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christmas shopping tips

  • Christmas Hostess Gifts

    'Tis the season for giving, right? You may already have a list of Christmas gift ideas - for family, close friends, your kids' teachers, perhaps a few co-workers or neighbors. As you begin planning and budgeting, don't forget host/hostess gifts for holiday parties.

    Fresh flowers are always lovely, but may mean a little extra stress for your host if she has to suddenly find and fill a vase. One year when I hosted the family meal, my mother-in-law had a floral arrangement delivered to my house ahead of time. It was a fun surprise and I had time to put it in the best place, considering all of the food and place settings. Another nice alternative suggested by Crystal is a small potted live tree. An evergreen is a perfect choice at this time of year.

    Because the holiday season is one with impromptu gatherings as well as scheduled parties, it makes sense to plan ahead and keep a stash of appropriate gifts available. This tip comes from Jennefer at Shopping'sMyCardio, and she has some clever hostess gift suggestions in food, drink and game categories.

    If you're travelling to another part of the country, items from your home city or state are ideal. This could be a local food or beverage  - think coffee from Seattle or pecans from Georgia. Or you could select something created by a favorite hometown artisan such as a small piece of art or pottery.

    If you're the DIY type, there are a myriad of options. No surprise, but Martha Stewart is a great source: for food, try these spiced pecans or caramel bourbon vanilla sauce. My favorite, though, is a "morning-after" breakfast basket, perfect for the host who was up late and has had enough of meal-preparation!

    There are several other things that could be made in large batches, then available for all your upcoming parties. Hostess With The Mostess has all the elements you need to make homemade natural citrus-mint cleaning products. This set of tile coasters, from Lindsay at The Cottage Home, could be designed with a Christmas motif, or if you know the hostess well, with her favorite colors. Homemade spa products would be a luxurious treat - Mother and Baby Health has gathered a variety of ideas from lip balm to body scrub.

    What's the best hostess gift you've ever received, whether purchased or homemade?

     

  • eLayaway: a unique and prudent way of shopping in the 21st century

    Today I came across a company called eLayaway.com. They offer consumers the ability to buy something and make payments on the product or service over a chosen period of time. Instead of making several large purchases during the Holiday rush, the thought behind the site is to approach the season with a defined budget and most importantly, pay for the gifts in full instead of just slapping them on a credit card. As a merchant, we are considering becoming a vendor of eLayaway to offer our customers and potential customers an additional payment option. From a quick scan of the site, it looks like consumers are charged a 1.9% fee, which is based off of the final price of the product. That fee is actually not bad if the alternative is to put it on a credit card that is being paid in full every month.

    Something to think about as you begin planning and preparing for the Holiday season coming up (sooner than later!).

    Here is the article I found if you are interested in more details.

    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/merry-christmas-in-august-from-elayaway-2011-08-17?reflink=MW_news_stmp

    Thanks!

    MerryStockings.com

  • Timeless Gifts to Help You Save

    One of the most often suggested tip for saving when buying Christmas gifts for your friends, family and loved ones is to buy way before the Christmas rush starts. Shopping for Christmas gifts in January is not too far out. The only way to do this is to hoard gifts that are considered timeless. MerryStockings.com offer these suggestions on what to get your many friends and relatives for Christmas 2011, as early as now!

    1. Get Creative! If you have the talent to paint or draw, you can probably create some masterpieces that you could give your loved ones. Paint their portraits, houses, favorite places, children. The ideas of what to paint are endless. It all depends on what you want him or her to remember or knowing what he or she cherishes the most. This is also true if you are interested in needlework, cross-stitching or other crafts. Starting now, it is very possible to be able to give each and every friend or relative a unique gift that came from your hands.

    2. Start a savings account for your kids. A great way for you and your kids to bond and teach them a little something about money. Instead of encouraging your kids to list down their most wanted list from Santa this year, tell them that they can buy anything that they save for come Christmas time. What's more, you can match their savings to make it more attractive for them. Say you can match it 1 to 1 or 50 cents for every dollar.

    For example, you can tell your kids that for every dollar they put into their savings account, you would also deposit a dollar. So if he or she deposits $10 now, he or she would have $20!

    3. Give them something very useful for them. If you know your loved ones very well, you have an inkling what they need the most. It could be an article of clothing, a tool or materials. For example, if your mother loves to bake, then you can certainly buy her baking materials or pans when your local retailer has a sale. You can buy umbrellas at half the price during summer. It's all a matter of timing!

