Celebrating Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and it’s being celebrated in countries all over the world.

The cause to celebrate is that more women than ever before are being screened for breast cancer. This means that early detection is occurring more often, and lives are being saved!

In addition, the fight against the disease is advancing with new treatments that are proving effective. Finally, women are living healthier lifestyles which may help reduce the incidence of developing breast cancer.

How can you recognize or celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness Month? Here are 5 great ideas to put into practice.

pink ribbon for breast cancer awareness

Get involved today!

1. Take Part in Pinktober

Hard Rock (Hare Rock Café) are celebrating Pinktober Month with parties, live music events and more. Hundreds of musicians are taking part in the fund-raising efforts, now in their 12th year. Have fun and enjoy great music all for a fantastic cause! The Breast Cancer Research Organization (BCRO) is just one of the groups who benefit from Pinktober.

2. Make a Donation to the Breast Cancer Research Organization

Why not take a minute today to go online and make a donation to the BCRO or other outstanding organization involved in the fight to find a cure!

susan g. komen race for cure logo

3. Participate in a 5K or 10K Run

Raise money while keeping yourself in wonderful shape! What a wonderful combination to embrace this month. Get a group of friends together for a cause definitely worth running to further! Runs are taking place throughout the united states. You can find those sponsored by the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure organization right here.

4. Celebrate the Lives of Women Lost to Breast CancerMemOrn2

Remember these courageous women in a way that is meaningful to you. Some enjoy purchasing a memorial item like a personalized memorial angel Christmas ornament as a remembrance.

5. Have a Mammogram – Or Encourage the Women in your Life to Be Screened

Most health insurance policies cover screening at no charge. In addition, many counties offer free or low-cost mammograms. Help ensure a healthy future with this important step! Get your mammogram today!

 

Creative Ways to Honor your Step Family

Millions of people live in blended families and have step parents, children or siblings. One prominent study from Pew Research shows that more than 40% of adults have a step relative.

Honoring the creation of a new family out of separate entities builds unity and forms a bond that can get you all through the inevitable rough stretches.

Here are 4 ways to celebrate and honor your step-family members.

1. Honor One Another’s Feelings and Perspectives

Penguin family on igllo Christmas ornament

Offered in ornaments with 3-6 kids!

Not everyone is thrilled with being part of a stepfamily. It often “doesn’t feel right,” especially for adolescent and teen children. Give everyone room to have their feelings while encouraging them to be respectful in the way they share them. Let children know that it’s okay to feel troubled about the situation initially, and ensure them that you’ll do all you can to make them feel “at home” in this new blend.

2. Respect One Another’s Traditions

In most cases, everyone in the stepfamily was once part of a “first” family that separated. Those families had their own traditions about holidays, religion and many other areas.

It can be as simple as one side typically going to church on Christmas Eve and opening presents on Christmas morning while the other side is used to opening presents on Christmas Eve and sleeping in on Christmas morning. Find a way to make both work, or alternate years in your approach.

Respect those traditions rather than ignoring them or criticizing them. If everyone embraces one another’s traditions, the result is that each person gets new traditions to enjoy without losing their old traditions.

Gingerbread family ornament

It’s available for families of various sizes!

3. Celebrate National Step Family Day, a recognized event in the US since 1997. It’s September 16th of each year. If you missed it this year, then choose a later date and do something fun together to mark being a family.

Some great options for celebrating Step Family Day include having a family portrait taken by a professional photographer, serving a special dinner on china with crystal glasses and sparkling grape juice, beginning a family cookbook that incorporates favorite meals from both “sides” and having family Christmas ornaments personalized with everyone’s names.

These personalized Christmas ornament are available in lots of fun styles featuring cute characters, snow people and various adorable critters such as bears, penguins and moose.

the smart step family book ron l. deal

A great resource for step families!

