Holiday Gift Giving that Gives Back

Holiday Gift Giving that Gives Back

 

Business!’ cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. “Mankind was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The deals of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!” ― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Season of Giving BackThere can be little doubt that the winter holidays bring to the forefront, gratitude for our successes, and generosity for those less fortunate. Businesses too, are impacted by this concept, often resulting in corporate gift giving – a large portion of which is charity-focused. The corporate holiday gift tradition of making a charitable donation in someone’s name has come along way. More than 20 years ago, a Seinfeld episode poked fun at the practice when George Costanza, in an effort to avoid giving gifts to his co-workers, provided them instead with a card stating “A donation has been made in your name to The Human Fund” (a fake charity he made up). Years later, the joke came full circle when a charity chose that name for themselves. But charitable giving isn’t a joke. In an environment of growing inequality, many companies take pride in celebrating the holidays by making donations on behalf of others. At its core, its gift-giving that gives back; the ultimate sharing of prosperity. At RealTime Productions, we know a bit about giving back because the practice has become fully-integrated into the events industry. With that in mind, we’re delighted to share with you some giving-back gift options for the looming holiday season. In years past you might have chosen a direct-donation gift – one in which money is donated directly to a charity – however the option of sending a physical gift, while at the same time giving back to charitable organizations has increasingly become a satisfying option.

Knack Modern Gift Giving

This site allows you to send a physical gift, while at the same time giving back to charitable organizations with a program, they call Shop by Ethos. You can either select a pre-curated gift option (reducing the number of decisions you must make), or you can create a unique option that supports the charity you select. So, don’t just send the same old gift basket to a client or employee, consider a gift that gives back!!

Gifts for Good

Like Knack, this site allows you to select your gift based upon which the cause you want to benefit. Their site organization enables you to filter your selection via cause, price, occasion, recipient and customization, making the selection process very efficient. If you want brand your gift, they have a concierge service to assist with that!

Toms

As the original One for One™ company, Toms has given nearly 100 million shoes to those in need. When you buy a product from Toms, they donate the same product to those that need them. But shoes aren’t all Tom offers, they also do sunglasses – who couldn’t use those, even in the Seattle Metro area?

Out of Print

If getting books into the hands of kids who need them is your thing, Out of Print transforms literary classics into apparel and accessories. With every purchase, a book is donated to a child in need.

Thistle Farms

Battling human trafficking is a tender issue for the events industry – one which has garnered an increase in charitable giving back at corporate events. If human trafficking is a passion of yours, consider gifting products from Thistle Farms. Every sale benefits women who have survived trafficking, prostitution, and addiction.

Nordstrom

Even luxury PNW merchant Nordstrom offers a variety of gifts that give back. Those wanting to share the gift of clean water might consider the S’well Milky Way Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle. For every purchase, a portion of the proceeds goes to UNICEF to help provide clean drinking water for people around the world. Here at RealTime Productions, we find it truly gratifying that the giving-back options have become so easy to use and focused on social values in addition to price point. With Black Friday and Cyber Monday impending, we hope you’ll consider a giving-back option for your holiday gift program.

A Team’s Strength Is In Its Parts

Growing up with my sister Ginny, I learned a lot about personal strengths and the best use of them. While each of us is supportive of the other (and willing to go to battle if necessary) we don’t approach goals in precisely the same manner, nor with the actions. When we participated in a HS level swim team, our coach commented on the diverse talents – calling out our physical differences as well. Gin could crawl across the lap using only her upper body, whereas I could simply power kick my way across the pool! Yes, we are different.

To be honest, competition isn’t my greatest strength. I take a cooperative or collaborative approach to goals. I step into research mode at the outset; seeking a secure foundation of best practices – crossing off method I think won’t work. Once I’m confident in my approach, I work through the challenge methodically. I’m not motivated by what other people are doing. I focus instead on what I can do, on what I can impact. So, all those self-help articles admonishing me to “go for the gold”? Yeah, they were kind of lost on me. My strength lies in the slow lift, not the rabbit start.

My sister, in contrast, is an archetypal competitor. She lives for the challenge, for the threat of someone else pursuing the same end result, and trying to get there faster, better, and with more to show for her efforts. She powers through whatever she takes on, with high energy and a stubborn pit-bull ferocity. And she generally succeeds in achieving her goals, although not always in the manner she might have expected. Using my more methodical approach would frustrate her, leaving her thinking “let’s just move on this!”

