Flowers Make Us Happy

Fragrant Hyacinth
Fragrant Hyacinth

Enjoying spring flowers? Flowers have flourished – their beauty evolving over time  – simply because we like them, says Terry McGuire, associate professor of genetics at Rutgers and co-author of a paper that examines for the first time the whys and wherefores of flowering plants in an evolutionary context.

While flowers originally came on the scene to attract potential pollinators like bugs and birds, it is their appeal to humans that accounts for the incredible variety of shapes and colors we see in domesticated flowers today. McGuire suggests that nature’s prettier flowers got to survive and thrive because people didn’t destroy them when they cleared land for agriculture. Instead, they cultivated them and have been doing so for more than 5,000 years.

Ironically, many domesticated flowers have been so selected by humans that nature’s pollinators – the bugs and birds – no longer find them attractive. So the job of propagating the species depends mainly on us.

A recent article in the journal “Evolutionary Psychology” by McGuire; Jeannette Haviland-Jones, a professor of psychology at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey; and others, states that in spite of some basic survival uses such as edible or medicinal flowers, most flowering plants grown in the flower industry today are not used for any purpose other than emotional satisfaction.

“Our hypothesis is that flowers are exploiting an emotional niche. They make us happy,” McGuire says. “Because they are a source of pleasure – a positive emotion inducer – we take care of them. In that sense they’re like dogs. They are the pets of the plant world.”

Psychologist Haviland-Jones had conducted three studies that tested the ability of flowers to induce positive emotion. The objective was to demonstrate the immediate, long-term and powerful effects of flowers on emotional reactions, mood, social behaviors and even memory in both men and women. The results of these three studies were so positive that the researchers went on to develop the evolutionary emotional niche model.

In the first study, flowers were tested against other gift stimuli, such as a fruit and sweets basket and a large decorative candle. Of the 147 women tested, all those who received flowers responded with a smile; however, there were no smiles from 23 percent of those who got received candles and 10 percent of those who got fruit. The second study involved 122 subjects of both sexes in an elevator. When a person entered, he or she either received a flower, a pen or nothing at all. Again, flowers were the emotional winner with recipients smiling, chatting and standing closer together.

In the last study, florists delivered bouquets to 113 men and women in a retirement community – an environment in which memory is often a personal concern.  All 113 got flowers, some at the beginning of the study with a follow-up bouquet a few days later, some only on the second round and others after the study. Everyone also received a decorative booklet for note-taking.

As might be predicted, the one-bouquet group was happier – more smiles and less observed depression -than those left for last; the two-bouquet folks were happier still. The most profound results appeared when participants were tested for detailed recall of the flowers, booklet decorations and book entries. Flower power again triumphed: Those who received the most and the earliest flowers demonstrated the best memory.

“Flowers have been ignored for the most part in the literature on plants and people,” McGuire says. “Perhaps they have been overlooked because their nature and beauty is so obvious.”

Source: Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey & Bio-Medicine.org

Random Acts of Flowers

Classic Hot Pink Roses
Classic Hot Pink Roses

M.J. Ryan, happiness expert and author of the Random Acts of Kindness book series, has coupled her expertise on the power of gratitude with her love of flowers to create Random Acts of Flowers, a list of her favorite reasons to send a floral gift.

“I see flowers as a way to capture special moments and emotions in life,” says Ryan. “People truly and fondly remember when they get flowers, and you will continue to feel thanked throughout your relationship long after you send them.”

Here are Ryan’s Top 10 Random Acts of Flowers:

One Who Makes a Difference: Think of the carpool mom, scout leader, local volunteer or apartment doorman who makes an everyday difference in your life. A surprise bouquet is a convenient, informal way to say “Thanks for making my life easier.”

Wedding Arrangements: When asking a friend to join your wedding party or expressing thanks to a shower hostess, ask your florist to help make it special by delivering an arrangement in advance of the big day.