More fantastic resources are available from the Stepfamily Foundation where you’ll fine helpful information including free downloads, books and CDs. One of the best reads is The Smart Step Family by Ron L. Deal. Family and individual counseling is available too from the Stepfamily Foundation, starting with a free 20-minute phone consultation.

Five Wonderful Housewarming Presents

Here are 5 fantastic housewarming gifts sure to be a hit with friends who’ve recently moved or new neighbors you want to welcome to the neighborhood!

1. A Cookbook of Fresh and Interesting Recipes

Smitten Kitchen cookbook deb perelman

Named one of Cooking Light magazine’s Top 100 Cookbooks of the Last 25 Years!

New and exciting recipes are a perfect match for a new home. Peruse the new offerings at your local book seller for something that looks fresh and delicious. A couple you might want to check out are The Smitten Kitchen by Deb Perelman and Gather: The Art of Paleo Entertaining by Bill Staley and Hayley Mason

2. A Takeout Menu Organizer Partly Filled

What’s better for folks new to town than menus from the best restaurants in the area that offer takeout? Take a few minutes to drive around town collecting carryout menus from your favorite restaurants. Use sticky notes to point out the best entrees from each one and what makes them so tasty. Add them to the organizer, and you’ve got a winning gift. If it’s in the budget, include a gift certificate to one or two great restaurants they’ll enjoy trying “on your dime.”

 

3. Quality Housewarming Christmas Ornaments

New home ornament resing personalized

Perfect for new neighbors or friends who have moved!

There are quite a few beautifully designed new house personalized Christmas ornaments, also known as housewarming ornaments. The Our First Home Radko ornament is a lovely glass piece personalized with the family’s address and a special message from you.

A more affordable, but still lovely, resin new home ornament is the New Home for the Holidays Personalized Christmas Ornament featuring a front door in lovely holiday array! Note: The font in the photo of this ornament is used for clarity. The ornament you receive will be personalized in a stylish handwritten font.

4. A Bottle of Bubbly and a Quality Opener

Help friends or neighbors toast their new digs with a bottle of the good stuff. Let your budget guide your selection or ask the owner of a local wine shop what good choices are best for housewarming gifts. Include a quality bottle opener – a gift that will be appreciated long after the champagne or wine has been enjoyed.

5. Monthly Flowers Plan

Many local florists and national companies offer regularly scheduled deliveries of fresh flowers. Cut flowers and plants are included in the various plans offered. This is a great gift for a fall/winter move when the garden outside isn’t blooming.

Creative Ways to Use Old School Portraits

Here are 4 cool ways to repurpose school pictures from “back in the day.” With today’s embrace of retro images and digital art, you’ve got an interesting combination for creativity.

1. Make Face Collage Art

The more old pictures you have, the better. School yearbooks are great for this purpose. You can also find millions – literally millions – of old school pictures online. Shutterstock is just one of many sources, and it’s got lots of free photos.

These are good projects for kids. Give them sheets of yearbook pages and scissors. Instruct them to cut out just faces or the face and shoulders. Yearbooks are cool because most have lots of pictures of sports teams, dance teams or the band in action.

Think of a theme for the collage – a zoo theme for example, or a Christmas or Hanukah theme.

Next, start gluing faces you’ve just cut out onto large sheets of cardstock. Place them randomly or in an arrangement that will produce the picture you’ve got in mind.

Once there are 8-12 pictures on sheet, then use crayons, markers or paint to develop the theme. Make each face into a zoo creature. If a holiday theme, draw party hats on the portraits and then fill in the scene by drawing in the details.

2. Paint Them to Make Cartoons

You’ll need paint that will stick to the photos. Or, you can photocopy the photos onto card stock. The advantage of doing this is that you can turn one great school portrait into as many copies as you want.

Next, using any color paints you’d like, paint over the portrait using the features it already has. Paint the lips bright red, for example, or cerulean blue if you prefer. Do the same for the eyes, brows, hair, etc. Shade the skin in interesting tones.

