Beyond Words

Words, Wit and Wisdom for Today's Style and Decision Makers

Time For A Little Group Hygge December 27, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 8:58 pm

Today I attended a workshop where the leader asked us to think about and share special things from the holidays. One woman raised her hand and said “Singing in three separate candlelight ceremonies.” Another mentioned spending time with family and yet another was grateful for being invited to dinner at her neighbor’s, whose home and table setting were “straight out of Southern Living magazine.” Me? I shared that what made this past Christmas so special and memorable was that it was simple and simply quiet, real and really relaxing. All was calm and all was bright. Just the three of us chilling, eating what we don’t normally eat, and binge watching “The Crown.” After the discussion, the leader brilliantly pointed out that not one of us mentioned any gifts we got. Not one. What does this tell us? A whole lot.



It all related beautifully to her word of the workshop: hygge. This Danish concept is all about slowing down and savoring the moments while making the ordinary extraordinary and the normal special. Pronounced “hoo-gah,” it’s a word and philosophy we could all use in our lives and it should come as no surprise that we can thank the Danes for it.


Year after year Denmark ranks as the “happiest country in the world” and according to this year’s World Happiness Report, it is still among the top three although Finland and Norway are now 1 and 2. Still, Danes have held the distinction for seven straight years so these Lego loving Scandinavians must know something about how to be happy, and can’t be all hype or hygge.


But first, how do all those happy experts come up with their happiest results? By measuring objective data on things like crime, income, civic engagement, education, and health as well as subjective indicators like how often someone experiences positive or negative emotions, their sense of freedom, and even levels of generosity. This year’s top five countries are Finland, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, and Switzerland. The U.S. ranked 18th.



Denmark consistently boasts a stable government, low levels of public corruption, high-quality health care and education opportunities, and generous unemployment and child care benefits. But, it also has some of the highest taxes in the world (nearly half of every Dane’s income goes to the government), one of the world’s highest rates for electricity, extremely expensive gasoline, and up to 180 percent of the value of an automobile goes towards a registration tax. Maybe that’s why they ride bikes everywhere!


But, as Meik Wiking of Denmark’s Happiness Research Institute says, “We are not paying taxes. We are investing in our society and we are purchasing quality of life.” Again, great for a country of less than 6 million people but try selling those tax, electric, and gas rates to 325 million Americans; especially considering the lack of trust we have in those who would be handling any socialized programs.




In researching this topic, what struck me as most impressive about the Danes is that they trust each other. They really trust each other. In fact, nearly 80 percent of Danes say they trust most people and most don’t ever lock doors. This fact was discovered by Helen Russell who wrote a book I’m dying to dive into entitled “The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country.” Russell writes that yes, the country’s small population and cultural homogeneity have lots to do with this trust, but so does the fact that the trait is taught in schools and then learned and realized through everyday interactions with trustworthy people and institutions.


Unfortunately in America this is not the case. It’s no secret our overall levels of trust are dramatically declining – whether it be with our neighbors, coworkers, media, or government – Americans for the most part are today living in a fairly distrustful state. We don’t know our neighbors, we don’t trust the media, and as for the government? Yeah, not happening.


But how can this be, aren’t we the richest country in the world? So shouldn’t we be the happiest? Apparently not. In the U.S. we generally align happiness with income but the Danes have learned that having someone you can rely on and trust is way more valuable than more money and more things. Genius, right?



This explains something else I found intriguing about the Danes: they don’t brag or boast. Ask my daughter what her mom cannot stand and she’ll say “someone who is sneaky, phony, or braggy.” Maybe I should move to Denmark, as they live by an unwritten law called “Janteloven” based on a 1930 novel that instills a spirit of “don’t act like you’re better, smarter, or richer than anyone else.” Can I get an Amen?! Don’t be taking your mega-mansions, expensive cars, or Birkins to Denmark as you won’t see them living in them or driving them and Danes in general dress very informal. Now granted, some of this has dwindled in and around Copenhagen, but to the average Dane, your hygge is way more impressive than your Hermes.