Best Friend Boosts: Send a celebrational bunch to a best friend who lands a dream job, a sibling who receives a promotion at work, or a friend who reaches a personal milestone. Show them you care about their success.

A Moment of Calm: Help someone dealing with a hectic time in their life relax with a tranquil gift of flowers. Your florist can give you ideas on soothing colors and styles, and help you deliver that “moment of calm.” The recipient will be impressed by your thoughtfulness.

Life Lessons: Surprise your child’s teacher or tutor with an eye-popping arrangement for his/her desk. Ask your child to put his/her favorite teaching moment on the gift card to make a memory that lasts a lifetime.

Lifeguard Reward: Send flowers to thank your baby-sitter or pet sitter as a surprise thank-you for safely guarding your most prized possessions.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: Welcome a new family or delight an elderly neighbor who does not get out much with a colorful flowering plant or fresh flowers for their kitchen. It’s a great way to break the ice, meet a friend and show you care.

Fresh Squeeze: Don’t wait for Valentine’s Day to say “I love you.” Research shows that people like to receive flowers when they least expect it. Send a surprise floral hug to make your romance spontaneously blossom. Or, on your birthday, send flowers to your mom to thank her for all she’s done for you.

Delivery is in the Details: Show your appreciation to your hair stylist who always manages to fit you in during a pinch, or your doctor who spends those extra minutes to show he/she cares.

Declare You Care: Send a bouquet to celebrate a friend who has recovered from an illness or a new mom on her first day back to work. It will be a beautiful reminder of your support and friendship.

“Flowers are the perfect expression of gratitude and appreciation, and they deliver a message with sincerity and care,” says Ryan. “The new research shows that these positive characteristics also are attributed to the giver. Giving flowers is an act of kindness, and the results are anything but random.”

Everyday Favorite Flowers
Gift Baskets
Plants & Dish Gardens

From The Society of American Florists

Last Minute Romantic Valentine Ideas

Valentine Romance
Valentine Romance
You procrastinated when planning a romantic Valentine’s Day this year?   And now all the best restaurants are booked and the limo services aren’t even answering their phones.  It’s not too late.  Order the flowersToday.  Then plan some quality romantic moments for tomorrow.

Here are five great mix and match ideas for saving yourself and enjoying time with your partner.   Keep in mind that you need to plan an experience, add the element of surprise, and, above all, be totally focused on your dearest.

Enjoy a picnic.  Choose the location.  Your living room floor, your backyard, at the park or public garden, anywhere you can spread a blanket will do.  Choose the time.  Breakfast, which might include your bringing a favorite cereal, bowls, spoons and milk.  Lunch, which can be already put together sandwiches and chips on paper plates with soft drinks.  Or you can order takeout from a favorite restaurant for a dinner picnic and include a bottle of wine and wine glasses.  If it’s late enough, you can lie back on the blanket afterwards and stargaze and talk about life and each other. 

Walk or hike.   Walk downtown and window shop,  holding hands and allowing yourselves a small budget to spend on each other.  See if you can buy something without the other’s knowledge and surprise him or her.   See a matinee or take a local bus tour.    Or, if you have access to wide open country, go for a hike.  Take along water and a small sack lunch.  Plan ahead and think of everything so your partner can relax and enjoy.   It’s always a good idea to have a surprise gift tucked away in your jacket or backpack to present while you are resting.

Gift a spa day.  Giving a spa gift certificate is great, but not as romantic as being the masseusse yourself.   You can provide a much more relaxing treatment at home and reap the rewards yourself.  Usually a spa day would include a bubble bath, a massage, and a facial.   Chances are you have all the supplies you need already on hand.   Clean towels, bubble bath, a soft robe, a place to lounge, massage oils (protect fabric with a clean sheet if you are using massage oils), a mud mask, candles, and hot teas or decaffeinnated beverages are the basics.  Put on some relaxing mood music.  For more ideas, read Give Yourself a Spa Day.  Don’t get bogged down in the details.  Choose two or three things that you would feel comfortable doing, and keep it simple and easy so you are both relaxed.

