every year after that I got another more challenging puzzle to solve.  It kept that memory of winning a bet against my father alive and  not only did I get a cool gift - I got to experience that feeling of winning each year.  My parents had an easy gift lined up for me each year.  I don't remember too many of the gifts I got growing up, but I do remember and will always remember those.  
    • We gave my father-in-law silly dancing figurines.  Well he loved the first one so much, that all during the next year we hunted down another goofy and majorly silly dancing objects and had so much fun doing that - and he really looked forward to what we were going to find.
    • Remember your budget with gifts.  Sometimes money is tight - that is just a reality.  For a special gift one year, we didn't have the money so we made a jar of quotes and memories.  The whole family had a blast doing this.  We typed them up and put them in a decorated jar and gave them to the special person.  They loved it and each day they get to experience that gift over and over.  You can't put a price on that kind of value.  
    • Mark's mother one year gave us a collection of family stories like one that we found out his great grand-father was kidnapped by Indians and had to be traded for blankets and sugar.  We had so much fun that Christmas reading stories.   My father recorded himself reading books to my kids.  They loved that!  They got to listen to papa - who lived far away - reading bed time stories.  My mother made me a small quilted blanket for my dolls from old scraps of material.  It is still one of my treasured items.
    • Wrap gifts as you buy them or plan a night to wrap gifts.  We started planning a night a week before Christmas that we watched a movie we had already seen (so we didn't have to pay attention to closely) and made a fun night of wrapping - no stress as Christmas was still a week away.  I spent too many years being awake all night trying to figure out how to assemble something or ran out of wrapping paper or whatever and then getting 2 hours of sleep.  
  5. Make a list of what you want to get done during the holidays - and be realistic.  Do you want to send out Christmas cards?  Go on vacation?  Decorate your house?  There are no rules - it is just up to you.
  6. Now that you have a list - get help from those around you.
  7. Some of the greatest advise I got - 'Have a cut off point'.  You have to decide when you will stop preparing and start celebrating.  Stick to it.  
  8. How do you want to celebrate Christmas and the holidays?  This is real important and it is totally up to you.  Imagine right now how you want to feel on that special day no matter what holiday your celebrating.  Who do you want around you?  Really connect to that feeling.  Is is joy?  Is it excitement?  Is it peace?  Whatever it is - write that down.  Describe your day.  Right that down.   Now start working on your lists.  Do the 2 add up?  Do you lists look like they will take you to the description of that day?  If not spend some time fixing that.
    • Create memories and traditions
    • Do something out of the ordinary and different.  It will keep everyone talking about it all year.

No one said you had to bake, send cards, make homemade gifts, decorate your house, and all that jazz.   So if you don't want to or don't have time, then don't.  One year we moved right on Thanksgiving.  We had to settle and eat in a hotel for Thanksgiving dinner I didn't have a house.  I was disappointed at first.  Turned out - it was one of the best Thanksgiving days ever.  No stress - no baking - just family time and enjoying our new community.  Take some control back with these simple holiday stress management ideas.  

So start now planning ahead just a little at a time.   You'll be so glad you did.  Remember step #8 - think about your special day and you'll get there.  Plan ahead using these holiday stress relief tips for a more peaceful and relaxing season.

One of the reasons we opened Indigo Mountain:  Wellness, Toys & Gifts was to help others enjoy Christmas and Holiday shopping a little more.  We had a hard time finding good gifts for our kids and wanted to open a toy store that had just what we were looking for.  So now we have our own specialty toy store.  If you don't want to spend 8 hours or more shopping for each kid on your list, contact us.  Whether you come in person to our store or call us over the phone, Mark is our Toymaster and he can help rescue you.  He'll help you with a budget and go through what we have available in our store and through all our catalog sources.  We have kids of all ages, 7 of them now aged 25 to 9 years old with 4 boys and 3 girls.  We've got you covered. Your shopping advice and help is FREE.  So take advantage of the unique shopping experience only an experienced dad and toymaster can offer.  You can also schedule some time with Kally for your personal coaching session for managing holiday stress.  Many have and are very happily planning for the holidays this year.

Connect with me on Facebook and let me know how you are doing.  Leave a comment below if you have a super duper holiday stress relief tip or a great way you plan on managing holiday stress. 

Joyfully - 

Kally and Mark

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