7 Ridiculously Easy Tips to Save Money on Holiday Shopping

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Save Money on Holiday Shopping

St. Nick has to squeeze down chimneys, but you, my friend, need to squeeze every penny out of every dollar this holiday season. Who doesn’t?

Here are seven ridiculously easy tips that can save your money, your credit, and your sanity this holiday season… and tips at the end for even greater savings next year!

Vilebrequin - holiday season

Vilebrequin – holiday season (Photo credit: thinkretail)

1) Shop locally owned stores. Independent, neighborhood retailers have the reputation for being “more expensive,” but that’s not necessarily the case. You can save time and shipping costs shopping locally. Bonus? You’re contributing to a healthier local economy, too, especially if you pay with cash.

2) Bundle your purchases. Some major chain stores will give you a discount if you reach a certain purchase amount. Some credit cards will do the same. Combine store and credit card offers for greatest discounts — assuming you can pay the credit card off in full at the end of the month. Otherwise, your “savings” are lost.

3) Shop artisan. Many artisans undervalue their wares and sell them at a deep discount relative to what you’d pay for the same artisan item in a specialty shop. Shop directly with an artisan for the best deals on handmade items before their items reach retailers. For example, you can purchase decorative clay dinosaurs and other reptiles directly from this artist via her website or on a site like Etsy.com.

4) Buy Christmas cards in bulk. Individual, personalized Christmas cards are wonderful, but buying the same holiday card in bulk is cheaper. Just make sure you personalize them! Who will know (or care) they got the same card as someone else if you personalize it?

5) Pay cash. There’s something about peeling back those greenbacks that will make you a more cautious shopper. Paying cash for gifts will ensure you don’t spend too much. It will also save you from accumulating credit card fees or costly interest, too. Make your gift list and divide the cash into envelopes for each person so you make sure it stretches.

6) Shop downtown. Downtowns offer a range of independent businesses clustered near one another. Doing as much of your shopping as possible here will reduce your driving and parking expenses, in addition to being more convenient.

7) Do something else. Instead of giving some “thing” as a present, how about giving the gift of an experience? An experience can be practically anything and if you use creativity can cost next to nothing. Cooking someone a meal, accompanying them on a project, or making them something handmade are all good starting places to save money and be generous. Giving your time, attention, and love are the best gifts of all.

As for next year? You’ll be ahead of the savings game next holiday season, too, if you keep these tactics in mind:

  • Watch for the end-of-season clearance sales for deep discounts on items you can reuse.
  • Shop earlier in the year — this spreads out the expense over more months and gives you more time for personalized projects you might want to give as gifts.
  • You can make an offer of time-gifting for everyone on your list (e.g., babysitting, helping out on a project, etc.) and mark it all out on a big calendar. Just imagine, in the next holiday season you could be done buying expensive “gifts” altogether!

Katie McCaskey is a blogger, author, & freelance small business journalist who writes for Vistaprint. She is also co-owner of George Bowers Grocery, a neighborhood grocery/café/beer garden in Staunton, Virginia.

Christmas Carnival – December 11

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Welcome to the December 11, 2012 edition of Christmas 2012 carnival. In this edition we start with an article from Jim Wilson who has the Top 10 Christmas Carols kids should learn. Jeff Moore has 10 Creative Places to Hide the Kids’ Christmas Gifts so they don’t know what they are getting ahead of time. We have 5 Breakfast Dishes Worthy of Christmas Morning from Layla Martinez. Finally there’s a post from Carter White with the Top 10 Holiday Movies to Watch with Your Kids for those streaming movies on Netflix this weekend. Hope you have a great season, bookmark, share, tweet our Carnival on Twitter, and like on Facebook.


Jim Wilson
presents Top 10 Christmas Carols Kids Should Learn posted at Babysitters, saying, “Christmas carols are a cornerstone of the holiday season, and hearing your favorite jingle can instantly fill you with holiday cheer. Everyone has their own personal favorite, and your kids will likely find themselves smitten with their own favorite songs. Whether you’re just starting to teach your kids different carols or trying to put together a medley so that you can go caroling around the neighborhood this year, there is no shortage of songs to choose from.”


