7 Unique and Engaging Ways to Give Back this Christmas

‘Tis the season to give. To our family, our friends, our customers. But it’s also the season to give back to those in our communities who are less fortunate.

Giving back is also a terrific way to build camaraderie amongst employees. When everyone works together for the common good, it can create a spirit of generosity and goodwill company-wide.

The good news is that it’s not difficult to spread holiday cheer by organizing an office giving drive. Here are 7 unique, no- or low-cost ideas to get you started:

Lucky pennies

Everyone has pennies lying around…in their cars, their drawers, their purses, their couches. Why not put them to good use by asking employees to bring in their spare change? You’ll be surprised how quickly it adds up. When you’re ready to make your donation, just exchange the coins for a check at your bank.

Coat Collection

For many of us, coats, like coins, have a tendency to pile up through the years. Kids outgrow them. Fashions change. But there are likely many in your community who would be grateful for a warm jacket this winter. Partner with a shelter or school to distribute your donation.

Pet Project

Don’t forget that four-leggers need help, too! Many shelters are especially grateful for donations of warm blankets, toys and treats during the “howliday” season. But be sure to check with them first to find out what they need most.

Cookie Cutter

While most people have the opportunity to take time off during the holidays, this isn’t always so for first responders like firefighters and police officers. Show your appreciation by dropping off some of your employees’ homemade cookies at your local precinct or fire station.

Shelter Me

Women’s shelters and homeless shelters are always in need of personal items like toothpaste, deodorant, lip balm, shampoo, baby wipes, etc. Travel-sized items work well, too.

In the Cards

Imagine how much a festive holiday greeting card would brighten the room of a nursing home resident. Depending on the size of your company, either provide the cards or ask employees to bring in a signed card (or several). Then request that the nursing home distribute the cards to those most in need of a pick-me-up.

By the Letter

Letters of appreciation are always welcomed by our men and women in uniform. But especially at this time of year. A short, handwritten note of thanks is sure to lift the spirits of those away from their families during the holidays. Find more information at Operation Gratitude.

As you can see, it doesn’t have to take much time or money to make the holidays more merry for someone else. But the feeling it will give your employees is priceless!

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Toss the resolutions! Do this instead.

success arrow As the old year comes to a close and the new one approaches, many of us start thinking about resolutions to improve our lives and our businesses. We vow to lose weight, exercise more, make more money, get more customers.

But then what happens? Most of the time…nothing. Studies show that 77 percent of those who make resolutions will not see them through to completion. Worse still, 20 percent of resolutions are broken within the first week of January.

The problem is that resolutions are usually too vague and there’s no real accountability for following through. They also tend to be all or nothing without any room for modification or adjustment.

So what does work?

Goal setting.

Yes, just the words “goal setting” can evoke an inner groan and a roll of the eyes. But the fact is that it works. And not only does setting goals help us achieve more, it makes us happier, too. When we progress toward our goals, it boosts our emotional well-being which, in turn, makes us want to work harder on our goals. Win-win!

However, there are ways to set goals that set us up for greater success. A recent study by Dominican University showed that those who wrote their goals down had a significantly higher success rate than those who just thought about them. In addition, the chances of achieving a goal greatly improved when participants also wrote down action steps, publicly declared their goals and gave weekly progress reports to a friend.

So how do you get started with goal setting? The easiest place to begin is with the SMART method:



Identify exactly what you want to accomplish with your goal. Instead of stating that you want to grow your business, state that you want to grow your business by 10 percent.


Whenever possible, try to quantify your result. In the above example, for instance, you might determine how much you made last year and how much a 10 percent increase would be. Then write down that number.


This can be the most challenging aspect of goal setting. You must be able to identify certain action steps (i.e. increase marketing efforts, cut down on overhead costs, etc.) Remember to make each of those action steps specific as well.

Realistic / Relevant

While your goal should challenge you, it should also be attainable. If your industry is struggling, perhaps 10 percent growth isn’t realistic. But maybe 7 percent is.


Assign a target date for each goal and each action step. Otherwise, there is no real push to work towards your goal.

Remember, those who write down their goals are more likely to achieve them than those who don’t. Consider typing up your goals and action steps, printing them on a colorful border paper and then putting them in a place where you can see and review them every day. And by this time next year, you may be surprised at all you’ve accomplished…without making or breaking a single resolution!

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Small Business Tip #11 – Customer Appreciation

The year is winding down, so get organized! Before you usher in 2015 create a plan-of-action to let to your customers know just how much they mean to you in the new year. Here’s five office staples to keep on hand:

Thank you cards:

Send hand-written notes to your top customers after a large sale or transaction.

Discount postcards:

Need to keep a customer happy? Send them on their way with a unique postcard that entitles them to a personalized discount.

Post-It Notes:

Use these handy sticky paper pads to make notes about which customers to call and email as follow-ups to their latest purchases.


Does your customer seem overwhelmed with options? Offer a simple-to-understand product brochure.