Which takes us back to hygge, a word even the Oxford Dictionary added last year and says can be used as a noun, adjective, or verb. Often described as “cozy,” a more accurate translation would be “high-quality social interactions and intentional intimacy.” In Denmark, hygge is fully integrated into all areas and levels of Dutch society and culture and is considered paramount to happiness and an overall sense of well-being. It also counteracts stress, often resulting in a “glass half full” and “can do” attitude.  And, the concept is catching on globally.


Although we in America don’t have a linguistic equivalent of hygge, many other countries do and most of them rank high on happiness lists. No surprise there, right? The word and philosophy are also trending on Instagram and Google, and visit any online or retail bookstore and you’ll find hundreds of book titles dealing with it.



At its core, hygge is about building closeness and trust and based upon the idea that if you’re happy you make better choices and vice versa. You could say hygge is a little like a hug and when all is said and done, is basically a “feel good” mood. So when you think about what made your holidays special, what comes to mind? My hope is a whole lot of hygge.






Growing Christmas, One Plant at a Time December 24, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 12:44 am

If there’s one thing that screams “Christmas,” it’s the bright red of a poinsettia plant. We see them everywhere, from grocery stores to floral shops, but why? Why are they the Christmas plant of choice? And what about that holiday-named Christmas cactus? What’s its story? Let’s find out!


Poinsettias make beautiful additions to any Christmas décor but did you know this unofficial flower of Christmas isn’t really a flower per se? Native to Central America, the colorful parts of a poinsettia are actually the leaves of the plant, with the flowers being the small yellow dots in their centers. And although red leaves are the traditional Christmas choice, white and pink are actually quite popular too. But how and why did they become associated with Christmas?


It all goes back to a Mexican legend that tells the story of a young girl named Pepita and her cousin Pedro who were on their way to church to visit the Christ child on Christmas Eve. The two children couldn’t afford to bring a gift to leave behind so Pepita picked a bouquet of weeds on the way and left them lovingly and humbly in the nativity scene where they soon transformed into beautiful red flowers. From that day on they became known as “Flores de Noche Buena” or “Flowers of the Holy Night.” How they ended up in the U.S. and one of the most treasured Christmas traditions is yet another story with a classic American twist.


Poinsettias get their name from Joel Roberts Poinsett, who was the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico. He brought the plants back home in the early 1800s but they really didn’t become a holiday tradition until a century or so later. That’s when entrepreneur Paul Ecke, Jr. sent free poinsettia plants to TV studios across the country, which later ended up on none other than “The Tonight Show” and Bob Hope holiday specials. The trend caught on and today there’s even a National Poinsettia Day celebrated on December 12, the anniversary of Poinsett’s death.


The beautiful thing about poinsettia plants is they can last forever, even for those whose thumbs are anything but green. In fact, many will keep their foliage well into spring, especially those with lighter leaves.



When you first bring one home and if it has foil, remove the foil so the plant can drain. It’s best to place one on a plate or a saucer and never let standing water accumulate in the saucer. Keep your poinsettia’s soil moist but don’t over water. As for sun, poinsettias do best in somewhat cool but well-lit rooms. If you want to preserve your poinsettia for months to come, cut the plant back to two buds after the last frost and set it in your flower beds or containers on your porch or patio. Wherever you put them, make sure they stay well-drained and get plenty of sun. Keep in mind that in Central America, a poinsettia shrub can grow up to 12 feet tall! Around October, you will want to put the plants in a closet, basement, or anywhere that is light-free for 14 hours a day. Come morning, move them into the light and continue this process for 10 weeks, which should take you right up to the Christmas holidays!


Other ideas for poinsettias include buying several smaller ones to group in your home rather than one big one, and did you know they also make beautiful cut flowers? To do this, after cutting the ends of a stem sear them with a candle to keep the sap from escaping, which prevents the stems from drooping. Place them in a vase with water and check the water level regularly, as they can tend to drink up lots of water! Place them on a table or mantel and take in their long-stem beauty.



Finally, are they poisonous? Long thought to be dangerous for both dogs and children, poinsettias are really only mildly toxic and the “poisoning” quotient they afflict is greatly exaggerated. Here’s what we know: if the leaves are ingested, vomiting often occurs but since it would take a large amount of ingested leaves to be considered truly toxic, they generally don’t lead to poisoning as most animals and kids won’t eat loads of them because of their nasty taste and the unpleasant texture of their sap.