  • More Ways to Have Fun with Old Christmas Cards

    MerryStockings.com offers you more ways to make use of old Christmas cards. Now you do not have to throw them out and still have fun with them! Talk about re-purposing!

    6. Create your own unique bookmark. Christmas cards are made of thin yet very sturdy cardboard, making it a great bookmark material. Cut out the graphics and punch a hole in it. Run a ribbon, twine or string through the hole and voila! you have a great looking bookmark!

    7. Reuse them as Christmas postcards. For those Christmas cards where the inside front are left without any writing, cut out the front of the card and use the card as a postcard. For added effect, draw a line down the center of the card. Then you can use the left portion for your message and the right portion for the recipient's address.

    You can also use these postcards as a thank you card for all those gifts you have recieved!

    8. Turn old cards into scrapbook material. If you keep a scrapbook, the graphics on these old Christmas cards can provide the best background for your Christmas page. You can create picture holders, stickers and frames using old cards.

    9. Old Christmas cards make the best Christmas ornaments! Simply find a figure or graphic that you can cut out from old Christmas cards. Have a card with a particularly cute Rudolph or an endearing Santa Claus up front? Then cut it out and tape a looped string behind it. These would make your Christmas tree a lot more interesting and bursting with variety.

    10. If you enjoyed turning your Christmas card into gift tags, you can probably use the larger designs as accents for your gift wrapping. Next Christmas do away with simple gift wrappers by gluing cut out graphics on them.

  • Don't throw those Christmas cards away!

    Now that Christmas is over, you are probably packing away the tree and storing away your Christmas decorations. You may have received a bunch of cards from last Christmas and are ready to throw them out. Don't. There are a lot of things that you can use these old Christmas cards for. MerryStockings.com offers you some suggestions.

    1. Use them to decorate your house next Christmas. Think about setting up a Christmas card wall that includes the Christmas cards you have received over the years. These could be those special cards from special people. Not only would this give you the chance to recollect on the messages and the people who sent them, the beautiful graphics of the card would provide a great Christmas display.

    2. Use them to decorate your own candy holder. The graphics on the front of the card could provide eye-catching designs for a Christmas candy holder. If you have old tin cans, you can paint these with green or red and then stick cut out card fronts all over.

    3. Create a Christmas ball. Cut out the front of several cards to make similarly sized pentagons. You can glue these together to make a hanging ball.

    4. Use them to show your love on Valentine's Day! There are a lot of Christmas cards that come in red. You don't even need the graphics for this one. Cut out the back of the red Christmas card to form the shape of a heart, or a cupid. There are a lot of stencils for you to use with this particular project. Send these to your spouse, children or significant others!

    5. Christmas gift tags. People usually leave the back of the card's front empty. You could cut out the graphics on the card and use the back to write your own messages to server as gift tags for next Christmas!

  • How to Store Christmas Ornaments

    MerryStockings.com gives you some more tips to remember when storing Christmas ornaments.

    1. If you buy a new set of ornaments, keep the boxes that they come in with. Manufacturers know what would protect their merchandise best, so they line their boxes with bubble wrap, or they make it into certain shapes. This is especially true for online retailers who take extra precautions in their packaging to minimize the chance of damage while shipping. Hence this is also the best way to store your ornaments.

    2. Do not remove the hooks and the strings you used this year. Pack your Christmas tree ornaments with the hooks inserted. This would lessen the work you have to do the next time you hang these ornaments. Besides, taking out the hooks and strings and putting them together is one way to end up with a tangled mess next year.

    3. Buy a storage bin. You might want to buy a storage bin for your ornaments. Pick one that is bigger than what you need now to make room for ornaments you're going to buy or for those ornaments that people gift you with. Choose an airtight storage bin as this will protect your ornaments better.

    4. Throw away broken ornaments. This does not need further explanation, except that a lot of people hang on to broken ornaments for sentimental reasons.

    5. Hold on to ornaments that come in different colors, sizes and shapes. You may have bought a set of ornaments before and over the years some parts of this set has been lost, broken or thrown out. Do keep the good ones that are left. You can still use these for your wreaths during the next Christmas season. Or you could go with a more festive and varied ornament bowl. You can also use smaller orphan ornaments as a pretty addition to your gift wrapping.

  • How to Store Christmas Decorations, Part II

    MerryStockings.com continues to give you time-tested tricks on how to store Christmas decorations to make them last for years to come.

    Here are some more:

    4. Old socks for your Christmas candles. Wrap your Christmas candles using old stockings or socks, to avoid scratching them. If you store them in the attic, make sure not to place these candles under hot areas.