But not all goals can be achieved individually, some require strength in numbers – a team. When we work together, Gin and I still rely on our individual strengths (rather than emulating on another). We respect the powerful skills of the other and have found ways to mesh the approaches together to produce the result we want. Yes, it was effort to get here, but definitely worth it. There were times when each of us argued that the other was wrong, and if they’d only learn to do MY way, then we’d be better off. We were of course, mistaken. Differing strengths make a team more agile and capable; more able to pivot based on what’s working now.

As Captain of the RealTime Trailblazers (our Walk MS Team) I am reminded that many of my team members will have strengths that differ. In identifying and celebrating the strengths of my individual team members—encouraging them to employ those skills— we can become a stronger team. So, tell mewhat kind of team member are you? Do you know the strengths of your team mates?

Take a moment to look at your own team – whether on the job or the playing field. What kind of role do you play within your team? Have you and your team mates developed a process by which you can collaborate, or are you simply trying to power-through based on a single type (and demanding that the others adapt)?

Packed up for Europe!

What do event planners do after a rush of summer events?

In this office, a lucky few head out for European vacations!! This month we have both Renee and Maggie headed across the pond, each on a unique journey. Renee will be visiting several stops – staying in Airbnb’s, whereas Maggie is focusing on a car-camping adventure in Iceland! Because we are fans of efficient logistics, I grilled them on their travel strategies; particularly packing.

 

Maggie is our all-out outdoor adventure gal; so “roughing it” is de regueur. She has the gear and the no-how to make a nature immersion a delightful escapade, so we look forward to hearing about the many fantastic waterfalls, not to mention the sheer beauty of the landscape (can you say Icelandic Wild Ponies?)

Renee will be taking a more conventional route (selecting the perfect Airbnb in Prague? Challenge accepted!) and doing some city hopping (don’t miss Copenhagen and Paris!) Did you know there’s church in Prague (Church of St. James the Greater) with an amputated limb hanging on the wall for centuries – to ward off thieves? Said limb is from a thief that the statue of Mary grabbed in the act. Not the kind of thing you find here in the States…

While their travel plans diverge, there are a few things they agree on…

  1. PINTEREST Research! Looking for a great collection of blogs and tips about the area you are traveling to and prefer they come from people who’ve recently been there? Pinterest is chock full of them!! While the web can be overwhelming in terms of the many sources, Pinterest provides a picture-friendly method of finding just what you need.
  2. Compression Cubes. These handy little items are a blessing in terms of packing up the vital equipment and keeping track of what you brought with you. You can find them all over the Net, but there’s a hot sale on Gonex on Amazon. Renee bought the full set, giving her a number of size options; but Maggie is still deciding.
  3. Plan for power!! Yes, getting an appropriate power adapter is key to easy travel with electronics, but be wary. Some of those cheaper power adapters are just that…they adapt your US appliances for the prong needed, but they don’t always convert the voltage. Double-check your adapter purchase.
  4. Plastic is perfect!! While there are a few places that need cash so many of the locations you will visit accept credit cards, which is ideal to shopping and eating to your heart’s content. Don’t forget to notify your card company which countries you will be visiting.

Of course, they have other tools they are using to plan and track. Spreadsheets aren’t JUST for event budgets! And one of our travelers has even planned her wardrobe packing via a Publisher page….details make a difference.

We wish them the safest travel experience, and loads of fun!

 

Stressful Job?

Event Coordinator ranks at number five according to the Forbes list of Most Stressful Jobs in 2017, (behind airline pilots, police, firefighters and enlisted military personnel). It might sound crazy, but event planners actually thrive on managing hectic schedules and multiple events. How do we do we handle this stressful career choice, you might ask? The answer is simple – we create a fun work environment and we know the balance of work and play.

Here at RealTime Productions, we have “First Thursdays” where the team celebrates happy hour on the first Thursday of each month. We let off a little steam as we toast our team. We’re big on Mexican food so deciding on a gathering place is rarely an issue – bring on the tacos!

We also schedule fun team competitions/celebrations throughout the year such as our Spooktacular Halloween Treat Competition, Thanksgiving Potluck and our Holiday Treat Exchange in December. Our tasks seem less stressful (more manageable) while focusing on these fun distractions. Our office manager, Ceili, is the talented baker in the house, so she often takes the win for her baked treats.

We also love to give back to the community. Our team has volunteered at the YouthCare’s James W. Ray Orion Center in downtown Seattle where we prepared and served a meal for the homeless youth. It was a touching experience to serve the Seattle community while bonding with our team.