So there’s a “who, what, where, when, and why” on poinsettias, but what about Christmas cactus?



When you think of a cactus you probably think of a desert, but the Christmas cactus is said to have originated in the tropical rainforests of Southern Brazil. These plants often grow on top of other plants and among tree branches and because of their native origins, they thrive in humid conditions. And, these plants with long green arms and a rainbow of flowers can actually last for years. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, when cared for properly, they can live 20 or 30 years!


Known as a Christmas cactus, the plant actually has two cousins – the Thanksgiving cactus and the Easter cactus, which are very similar and get their names mainly from when they bloom. Don’t stress too much about which one you have, just focus on how to care for them.



The photo above is of my dear friend’s stunning Christmas cactus that shows the fruits of proper care. Amazing and beautiful, right?


All Christmas cactus thrive in cooler temperatures so it’s advised you keep them away from heat sources and put them in a cool place away from heaters and fireplaces. They also prefer sunny locations indoors, which can prolong blooms, but at night keep them away from light sources including lamps and overhead lighting. Proper drainage is also key.


Outdoors, make sure the temperature is warm and place them in partially shaded locales. Overwatering, considered watering before the soil is dry, is the main culprit to unhealthy plants. When watering, be conservative and if possible, choose to mist them, which they love. Think rain forest here and you’ll soon see a showy plant with stems arching over the pot’s sides and flowers in colors like peach and orange, as well as the traditional pink and red.


An added bonus to Christmas cactus is that they are easy to propagate. To do so, trim a few segments off a healthy plant and put them in a small pot, preferably with some of the original soil. Care for these new sprouts just like you would the parent plant. The best time to propagate is in the spring.


In many a home it’s just not Christmas without one or more poinsettias and a beautiful blooming Christmas cactus. Now you know why this is and how to ensure your plants live up to their traditions. Have fun and happy growing!






Simple Rules of Etiquette for the Holidays and Every Day December 21, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 2:54 pm

A friend of mine recently shared a post from titled “Little Social Etiquette Rules Everyone Should Follow” and I loved it. The holidays are when we are out in public quite a bit, when we are guests or host them, and when we’re sharing several meals with others. Hence, they are the perfect time to reflect on these simple gestures that everyone, regardless of age or income bracket, should follow and respect.



Say “please” and “thank you.”

It’s really so simple and should be taught at even the youngest of ages. They are truly still the magic words.


Hand write thank you notes.

If a male college graduate who we just celebrated with a mere week ago can manage to write a nice note of appreciation and pop it in the mail, so can you mom-to-be, bride and groom, new mom, hostess with the mostest, or anyone else. NO EXCUSES!  Repeated no “thank you” notes from you? No demonstrated gratefulness? No future gifts from me.


Be on time.

We are all busy, especially this time of year, but your busyness does not justify making people wait for you. What’s most annoying are individuals who are always late. Really people, figure it out. It’s a flaw that needs addressing and it’s just downright rude.


Hold the door for the person behind you.

This doesn’t only pertain to men and it’s not about opening a door for someone. It’s making sure the person behind you doesn’t get the door slammed in their face as you get on with your plan. And let’s not forget to always say “thank you” when someone either opens or holds the door for you. Again, magic words people.


Always RSVP.

Tis the season for many an invite and tis the right thing to RSVP to every single one. Even a “maybe” is better than no reply at all and reply ASAP. Don’t keep the host guessing and put yourself in their shoes. Wouldn’t you want to know if five or 50 people were attending your event? Again, no excuses and with so many invitations today coming by way of Evite, it’s as simple as a click to reply. Just do it.


Ask before bringing a guest.

If the invitation reads “Bob and Mary Jones,” Mr. and Mrs. Jones should never assume it includes their five kids, no matter how well you know the hosts. Proper etiquette says the names of anyone invited will be on the invitation but when in doubt, ask.


Dress for the occasion.

There’s a fashion saying in Texas that “you’re never overdressed in Dallas and never underdressed in Austin.” Pretty accurate I will say.  I love to be casual but also enjoy an occasional black tie event and I tend to lean more toward thinking it’s better to be overdressed then underdressed. But proper attire is quickly going by the wayside, which is a problem we recently faced at work. We wanted to encourage parents to dress their kids in what we called “Sunday best,” but quickly realized many no longer bring out their best on Sundays. In a world where athleisure and jeans are the way to go, asking someone to dress up may be met with distaste or tasteless outfits.