Small gifts:

When you need to close a sale quickly, offer to toss in a few free goodies that coordinate with their purchase.

This week enjoy 30% off all gifts and 15% off Post-It Notes so you can get organized and spoil your best customers. Use code WCRT1214B at checkout to get these great offers!


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Christmas Recognition Tip #11 – Organize the Event

the dundies

Your end-of-year holiday office party is just around the corner. This week finalize the plans and get everything organized. Here’s a checklist to get you started:

  1. Remind employees of the party date and time with an office email.
  2. Verify your order and delivery schedule with the caterer.
  3. Order floral centerpieces or have crafty friends make table decor.
  4. Call the DJ to confirm the musical selections.
  5. Get employee awards and certificates framed and signed to present.
  6. Confirm all details with the venue regarding set-up, event services and clean-up.
  7. Make sure all beverage purchases and hired bartenders are ready.
  8. Scour the closet for a cute party dress, or go shopping!

And of course, order some party gifts for the staff!

This week at Paper Direct, get 30% off all gifts and 15% off Post-It Notes so you can get organized and have goodies to hand out at the party.

Enter code WCRT1214B when you checkout to get these special discounts.


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Christmas Party Planning Tip #11 – Last Minute Checklist

last minute checklist

You’ve collected the RSVPs and the big Christmas party is just around the corner. To make sure you’ve got everything in order take a big breath and go over this task list ASAP!

  • Count the RSVPs one last time and update the caterer with the final number.
  • Make sure the venue’s audio system is compatible with the DJs technology needs. (Speakers, screens, etc.)
  • Ask the DJ for a final set list so you can approve the music.
  • Pick up certificates from the frame shop.
  • Wrap door prizes and employee awards.
  • Rehearse speeches.
  • Give an outline of events to all speakers and presenters.
  • Confirm all details with the party venue including building access times.
  • Write out thank you notes for the vendors.
  • Confirm liquor order and hired bartenders’ schedules.
  • Send a party reminder email to confirmed guests.

Did you forget to order gifts or awards? We’ve got you covered! This week take 30% off all gifts and 15% off Post-It Notes for the party. Use code WCRT1214B at checkout to receive this special discount!


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DIY: Wedding Gown Invitations

These fun DIY wedding invitations are perfect for bridal showers, bachelorette parties, menus or the big day! There are countless color options and paper types you could use to create elegant, earthy or whimsical styles. To learn how to make these fun invites, read on:


Supplies You’ll Need:

Tools to Make Things Easier:

  • Pencil
  • Scissors or hobby knife
  • Paper Trimmer
  • Glue Gun or other paper-friendly glue
  • Word Doc Template (If you want to print details instead of writing)

Let’s Begin! How to Create these Invitations:

  1. Decide now whether you want to hand write these invites out or use the premade Word Doc template. This template contains two text boxes per invitation- one located on the bust of the dress, another on the skirt of the dress. Browse this site for free fonts!
  2. Using a paper trimmer, cut 7 ¼” x 5 1/8” Onyx backers and set aside.
  3. Print Dress Template and cut out. This is only the template so it doesn’t need to be perfect:

DIY Gown invitations Step 1

  1. Trace the cut out onto the plain wedding invites. Again, this doesn’t need to be perfect- enough to see the shape so you can cut.

DIY Gown invitations Step 2

  1. Cut them out! While manual cutting seems risky, the shape of the dress is pretty fluid. I am no master scissorman and had little trouble with it. Once you get in the groove, it’s as easy as wedding cake.

DIY Gown invitations Step 3

  1. Once you have your dresses cut out, you’ll want to decorate them. There are many ways you can decorate including:
    1. Stampers
    2. Rhinestones
    3. Ribbon
    4. Brightly Patterned Paper
    5. Water Color
    6. Shimmer Markers

I used short ribbons and rhinestones which is simple and elegant. To attach these ribbons, use a hot glue gun to dab pea-size dollops onto the dress invitation, securing each side like so:

DIY Gown invitations Step 4

Hint: To make sure each ribbon shows properly, glue with the ribbon going in this direction:

DIY Gown invitations Step 5

  1. After you’ve glued both ribbons in place, add your embellishment. We’ve used a Crystal AB Swarovski rhinestone from Michaels, but you can embellish with whatever you’d like.

DIY Gown invitations Step 6

  1. Finish the invite by gluing the invite (with either hot or glue runner) onto the shimmer onyx paper.

DIY Gown invitations Step 7

  1. Here’s the final invite!

DIY Gown invitations Final

This invitation idea is wonderful because it’s a DIY that looks professional and elegant. Whether you want to use your wedding colors, or go bright pink for a sassy bachelorette party, these invites will remain keepsakes after the wedding festivities are over!

No go, be bold and create your own!