Have a day of fun.  Your partner’s idea of fun, that is.  Spend the day doing what he or she likes and be gracious and fun.    Take your camera or cell phone along and have strangers take your pictures as a couple throughout the day.   Be spontaneous or prepared, based on what you know about your partner.  

Plan a romantic dinner at home.  The food is not as important as the work you put into it.  Setting the table, putting on music, lighting candles and adding a few roses can make macaroni and cheese seem like a banquet.  If you don’t want to cook and be worried about cleaning the kitchen, order takeout or delivery.  Just remember to make it a surprise and look deep into your partner’s eyes during dinner.   

And, some nice romantic touches that can add to any of the above experiences include:
  • Flowers – arranged to have them delivered at the beginning of your romantic efforts
  • Chocolate dipped strawberries or champagne
  • Tickets to an event that your partner will enjoy
  • A love letter or short, romantic texts – check out some love poems online

 

We wish you all the best this Valentine’s Day!

Copyright 2009. MyFlorist.

 

What Women (and Men) Want for Valentine’s Day

What Women Want
What Women Want

What Women Want: A Foolproof Guide to Valentine’s Day Gift-Giving

Among the laundry list of things most men don’t understand about women is the utterly confounding Valentine’s Day gift. The importance women bestow on the perfect Valentine’s gift is a mystery tantamount to men’s inability to understand women’s obsessions with five-inch heels, puppies and going to the bathroom in groups. But whether or not you understand it, Valentine’s Day gift-giving is a fact of life, and an important one at that.

Women consider gift-giving nothing short of an art form and when you add in the fact that it’s a day dedicated to displays of affection and love, most men give up before they even try and opt out for the standard flowers and chocolate. And while every woman loves her 70 percent cocoa Godiva and two-dozen red roses, the majority of women prefer something a little extra. The secret formula goes a little something like this:

25% unique (to show her you “get” her) + 25% sweet (to show you have a romantic side) + 25% thoughtful (to show her you value her) and lastly, but definitely no less important + 25% presentable (newspaper wrappings and shoeboxes need not apply).

With this formula in mind, here are five more tips to help you get started:

1. Listen.
The most important piece of advice anyone can give when it comes to choosing the right gift is to listen to your lady. Though most women won’t come right out and say what they want, choosing, instead, to constantly drop hints about their likes and dislikes. If you stay tuned in to the little things, you’ll likely be inspired or at least get some direction to help you get started. Catch her fawning over a fancy clutch in the latest issue of Vogue? Peek over her shoulder, take note of which one she likes, and if it’s within your budget buy her the exact one and if not, buy her a similar, more reasonably-priced version. This will score you MAJOR brownie points. Not only did you buy her something of the clothing/accessory variety (a path men rarely venture down), but you paid attention to which one she liked. This speaks volumes—trust me. 

2. Think outside the box.
Chocolates or flowers aren’t bad as accompanying gifts, but one lonely box of even the most expensive chocolates isn’t a winner in most women’s book and a bouquet similar to those she receives for her birthday and your anniversary will likely not make her Valentine’s Day totally complete.  Do something a little different with chocolates, i.e. making homemade bon-bons with her favorite Scharffenberger chocolate or hand-picking her individual favorites to make a “personalized” box of chocolates. It’s all about creativity!

3. Presentation is key.
Even the least materialistic woman in your life will view your gift as a greater representation of your feelings towards her. And the simplest of gifts can truly look like a million bucks if presented and wrapped properly. This doesn’t mean you should saunter over to the gift wrapping counter of your local department store; rather, take a shot at wrapping the gift yourself. Even if the sides of the wrapping paper come up short and there is a full roll of tape patched all over the box, it will show more thought and consideration than a gift wrapped by the clerk at the gift-wrapping station. The real kicker? A hand-written card.

