Decorating for a Victorian Christmas Theme

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Many people enjoy the ornate decorations of a traditional Victorian Christmas. Stockings, Christmas trees, ornaments, candles, and other hallmarks were not always enjoyed by everyone. These decorations came about when a family was prosperous enough to afford them. In time, the middle class rose and more people were able to afford these small joys of the Christmas season.

Victorian Christmas decorations reflect both the spirit and prosperity of the time. Ornate and elaborate decor was popular. Large trees were brought in to be adorned with hand painted ornaments, beads, medallions, and garlands. Sometimes candles were used, though this was risky. In time adaptations and improvements were made, like the use of electric lights and intricately crafted ornaments.

This time period also developed the greeting card. Victorian Christmas cards would have picture along with a brief greeting from the sender. Christmas was still a relatively new idea, so there were few themes associated with the holiday. Many greeting cards featured flowers, kittens, and generalized winter scenes. There were images of joyful celebrations, with chubby cherubic-like children, happy couples walking through snow, and some religious icons as well. The images are brimming with joy and happiness.

Today many people associate red and green as the colors of the season. In Victorian times, these colors were not yet the hallmark of the holidays. Artwork on most of the cards from the era tend to have blues, pinks, and golds. The cards were cherished and kept as keepsakes. Many of our modern greeting cards are based off of the early Victorian designs.

The Victorian time was one of prosperity, confidence, and happiness. Families were able to gather together for elaborate parties and events. Children could enjoy special treats and surprises. Bringing some of this spirit into our own holiday season will help foster the most amazing memories.

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Decorating with an Aluminum Christmas Tree

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When Christmas season arrives, you will notice that there are a lot of families that enjoy it because of all the traditions that they follow. Different families have different customs and traditions depending on where they are from and what they enjoy doing. The truth about it is that these traditions are often derived from traditional customs which many families have created to match their very own. One example of these Christmas traditions is to place a Christmas tree inside your home decorated with shiny bright Christmas ornaments.

If you belong to a family that follows this tradition, then you might want to consider getting an aluminum Christmas tree. The difference between these trees in contrary to the real pine trees is that there is less trouble with weight, disposal, pine needles, and strong smell which are all present in the latter. You will be delighted to know that these aluminum trees also free you from the burden of having to deal with possible injuries if the pine trees should ever fall on you, build-up of sap and moisture, and potential infestation of insects in your household. Eliminating the stress in having to get a pine tree is definitely something that you should consider not only for yourself, but for your family as well.

Aside from the differences between these two type of trees, you should not forget the benefits is has to offer you. You can assure yourself that simple aluminum greatly reduces the trees weight in general, so it would be a lot easier for you to set up. The time that you spend with your family assembling the tree is greatly reduced and could be used for more productive activities such as decorating it with beautiful ornaments that are also very cheap and affordable. In the end, you and your family can enjoy the beauty and effort placed in decorating the tree, making it a sight to see this glorious Christmas season.

  • How to make a Christmas tree decoration (guardian.co.uk)

Wii Games On Sale For The Holidays

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The Nintendo Wii console is a huge hit, and has sold millions of units around the world. So what do you get your Wii gamer for the holidays?  Wii games of course!  There are many great games, but one of the drawbacks is the price.  A Wii game can cost $49.99, which is a big hit in today’s economy.  Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to find top Wii games at a discount, so you can buy several for your favorite gamer and not break the bank.

The first thing to consider about Wii games is that there are plenty of great games that sell for well under the $49.99.  You might be thinking of buying some of the top selling Mario game titles, like Mario Kart for Wii, or New Super Mario Bros, but many of these aren’t discounted because the remain so popular.  If you shop at some online retailers though, such as Amazon, you’ll find they do discount the price at least a few bucks.  You’ll also save on shipping and sales tax, depending on what state you live in, so that can be a few more dollars right there.

But you can also find Wii games on sale for the holidays that are still really popular, but might be new to your gamer. One great example is the recent release Create, which lets players create their own colorful worlds, with the ability to create many different scenes, and with built in challenges, a game that’s fun for the whole family. This game can be found at under $30, which is a great price, and it’s creative! Another super popular game is the Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga game, which sells for under $20. This includes Lego versions of all the star wars movies, and has hours and hours of play, with new characters and abilities to unlock and all your favorite Star Wars scenes.  Start with these games, and you’ll get great games for the Wii without spending a fortune.