This method can produce some really dynamic works of art suitable for framing. Here’s a way to “cartoonize” photos digitally, but doing it by hand is a blast too!

3. Use them in Retro Decorating

Vintage images are quite popular. Find old school pictures – or portraits of any type – from days gone by. You’ll discover from great stuff:

1980s – Big Hair

1970s – Bigger Hair, Mustaches, Freaks

1960s – A Blend of Hippies and 50s Leftovers

1950s – Grease! Enough Said

1940s – Portraits of the “Greatest Generation”

1930s and Before – A Potpourri of Interesting Stuff

PInterest symbol

Pinterest is a fun place to post your creations!

4. Put Photoshop to Work

Here’s how this one works. Scan the portraits to digitize them. Then, work with Photoshop or a similar program creatively alter them. Have fun changing faces in lots of ways until you develop styles you really like.

The newly created images can be used in a thousand ways. Consider making a Pinterest page with what you’ve created or adding them to your Facebook page.

Selling your work might be an option too!

Christmas Ornament Storage Tips for the Offseason

Your favorite ornaments soon become family treasures that gain more personal value with each passing year! These tips will help you keep them safe from season to season when they’re not in use.

Tip 1: Save the Packaging

Radko nutcracker soldier figure glass ornament

This handsome Radko glass Musical Marcher ornament needs a sturdy storage box!

Most quality glass ornaments are packaged in a sturdy box. It will likely have dividers or a plastic form with indentations for each ornament. As an alternate, use shoe boxes and wrap each ornament in tissue paper, paper towel or foam. Egg cartons may also be the right size for smaller ornaments. Finally, storage boxes designed specifically for ornaments are available from many retailers.

As you may know, most of the resin ornaments offered at Russell Rhodes include our exclusive velvet gift and storage bag. It has a drawstring enclosure for outstanding protection. Some of our glass ornaments, including most Radko ornaments, have a special packaging option that includes a quality box!

Tip 2: Store Similar Ornaments Together

First, store ornaments of similar size together to make the best use of a box with dividers. Secondly, if you don’t put all your ornaments on the tree each year, having similar ornaments in the same box will allow you to find the ones you want for that year’s theme.

Tip 3: Place Boxes in a Plastic Bin

Radko ornament gift and storage box

Gift box available with many Radko ornaments.

A quality bin will keep the boxes from being crushed, and it makes it much easier to transport multiple boxes to and from the storage area.

NOTE: Plastic bins trap moisture if sealed tightly. Make sure ornaments are dry before placing them inside. You may also want to drill a few air holes in the sides and lid of the bin BEFORE your ornaments are inside.

An alternate idea combines tips 1 and 3. Martha Stewart has directions for building a cardboard storage system complete with dividers into a storage bin. It’s ideal for ornaments without original packaging.

Tip 4: Label All Boxes

If you’ve looked through 10 or 15 unmarked boxes to find the ornament you want, you know the value of this tip. Follow tip 2 and then label boxes with phrases like “green glass ornaments” or “resin ornaments with snow people and Santa.”

Tip 5: Consider Archival Storage for your Best Ornaments

Radko glass finial holly wreath

Protect your best pieces like this Radko Holly Wreath finial with sturdy, safe storage materials.

Archival storage boxes for ornaments are offered online and at some home stores. They feature acid-free cardboard and are exceptionally sturdy. Of course, they can be placed inside plastic bins for greater protection.

Tip 6: Avoid Storage in Damp Areas

Cardboard absorbs humidity rapidly and becomes weak, and mold may form on it. Basements and unheated attics are NOT good locations for your ornament boxes. Closets within living space are best.

These six tips for storing Christmas ornaments will keep them looking their best and giving you the most enjoyment season after season for many years to come!

Celebración – Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month

Did you know that September 15 through October 15 is officially designated as National Hispanic Heritage Month? In 1968, President Lyndon Johnson signed a measure to crate Hispanic Week Heritage. Twenty years later, President Ronald Reagan expanded it to 30 days. Congress passed it into law in August of 1988.