Christmas gifts.

Christmas gifts. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jeff Moore presents 10 Creative Places to Hide the Kids’ Christmas Gifts posted at Babysitting Jobs, saying, “When the kids are little it usually isn’t all that difficult to keep their gifts a secret, but as they begin to get older and understand that Christmas entails receiving gifts, they tend to get a little more inquisitive and may start poking around trying to find out where you’re hiding the presents.”


Tool Box Solutions
presents Joining Forces to become Stronger – Collaboration with Suppliers – Part 1 posted at ToolBox Blog, saying, “One key vehicle for a retailer to increase greater share of the competitive market is by strengthening partnerships with essential suppliers to that of strategical partnership. Strategic partnership puts the necessity of the consumer first and works backwards to realize how to satisfy those needs and execute on them.”


Dan Robinson
presents Top 10 Christmas Stories Every Child Should Hear posted at Aupair Jobs.


Steve Jackson
presents 5 Ways to Store Christmas Lights to Avoid Detangling Next Year posted at Housekeeping, saying, “What is the one thing that takes the longest to do and is the most frustrating part of putting up the Christmas tree? The lights! Christmas lights have a knack for getting tangled up into knots, which is a large reason why so many artificial trees now come pre-lit – untangling and stringing lights just isn’t a lot of fun.”


Layla Martinez
presents 5 Breakfast Dishes Worthy of Christmas Morning posted at Live-In Nanny, saying, “Some people eat breakfast every day and others rarely if ever eat breakfast, but there’s something about Christmas morning with your family that just screams for a fabulous breakfast, but one that won’t stress out the cook because Christmas dinner is yet to come. Give one of these a try this year and see if you think they are Christmas morning worthy.”


Carter White
presents Top 10 Holiday Movies to Watch with Your Kids posted at Babysitting, saying, “Since the holidays mean that the kids are home from school, what’s better than using that additional time for a little extra family bonding?”


Dan Robinson
presents 5 of Santa’s Favorite Cookie Recipes posted at Aupair Jobs, saying, “As Christmas approaches, the kids are likely getting more and more excited about Santa’s upcoming visit to deliver toys, especially if they’ve been exceptionally good this year. And, talk has probably started about what kind of cookies they should leave out for Santa on Christmas Eve to ensure that they stay in his good graces.”


Steve Jackson
presents How to Clean Up From Christmas posted at Housekeeping, saying, “Once the holidays are over you’re left with the less than desirable task of putting up all of the decorations and thoroughly cleaning and returning your house to a normal state.”


Suzanne Cullen
presents How to Make Your Own Candles posted at aupair.


Kevin Giffin
presents 10 Things Parents Must Pack When Tent Camping With Kids posted at Summer Nanny, saying, “As summer approaches, a lot of families start discussing where to go on vacation, whether it’s a weeklong stay somewhere or just a weekend jaunt. For an inexpensive and fun time, many parents will choose to take their kids tent camping. There are a lot of areas that have state and regional parks that are reasonably close by, and those places often have facilities for camping. If you decide to take your kids camping in tents, some of the things you will want to pack are listed below.”


Dan Robinson
presents 10 Attractions in Europe That Both Kids and Parents Enjoy posted at Aupair Jobs, saying, “Planning a European vacation that satisfies the youngest and oldest members of the family is no mean feat. Striking the delicate balance between creating an itinerary that only pleases the adults and one that caters solely to the smaller set requires some research and planning; here are 10 European attractions that are sure to be a hit with the entire family.”

Events


Bill Smith presents How to Host a Holly Jolly Christmas Party posted at Christmas 2010 Shop, saying, “In summary, you need the following for your holiday party: a DJ with a karaoke set-up, an ugly Christmas sweater, wine and a photo booth with a camera. Let the festivities begin!”