I’ll also never forget the time when my daughter was volunteering as a teen Hospitality Minister years ago but was asked to not participate one Sunday because her attire was not approved. She was livid and I couldn’t help but agree with her that yes, they should be glad a teen wants to volunteer in church and that Jesus would not care what she was wearing but only that she was there. At the same time, I reminded her that Jesus knows she had better options at home to choose from!


So please, dress appropriately for the occasion and if you’re not sure what the dress code is, ask. Keep things on the conservative and modest side for funerals and family events and save the leather and lace for the club and New Year’s Eve. And dress age appropriately. Nothing says “tacky” like a grown woman dressing too young. As they say, if you wore it the first time it was in style, when it comes back around, you’re too old to wear it.



Watch your mouth.

There are too many words in the English language to have to resort to those that are offensive, juvenile, or both. So you like to drop the F bomb do you? Great, do it in the privacy of your own home and learn more respectful and intelligent language when in public and in mixed company…especially groups that include kids and elderly. Trust me, no one is impressed by your potty mouth. They’re called “bad” words for a reason. They’re bad English and they’re bad manners. Don’t like this rule? Wise the F up.


Take food and reach out.

This pertains to not only potlucks of course, but to a new neighbor, someone who just suffered a death in the family, or someone who’s been sick or had surgery. Don’t ever pretend you don’t know someone is grieving. In today’s social media world, that is nearly impossible so if you don’t know what to say or do, just say you’re sorry. And remember that if you’re on the receiving end of this gesture, be sure to return any non-disposable containers to their owners and it’s always a thoughtful gesture to return them with something inside…be it brownies or bath bubbles. And at the risk of sounding redundant, send a thank you note when you receive something.


Stay home when you’re sick.

Sharing germs does not qualify as social etiquette and I don’t care how important you think you are, no one is important enough to infect the office, party, or classroom.  Which brings us to…


Catch your sneezes and coughs in your elbow.

Yep, your inner elbow…not your hand or fist. Think about it, when you sneeze into your hand and then touch things, all those germs are now spread onto anything you touch. But, what can you touch with your inner elbow? Nothing, and that’s the point. Just cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough. If you must, think about your inner super hero and grab that cape as you sneeze and cough into your elbow.  Shazaam!


Step outside to take a call.

I rarely answer my phone when I’m anywhere public and if I do, I make it quick and quiet. Take note people, no one wants to hear your conversation and from what I’ve heard in some of them, you shouldn’t want them to either! Yes, I understand you sometimes have to take a call, so when you do, step outside or aside.


Keep the noise down.

Have to take that call? Then please do so quietly. Better yet, excuse yourself and take it privately. Nothing annoys me more than someone yacking away as I’m trying to relax during a mani-pedi appointment. And along these lines, turn your ringer down and silence your text beeps. We know you’re oh-so-important, but no one wants to hear the constant pings as they sit in the cubicle next to you.


Be a lovable house guest.

Your hope is probably to be invited back to wherever you’re staying, so your goal should be to be a good guest. This means making your bed every day, removing bathroom items when not using them, taking your host to dinner, and bringing a “thank you” gift with you upon arrival. The day you leave, remove the sheets on your bed, place the comforter over the mattress, and make a neat pile of the sheets and any towels you used. Better yet, take them to the laundry room if possible. And of course when you return home, mail a thank you card to your host.


Clean up after yourself.

Housekeeping only comes in hotels so unless you’re in one, it’s your responsibility to clean up your messes and put away your things. This is especially true when you’re a guest in someone’s home but it also pertains to your own home . What about at work? You, it’s all on you. Throw those wrappers away, put those office supplies back where you got them, and wipe down what you dirty.


Never show up empty handed.

What you take doesn’t need to be fabulous or personal, it just needs to be. Anytime you attend something in someone’s home, a hostess or housewarming gift is appropriate and appreciated. And guess what, if you receive them what do you need to do? Mail thank you notes!


Let someone go in front of you in line.

If you have a basket full of items and the person behind you only has a few, let them go first. If you’re mailing a truckload of packages and someone is merely dropping off a postage-paid item, step back and let them go ahead of you. Trust me; they will remember your kindness and hopefully pay it forward.