Penny Christmas

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Penny Christmas

This is a game we played in our family when we were young. We added it to our regular Christmas gift-giving, but if a family is having serious financial difficulties, it could easily replace the traditional gift exchange. In case you are worried it may not go over well with the current generation, let me assure you – we have recently revived it for the next generation of kids in our family and it is a big hit.

Pile of gorgeous gifts

Pile of gorgeous gifts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So let’s review how it works. Everyone brings a few tiny and inexpensive gifts – wrapped and ready to go. You can set any rules you want for spending. In our home, each and every item had to be no more than a dollar. (We called it Penny Christmas simply because Dollar Christmas does not have the same ring to it.) If you want to make the limit 50 cents, that works too, and will make your Christmas even more frugal.

The presents are piled in a circle on the floor, and all family members sit surrounding the presents. It is customary to let the youngest person open the first gift. You can continue in order of youngest to oldest – or just go clockwise around the circle – either works.

As soon as the second person has a turn, the game really gets going. Each person from the second onward can choose to A. open a new gift or B. “steal” one that has been previously opened.  If option B is exercised by the second player, the person whose gift was “stolen” gets to open a new present. Then the third person in line gets a turn and can choose to open or steal, and the game proceeds from there. Sometimes you really have to keep track of whose turn it really is! It is lots of fun. There are a few simple rules to prevent complete pandemonium from ensuing. An object may be taken only 3 times and then it is “retired.” The person whose gift was stolen cannot simply take it back.

We always allowed for trading at the end of the game once all the presents are open, but that is up to you. Usually everyone ends up with a gift or two that they really like. It is a lot of fun to see which gifts are the most prized. One year 2 women in my family really wanted a matching set of washcloths that had been wrapped separately. You just never know what will be a hit.

If you wonder what gifts you can use, here are a few suggestions. Buy candy bars when they are on sale. You can do this as early in the year as you want, because they last a long time in the freezer (provided they are not discovered that is). A bag of small toys works well if there are young children. Each toy can be wrapped separately and make your money go very far. You can even choose to wrap up pennies, nickels, dimes or quarters. Purchase sets of things – like the wash cloths mentioned above – and divide them into individual gifts. You can take a packet of gum and wrap up each stick individually if you want. If this game is played with the right spirit, these white elephant type presents can go over quite well, as long as no one gets too serious about the whole thing. The point is to be economical, not mean or cheap. A sense of humor and an eye for fun will make this activity a success. Let your imagination guide you and let the gifts fit the ages and interests of your family members and you are likely to begin a much-loved tradition with this playful game.

About the Author

Margo Smith graduated with a B.S. degree from BYU. She draws from her experiences as a modern day children’s governess, her time spent in New England, her years in the corporate world and an author’s perspective on life when compiling articles about a variety of subjects from holiday memories to online colleges to children’s books.

‘Black Friday’ Trampled by ‘Cyber Monday’ Online Sales

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‘Black Friday’ Trampled by ‘Cyber Monday’ Online Sales

IBM’s third annual Cyber Monday Benchmark Report shows an increase of 19.4 percent from 2009 sales, and a whopping 31.1 percent increase in Cyber Monday’s online sales over brick-and-mortar sales on Black Friday. It may be time for me to retire my sleeping bag, lawn chair and “I’d Walk Over You for Sam Walton!” sweatshirt.

“Cyber Monday came in as the biggest shopping day of the year so far,” IBM Coremetrics’ chief strategy officer, John Squire, told Marketwatch. “Consumers this year,” he said, “appear much more willing to open their wallets and are turning to online stores for the convenience of shopping wherever and whenever they like, but also as their primary source of information about products and inventory levels.”

“Retailers,” Mr. Squire notes, “have done an exceptional job across the board of appealing to consumers with highly personalized promotions and a slew of free shipping promotions.”

While overall sales increases were decidedly impressive, the IBM Report highlights sales increases of 60.1 percent for jewelry retailers. Call me skeptical, sentimental or just plain old-fashioned, but doesn’t a “point-and-click” purchase of jewelry take all the fun out of Christmas shopping?

