Dec 9

People first, gifts second


November was a crazy month to say the least. Between local elections, major announcements, new buildings, media coordinating and event planning, there’s no doubt the SPR team had its roller skates on as we helped our clients with their myriad communications needs.

When times get hectic, it can become difficult to sort through your thoughts and easy to get caught up in the fast pace and tight deadlines. Thankfully, when we have an overflowing amount of work to do, I not only have an amazing team who helps each other with whatever a client hands us, but I can easily remind myself that putting people first is one of SPR’s core values. It’s at the top of our social contract and part of my thinking process (along with “What would Mary Ann do?”) Both of those thoughts give me even just the few minutes I need to take a step back and realize who is most important in the given situation.

As the holidays come ever closer, and along with them a chaos very much reminiscent of this past November, I thought this would be a good opportunity to remind everyone that people are at the core of the holiday season, not the material items.

So, I came up with a list of ways to help you make sure the people you live, work and play with know that you appreciate them this holiday season without needing to spend some big bucks.


Send a handwritten card

I know Brian shares my love of *the perfect* paper and *extremely carefully chosen* fonts, but I think we can both attest to the fact that actually picking out a card because you know its recipient will think it’s funny, clever or sweet is way better than the massive email. It’s thoughtful and raw, sometimes even messy, which makes it all the more meaningful.

So much of our time around the holidays is spent trying too hard at things that don’t matter — how will my staircase live up to Joanna Gaines’? Will my turkey be the best anyone’s ever had? Did my family photo get enough likes? But a handwritten card allows you to send a personal message, where you can share a memory, a laugh and even tuck away a photo or two.


Donate your time

If you have a favorite nonprofit you’d love to support but perhaps not the funds to donate this year, consider spending a few hours over the holidays to help with the influx of foot traffic. If this season is just too busy, pledge volunteering hours in the new year to help out — believe it or not, nonprofits can always use a hand.

Not only will this time provide personal interactions with those who benefit from the organization, but also a little perspective of what it’s like to do the physical work it takes to make a nonprofit run. A little humility, especially this time of year, can go a long way.


Share a meal

Coming from a very large Italian family, food is definitely my love language. While not always helping my waistline, my culture has taught me how to gather and converse over something as simple as a good meal.

Especially now that people choose to give experiences rather than items, gathering over the dinner table is a great way to spend time with a loved one without worry of breaking the bank for concert tickets or a weekend getaway. Stick to a date, plan which restaurant or home you’ll meet at and make sure to be present while spending time together. In world where we are easily detached from everyone else, spending simple, uninterrupted quality time with someone is definitely underrated.


Be kind to those around you

At the airport. At the mall. At your favorite restaurant. At your least favorite restaurant. In front of your kids. In front of no one at all.

As the most stressful time of the year, everyone can be high strung and worrying about how they’re going to next impress their mother-in-law. This is not the Macy’s shoe saleswoman’s fault.

Waiting in line, not finding your size and misplacing your return receipt are among the million other things on service workers’ minds. It’s most certainly their responsibility to make sure they provide quality customer service, but when you’re screaming in their face about something they never had any control over, you’ll most likely find yourself in a worse situation or cause a 16-year-old to cry in the walk-in-cooler.

Having a bit more patience and being mindful of our, quite frankly, first-world problems, is a huge gift you can give to those who may not be on your Christmas list, but are still deserving of your kindness.


Stay home

Being stuck at home is sometimes the biggest blessing. If you’re snowed in — or not — staying in the house to give yourself a break from the hustle and bustle to binge watch your favorite movies or read that book collecting dust on your nightstand can heal the soul.

Of course, while staying home is certainly a gift for your family, it’s also an important one for yourself. This one keeps you charged for when you have to attend other outings and allows you to be your truest self — even if it means you’re in your pajamas all day and don’t bother to shower. Give yourself this time to unwind and not think about work and the dishes piling up.


Coming from someone who LOVES wrapping and giving presents, the above ideas are not always my first thought, but I’ve found them to be entirely more successful.

Cheers to a wonderful, and hopefully not so stressful, holiday season.

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