4. The devil’s in the details.
Chances are her most cherished gift from you isn’t necessarily the most fancy, extravagant or expensive, but the gift that had the most thought behind it. Over-the-top luxury gifts that show no thought are, for most women, no more appreciated than a simple gift that is straight from the heart. Sounds cliché and seems like common knowledge, but often times men get so caught up in the hype that they think they need to overcompensate and go for the overdone $300 necklace. In reality, however, a well thought-out, meaningful gift will melt her heart faster than any run-of-the-mill heart-shaped necklace.

5. When in doubt…
If you’re strapped for time and/or ideas, pick from one of the following tried and true options that are consistent crowd-pleasers and come straight from the horse’s mouth:

  • Chore stubs/coupons, i.e. you buy the groceries for a week; you walk the dog in the mornings, etc.
  • Tickets to a concert or other event you can enjoy together
  • Accompany her on a shopping “spree” (no need to drop $5K in a day, just treat her to a few items and offer to go along with her—no sulking, heavy sighs or pit-stops at the men’s lounge allowed)
  • Surprise weekend getaway 
  • Buy her membership to a wine, or fruit-of-the-month club (this is the gift that keeps on giving)
  • Engraved piece of jewelry/watch (it takes standard jewelry to the next level)
  • A photo album of pictures of you as a couple
  • Perfume (she’ll think of you whenever she puts it on – just make sure it’s her fave.)
  • A surprise gift a few days before Valentine’s Day
  • Do something you hate but she loves…there’s no better day to be selfless

Adapted from Allison Johnston’s great article.

 

What Men Want for Valentine’s Day

Eighty-Five Percent of Men Want Gifts This Valentine’s Day

When it comes to gift preferences, men like gifts that represent personal recognition or admiration from their partner, while women want gifts that represent a public display of affection and one that
reinforces the couple’s identity. Men look forward to receiving:

  • Jewelry with personal engravings
  • Items related to a favorite hobby or pastime
  • Music
  • Movies
  • Video Games
  • Electronics

Women, on the other hand, hope to receive flowers that are delivered to their work or another public place, as well as items that can be showcased to family and friends such as new clothes, jewelry, or special photographs of them with their significant other. 

“What we’re revealing is that Valentine’s Day is a two-way street — a time and opportunity for lovers to express and receive special sentiments,” said Dr. James Houran, chief psychologist at TRUE. “But men and women crave different sentiments from their partners. ”

New Research From TRUE(TM) and ‘Psychology Today’

How to Pick the Perfect Flowers (and Florist) for Valentine’s Day

How to Pick the Perfect Valentine’s Day Flowers

Hi! My name is Brad Parker and my company is MyFlorist and we are located in McLean, Virginia.

Today, we want to talk about how to buy the perfect floral arrangement for Valentine’s Day. What we are going cover is, how to choose the right florist; how to choose the right flower and arrangement; how to get the best quality, and how to get the best performance and experience with your Valentine’s Day flowers.

Before we get going, let me say just a little bit about myself and MyFlorist. My wife and I started the company in 1989 and in that time we have grown to be a top one hundred florist nationally out of 25,000 florists in this country; and I think our success is because we have certain philosophical points that are important to us. We carry lots of flowers and we give our designers almost unlimited options to work with. Our designers are among the best in the industry. They are truly artisans and we want them to make each work a unique custom-made design.

So that’s a little bit about us. Let’s get going. What we are going to talk about right now is how to find the right retail florist.

How to Choose a Florist for Valentine’s Day

Brad Parker: Hi! My name is Brad Parker and my company is MyFlorist and we are in McLean, Virginia. In this segment what we want to explore is, how do you go about and find the right retail florist. Today, it is become increasingly popular to go to the Internet and the Internet of course is best and wonderful resource and you can use it to get a good result, but you really do have to be careful. In our industry, if you go to the Internet the majority of the florist on the Internet are, what we call cyber florist. In other words, they don’t actually do anything more than take your order; they don’t actually have a store; they don’t actually touch the flowers; they don’t arrange the flowers. What they do is they take your order, they take a sizeable amount of the money, and then they send it downline to a florist that will fill it for them.