Fun


Sam presents !! Outrageous Funny Picture for Today. Wild, Weird, Wacky, Whatever! FunnyChixDotCom posted at Funny Chix, saying, “30 Funny Christmas Pictures It was the night before Christmas and Santa’s a wreck You’ve been sorta naughty. Hey, I’m Ok with that. Did anyone water the tree? And more wild, weird, wacky, wonderful pix for Chriastmas”

Gifts


Talia presents Best Dog Toys for Golden Retrievers: Choosing Safe, Durable, Fun Toys – Golden Retriever Dog & Puppy Lovers posted at Golden Retriever Dog & Puppy Lovers, saying, “Did you know you can get talking treat balls for your dog? If you are looking for Christmas gifts for your dog check out these tips on choosing safe, durable, fun toys to entertain your dog this Christmas.”

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of christmas 2010 carnival using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

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How to entertain squabbling kids on a long car journey this Christmas!

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Do you have children? Aren’t they great? Isn’t it brilliant taking long, tiring car journeys with them? If you (like millions of other people) have to make a cross-country trip this December to visit relatives with your delightful offspring, you’re probably really looking forward to six hours of screaming, crying, tantrums and half-hour toilet breaks. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. Whether you’re traveling to holiday parks in Norfolk or caravans in Cornwall, there are some hints and tricks to keeping inquisitive minds and vocal little mouths quietened for the journey. Here’s how to entertain squabbling kids.

English: Kids at shore

English: Kids at shore (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you have children that tend to fight in the house, you can bet that they won’t get along in a cramped car. Think seating – and keep them as far away from each other as possible. Diagonal seating always works really well, so if one child is large enough to pop in the front seat, put them there and seat the other child behind the driver. That way, there’s a huge gap between them, and either you or your partner can mediate this space. Out of sight, out of mind.

Nothing is more irritating than a small voice wheedling, “I need the toilet,” over and over again, so to avoid stopping every 500 meters, limit fluids before the big drive. This sounds cruel, but it isn’t – just watch what your kids are drinking. A good rule to follow is ‘water only’ – no sugar filled drinks or juices. If they’re that thirsty, they can drink water. Always bring a few bottles with you for the car journey – if you get stuck in snow/traffic, you’ll need it.

Talking of food and drink, always prepare for the worst. Bring plenty of sandwiches, crisps, and fruit – nothing with too much sugar, or your children may develop hyperactive tendencies. A thirsty child can be a pain in the backside, but a hungry child can be another matter entirely – so make sure that you bring enough food to tide you through the journey (and any potential traffic). So what if you make too much food? You can always give it to your hosts when you arrive, or throw it away. Better that you never have to use it than be sat on the M6 thinking, “Surely, we shall all starve to death.”

Sleeping is the best way to pass the time when you’re on a journey, so make it easy for your kids. Bring plenty of duvets, pillows, earplugs and eye masks – and don’t forget that some kids might find sleeping in a little bit difficult in a car, so don’t forget personal stereos to block out the noise. If kids find sleeping in the car stressful, there are plenty of products to help calm them down. Rescue Remedy is always pretty good, and you can buy it in lozenge or spray form, so it’s easy to transport.

Take away all reading material. Yes, we know what you’re thinking – “My children are never travel-sick! They read War and Peace once on the way to Grandma’s!” etc – but just take precautions. Small people are notorious for thinking they can handle things that they can’t, and reading in the car is one of them. All we’ll say is this – at your own risk. It’s really hard to clean the smell of vomit from a car.

Give your kids plenty to do – let them make their own mix of music for part of the journey, put on an audiobook, play I-Spy, and tell them stories. Kids start to fret and fight when they’re bored, and unfortunately it’s down to you to provide this entertainment. Sorry.

Vicky Anscombe is writing for Richardson’s Holiday Parks, the best place in the UK for Great Yarmouth holidays. Well, she thinks so. And she’s very rarely wrong about such matters.

How to Host a Holly Jolly Christmas Party

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Christmas Party photo

Christmas Party

‘Tis the season for holiday parties. If you want yours to stand out from the rest and be talked about at the office on Monday morning, consider mixing things up a bit. Instead of the usual fancy attire or white elephant gift exchange, host a party that gives guests the freedom to enjoy themselves, laugh together and make memories.