What Makes This Period Special?

There are several reasons for celebrating Hispanic and Latino heritage at this time. First, September 15 is the anniversary of several Latin American countries – Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala – gaining independence.

Mexico celebrates independence on the 16th and Chile on the 18th. Columbus Day, known as Día de la Raza, is October 12.

Artistic map of Mexico to celebrate national hispanic heritage month

Mexican Independence Day is Diez y Seis de Septiembre or September 16!

According to recent US Census data, 53 million people of Hispanic origin live in the United States. More than 50% of them live in three states, California, Texas and Florida – three states that have had a strong Hispanic influence since long before the formation of the United States. Hispanics are the largest ethnic/minority group in the country. It is estimated that approximately 38 million U.S. residents speak Spanish in their homes.

Tips for Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Week

There are lots of wonderful ways to celebrate during this period. Many of them are quite educational and ideal for children. Others focus on fun with a Hispanic twist. Here’s a great starter list for honoring the influence of Hispanic people on our nation’s history and the ongoing influence they have in our culture.

1. Visit an Exhibition of Hispanic Art

The National Gallery of Art is holding numerous exhibits in celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month. If you’re not in the D.C. area, contact art galleries and museums near you to see what exhibitions they are offering.

2. View Exhibitions Online

The website for the National Hispanic Month offers many interesting features, including a photo slideshow of influential politicians, entertainers, military personnel and others with Hispanic or Latino backgrounds. You’ll also find a link to a fascinating section on Experiencing War: Hispanics in Service that offers videos of interviews with many veterans from World War II through the Persian Gulf wars.

Mix of red, green and yellow peppers

Use tasty peppers like these to make delicious meals to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month

3. Make Hispanic Recipes Throughout the Month

How do Gaucho-style steak with Chimichurri sauce from Argentina, chocolate fudge truffles from Brazil and guacamole recipes from Mexico sound?  Pretty great, huh? Finding these and thousands of other recipes is easy, but here’s a delicious place to start. A visit to an authentic Mexican or Latino restaurant (and we don’t mean Taco Bell!) can be a deliciously educational time too!

4. Decorate for a Fiesta

Your local party supply store will have Hispanic-themed decorations for the fiesta as well as hats and costumes. And don’t forget the piñata!

Glass pinata ornament from Russell Rhodes

A pinata is a wonderful addition to any National HispanicHeritage Month celebration!

5. Create your Own Hispanic-Influenced Party Supplies and Works of Art

A mosaic plate inspired by the Aztecs or a Mexican yarn picture are just two of many great artwork options. For the party, how about a Mexican noisemaker or a paper-bag Serape to wear?

Education and fun go hand in hand during National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 through October 15. These ideas will get you started toward making the most of this important time!

Celebrating Music in the Classroom

PianoOrnament

Kids enjoy a hand-on approach to music appreciation!

Many of today’s most accomplished musicians and singers first fell in love with music in the classroom. That is worth celebrating and nurturing in younger generations!

Countless others didn’t go on to a career in music, but what they learned from teachers and experienced from recordings, live music events or their own participation sparked an appreciation for music of various genres and styles that has stayed with them through life.

Whether music is the subject they teach or they use music to augment their instruction of other subjects, many teachers are celebrating music in the classroom. These tips will help make your efforts a success.

1. Invite Local Musicians to Perform Live

electric lead guitar

Learning guitar improves coordination! Gaining the skill boosts self-esteem!

There is simply nothing like a live performance. Whether it’s an operatic solo, four-piece string quartet a spicy salsa band – the options are endless – kids from kindergarten through high school will appreciate the live experience.

If a college near you offers music degrees, consider calling the dean of the music department to seek help in lining up live acts. Music education students are often very interested in such opportunities, and most play an instrument and are part of a band too.