In our experience, it’s not a great value for the consumer. What I would suggest you do if you go to the Internet, my favorite thing to do is to go to Google or you can use one of the other search engines, but if you go to Google and you just type in florist and next to it your zip code or the zip code where you want to send flowers, what would immediately popup on the top and to the right are all the paper click adds. The majority of these florists are the cyber florist. If you are interested then drill down into their site and see if you can find a local address. You might not be able to find one at all and if you do you might find that it’s thousands of miles away.

Now, on the lower left hand side you have the organic listings. Many of these florists are listed. They are your local florist and it is a pretty good source to go to; but the absolute best place to look is in the middle left. Google will provide for you the names and addresses with maps of the local florist in the town or zip code that you just put your search for, so start there because there you are going to find a real florist that you can deal with directly.

Now, once you have selected a florist, you found a local florist or a florist that’s near where you want to have flowers delivered, the next challenge is to find out whether it is a established florist with a good reputation. There are many florists in our industry that are more like hobbies and they are like serious businesses. The problem in these instances are that they just don’t have enough size and volume to carry enough inventory of fresh flowers and they also often are not able to employ fulltime designers, who are truly talented and skilled in the filed. So one thing that I would recommend, if you find a local florist and you talk to them; try to find out and see if they have at least six to ten fulltime employees and a couple of delivery vans. That will tell you that they have a certain size; they have a certain critical mass, so that they can have a good inventory of fresh flowers on hand at all-time and they can afford to employee one or more fulltime skilled designers.

So these are some of the tips if you just have to go out there on your own and find a florist. My number one recommendation for finding a good florist is to get a referral. Talk to a co-worker, talk to a neighbor, talk to a family member, someone who has an established relationship with the florist and they have been getting a good result. This is the best single way to find the right florist to serve your needs on Valentine’s Day or any day.

In the next segment, we are going to look at how you can choose the perfect arrangement for Valentine’s Day.

 

How to Buy Non-Rose Flowers for Valentine’s Day

Brad Parker: Hi! My name is Brad Parker and my company is MyFlorist in McLean, Virginia and in this segment, we want to look at your flower choices on Valentine’s Day, if you don’t want to buy roses. In fact, 25% of the purchases on Valentine’s Day are not roses and the good news here is the universe of flowers is enormous. The variety of colors, shapes, textures and fragrances is absolutely wonderful and if you are working with the right florist and the right flowers and the right designer, it’s amazing what can be done. If you take a look here at some of these flowers, it’s a Gerbera Daisy, nice type, focal point in vivid color; you have Hydrangeas; you have flowers with the long lines. It’s incredible what can be done. The key, when you want to have a flower arrangement made for you on Valentine’s Day that’s not roses, is again to find the right florist. You need a florist that has a big inventory of flowers and has the right designers who can put them together in a way in which you are really sinks. Here is another example, actually a mixed arrangement with both roses and non-rose. These were Snapdragons, the long ones, but you can see, it’s done in the beautiful and unique design, which is going to make an absolutely lovely statement. So your options actually are large, but you want to find a florist that has the right inventory of flowers and the designers who can make something really unique and beautiful for you. Finally, what we want to address is which flowers last the longest. I am often asked this and in reality almost all flowers last plenty long enough to give you a great experience with your arrangement. The key is whether or not they are quality flowers and whether or not they have been handled properly and we are going to look into the quality and handling issue in our next segment.

Thank you.

How to Buy Roses for Valentine’s Day

Hi, My name is Brad Parker and my company is MyFlorist and we are in McLean, Virginia and what we want to look at now is helping you choose just the right arrangement for Valentine’s Day. The number one choice and the right choice in the majority of the cases is a dozen long stem red roses.

Why? Well, roses for centuries have been symbolic of love more than any other single flower and particularly red roses and it’s also an American tradition on Valentine’s Day and for many women it’s the lifelong dream to receive a dozen long stem red roses on Valentine’s Day. So my first choice would be to suggest a dozen long stem red roses.