An important event we participate in every year is the Walk MS, in honor of the owner of RTP, Jeanne Berry. Each year we build a team and raise money to help create a world free of MS. This year, we’ve added prizes as incentives to reach our goal of $15k. We invite family, friends, clients and partners to walk with us in the fight to beat MS. We’re really looking forward to finding a cure for this vicious disease, and are proud to represent during the walk (join us won’t you? http://bit.ly/rtpwalkms )

Whether it’s enjoying happy hour on a patio on summer day, exchanging holiday treats, or taking time out of our day to volunteer, our team is always planning our next outing or work party as something to look forward to. Staying healthy is a priority for us given the stressful nature of our work, so we have developed this strategy. Our team-building events help us re-energize ourselves so that we can put our best foot forward for our clients. We know how to work hard and most importantly, we know how to play hard too! What do you do to manage stress? Do share!!

FCE – Canine Spinal Stoke Challenge

November 15, 2016, my dog Junie (and RTP canine pal) suffered fibrocartilaginous embolism (FCE) or canine spinal stroke that left her paralyzed from her pelvis down.

FCE is neither preventable nor detectable, and can happen to any dog of any age. Junie just so happened to draw a short straw in her already difficult life. Because I’m biased to rescue-dogs only, I adopted a mid-aged dog, who’s active enough for my lifestyle (which includes lots of hiking and exploring). Junie was the perfect fit!  She’s only 3-4 years old, but was overlooked after months in foster care after being relocated to Seattle from an abusive past in California. Our first few months together, we spent every evening at the beach or park. On the weekends we clocked miles while peaking mountains and swimming in glacial lakes.

When Junie’s FCE occurred, she was jumping into the car after a long run in the rain. It was shocking to watch. Her back legs immediately went limp, just moments after she’d run circles in the mud at lightning speed. After 5 nights in intensive care, she came home to begin a long, hard road to recovery. Our new lifestyle was far different from the one she had come to know. For weeks, she was unable to move at all. Her back legs lay heavy and limp. Her tail was also immobile leaving her unable to express joy in a wag or single thump on the floor in response to seeing familiar, warm faces. I slept on the floor next to her, waking every couple hours to clean her, change her diapers, and give her nerve pain medications. Our evenings out at the beach and weekends on the trail became tiring, difficult, long days and nights of learning to care for a paraplegic.

About two weeks post-FCE, Junie had a custom wheelchair made, and I’d tie up her rear legs so that at least for a little while each day she could forget that she can’t walk on her own. Next came physical therapy, which includes assisted walking on an underwater treadmill 3 times a week, acupuncture, and range-of-motion exercises on the floor every couple hours. There’s no way of telling what the future holds for Junie’s legs because every FCE case is different. Some dogs become paralyzed in all 4 legs, and some just 1. Others make huge recoveries and learn to walk again or regain control of their bladders, and others remain incontinent and unable to walk on their own for the remainder of their lives.

Learning to care for Junie day-to-day can only be compared to the challenges of parents bringing their first newborn home. Unlike parents of a human, I didn’t have 9 months to prepare. I discovered that changing tables are pretty magical inventions, as well. Putting a diaper on a 45-lb. dog while holding them up with one hand and trying to fish their tail through a hole with the other is a challenge of another dimension. Doggie diapers aren’t as foolproof as human diapers, which is why I’ve started buying Pampers (Sesame Street theme, of course, because who can resist an Elmo image on a little doggie butt!) and cutting my own tail holes. I’m learning as we go, and our routine has become more and more doable as I understand what works and what doesn’t. Here’s the great thing about dogs, which if you have one of your own, you’ll surely agree: they don’t feel sorry for themselves. Sure, Junie understands her life has drastically changed. Does she let it stop her? Nope! We’re now 6 weeks post-FCE and she’s dragging herself around and hopping on two legs like she’s never known differently. She looks a bit like a kangaroo, and the cutest darn kangaroo ever. She asks for belly rubs, gets excited about every meal, loves a good wheelchair walk, and still gives the squirrels a run for their money. Her eyes still brighten when I walk in the room, and in her mind, her tail is definitely going “thump thump thump” on the floor, even though I can’t see it do so anymore.

Junie love-love-loves the RTP office and will hopefully return to my desk-side soon so that Ceili can offer butt-rubs (where she may be permanently numb, but I guarantee she’ll appreciate the thought!) and Renee can share her apple slices. We specialize in handling curveballs and making the best out of what we’ve got as event planners, so luckily, I’ve got the right team beside me through this journey!