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DIY: The Easiest Wedding Invitations Ever

While there are absolutely stunning wedding invitations you can order from a designer, they can be a bit pricey- especially if you’re have a tight budget or are expecting to send out hundreds of invites. Plus, many of us just love to include a bit of our personality in the invites. After all, DIYing wedding invites can be absolutely gorgeous.

What if you’re not crafty?

While some brides-to-be are amazingly coordinated with a pen in hand, some of us are not! If you still want to attempt DIY wedding invites, we have found a fool-proof way to create beautiful invites! They will turn out something like this:

We know, Cute! How are these easy DIY wedding invites created? We’ll quickly show you how:


Supplies you’ll need:

How to Create These Gorgeous Invites:

Once you have decided upon your wedding wording, simply print your invites at home or at Kinkos. Then you’re ready to begin!

Practice: You’ll want to practice stamping a few times on regular paper. This is good to experiment with colors, pressure, amount of ink and other factors. Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, the rest is easy.

After you’ve master the art of stamping, place your stampers on your wedding invites for sizing and spacing.


Clean your stampers to make sure colors don’t run. Then lay your stamp on whatever ink you’ve chosen and lightly press down.


Transfer the stamp onto your wedding invites, again pressing so the entire pattern or image transfers correctly.

Rinse and repeat!

The nice thing about this simple DIY idea is that you can purchase any type of stamp and pair them with any color of ink. Think of the possibilities! You can create whimsical invites with border stamps, themed invites with fall foliage or snowflakes, or abstract invites with unique patterns and images.

It’s not easy to create DIY wedding invites that actually look good- especially if you’re not exceptionally crafty. Just know that if you can conceive it, you can do it!

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Christmas Recognition Tip #10 – Design & Print

Once you’ve brainstormed a list of employees and awards they should receive, it’s time to get busy. Start designing and printing the certificates. We make this process incredibly simple with our awards templates.

how to download template

Our Templates Are:

  • emailed to you for ease of use
  • compatible with Microsoft Word and Publisher
  • come with preset margins, text boxes, tabs, graphics and borders

To use the templates, simply highlight the sample text and replace it without your own wording. Next, change the font style and size to meet your needs. Finally, do a quick spell check and send the award to the printer. That’s it!

After you print the awards, take the time to write an accompanying thank you note to each recipient. Tell them why they won the award and how thankful you are to have them on your team.

Get started today by ordering thank you cards for 15% off, this week only. Use code WCRT1214 at checkout to get this great offer.

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Small Business Tip #10 – Thank You Cards

Thank you cards

Don’t wait any longer. Tell your customers just how much you appreciate their interest and business. If you’ve never written personal thank you notes to your top clients, do it before the end of the year. We can help you get started!

Writing Thank You Cards to Customers

Remind the Customer

Start with a few sentences about the project you partnered on and refresh their memory of your business and their order. Did you help them with a holiday promotion? Did you solve a problem they were facing?

Express your Gratitude

Your customer could have gone to a competitor, but they didn’t. They chose you. Express a sincere thank you for selecting your services or products. Explain that each transaction is personal and helps you grow as a small business. Thank them for their time and effort to work with you.

Offer additional Assistance

Let the customer know you’ll always be there for them. Remind them of your hours, ways to connect on social media, or if appropriate, how to reach you by cell phone. This will help you stay at the top of their mind next time they need your expertise.

Get started on your thank you notes now! We’re offering 25% off thank you cards this week so you can get busy writing. Snag this great offer by using code WCRT1214 at checkout.

View PaperDirect’s entire small business guide today. 

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Christmas Party Planning Tip #10 – Christmas Playlist

Christmas Playlist

What keeps guests feeling upbeat and jovial at a party? Great tunes!

It’s time to think about a fabulous playlist for the Christmas party. To keep everyone content, choose a mix of classic seasonal songs sung by popular artists. Here’s our favorites.

12 Perfect Picks for Your Holiday Party Playlist

  1. All I Want for Christmas is You ~ Mariah Carey
  2. Do You Want To Build A Snowman? ~ Kristen Bell, Agatha Lee Monn & Katie Lopez
  3. Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree ~ Miley Cyrus
  4. Little Drummer Boy ~ Pentatonix
  5. Underneath The Tree ~ Kelly Clarkson
  6. Joy to the World ~ Chris Tomlin
  7. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – Michael Buble
  8. O Holy Night ~ Celine Dion
  9. Last Christmas ~ WHAM!
  10. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel ~ Sugarland
  11. Run Rudolph, Run ~ Kelly Clarkson
  12. Baby It’s Cold Outside ~ Willie Nelson & Norah Jones
  13. Please Come Home For Christmas ~ Jon Bon Jovi
  14. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – Michael Buble

Listen Here:

Give your DJ this setlist, then ask for extra opinions and professional insight. In the meantime, order thank you cards to give to your vendors at the close of the party. This week only, get 25% off all thank you note cards at Paper Direct.

Use code WCRT1214 at checkout to get this limited-time offer.

Then view our Christmas party guide to plan other aspects of your party!

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