Now, first of all, what is a long stem rose? Roses are graded in three different lengths. 40 centimeters are considered short, 50-60 centimeters are considered medium and 70-80 centimeters are considered to be long. For Valentines Day you want a dozen long stem red roses, such as these. When you have the long stem roses, you get a much fuller showy arrangement. So, that’s one thing. It’s not just a dozen red roses, but you want a dozen long stem roses that will really show well. Secondly, you want a good quality rose.

Roses should be in this stage when you receive them. You don’t want them completely tight. If they are completely tight and they haven’t started to open, it’s what we called in the industry a bullet. They may never open. On the other hand, you don’t want a rose that’s completely wide open. Those roses would be old and they won’t last that long. So, you want a rose that is maybe 20%-30% open. It will take another three to five days to fully open and another two or three days before they finally expire. So, you want the long stem roses and you want the right quality of the roses.

Next point I would like to make is that you want these long stem roses well-designed and with a nice complimentary flower. In this particular arrangement, the complimentary flower is what we call Baby’s Breath or Gypsophilia.  It’s a beautiful pure white color and the red roses seem to just float on top of them and of course the contrast between the red and the white is absolutely lovely. It really completes the arrangement.

So you want something that really shows well. That’s part of the whole affect for your Valentines Day flowers. Now, some people want to know what should you expect to pay on Valentine’s Day. Again, you want a quality long stem dozen roses and it’s going to depend a lot on what part of the country you are purchasing the roses. It’s going to vary between $75 and a $125 on this holiday. If you are in the big cities like Chicago, New York, San Francisco you are probably going to pay up around a $125. If you are in Middle America and rural America, you are going to probably about $75.

Now, you may know that you want to send roses, but you don’t want to send red roses, there are other options and perhaps the person that you want to send flowers to – you know that their favorite color may be pink or white or yellow and there are many different colors in roses for you to choose from. Here is one of my favorite: these medium pink roses – absolutely lovely for Valentines Day. Pink is feminine, it’s sensuous and it’s romantic. It’s one of my favorite colors for this holiday.

So you don’t have to just send red roses. Many different colors are also available and again, you have the sending of roses, which is such a traditional message on Valentine’s Day of love. So, now that we have talked about roses perhaps you are one of those people who knows they want to send some flowers, beautiful flowers for Valentine’s Day, but you know you don’t want to send roses and that would put you in the category of about 25% of people on Valentine’s Day.

We are going to talk about that in our next segment. It’s exciting because you have lots of options.

Caring for Fresh-Cut Tulips

Dutch Delight  TFWEB401
Dutch Delight TFWEB401
It’s tulip season at MyFlorist.  We import our tulips twice a week from Holland. And we care for them by hydrating them properly so the stems are strong and stand up on their own.  And last longer!  

 

When properly cared for, cut tulips will stay fresh in a vase of water for five to eight days. For long-lasting tulips, re-cut the stems after a few days.  Lay the bouquet on wrapping paper or newspaper, and cut the stems diagonally, removing about one-half inch of stem.

Re-wrap the bouquet in paper (making a cone shape) so that the tulips are standing straight. The tops of the tulips should not extend above the top of the paper although you’ll need to allow a few inches of stems stick out from the bottom. Place the wrapped bouquet in water for an hour or two, with the paper above the water line.

Re-cut the stems once more, before rearranging, again making a diagonal cut. Fill the vase with water, adding a floral preservative – a powdery mix of plant food and bacteria inhibitors available at your florist. Although many people believe that adding a dash of carbonated lemon-lime soft drink, a teaspoon of sugar, a penny, or even a bit of bleach to the water will help extend the life of the flowers, none of these folk remedies are as effective as a commercial cut flower preservative.

The interesting thing about tulips is that they actually continue to grow after being cut, up to an inch or more. They also conform to the shape of the container, straight up if in a tall container, twisting to fit into a flat or irregular shaped vase.