Other sources include newspaper writers who cover the music scene or editors of local magazines that write about local musicians and artists. Ask if they know of any who would enjoy passing on their love of music by playing live for students and discussing their craft.

These sources will likely provide you with outstanding options.

2. Play a Wide Variety of Music

Most kids don’t “like” types of music they’re unfamiliar with. That’s the key. When they gain familiarity with new styles, an appreciation and enjoyment often follows quickly.

3. Encourage Playing an Instrument

Clarinet

Children who learn to play an instrument are more likely to go to college.

You don’t have to be the band teacher to do this. If you’re a math teacher, show students how math is important in writing music. Discuss studies that support the view that music appreciation boosts the ability to succeed in math and the sciences.

Other teachers can discuss studies that show how listening to classical music assists in the learning process and in life too!. Demonstrated benefits include the development of better reading skills, improved goal-setting and concentration, increased coordination, better self-esteem and a greater likelihood of going to college. That’s a ton of great reasons to celebrate music in the classroom!

These are just a few ways that any teacher can help inspire an appreciation for music in students of all ages.

Look for fun ways to reward participation in math. These may include tickets to local symphonies (many colleges put on free concerts and recitals), jazz bands, musical theater and other kid-friendly opportunities.

Musical instrument ornaments are wonderful ways to recognize children that have put forth effort in music too. They are available in hundreds of styles that cover every type of music including classical, jazz, rock and singing.

Perhaps these ideas will get you thinking about ways to celebrate music in the classroom, so that students develop a love for it that will benefit them in many ways throughout their lives!

Fantastic Tabletop Ornaments for The Holiday Season

If you find pleasure in decorating your entire home for the holidays – not just the tree – then you’ll love the tips and ideas in this post.

Personalized tabletop ornament for tabletop decorations.

This lovely tabletop ornament personalized by hand is a fine choice for an end table, book shelf or the mantel.

The focus here is on tabletop ornaments. Many of them look very similar to standard tree ornaments and some are quite different. Most do not have an eyelet for hanging them anywhere, and that is often the most obvious characteristic that sets them apart. Of course, they all have flat bases for flat surfaces!

Here are top tips and ideas for using table top ornaments and decorations in your home.

Expand the Idea of Tabletop

While called tabletop decorations, these home decorations can be used on any flat surface such as end tables, coffee tables, dining room tables, night stands, book shelves, knick-knack shelves, countertops, top of the refrigerator, breakfast bars, serving buffets, hutches, the edges of open staircases and the fireplace mantel.

The desk in your home office or your desk at work is another great location for these décor accessories. They can keep you in a holiday mood that will have you whistling Christmas carols while you work!

Choose Ornaments of Appropriate Size

Resin tabletop ornament with penguins.

This delightful penguin tabletop ornament works well on a small shelf and would blend with snowman or Santa Claus ornaments.

If you’re looking for lovely tabletop decorations for a coffee table, then they should be fairly large, both in width and height. Smaller tabletop ornaments are better for end tables, knick-knack shelves and the bathroom counter. You don’t want the tabletop decoration to get lost…but you don’t want it to overwhelm its surroundings either.

Look for Groupings that Work Together

Going eclectic in your décor may produce attractive results. However, you need to have a good sense of style to make it work. A safer bet is to group holiday decorations that have a common theme.

Let’s say you have a handsome bookshelf in your living room that you’d like to deck for the holidays. Consider using groupings such as Santa ornaments, glass treetop finials on stands or ornaments featuring snow people. Another way to do this is to choose all traditionally-styled ornaments or all glass ornaments in traditional seasonal colors.

Less Can Be More – Avoid Clutter

Use tabletop decorations sparingly. Clutter creates a restless feeling, and you want your holiday décor to soothe and lift spirits in your home. A large bookshelf is a good location for 3-5 medium-sized tabletop ornaments.

A large table might accommodate 2-3 without looking crowded. End tables are a nice location for just one or two small to medium-sized holiday decorations.