Wait for everyone to be served before eating.

Not one bite people; not one nibble. I have heard a rule that if the party is six or more, those who get their meals first can start while the food is hot, but I’d play this one by ear.


Be a polite dinner guest.

We get it, you’re living a gluten-free vegan life, but unless you have true allergies, we really don’t care and don’t care to hear about how unhealthy the rest of us are. That being said, if you are allergic to a food being served, simply and politely say so but if you just don’t care for an item, be polite and quietly move it around your plate. Whatever the case, never ever expect the host to prepare a special meal for you.


Remember your table manners.

This includes being polite about what’s being served, but it’s also about not talking with food in your mouth, chewing quietly, using your napkin that stays on your lap and is folded nicely when you leave, and sit up straight.


Push your chair in when you leave a table.

Simple, right? But I challenge you to pay attention here on out and notice how many people don’t do so…whether it’s in a five star restaurant or a dive bar.


Learn people’s names.

Hand up here, as this is truly one of my weaknesses. Try as I may, and I’ve tried every so-called no-fail trick in the book, and I am still horrible with names.  It’s gotten to the point that when I meet someone new, or someone again for the second or 200th time, I jokingly admit that I’m bad with names, almost apologizing before I call Wendy “Megan” the next time I see her.


Look people in the eyes.

Who doesn’t love this, right? Look up from your smart phone, listen to what someone is saying, and even look them in the eye when toasting.


Shake hands firmly.

Have you ever shaken hands with someone and it was that awkward “bent hand half shake?” Ick, right? Man up everyone and shake firmly.


Take your shopping cart to the corral.

No my friends, rain or shine snow or sleet, the front or side of a parking space is not the proper place to leave your cart. There’s really no excuse for doing so, as parking lots today generally have “cart corrals” up and down every aisle. Get your steps in and do the right thing…and push your cart to the end.


Give people a pass.

You really don’t know why the waitress was rude or why a driver cut you off so give them a pass. Maybe they just learned a loved one died. Maybe they were late to a meeting that would determine getting a much-needed job offer. Be nice and be forgiving.


Ask before posting.

How many times have you seen a posted photo of someone who looks great in the shot but everyone else looks not so good? Even if the whole group does look presentable, always ask all of them if it’s okay to post the pic…unless you’re under the age of 30 because everyone in that age group posts everything and anything. Also, don’t over-tag people. I rarely tag anyone because I figure if they want the pic or post, they can simply save it or screenshot it.


Don’t reply right away to an unkind message.

I know, it’s hard. Someone emails or texts you something insulting, rude, or just mean and what do you want to do? Go right back at them. But don’t. Breathe a little and wait a day before responding. You will thank your cool head in being the bigger person and they might even apologize during those 24 hours of silent ghosting.


Clean up after your pet.

Here’s how it works pet owners: your dog poops anywhere that’s not your property and you scoop it using a plastic bag that you wrap around your hand, scoop the poop, pull the bag down over your hand and said poop, and tie a knot in it. Then, proceed to toss the bag in an appropriate receptacle. I love dogs, but I hate when I see random poop somewhere that a dog owner didn’t pick up. It’s not okay.


Use turn signals.

Lots of cars out there this time of year, and who doesn’t know this????? Are you going to turn? Then use your turn signal! Easy-peasy please!


Wash your hands.

Remember the Seinfeld episode where  Poppie didn’t wash his hands before making Jerry’s pizza dough? Well, that’s how most people feel if you don’t wash your hands after using the restroom. I don’t care if you touched very little, you touch enough and need to wash your hands. And wash them before eating and after blowing your nose for that matter.


Let people off first.

Getting on an elevator or train? Let those coming off of either exit before you enter.


Don’t groom in public.

Please don’t brush your hair, floss your teeth, or put on make-up in public, especially at a table. Reapplying a quick swath of lipstick maybe, but pulling out a compact and mirror? No, just no.


Return and reply.

This applies to texts, phone calls, and emails. If someone takes the time to message you, call you, or leave you a voicemail, you need to make the time to reply and reply promptly.


Say I’m sorry.