Place the bouquet out of direct sun, and away from heating vents or drafts. Top off the water level daily to keep the arrangement fresh.

Excerpt from Backyard Gardener

10 Ways to Be More Passionate

Be More Passionate
Be More Passionate

“Only passions, great passions, can elevate the soul to great things.”  Denis Diderot

Passion can be defined as a strong feeling or emotion.  Passion makes your heart sing, your spirit soar and your life rich.   We are passionate about flowers.  We think, live and breathe flowers at MyFlorist.

We understand that your passions may lie elsewhere.   You may be in love, have a cause, enjoy a hobby, or generally feel good about life.  But sometimes our passions wane and we need to refuel.  So here are ten ways to get back in touch with your passions. 

Touch. 
Try the approach, “Less is More”.  A whisper soft touch on the skin, fingertips to fingertips, can send a frisson of goosebumps all the way up the spine.   Feel the texture of a baby’s skin, a soft blanket, or a windy day. 

Smell
Breathe it in.  Smell the fragrances of life.  Take a deep breath the next time you find yourself in a room with roses.  Laugh at the smells that come your way outside, pleasant or unpleasant.   Smell triggers memories like no other sense.  What smells make you feel warm and fuzzy?

Taste
Savor the flavors of life.  Our mouth is connected to our center.   Slowly enjoy a meal, allowing each bite to fill your senses.  Kiss as if it’s your first kiss.  Taste with hunger, as if it’s your last kiss.

Listen
Hear what is going on around you.  Open your mind, focus not only on words, but why they are being said.  Most people aren’t tuned into the most effective communicating methods.  Be a good listener.  Don’t offer advice if it isn’t asked for.  Sometimes being a sounding board is profoundly helpful.

See
Rejoice in the visual beauty in the small things.  The petals of a rose, the fluffiness of a cloud, the lines in your grandmother’s face.  Go to an art museum and see how others express what they see.  Gaze deeply in her eyes until you both giggle.

Imagine
Visualize a scene where you are the star player, real or imaginary, where you feel the most like you.  You might be alone, with someone special or in a crowd.  Now own the scene.  Make a goal to make it a reality, no matter how silly.  You might have to adjust the vision to accomodate reality.  You might have to work on it for years, or the rest of your life.  Own your dream.

Focus
Find specific times to spend on your passions.  Make a date night with your dearest or allow yourself a few hours a week to nurture a hobby, old or new.  Allow yourself to shed your everyday responsibilities during your focus time.  

Move
Find joy in movement.  Dance, even badly, to your favorite loud music.  Be a teenager at heart.  Walk through the park with your child or pet.  Feel your body functioning and rejoice!

Laugh
Be emotional.  Be happy.  Be sad.  Be angry.  Feel what you feel.  No emotion is bad as long as you have a positive means to express how you feel.  Work on expressing yourself more by “getting in touch with your inner self”.

Be
In the moment.  We can only control ourselves in this moment and then the next.  Life is a series of moments, and each one is precious.

Copyright 2009.  MyFlorist.

Decorating for a New Year’s Eve Party: Don’t Forget the Flowers!

 Your New Year’s Eve party is tomorrow night and you still haven’t decided on the decorations?   We have some ideas for you!
All That Glitters
All That Glitters

Choose a theme and design your party decorations and menu around it.  New Year themes can include gold and silver star decorations, gift packs and party favors.  Choose traditional New Year’s colors to start. Metallics like gold and silver with black are popular choices and can be used in any combination. Brights like red, blue, yellow and green are also festive colors you can use to decorate a New Year’s party.  Visit your local party store to select New Years decorations and your local florist for flowers and centerpieces.  Most party stores offer a wide variety of themes, from elegant to family friendly, and themed packages are a great way to coordinate your party and get everything you need. Or go simple, and choose a few key decorations as the focal point for your party.

