Seasons Greetings: AwesomeBox = A Great Gift

Here are some examples of AwesomeBox designs, courtesy photo.

Here are some examples of AwesomeBox designs, courtesy photo.

It’s always tough to find affordable, creative gifts for loved ones—especially during the holiday season—but the AwesomeBox ( is something unique and well, ahem, awesome. More than a simple photo album or personalized photo gift (both of which are also great for the holidays), AwesomeBox allows users to build a customized box of memories, stories and photos packaged into a one-of-a-kind printed gift.

It’s also a great group gift to collaborate with family or friends, because you can send out invitations to multiple people to contribute their photos and their memories. In fact, one of the most unique parts about the AwesomeBox experience is how easy it is to get everyone involved in the gift giving process.

Receiving a special gift like an AwesomeBox can evoke a powerful response, courtesy photo.

Receiving a special gift like an AwesomeBox can evoke a powerful response, courtesy photo.

I made one to surprise one of my family member this year, and lots of people are getting in on the fun. In fact, recently, fans have collaborated to make AwesomeBoxes as gifts for Beyoncé, DrakeJon Stewart and Leonardo DiCaprio’s birthdays, and fans are currently making one for Taylor Swift. But, you don’t have to be a celebrity to get an AwesomeBox.

Add pictures from Instagram, Facebook, your phone or computer, and send out invitations to others to contribute. Then design your cards and sequence them to tell a compelling story. You can even add music to your card to co-create a custom playlist. Best of all, a 10-card AwesomeBox is just $19.

Receiving a special gift like an AwesomeBox can evoke a powerful response, courtesy photo.

Receiving a special gift like an AwesomeBox can evoke a powerful response, courtesy photo.

It’s so simple to create, and the memories last a lifetime. In three simple steps, you’ll have the perfect gift:

1.    Create a private online webpage to honor your special someone.

2.    Invite friends and family to upload photos and heartfelt messages from around the world.

3.    AwesomeBox turns everything into a box of 10 to 100 colorful printed cards that they’ll pour over for years!

We even have a special coupon code where you can save 25%: HOLIDAYGIFT.

Here are some examples of AwesomeBox designs, courtesy photo.

Here are some examples of AwesomeBox designs, courtesy photo.

Check it out, and let me know what you think.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on December 9, 2016.



Paul Reiser is the Perfect Date for Valentine’s Day

It turns out that stand-up comedian, actor, and writer Paul Reiser isn’t just funny on TV and movie screen or on stage, he’s equally funny via email. He’ll be appearing at the Lobero Theatre  (33 E. Canon Perdido St.) on Friday, February 14.

Paul Reiser, courtesy photo

Paul Reiser, courtesy photo

Reiser is probably best known as the star and co-creator of the beloved TV series Mad About You, but more recently he’s been doing movies. This year he starred opposite Matt Damon and Michael Douglas in the Steven Soderbergh-directed HBO movie Behind The Candelabra, a film about Liberace that won 11 Emmy’s. He also appears in two highly anticipated Sundance Film Festival contenders this year, Life After Beth and Whiplash.

Reiser is also a talented musician. He wrote the Mad About You theme song (with Grammy-winning producer Don Was) “The Final Frontier,” which has the unique distinction of having been broadcast on Mars. NASA mission directors chose the song as the “wake up call” for the Sojourner Rover on Mars. He recently collaborated with British singer/songwriter Julia Fordham on Unusual Suspectsan album of original songs on which Reiser also arranged and played piano.

I interviewed Reiser via email this week. Here are few tidbits:

SEASONS: Your publicist mentions your musical talents. Will there be music in the Santa Barbara show or will it be strictly stand-up?

Paul Reiser: Just standup, maybe a little Q&A at the end—but no music. However people are invited to sing along at any point, should they be so moved.

SEASONS: Your show takes place at the Lobero on Valentine’s Day. What will your wife be doing while you’re in Santa Barbara entertaining all of us?