Ugly sweaters

Rather than hosting a formal party that requires guests to purchase (or rent) fancy clothes they spend the evening trying to keep clean, make your party holiday casual. Ugly sweater parties are a fun new trend that takes the focus off who paid what to wear which designer. It levels the playing field by giving everybody the opportunity to show a more playful side of themselves. For a charitable twist, ask guests to donate what they would have spent on formal wear to a non-profit organization of your choice. For a competitive twist, have guests vote on who dons the ugliest sweater!

Wine tasting

To make the party a special occasion in spite of the thrift store attire, include a wine (and cheese) tasting as part of the evening’s activities. There are more than enough sweets exchanged between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Offer a savory respite for your guests.

There are a couple of options for how to go about the tasting. You could provide a variety of cheeses and ask guests to bring a bottle of wine from a specific country or state, cover the labels and have guests vote for their favorites using a numbered ballot. Or you could provide the wines yourself.

Christmas carol karaoke

One of the fundamental traditions of the holiday season is the music. For an entire month we hear it in stores, on the radio, on television specials and from carolers. After a certain number of years, you can’t help but know the lyrics to most of the songs. What better way to use that knowledge than by singing karaoke? It all begins with the holidays DJ service, San Antonio. The first volunteer is usually the most difficult to find, so while you wait and encourage guests to give it a go the DJ will keep the party atmosphere alive with some tunes. Once the ice has been broken, who knows what karaoke Christmas miracles might occur?

Christmas card photo booth

To document the events, you could hire a photographer, or you could save money and set up a photo booth for guests to take their own pictures. Use thumbtacks to hang some wrapping paper as a backdrop. Add some tinsel, a Santa hat, some boxes wrapped to look like presents, any other props you want and a large, empty picture frame. Put your camera on a tripod and see what fun and whacky scenes your guests create to remind you and them of the evening’s frivolity.

In summary, you need the following for your holiday party: a DJ with a karaoke set-up, an ugly Christmas sweater, wine and a photo booth with a camera. Let the festivities begin!

 

Tiffany Marshall is a freelance writer who prefers fun to formal when it comes to gatherings with friends. She writes on behalf of Cutting Edge Entertainment, where you can find the best holiday party DJ San Antonio has to offer.

Christmas Carnival – November 27

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Welcome to the November 27, 2012 edition of Christmas 2012 Carnival. We start this carnival with an article by Brittany Harris listing 30 website Blogs with great Tips for Keeping Christmas Simple. For a traditional look at Thanksgiving, we have a post by David Leonhardt titled Happy Thanksgiving. And finally Chris has a 2012 Men’s Holiday Gift Guide: Part One. Hope you enjoy all the articles, bookmark, share, tweet, like on Facebook and come back for the next edition.

Brittany Harris
presents 30 Blogs With Tips for Keeping Christmas Simple posted at NannyPro.com, saying, “It may be called the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” but it can easily become the most stressful time of the year for busy families who are struggling to make ends meet.”


Daniel Long
presents 10 Family Friendly Warm Places to Go for Winter Break posted at Hire a Nanny, saying, “If you live in a cooler climate that experiences wintry weather during the colder months, but aren’t a fan of toughing out the colder days or participating in winter sports, the idea of escaping to a warm, sunny locale for a quick family vacation during winter break can be incredibly appealing.”


TherapyDoc
presents The Happy Family posted at Everyone Needs Therapy, saying, “It’s supposed to be a happy time of year. Here’s one way to make it that way.”

Events

English: Oven roasted turkey, common fare for ...

English: Oven roasted turkey, common fare for Christmas and Thanksgiving celebrations. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

David Leonhardt presents Happy Thanksgiving posted at Self-Help Happiness Blog, saying, “While Thanksgiving will be overshadowed for many Americans by the “Black Friday” shopping crush, the rest of us will be free to retain some of the peace and calm that Thanksgiving should bestow. You can thank God if you believe or your lucky stars if you don’t. The important thing today is to thank. Here are three things I am thankful for.”

Fun

Lynda Albertson presents 5 Candy Cane Ornaments that You Can Make With Kids posted at Nanny Babysitter, saying, “During the holiday season candy canes tend to make a dominate appearance in the candy aisle, and are a traditional holiday treat.”