Patriotic New Year themes can include small flags or decorations that use red, white and blue as the key colors of your indoor and outdoor New Year decorations.  Look for wind chimes, candle decorations in flowers arrangements, ribbons and streamers, noise makers, and balloon decorations.  Set your table with colorful paper goods for ease and convenience. Mix metallic colored plates, cups and napkins with black tablecloths. Before setting the table, liberally strew about a few generous handfuls of glittering confetti and party poppers.  Inflate as many balloons as possible with helium, tie on ribbon, and let them float to the ceiling. You can hang party favors or snacks from the ends of the ribbon. Mylar balloons can reinforce a metallic theme, and a mixture of brightly colored balloons is a feast for the eyes of skyward-looking guests.

Snow, Fire & Ice
Snow, Fire & Ice

Find or create decorations with New Year’s images. Top hats, crowns and noisemakers can double as decorations and costumes if they are hung or placed decoratively. Hang banners featuring “Father Time” and “Baby New Year,” clocks, dates, champagne bottles and glasses. Cut out or printed stars can be another fun theme, and you can even hang strands of star-shaped white lights.  Any specialty shapes can help create a theme.  Hearts, snowflakes, bells and fun confetti are great additions to the overall decor.  Hang festive streamers or strands of ribbon from the ceiling, from railings and decorate the backs of chairs. Recycle metallic ribbons from Christmas.

Make centerpieces low, so party goers can see each other and interact. Try a bowl of floating candles and flowers or a wreath with metallic ribbons and candles.  Floral centerpieces can usually be delivered the morning of the party, or even the day before so they are at their freshest.  Discuss your options with your florist.

Holiday Joy

Holiday Spirit | TFWEB254
Holiday Spirit | TFWEB254

Once the Thanksgiving turkey and leftovers have been demolished, most people face the countdown to Christmas with an unconscious unease covered by a frenzy of shopping. How do you get through this time with your emotions intact?

Let’s face it, the myth of the perfect family, and at no time is it put under more stress than at Christmas. Conflicts and ambiguous feelings we’ve put on hold all year, often through distance, bubble to the surface.

Then there’s the eternal tug over who we’ll spend Christmas with. Your parents or your in-laws? Your divorced father or your mother? What if your kids decide to go to your ex-husband and his new wife, proving once and for all that they’ve abandoned you? Or, and this is true for a growing number of people, what if you have no one you really want to spend Christmas with?

Here are six emotional survival tips to help you feel more holiday joy:

1. Be where you want to be.  Ask yourself who you really want to spend Christmas with. Imagine that the Guilt-Free Fairy could wave her wand and no one would feel hurt or angry at your decision. Where would you feel truly accepted and at ease? Where would you laugh and be playful? Where would you feel that your own values were recognized and reinforced? Where could you count on people to meet your needs? Wherever that is–wherever that is–is where you should be.

2. Spend what is reasonable for you.  In terms of Christmas shopping, ask yourself whether you are buying each gift because the process gives you pleasure or out of obligation, and be realistic about your financial situation.

3. Commune with nature. Use your time off to be in nature. A walk in the woods, or cross-country skiing if the snow is deep, will help tone your body and your neural chemistry. Fill your home with nature, too.  Pine garlands, poinsettias, flowers and fresh fruit fill the air with ralaxing aroma.  Especially in the presence of someone you love, it can connect you to that which is most true about yourself and the world.

4. Listen to your spiritual side. Spirituality is a natural antidepressant, but only if it feels intrinsic to you and brings you closer to others. Evaluate your religious rituals in these terms, and, if they meet these criteria, seek solace and joy there.

5. Keep active.  If you feel in danger of being isolated or bored during the holidays, join a group that has activities during this time.   Volunteer, make your own Christmas gifts, watch “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

6. Moderation is key.  Remember that, while good food and drink can be a part of Christmas cheer, when taken in excess they can make you feel less than joyful!       

Alicia Fortinberry is an award-winning health writer, and expert on emotional health and optimal relationships. Together with her husband and long-term collaborator Dr Bob Murray, she is founder of the highly successful Uplift Program.