Be judicious with the use of mantel decorations too. Center a medium-to-large one and then choose 1-3 small-to-medium mantel decorations for each side, depending on the length of the mantel.

Summary

Tabletop ornaments allow you to place little reminders of the season’s happiness throughout your home. These tips for using tabletop ornaments are a good starting point for making tabletop decorations a meaningful part of your holiday décor!

Meaningful Ways to Celebrate you Grandparents

Grandparents are a very important part of many families. According to the most recent census, there are more than 55 million grandparents in the United State.

Since 1978, when Congress passed legislation proclaiming the first Sunday after Labor Day to be National Grandparents Day, there has been an official day to recognize the value of these special people.

With that in mind, here are 5 meaningful ways to celebrate your grandparents.

1. Throw a Party!

Get all the grandparents together for a big bash. Ask them what their favorite foods and beverages are and have them on hand.

Choose music from when they were young – and that could be anything from 40’s swing and blues to great 50’s singers like Sinatra, Cash, James Brown or Elvis to the 60’s and the Beatles, the Rolling Stones or the Motown sound.

Do a Q & A with them. Prepare a list of questions for them to answer about what their lives have been like. It can be a great learning experience to hear about grandparents’ early years, their educational and work experiences, life lessons they’ve learned and much more. These questions also give them a sense that their knowledge and experience continue to be valued.

2. Prepare a Photo Slideshow

This takes some time, but can be very meaningful. Ask your grandparents to give you access to their photos. Put together a collection of them that takes the viewer from the grandparent’s childhood through the present.

Include important pictures such as graduation photos, wedding pics, shots of them in military uniform, pictures of them at work and play, and especially, lots of photos of them with their grandchildren.

The next step is to scan the photos – or take digital pictures of them – and use slideshow software to turn them into a retrospective on their life to the present time.

Two of the best slideshow software programs are PhotoStage Slideshow which is very affordable and ProShow Gold that is more expensive but also offers more features. ProShow offers a free trial you can download from its site. PowerPoint can be used for this purpose, too.

The slideshow would be perfect to show at the party you host!

3. Write Letters

This is a simple one, but it can be incredibly meaningful for both the writer and the grandparents. In the letters, share your admiration, love and respect. Let each grandparent know what they have meant and continue to mean to you!

You might even want to ask for their wisdom on such matters as relationships and marriage, finances and raising children. If you’re not the writing type, then take them out to lunch and share your thoughts and questions in a conversation.

4. Select Meaningful Gifts

What those gifts are depends entirely on your budget. For example, if you can swing it, consider sending married grandparents back to the place they spent their honeymoon for a fantastic few days or a week.

Grandparents Christmas ornament personalized by hand.

Here’s just one beautiful example of grandparents ornaments personalized to be special mementos of love.

Moderately expensive gifts might include a treadmill or bicycle to help them stay fit or a weekend away to a local resort. If they’re a bit older, having a walk-in tub installed in their home – one with relaxing water jets!—is a lovely gift.

Frugal but meaningful gift ideas for grandparents include personalized grandparents ornaments that are available in hundreds of style options. The Christmas ornaments personalized for grandparents include places for their names – or the names of their kids and grandkids – and often, a special message from you.

5. Visit a Gravesite

If your grandparents have passed away, consider a visit to the cemetery to pay your respects. Bring flowers or other decorations permitted by the cemetery rules. If one of your grandparents is a widow or widower, ask them to accompany you. Take lawn chairs and sit by the graveside for a bit. Ask your grandparent to reminisce a bit about his or her spouse and their life together. It will likely produce warm memories you’ll never forget.

These are just a few of many wonderful ways to honor grandparents for Grandparents Day or any time at all. What you do to honor them isn’t as important as that you make the effort to do so. They’ll love the experience, and it’s very likely that you and other family members will too!