Learning to say you’re sorry is one of the hardest things to do for some and one of the earliest lessons little ones should be taught.


Teach your kids good manners.

I love that my school offers an afterschool manners class as it’s never too early to teach good manners. Teaching is all well and good, but so are good role models. Parents and teachers: lead by example. At all times.


So there you have it; the dos and don’ts of social etiquette. Do you have any to add? Please share!










Gifts That Give Back December 18, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 2:20 am

Christmas is now mere days away, but time is nothing in today’s world of prime and express shipping. And of course there’s always brick and mortar stores. Are you still looking for a gift for that person who has everything or that family member who is hard to buy for? Well maybe you should consider doing business with any number of “one for one” companies.


Say what?


In a word: TOMS. You know those comfy, casual, and a tad crunchy for some slip on shoes? I love them and have many pair. I also love that every time I buy a pair, someone somewhere gets a pair for free. That’s the “One for One” business model and it was basically invented by TOMS Founder Blake Mycoskie.  His simple idea has grown into a global movement of helping a person in need with every product purchased and what better way to spread the holiday spirit than by giving…and giving twice?


These for-profit businesses are also charitable without asking for donations. It’s all revolutionary and highly successful, with TOMS shoes alone providing more than 86 million pairs to children worldwide. On top of that, TOMS Eyewear has restored sight to more than 600,000 people and TOMS Roasting Company has helped provide more than 600,000 weeks of safe water just in the last four years.


So what can you do? You can shop TOMS or any number of companies who give back when you give. Here are just a few examples:



This Dallas-based nonprofit’s mission is “Give Poverty the Boot,” and they back it up quite literally by donating a brand new pair of rain boots to those in need every time you purchase a pair of their rain boots. So why rain boots you ask?


Roma Boots believes that if your basic needs aren’t met, then your higher needs can’t be met and shoes are important tools to fulfilling many a basic need. Children in need often lack proper footwear, leaving their feet exposed to harsh weather as well as cuts, bites, infections, and parasites. Roma Boots chose rain boots because they provide protection from all of that and because they are a necessity in cold and wet climates but can also be worn in dry and arid climates.


You really can’t go a day without seeing someone in a stylish pair of rain boots so why not take the right step and make your next purchase a pair of Roma Boots?



Many medical professionals in resource-poor areas don’t have access to basic medical supplies, including sanitary clothing. In fact, many perform life-saving procedures in jeans and t-shirts. Enter Figs Scrubs’ “Thread for Thread” initiative.


For every pair of scrubs bought through the program, Figs will provide antimicrobial scrubs to health care providers worldwide. So far, the company has donated thousands of scrubs in more than 35 countries and looks to continue doing so through generous customers’ buying habits.


Yes, I know scrubs aren’t the most sought after or longed for Christmas gift, but maybe you can make them special by ordering a themed pair for that nurse or doctor in your life. Or how about buying a bundle of them for that new med school graduate in the family? Think of the lives you might save!



This one is an idea right after my own “loves real books” heart and it’s simple: every time you purchase a book on, they donate a book to someone in need. Leave it to two Notre Dame grads to come up with this brilliant idea.


Christopher “Kreece” Fuchs and Xavier Helgesen were sitting around after graduating from Notre Dame wondering what they were going to do with their newly minted degrees that held little promise in a falling economy. They ended up getting jobs tutoring the Fighting Irish football team and ran with an idea they put together after seeing so many textbooks going unused or being discarded.


Fast forward a few years and you’ll find them behind a business model that made “cents” and was environmentally friendly: keep books out of landfills, sell some, and donate others. They partnered with libraries, held book drives, and even won a business plan competition at their alma mater.


To date, Better World Books has raised millions of dollars for literacy, saved millions of books from landfills, created jobs for hundreds of people, and has provided books to millions who might otherwise not have them to read. The hope is to continue saving literacy and the planet and the company is happy to note the rest of their story is still being written.



The Twice As Warm Project has one simple goal: provide new winter clothing items to people in need. Specializing in gloves, hats, scarves, and tops, TAW creates high-quality, made in the USA products that keep you warm and spread warmth to others. Each purchase you make provides a new clothing item to someone through the “Wear One, Give One” option. In addition, the same items are given to local shelters and organizations in need of warm winter clothing for their clients.