    5. Store your Christmas lights right. Using a piece of carton, wound your Christmas lights so that you do not have to contend with the tangles next year. Similar to Christmas ornaments, you can wind together similar lights and properly label them. Do not be a cheapskate and make sure you throw out lights that are not working properly or have been damaged. It is better to be safe than sorry.

    6. Label, label, label! With Christmas decorations and just about anything that you store, it makes good sense to label the boxes properly. Make sure that you put a list of contents outside each box so you do not have to open them all. Order the boxes in the way they should be unpacked. For example, those things that you need at the start of the Christmas season such as the advent calendars, Christmas cards and Christmas stockings are to be found in Box No. 1, while those that you need at the end like Christmas ornaments would be at Box No. 12.

    7. Take pictures! If you want a head-ache free assembly for Christmas decorations that needs to be reassembled, then take pictures so that you would remember how things look like and you would get an idea on how to reassemble it.

    8. Storing Christmas cards. Whether you have left-over Christmas cards, or you just want to keep Christmas cards you have received from friends and relatives, the best way to store Christmas cards is inside a tin can. Save those tin cans from chocolates and store your cards in it. For added protection, you can use a used Christmas gift wrapper to wrap you cards first before storing them.

  • How to Have An Environmental Christmas

    What are the typical Christmas colors? Red, gold, silver, yellow and GREEN. There are a lot of ways to be environment conscious this Christmas. MerryStockings.com give you five ways to give Mother Earth a hug this Christmas.

    1. Keep Christmas ornaments for next year. If you are going to use plastic ornaments, then make sure that you keep them for next year. Not only would you save on money, but you also help the environment.

    An added tip would be to use personalized Christmas tree ornaments which you could use to start a tradition. Just imagine having ornaments from the time when your kid was just a baby up to now when he's entering his teens.

    2. Consider LED lights. You might want to trade in the old bulbs for LED lights. LED lights have the same brightness as traditional bulbs, but they consumer up to 90% less energy.

    3. Use biodegradable candles. If you are planning to use candles for Christmas, then make sure that these are made out of soy, beeswax, or other similarly biodegradable candles.

    4. Make an effort to give gifts that people would keep. There is no sense in handing out cheap-looking cards to friends and family that will surely find their way to the garbage bin. Personalized holiday cards are very attractive that people would be sure to keep it!

    5. Keep the Earth in mind when shopping. Make sure that you plan your shopping trips so that you could do all your shopping all at once. Make lists of the things and gifts you need to buy. If possible, shop online. This will help you save up on gas and earn you brownie... errr, "greenie" points!

    Also it helps to have a list of people and their corresponding gifts handy, just to make sure that you do not forget anything or anybody and have to go back to the mall for each one that you forget!

  • Why It Makes Sense to Shop for Christmas Gifts Now

    A lot of people make it a habit to shop for Christmas gifts when December nears.  But if you want to have a stress free Christmas, you should start shopping months earlier.  Here are the top 3 reasons why you should start shopping for Christmas gifts now!

    1. Give yourself ample time.  Admit it, choosing the best and the perfect Christmas gift for your family of 5, dozens of relatives, hundreds of co-workers, friends, neighbors and loved ones can be a very daunting experience.  How many times in the past have you picked up horrendous gifts just because it was near closing time on Christmas eve?  Avoid the Christmas rush by shopping way ahead of time, this way you could hoard all the gifts you want and buy for less people when the stores are packed.

    Also, the additional time you have could be perfect when you are ordering personalized Christmas gift items like stockings and Christmas ornaments.  You will not have to worry about whether the gifts would arrive on time for Christmas, or if they are going to be gifts for the Feast of the Three Kings.

    2. Discounts. Most people think that Black Friday is the best time for discounts.  This might be true, but stores do offer a lot of discounts on other days as well.  Much more if you plan on giving personalized Christmas gifts.  Online sites often give a full 25% discounts or more during the months of June and July, or whenever it is off-season.  In effect, you get the best personalized Christmas gift items at the lowest prices.

    3. Avoid the stress.  If you shop close to Christmas, there will always be the long queues at the checkout line.  Either that, or somebody would be rude enough to snatch up the last toy your kid wanted for Christmas out of your hands.  The crowds at malls tend to be thicker during Christmas time.  And the thick crowds often spell more nuisances, higher blood pressure levels and a lot of inconvenience.

    Save yourself the trouble by shopping now.  Not only do you avoid the stress, the higher prices and the inconvenience, you could also make sure that you get the perfect Christmas gifts for your family, friends and loved ones!

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