High School Football: New Traditions in Honoring Student Athletes

High school football dominates the fall sports scene from rural towns to big cities across America. These new traditions will help your favorite school build team unity and support the success of student athletes!

1. New Takes on Team T-Shirts

University of Michigan football stadium big house

An aerial view of the 107,000 seat UM “Big House” stadium.

Team t-shirts are old-school, but there are some cool new themes to show your love for your local, favorite team.

For example, the University of Michigan football team has given every player t-shirts that read “Team 134” in honor of this being the 134th year of football played at that revered football powerhouse, and with changing personnel from year to year, no two teams have ever been the same.

Shirts like that, or one that reads “2013 Decatur Bulldogs Team Pride” instead of saying something generic like “Property of De La Salle Football,” give each team a completely unique identity that builds unity while also tying into the tradition the school has developed.

2. Choose Your Own Handsome Dan

In 1892, a Yale University student bought a bulldog from a local blacksmith and renamed the rugged-looking beast Handsome Dan. It became the Yale Bulldog’s team mascot to keep pace with chief rival Princeton’s live tiger. The square-jawed canine mascot has stood the test of time! The current Handsome Dan is number 17 replacing number 16, a dog with the home name of Mugsy that remains in good health while enjoying retirement.

Think of the Colorado buffalo, the USC Trojan horse, the Notre Dame Leprechaun, Bevo the Texas longhorn, the Arkansas hog, the LSU tiger or Reveille the Texas A&M collie. What live mascot can you come up with for your school? Keep in mind it doesn’t have to coincide with the team’s name. After all, the Texas A&M nickname is  Aggies, not Collies, and Notre Dame goes by Fighting Irish, not Little Green Men in Pointy Shoes!

3. Honor Patches on Jerseys

Student athlete: Student first. Athlete second. Stress the importance of academics by awarding jersey patches to players who are achieving B-level or better grades.

4. Weekly Halftime Academic Honorees

Leading edge high schools are putting academics in their proper place by recognizing high achievers during halftime of home games. Players on the Honor Roll are introduced at halftime and given certificates, plaques or other commemorative awards. Plenty of high schools are also awarding academic excellence at end-of-the-year banquets.

5. Coupons to Local Business for Attending the Study Hall

Football practice, watching tape of upcoming opponents and spending time in the weight room take up a good chunk of the student athletes’ week. Schools that put academics first offer study hall periods after practice or on weekends to provide tutoring and support so student athletes can meet their academic goals. Many coaches make attending these sessions a mandatory part of being on the team. Regardless of whether or not it’s mandatory, consider rewarding players for participating.

Coupons to local ice cream or pizza shops, sporting goods stores and movie theaters can be given as inducements to remain faithful to the study hall periods.

NOTE: Check with your athletic director about league and/or state rules about these types of gifts for student athletes. Some leagues and states may view them as inappropriate benefits, as misguided as such rules may be! It’s not like their signing autographs for pay, right?

6. Personalized Ornaments to Build Team Spirit

You’re the head football coach, and it’s the end of your last practice before the season’s

This athletically designed football ornament is available in several different “looks” to reflect all the players on your team.

first game. You handed out the “Team 72” t-shirts at the summer’s first two-a-day and now you want to galvanize team spirit with the season’s first kickoff a day away.

One great way to unify your team is by handing out Christmas ornaments personalized with each player’s name and number. Dozens of football ornament are offered. Many feature figures of players, and most series include Caucasian and African American versions. While technically Christmas ornaments, many look like charms that are often displayed in lockers or attached to book bags.

7.   Players Becoming Mentors

It’s been said that the reward for success is the opportunity to do more. Many high school coaches are taking this to heart, giving student athletes who are maintaining good grades the chance to tutor younger student athletes in subjects such as reading, writing, science and math. The overwhelming majority of players in these programs state that their involvement is very rewarding and has spurred them on to greater effort and success in their own academic pursuits.

We hope these suggestions will help you honor student athletes this season and beyond. Have a great year on and off the field!