Paul Reiser:  That’s a good question. Your guess is as good as mine. The woman remains a mystery. Though seeing as how it’s Valentines Day, I might persuade her to come along for the ride.

SEASONS: Any chance of a creative reunion of some sort between you and your TV wife Helen Hunt?

Paul Reiser:  Well, that depends on what you call ” creative.” We get together for lunch pretty regularly, and while I like to think we order pretty creatively (for example, I recently had soup, she had a salad, and then—wait for it: we split a couple of sides) – which I thought was a bit outside the box—these events are generally not broadcast for public consumption and probably not what you had in mind.

SEASONS: No, not exactly.

But we are excited that after all of these years of having Reiser make us laugh on TV and movies (and most recently on email), we’ll finally get to him perform live, up close and personal. Not only that, we have a few tickets to give away.

Check out our Facebook page on Thursday, February 6, Tuesday, February 11, and Thursday, February 13 to see how you can win a pair of tickets to celebrate Valentine’s Day with Paul Reiser at the Lobero Theatre on Friday, February 14 at 7:30 p .m.

To purchase tickets call 805/966-4946 and visit

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara SEASONS on February 6, 2014.

Defending Facebook Friends

Screen shot 2014-07-11 at 7.17.28 PMWeak Ties Still Equal Strong Links

Marlene Dietrich once said, “It’s the friends you call at 4 a.m. that really matter.” Agreed. But the friends whose walls you post on at 4 a.m. matter too.

“Weak ties are your windows to the world,” wrote Stanford University sociologist Mark Granovetter back in 1973 in “The Strength of Weak Ties,” one of the earliest academic theories about the spread of information in social networks. Of course, he had no way of knowing back then how apropos his words would become in these days of social networking. “When you’re looking for new ideas and new connections, you don’t get them from family or close friends. It’s the weak ties that connect you to different circles and opportunities,” he wrote.

It’s also the weak ties that connect you to community.

Which is why I get so irked at all of the high falutin’ Luddites who diss communication technologies like Facebook on the grounds that they value “quality and not quantity in their friendships.”

Excuse me, but just because I enjoy connecting with people online doesn’t mean I’m holed up alone in some hovel wearing a dirty gray hoodie and mainlining Red Bull all night.

My pajamas are perfectly clean and I much prefer red wine to Red Bull, which you would know if you read my Facebook page.

Besides, people like that completely miss the point of Facebook and other social networking sites. Of course Facebook isn’t a substitute for close friends and I would have serious concerns for the psyche of anyone who chose to use it that way. For me social networking serves an entirely different function-it’s a community.

Much like going to my neighborhood coffee shop or hanging out with other parents as I wait for my son to finish soccer practice, I have a nodding “hey, how’s it going” kind of acquaintanceship with most of my Facebook friends. We share little bits and pieces of our lives-sometimes a bit too much, girl who posts endless cat pictures-but for the most part we save the nitty-gritty details for our real friends, who aren’t necessarily the ones we chat with on Facebook.

Still, I love getting these little glimpses of the day-to-day fabric of people’s lives. I like to know what’s going on in other people’s heads, even the mundane stuff. But these kind of peripheral friendships are very, very different from the deeper friendships I have.

Which isn’t to say that peripheral friendships aren’t important.

According to a 30-year long longitudinal study at Harvard, the state of our entire network (“our community”) impacts our well being. The study, of 12,000 people, found that your odds of being happy increase by 25 percent if a direct connection in your network is happy.

Got that. Happiness is contagious.

The study also found a similar effect for secondhand associations; if your friend’s friend is happy, the odds of your friend being happy increase by 15 percent-and the odds of you being happy increase by 10 percent.

So c’mon, let’s get happy.

That reminds me of a favorite Partridge Family song. I think I’ll look it up on YouTube and post it on my Facebook page.

When Leslie’s not wiling away hours on Facebook she can be reached at For more columns visit Originally published in the Santa Barbara Daily Sound on November 5, 2010.