So you’ve probably heard or seen the ads for these socks, billed as the best socks ever. They might very well be fabulous to wear, but what’s also fabulous is that for every pair you purchase, Bombas donates a pair to someone in need. So far, the company has donated nearly 13 million pairs of socks.


It all started when founders heard that socks are the number one most requested clothing item at homeless shelters and knew they had to do something. They got cracking on creative marketing campaigns knowing full well that the more socks they sell, the more they can donate.  Social media and advertising were buzzing with a new word: bombas. And rightly so.


Derived from the Latin word for bumblebee, Bombas is not only the company’s name but its inspiration. You see, bees live in a hive and work together to make their world a better place. They’re small but their combined actions have a big impact on the world. That’s why the company is named what it is and why its mantra is “Bee Better.”


The sock company has taken things a step further so to speak, in that they don’t donate the same socks you and I might buy, but ones specially designed for homeless shelters and the homeless population. Specially engineered scokcs were created to specifically meet the needs of people who don’t have the luxury of putting on a clean pair of socks every day. An anti-microbial treatment ensures they don’t need to be washed as often and reinforced seams and darker colors give them greater durability with less visible wear. I’d say this alone qualifies as being better.



Water, water everywhere. At least that’s what it seems like on a daily basis as water bottles are everywhere you turn. I carry one with me almost at all times and it’s not uncommon to see others doing the same. So, rather than buying a reusable bottle from just any place, why not do so at


For every product you purchase, whether it is a reusable water bottle or a water filter, a school child somewhere receives safe water for an entire year. In fact, the LifeStraw team is committed to redefining the safe drinking water space through technology, innovation, and product quality and design. Drink up, but do so in a way that helps others.



I recently discovered this company by accident when I bought a couple of Christmas presents that benefitted The Animal Rescue Site. Come to find out the site is part of Greater Good, which provides easy online ways to help people, pets, and the planet.


Since its launch, Greater Good has contributed more than $50 million to charities worldwide in addition to more than $175 million in cash and in-kind grants to partners across the globe. The group believes in paying a fair market wage and gives preference to products made in a sustainable fashion or by fair-trade collectives. They will not do business with those who engage in child labor, coercive manufacturing environments, or treat animals inhumanely.


Their partners include:


Some donate a percentage of purchases and some participate further through “one for one” programs. Past projects have addressed a wide range of vital needs including disaster relief; food and care for people and animals; providing mammograms and related support to women; funding research in the areas of autism, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and breast cancer; preserving and reforesting threatened habitats; and providing scholarships and new books to children.



Here’s one that’s near and dear to my heart. It’s not a company that gives the “one for one” option, but it gives. And gives big.


Anyone who knows me knows my husband and I love Costa Rica. We go there every year and come home each time more and more in love with the country and the people who live by the slogan “Pura Vida,” pure life. It’s a philosophy of living life to the fullest and treasuring life’s simple pleasures that permeates the small Central American country that has no military. It’s the Switzerland of Central America and its celebration of life was not lost on two Southern Californians who saw it, felt it, and started a company that embodies it.


Griffin Thall and Paul Goodman visited Costa Rica as a graduation gift in 2010 and crossed paths with two bracelet makers who created beautiful artistry yet lived in poverty. Griffin and Paul asked them to make 400 bracelets to take back with them to California, which they sold in a small, local boutique. The bracelets immediately sold out and the two knew they were onto something bigger and greater.


Today the bracelets are worn by millions around the world and artisans now span the likes of Costa Rica, El Salvador, India, and places in between. Every Pura Vida bracelet is handmade with quality and care and the artists making them can now depend on a steady income and positive working environments.


The company partners with nearly 175 charities around the world and has donated more than $1.5 million to causes and charities. There are specific bracelets for a host of causes ranging from hurricane relief to baby loss to suicide prevention. The bracelets serve as a reminder that good can come in the simplest form and to slow down and live in life’s littlest moments. I’m a proud supporter of Pura Vida Bracelets.


So there you have it, just a few companies that have made it big but give back in a big way. I know there are many others like them that I’ve left out, so if you know of any, please let me and my readers know. There are never too many opportunities to help those in need and to spread the Christmas spirit every day and every month of the year.


Happy shopping and Happy Holidays to all!