Relationships thrive on contact. In hectic, distracting times, sending a card or a gift is actually the easiest way of letting people know you're thinking about them. Create a simple, reliable system to stay connected, no matter how busy you are.
Target 25 people. Life isn't predictable, but birthdays and anniversaries are. New Years is a good time to make a list of about 25 people you want to remember. Track down their significant dates and their ages. Note what you will do for each occasion: Send a card? A gift? Plan a dinner or lunch out? Create a master list on your computer or on one sheet of paper in the back of your address book.
Establish your reminder system. Write each person's name from your master list in your wall calendar or daily planner. Count back one week to one month before the event, and mark a day you'll shop for a gift or mail a card. Sites like aol.com, yahoo.com, and www.hallmark.com can send you an extra alarm via e-mail or text message reminders.
Stockpile and personalize. Don't search for the perfect card or gift every time a birthday or anniversary approaches. Collect generic cards and gifts year round. The magic touch will be the personalized handwritten message you add.
Choose one or two favorite shops or sites. You can find unusual choices at sites like fairytalebrownies.com, sweetsinbloom.com, and thehungersite.com (which donates food to charity with each purchase). You can order months—or only a few days—in advance.
Don't panic! If you forget to do anything ahead of time, you can redeem yourself with an online card; try bluemountain.com or americangreetings.com. Or call first thing in the morning—no one will know you didn't plan.
Printed from Oprah.com on Thursday, December 5, 2013