Suzanne Cullen presents How to Plan a Holiday Brunch posted at aupair.org, saying, “Perhaps it’s your turn to host your family’s annual Christmas brunch, or maybe you’re interested in starting a new holiday tradition with your own family and friends.”

Gifts

Chris presents 2012 Men’s Holiday Gift Guide: Part One posted at Ladies Should Know.

Steve Jackson presents Top 10 Hostess Gifts posted at Housekeeping, saying, “With the holidays upon us, party season is in full swing, and you likely have found yourself scrounging around before a get together for an appropriate gift to give the hostess.”

Cherry Liu presents Top 10 Christmas Collectibles posted at House Sitting Jobs, saying, “Buying a new Christmas collectible for your Christmas decoration or ornament collection is a tradition that many people have.”

Shopping

ToolBox Blog presents Joining Forces to become Stronger – Collaboration with Suppliers – Part 2 posted at ToolBox Blog, saying, “The most effective message a retailer can share to its suppliers is faithful data which gives true shopper perception into the behaviour, buying patterns and demographics of the supplier’s brands and the effect of promotions and innovations.”

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of christmas 2010 carnival using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

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Five Tips to Save Christmas

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Five Tips to Save Christmas

Rocket Piano - Learn Piano

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire may sound warm, cuddly, and festive, but what happens when something pops and throws a hot ember on that comfy rug in front of the fireplace?

The winter holidays – from Thanksgiving to New Year and everything in between – are a time for family, friends, love, and memories. But the memories can quickly be soured by poor planning. Here are five tips to help make sure your holiday season is merry and bright.

  1. Don’t let your Christmas light extravaganza go up in smoke. Every year, hundreds of families are impacted as Christmas Trees erupt in flames. The cause? Overloaded outlets. The lights themselves are rarely a problem – especially if you’ve purchased your lights in the last decade. Safety features make the lights more cool to touch, reduce power usage, and include safety features to shut off the strand in case of a short. However, if you’re using a cheap extension cord, power strip, or other means of adding plugin sockets, these CAN cause a short, which could end in a fire.
  2. Deep fried turkey is delicious. Melted siding is not. If you’re going to deep fry your turkey, make sure that you don’t overfill the kettle with oil, make sure the bird is thawed, and don’t cook near the house. Combine the three and you’re almost guaranteed to have a grease fire engulfing your home.
  3. Christmas 2012Keep an eye on Fido and Kitty. Holiday decorations present unique dangers to pets. At the top of the list are extension cords. Chewers could be in for a big shock if they chew through a live extension cord. Glass ornaments are another risk. If knocked off of the tree, they could shatter, and a curious pet may eat the shards. One important holiday myth to point out is Poinsettias. Believe it or not, they are NOT extremely toxic to dogs or cats. Much more concerning for pets are lilies, holly, and mistletoe.
  4. Plan ahead. Long before your holiday event, plan out exactly what you’ll need. Some items to consider include:
    1. Dishes you’re expected to bring. Does your family go “pot luck” style? Make sure you know if you should be bringing a warm side, a salad, a desert, or anything else.
    2. Gifts. Make sure you know who you want to give gifts, and what they like.
    3. Directions. Make sure you know how to get to the party!
    4. Timelines. What time does the party start? What time do you need to leave? Factor in rest stops for little ones.
    5. Carefully tend all fires. This means fireplaces and candles. Fireplaces using wood logs should have mesh screens (at minimum) covering the front. These screens help prevent popping embers (expelled as water hits the boiling point and pushes out against the surrounding wood) from landing on carpet, rugs, or other flammable surfaces. Glass doors are an even better option. For candles, make sure that all burning candles are extinguished before turning in for bed. All it takes is a breeze, a pet’s tail (or curious sniffing), or a bleary eyed child to knock over a candle for disaster to strike.

With these simple tips, you can help ensure that your holidays are filled with love and joy, and skip the drama. Well, at least until the family shows up. Then you’re on your own.

About the author: Rich is a writer for Goedeker’s, an online retailer of discount home appliances, furniture, mattresses, and plumbing fixtures.

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