Jewelry has always been one of my favorite gifts to buy and give, and as the father of two daughters (aged 17 and 22) who were born in November and December, respectively, half the thrill is walking out of the store with the conspicuously small, gift wrapped presents I know will kindle a sparkle in their eyes.  Moreover, I know that a trip to the jewelers is the most likely strategy for me to kill ‘two birds with one stone,’ excuse the pun.

[JUST IN: MSNBC reports Cyber Monday sales topped $1 billion U.S.]

The IBM report paints a picture of online purchaser’s who were digitally ‘camped out’ like virtual would-be-Walmart shoppers stalking the very best deals available this Christmas shopping season. “Consumers flocked online,” IBM reports, “with shopping momentum hitting its peak at 9:00 a.m. PST/noon EST.” although “consumer shopping maintained stronger momentum throughout the day than on Cyber Monday 2009.”

Certainly, the increased traditional media focus on Cyber Monday helped boost online sales. While increasingly nervous U.S. consumers have boosted their savings rate from 2 percent to 6 percent, IBM reports there is a “pent-up demand this holiday season for consumer electronics and appliances, both of which are typically seen as necessities in the present-day economy.”

With the surge of online marketing and sales, combined with a still-challenged economy, it will be interesting to see the breadth and depth of the marketing campaigns online retailers will inevitably roll out for ‘Cyber Boxing Day.” One can’t help but wonder if we are not that far from a truly ‘Cyber Christmas,’ which would see consumers disappointed with what was under the tree logging on to fill in the gaps on their Christmas ‘Wish Lists’.

James Barry is a freelance writer covering online marketing and related topics for Wolf21.com, a comprehensive Toronto-based SEO company.

5 Christmas Gift Ideas for Her

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5 Christmas Gift Ideas for Her

Guys are easy to shop for. All you have to do with a guy is show him a Brookstone catalog and he’ll probably circle 30 things that he would like to have. The same thing might happen if you take him to Best Buy. But women are a little more subtle in their desires for the perfect gift. So, guys, if you are befuddled and confused about what to buy your wife or girlfriend this Christmas, here are a few ideas to get you thinking in the right direction.

Breville Appliances. From left to right: Empor...

Breville Appliances. From left to right: Emporia BKE400, Aroma Style Electronic BCM600, Ikon SK500, Emporia Toaster CT25B. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1)      Pamper Gifts: Your wife or girlfriend wants to be pampered. She loves massages that will loosen up all the knots in her neck and back, spa treatments to open her pores, and manicures and pedicures to shape her nails into sleek, elegant, sexy fingers and toes. If you are looking or a no-fail gift this Christmas, give her a pamper gift that will leave her relaxed and feeling good about herself.

2)      Jewelry: Okay, this one can be kind of tricky, depending on your wife or girlfriend’s tastes, but all women like to open up little velvet boxes to find that you’ve gotten them a special necklace, bracelet, or earrings. But because jewelry is such a personal item, it’s good to get an idea of what she likes first. Take note of the jewelry she already wears and try and find something similar. Or you could try the less subtle approach and suggest walking through the jewelry store next time you’re in the mall.

3)      High-End Kitchen Gear: Again, guys, be careful with this one. A set of expensive and exotic spices might gain you big points, but a toaster will likely have you sleeping on the couch. One of the most sought after kitchen appliances by women is the classic Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer. The key to buying a kitchen appliance for Christmas is to buy something high-end and classy, not utilitarian.

4)      iTunes Gift Card: Most women love music and they want to be able to choose what they listen to in the car, at work, or around the house. Giving an iTunes Gift card is a great stocking stuffer that lets her choose exactly what she wants.

5)      Memories: I know this sounds cheesy, but one of the best presents you can give your wife or girlfriend is something that shows them that you value your relationship with her. It could be as simple as putting together a photo album of the two of you, or it could be taking her on a re-creation of your first date. Get creative and show your woman that you love her and care about your relationship by giving her the gift of memories.

Gunter Jameson writes about several topics including travel, minimalism and University of Phoenix Campuses.

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